A DIY INDIEPOP VINYL & CASSETTE LABEL

CD

Stanley Brinks and The Wave Pictures - Tequila Island [12"/CD]

Artist: Stanley Brinks and The Wave Pictures
Title: Tequila Island
Format: 12” LP on agave and tequila coloured splatter vinyl / digipack CD with lyrics booklet
Cat#: Fika073LP/CD
Release date: 21st June 2019
Bandcamp | Spotify

Stanley Brinks is joined by The Wave Pictures for their fifth album together; and their first since 2015’s “My Ass”. That’s not to say either have been slacking in that time, both are notoriously prolific: The Wave Pictures have turned out 5 albums and Brinks 7 since they last came together in the studio.

Stan arrived at the studio with several CDs worth of unrecorded songs on a balmy North London night and instructed The Wave Pictures to pick out some favourites to jam during the following three nights of recording sessions.

To anyone familiar with Stanley Brinks' huge discography - more than 100 albums - it might sound more raw in a way, less sophisticated than some of his other recordings. It's still rich in jazzy sounds and original structures however, the songs looser and full of playfulness, with the lyrics carrying the essence of the songs.

Tequila - the drink - was obviously the inspiration for the album. While writing, and while recording.

Stanley Brinks was born in Paris, France, in 1973. He studied a bit of biology and worked as a nurse for a while. Half Swedish, half Moroccan, strongly inclined to travel the world, he soon began spending most of his life on the road and developed a strong relationship with New York. By the late 90s he’d become a full time singer-songwriter – André Herman Düne – as part of three piece indie-rock band, Herman Düne. Several albums and Peel sessions  later and after a decade of touring Europe, mostly with American songwriters such as Jeffrey Lewis, Calvin Johnson and early Arcade Fire he settled in Berlin. The early carnival music of Trinidad became a passion, and in the early 21st century he became the unquestioned master of European calypso, changing his name to Stanley Brinks. Under this moniker he has recorded more than 100 albums, collaborated with the New York Antifolk scene on several occasions, recorded and toured with traditional Norwegian musicians, and played a lot with The Wave Pictures.  

The Wave Pictures are David Tattersall, Franic Rozycki and Jonny ‘Huddersfield’ Helm. Formed in 1998 when Franic and David lived in a village called Wymeswold, the band played with several drummers until Jonny became a permanent member in 2003 replacing Hugh J Noble. In the beginning the band learned to play together by covering Jonathan Richman songs but soon David was writing lots of original material. 

They have since released six  studio albums to critical acclaim and played numerous sessions on BBC 6 Music, Radio 1 and Xfm. Interest generated from these recordings has enabled The Wave Pictures to play shows all over the world with artists including Jeffrey Lewis, Darren Hayman, Stanley Brinks, Freschard and Herman Düne.

“Tequila Island is every bit as joyous as you’d imagine a desert island with a well stocked bar would be. The meandering afro-beat influenced guitar line and prominent flute line provide the melody, as the infectious coming together of percussion and bass add a toe-tapping propulsion. Stanley has suggested Tequila was not just the influence for the songwriting, but also the recording sessions, where Mexico’s finest was used to keep out the balmy North London-night; which might explain why it’s the loosest and quite possibly most fun they’ve ever sounded.” For The Rabbits

“I like this album, it's a nice soup of folk, americana, Dylan-lite, with lots of drum brushes pattering away and acoustic guitars strummed softly.” Norman Records

“Brinks and The Wave Pictures pair detailed yet understated indie-folk weedling with the horizontal, alcohol-soaked relaxation that this sort of yacht-rock is often characterised by. The general instrumental foundation remains solid overall, driven by warm acoustic guitars that stick almost exclusively to simple melodies, but find a way to use them well in the lilting shuffle of Like A Fool and the title track, or the quicker-stepping dalliance into country on Like A Song. It’s all very tastefully produced as well, keeping everything relatively quiet and low-key, but simultaneously highlighting the pockets of detail that brings a nice sharpness and crispness to it all.” The Soundboard

“Two alt-indie cult acts for the price of one. Stanley Brinks of Herman Düne is a good match for the loose American-laced sound that The Wave Pictures muster. Comes in lyric inner sleeve on spectacular vinyl, transparent but spattered with teal!” The Arts Desk

“Musically speaking there are similarities with that record [Gin] too (I think it goes without saying that much of this record features jazzy guitar lines and a stripped back rhythm section), but there are also subtle changes in style, such as the country / rock n roll themed "Like a Fool" or "Like a Song", both of which have an air of The Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo about them.” Cracklefeedback

“sounds like the whole thing is a teenage “band” recording in the kitchen, on a vintage cassette recorder borrowed from their gran. That’s after they’ve spent an entire year listening to the first Modern Lovers and Talking Heads albums” God is in the TV

Mammoth Penguins - There's No Fight We Can't Both Win [12"/CD]

Artist: Mammoth Penguins
Title: There’s No Fight We Can’t Both Win
Format: 12” LP on yellow vinyl / digipack CD
Cat#: Fika070
Release date: 26th April 2019
Bandcamp | Spotify

Following a sold out London show with Swearin’, Cambridge indie pop trio Mammoth Penguins are delighted to announce that they have signed to Fika Recordings and that their third album, There’s No Fight We Can’t Both Win, will be released on 26th April 2019.

Mammoth Penguins are a 3-piece indie pop powerhouse, showcasing the songwriting and vocal talents of Emma Kupa (Standard Fare, The Hayman Kupa Band) backed up by the noisiest rhythm section in indie pop.

Their first album, Hide and Seek, was released with the much-loved and sorely missed Fortuna Pop! in 2015. Stand-out tracks ‘Strength In My Legs’ and ‘When I Was Your Age’ were picked up by BBC 6Music and Radio X, and the band played a live session for Marc Riley the following year.

But Mammoth Penguins didn’t want to stop there.  Their follow-up release John Doe in 2017 was an ambitious concept album, exploring the feelings of loss and anger at a man who fakes his own death, only to return years later. It featured contributions from Haiku Salut’s Sophie Barkerwood and Alto 45’s Joe Bear, and expanded well beyond the 3-piece rock‘n’roll template, with washes of strings, synths and samples (field recordings of butter being scraped on toast, photocopiers, and Ramsgate beach helping to fully immerse the listener in the world the band have created) filling out and developing Kupa’s songwriting.

Having had their ‘and now for something completely different’ moment, the band have brought that ambition and expanded palette to the production of this new release. The sound is big, bold and confident—with layers of guitars, backing vocals and keys all adding extra muscle—but maintaining Kupa’s candid, heartfelt, confessional style of songwriting, and the jubilant power pop hooks that made the first record so special.  

As with many songwriters, Kupa’s songs are derived mostly from her own personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings, be they long-lived or fleeting. “The times when people have said my lyrics resonate with them or articulate something specific for them are extremely validating for me and I hope that happens with this album,” she explains of the new record.

“Arranging the songs with Mark and Tom is a massive buzz and playing them live as a band feels so exciting. Having Joe and Faith put their mark on the album was also a massive privilege. Making a record can be an extremely slow and drawn out process that requires patience, perseverance and resilience, and because of that we are super excited and proud to be releasing this album.”

This time around, classic themes of love, loss and conflict are (mostly) given a hopeful and optimistic spin that opposition is neither inevitable nor hopeless. For musical comparisons, think Land of Talk, and Philadelphia bands such as Swearin and Hop Along, but Kupa’s insight into the everyday and her ability to pen such relatable and honest missives means that, often, the best comparison for Mammoth Penguins’ music is with your own past.

Press for There’s No Fight We Can’t Both Win

“Standard Fare were never what I’d call twee, they were firmly in the indiepop scene and, even though Mammoth Penguins is a much more twee name, there is more oomph in the performances and arrangements, which makes for a nice mix of brawn, brains and heart. Speaking of, Emma’s heart remains on her sleeve, and her voice — both strong and vulnerable — conveys all the yearning and regret found in her lyrics. And the songs, like “I Wanna” — with its chorus of “I love you, I love you, I love you / Fuck it all, fuck it all, fuck it all” — are eminently relatable earworms.” Brooklyn Vegan

“[Kupa] has an unerring eye for the foibles of modern romance and details the mechanics of love and loss as well as anyone since the Wedding Present's David Gedge, only with a more sensitive touch. There’s No Fight We Can’t Both Win is one of the finest examples of simple and true indie rock around” All Music [8/10]

There Is No Fight We Can't Both Win is another great collection of universally empathetic songs from a great songwriter that really ought to get a hearing beyond the indie world that is its home” Backseat Mafia [8.5/10]

“one of several moments on the album that remind me of their former Fortuna POP! label mate Steven Adams, and where this type of thing is concerned that’s about the highest praise I have to offer anybody. There’s No Fight We Both Can’t Win – smart, melodic, indie pop/punk about the trials of love and friendship, it’s a great record if you like that sort of thing.” Echoes and Dust

“Mammoth Penguins clutch memorable melodies out of seemingly fresh air. They have a very standard guitar, bass, drums set up which lacks somewhat in colour but the simplicity is used to create naggingly familiar hooks” Norman Records [8/10]

“for indie-pop overflowing with heart and replete with an oft-excellent command of melody, There’s No Fight…  delivers in spades” The Soundboard [7/10]

“Mammoth Penguins have come on in leaps and bounds here. This is simply a great album” God Is In The TV [8/10]

“Over the course of this album, Mammoth Penguins again show that they have the ability to create delightful pop music, much in the style as bands like The Pastels - I Wanna and Put It All On You - being prime examples” Even The Stars

“The 11 songs on There’s No Fight We Both Can’t Win revolves around the theme of love and relationships but Mammoth Penguins manage to avoid the album feeling stale. The band accomplish this by writing tunes you can really lose yourself to, lyrics that you can let wash over you and moments that just really engage you” Rush on Rock

“Heartfelt and honest...there's an attitude here that many similar bands are lacking in” Distorted Sound

“While there are some definite pop rocking numbers, my early time with the LP has me falling for “There is So Much More;” it’s a really soft tune, giving the album some diversity so it doesn’t wear on you…not to mention there’s no such thing as a bad Kupa performance” Austin Town Hall

“From the moment I heard Emma Kupa sing ‘I love you, I love you, I love you, fuck it all, fuck it all, fuck it all’ on ‘I Wanna’… I couldn’t help but become a Mammoth Penguins fanboy” Balloon Machine [track by track preview]

“an awesome pop record” One Chord

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

bandcamp_vinyl_12in_template.jpg
bandcamp_CD_template.jpg

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

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

bandcamp_vinyl_12in_template.jpg
bandcamp_CD_template.jpg

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

Stanley Brinks - Peanuts [12"/CD]

Artist: Stanley Brinks
Title: Peanuts
Format: 12" album on ruby red vinyl | CD in digifile sleeve
Cat#: Fika064LP | Fika064CD
Release date: 11th May 2018
Bandcamp | Spotify | iTunes

bandcamp_vinyl_12in_template-Fika064LPPeanuts.jpg
bandcamp_CD_template.jpg

After releasing a pair of playful records alongside of The Wave Pictures, and two albums of folk shanties and old-time calypso with Norway’s folk troupe The Kaniks, Stanley Brinks’ next release for Fika Recordings is back to being a solo affair, albeit with collaborator and long time muse Clemence Freschard alongside Claire Falzon and Helene Nuland.

Stanley Brinks is renowned for his unique anti-folk style: both playful and suggestive, insightful and entertaining. 

Brinks was born in Paris, France, in 1973. He studied a bit of biology and worked as a nurse for a while. Half Swedish, half Moroccan, strongly inclined to travel the world, he soon began spending most of his life on the road and developed a strong relationship with New York. By the late 90s he’d become a full time singer-songwriter – André Herman Düne – as part of three piece indie-rock band, Herman Düne. Several albums and Peel sessions  later and after a decade of touring Europe, mostly with American songwriters such as Jeffrey Lewis, Calvin Johnson and early Arcade Fire he settled in Berlin. The early carnival music of Trinidad became a passion, and in the early 21st century he became the unquestioned master of European calypso, changing his name to Stanley Brinks. Under this moniker he has recorded more than 100 albums, collaborated with the New York Antifolk scene on several occasions, recorded and toured with traditional Norwegian musicians, and played a lot with The Wave Pictures.  

Peanuts 2k.jpg

Pre-order: Stanley Brinks "Peanuts"

Our next release is Peanuts, the latest album from Stanley Brinks (aka Andre Herman Dune). Out on the 11th of May, Peanuts is available on ruby red 12" vinyl, digipack CD and digitally from all the usual outlets.

After releasing a pair of playful records alongside of The Wave Pictures, and two albums of folk shanties and old-time calypso with Norway’s folk troupe The Kaniks, Stanley Brinks’ next release for Fika Recordings is back to being a solo affair, albeit with collaborator and long time muse Clemence Freschard alongside Claire Falzon and Helene Nuland.

Stanley Brinks is renowned for his unique anti-folk style: both playful and suggestive, insightful and entertaining. Brinks was born in Paris, France, in 1973. He studied a bit of biology and worked as a nurse for a while. Half Swedish, half Moroccan, strongly inclined to travel the world, he soon began spending most of his life on the road and developed a strong relationship with New York. By the late 90s he’d become a full time singer-songwriter – André Herman Düne – as part of three piece indie-rock band, Herman Düne. Several albums and Peel sessions later and after a decade of touring Europe, mostly with American songwriters such as Jeffrey Lewis, Calvin Johnson and early Arcade Fire he settled in Berlin. The early carnival music of Trinidad became a passion, and in the early 21st century he became the unquestioned master of European calypso, changing his name to Stanley Brinks. Under this moniker he has recorded more than 100 albums, collaborated with the New York Antifolk scene on several occasions, recorded and toured with traditional Norwegian musicians, and played a lot with The Wave Pictures.

Pre-order Peanuts here.

The Just Joans - You Might Be Smiling Now... [12"/CD]

Artist: The Just Joans
Title: You Might Be Smiling Now...
Format: 12" album on heavyweight black vinyl | CD in digifile sleev
Cat#: Fika062LP | Fika062CD
Release date: 1st December 2017
Bandcamp | Spotify | iTunes

 Cult Scottish miserabilists The Just Joans are delighted to be releasing their first new album in more than a decade, following the band’s signing to Fika Recordings.

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.

The band are excited to release You Might Be Smiling Now…, a self-recorded and produced collection of new songs.  The release offers more of the same cynicism, but from an older if not necessarily wiser perspective as evidenced on lead single No Longer Young Enough and You Make Me Physically Sick (Let’s Start Having Children) is a jaundiced slice of toybox pop that crosses The Human League and Harold Steptoe.

Complementing this shift in tone comes a more polished electronic sound on tracks A Matter of Time and Someone Else That You Like More Than Me while O' Caledonia sails along at a blistering pace like no Just Joans lament before it.

Despite the band’s obvious maturity, You Might Be Smiling Now... still manages to maintain all the emotional charm and whimsical melodies that led The List to view The Just Joans as ‘a lovable blend of sleepy acoustic guitars, Brian Wilson-esque harmonies and West Coast sarcasm.’

Discussing the new album, singer-songwriter David Pope: 

You Might Be Smiling Now... could be considered a loose concept album. The songs detail the confusion in my teenage years, the horror of my twenties and the terror of my encroaching middle age. It's somewhat self-indulgent, but I hope that these wee stories about small town boredom, drunken romance and misty-eyed nostalgia resonate with the other  overgrown teenagers out there in their mid-thirties.”

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).

"The Just Joans have documented the romantic pratfalls of a generation of indie kids with a sardonic wit and a shambling musical style where Stephin Merritt lies down with The Vaselines. They're at their best on Big Blue Moon, Katie Pope's voice soaring above bathos like the stars coming out over Sauciehall Street." Uncut [6/10]

"it’s a refined downer, enriched by self-lacerating wit (I Only Smoke When I Drink), indie-boy piss-takes (Sleeperbloke), story-song skills (unwanted-pregnancy tale Johnny (Have You Come Lately)) and briefly off-guard touches of synth-pop wistfulness (Big Blue Moon). Best of all is Spector-on-a-budget shimmy No Longer Young Enough, a wise-up call for middle-aged dreamers with just one caveat: the Joans’ own cynicism has improved with age. But don’t tell them, or they might go cheering up." Record Collector [4/5]

"You Might be Smiling Now… is a sharper, on-the-nose take on indie pop, proving the Just Joans may be older, but, in their own whimsically nostalgic way, perhaps no wiser, and for that we can only be glad." The List [4/5]

"You Might Be Smiling Now... is lyrically smart, funny, and terrifyingly relatable. The Just Joans might not be universally understood, but for those of us dealing with the grievances of getting older while simultaneously not feeling ready for adulthood, this is our affirmation." The Skinny [4/5]

"The similarities with Belle & Sebastian and Camera Obscura in procuring breezy pop melodies combined with intelligent wordplay exist, but on their second album The Just Joans draw more similarities to the American counterpart of all of the above [Leonard Cohen] - Stephen Merritt and his band The Magnetic Fields." Soundblab [8/10]

"They’ve dredged up their youthful feelings and animated them in both honest and affectionate tones, and it makes You Might Be Smiling Now… a joyous rummage through swathes of bleary nostalgia." The 405 [8/10]

"Their latest record continues their tradition of smart, cynical and relatable sing-alongs, but injects some musical playfulness that’s been missing until now." Music OMH

"The Just Joans new album You Might Be Smiling Now... is funny, poignant, sometimes sad look back into the bands memories. And its rather lovely." Backseat Mafia [8.2/10]

"a charming slice of downbeat indie pop, inhabiting a similar musical world to their label-mates The Hayman Kupa Band and Belle and Sebastian." Morning Star

"The Just Joans are kind of like the Krankies set to indie-pop. They peddle sweet melodies that make the BMX Bandits sound like Slayer and sing on top of them with Scottish accents as thick as a porridge on a winter's morning. But if their winsomeness is sometimes set to 'grate' then their saving grace is a clutch of lovely songs that recall the timeless miniature pop of the likes of the Magnetic Fields. The standout is 'Steal the Keys (1996 Tears)' a future indie-pop classic in which it occurs to me that the Scottish pronunciation of 'six' sounds a little like 'sex' making the closing chorus contains sound like '1990's sex tears' which pretty much sums up my '90s. It's not an anomaly though - there are other treasures here - 'A Matter of Time' in particular is near perfect electronic indie with a chorus so catchy that I've just emerged from the clinic for treatment." Norman Records [7/10]

"You Might Be Smiling Now… is a deliciously twisted treat from start to finish. The Just Joans are a perfect Glasgow kiss not to be missed." Highway Queens

The Hayman Kupa Band - The Hayman Kupa Band [12"/CD]

Artist: The Hayman Kupa Band
Title: The Hayman Kupa Band
Format: 12" album on heavyweight black vinyl | CD in digifile sleeve
Cat#: Fika060LP | Fika060CD
Release date: 21st July 2017
Bandcamp | Spotify | iTunes

When Darren Hayman (Hefner) and Emma Kupa (Standard Fare/Mammoth Penguins) decided to make a duets record, we knew the results would be great, but we didn’t expect them to be THIS great. Gathering together a rhythm section consisting of Michael Wood (Whoa Melodic/Singing Adams) on bass and Cat Loye (Fever Dream) on drums, The Hayman Kupa band create brash, bold and effortlessly melodic power pop. Sharing writing duties and sometimes singing each other’s words, lines are blurred and creativity explored in a wonderfully exuberant collection of songs. The album, recorded in three days at Big Jelly Studios in Ramsgate, is an exploration of relationships and, at its heart, it’s the sound of a friendship being made.

Darren explains further:

It’s only happened a few times but just once or twice I have seen someone on stage and thought, “I want to be in a band with them.” But I thought it the first time I saw Emma playing with her magnificent and under-rated band Standard Fare.

I met her properly a little later in Sheffield when we played together. Before the gig I said I was suspicious of bands that wore hats. She wore a hat on stage.

They say imitation is a form of flattery and I was glad that I noticed when I wrote the song “Boy, Look at What you Can’t Have Now” that it sounded like the sort of thing Emma might write. I covered up my theft by asking her to sing on it.

When we were recording the song I suggested that we should write a whole album of duets. Musicians suggest things like this all the time because they are stupid or drunk. A few months later Emma told me she had started writing the album. This is what Emma does; she says something then does it. I race to play catch up.

The songs were written over three weekends at her house and mine. Co-writing is something I’m not used to. It’s very intimate and me and Emma became friends through the process. Emma’s lyrics are sharp and precise whereas mine are more metaphoric. It was lovely seeing how quickly we settled into something in between.

We talked about relationships and that’s what the album is about. It’s about our fears and paranoias and the search for trust and love. We deliberately swapped lines and genders so the narrative is never truly that of traditional duets. I sing Emma’s lines often and she sings mine. It’s two voices singing the results of our conversations. We became close friends whilst writing these songs.

We wanted a band to make the album and chose Michael Wood and Cat Loye. We never considered anyone else. They brought a brash, bold sound to the songs and we rehearsed twice and then recorded the album in three days at the Big Jelly studios in Ramsgate.

I was thinking about the Beatles and very early 1960s pop records. We recorded everything live including the vocals with only a handful of overdubs.
We put a microphone high up in the ceiling to get bright, rackety sound and mixed it in mono.

We recorded it two and a half years ago and it has remind locked like a time capsule whilst me and Emma released five other albums.

 I like this album a lot. It’s the sound of a friendship being made.

 

Enderby's Room - Enderby's Room [12"/CD]

<a href="http://shop.fikarecordings.com/album/enderbys-room">Enderby's Room by Enderby's Room</a> The debut album from Enderby's Room is out today. Available on black 12" vinyl, digifile CD and digitally to stream or download.

“unfolding gently, the quiet grace of Enderby’s Room seems to draw on the folk tradition while taking brave chances of its own.” Clash Music "an exquisitely delivered, and vivid piece of songwriting" For The Rabbits “it’s all rather lovely” For Folks Sake “a lamenting duet” Folk Radio “has a subtle beauty that will overwhelm you” Austin Town Hall “an absolute stunner" A Musical Priority

Enderbys-Room-LP.jpg

Get it here:

Bandcamp | Spotify | iTunes

Bill Botting & The Two Drink Minimums - Better Friends [12"/CD]

Artist: Bill Botting & The Two Drink Minimums
Title: Better Friends
Format: 12" album on blue vinyl | CD in slipcase sleeve
Cat#: Fika059LP | Fika059CD
Release date: 10th March 2017
Bandcamp | Spotify

While Bill is 40,000ft up in the air*, moving his family back to Australia, we're releasing his first album since Allo Darlin's triumphant finale. Everyone's favourite bass-player-with-moustache-come-charismatic-front-man (McCartney, Lemmy, nah!) has made an album simply described as indie mixed with country, or country mixed with indie. Or like if Lou Reed went to a Linda Ronstadt Concert in 1988 and decided to have a change of direction. It's an absolute cracker - just as you'd expect from Bill, and his assembled backing band cherry picking members from The Wave Pictures, Tigercats, Hefner and Owl & Mouse.

Better Friends is available on blue 12" vinyl, CD and digitally. You can buy a copy from us via our online shop, from your local record shop, and from all the usual digital outlets (Spotify/iTunes/etc).

*literally, by my calculations he'll be over Eastern Europe as the album is released in the UK, and by the time he lands it'll be out worldwide and have been out in Australia for all of a day

"a righteous burst of alt-country. “I started smoking when you told me you loved me” Botting croons amid a formidable backdrop of gnarly guitar solos and swooning backing vocals that quickly transport you somewhere else entirely, delivered with an undeniable charm" Gold Flake Paint[Treating You Right premiere]

"an album that is an absolute joy from start to finish and will be cherished and loved by us all. I guarantee this is one of those albums that will ultimately make you smile, laugh, dance and simply enjoy every sound - what more could anyone possible want from an album?" A Musical Priority

"a wonderful indie-country-pop amalgam" Beat Surrender

"sweetly melodic indie-pop with country leanings, sounding very comforting" Norman Records

"Opening with the excellent title track, so good it could sit easily on any ‘Allo Darlin’ album and followed up by the equally catchy 'Burning Bridges' it is clear that Bill’s abilities stretch way beyond that of a mere bass player. 'Better Friends' is far from a one-trick pony though with 'Knew You When' having a distinct country feel and 'Treating You Right' mining the same seam as Status Quo!" Penny Black Music

"While I know we were all more-than-bummed when Allo Darlin’ called it quits, there’s promise in the future, especially knowing that Bill Botting (the AD bass player) has already announced a solo outing. Now, it’s not exactly what one would expect, with a little bit more of a folk influence, though he’s still employing the band’s tendency for great melodies. On this track, there’s a gentle female vocal accompaniment, perfectly accenting Botting’s seeming Western drawl." Austin Town Hall

"These songs - they're all hits - have the southern rock punch of Tom Petty, the careworn intimacy of Neil Young's ballads and the maudlin melodies of The Go-Betweens' Tallulah." Did Not Chart

"It's a good record too with a personal feel and a weathered slant to the lyrics. The melancholy and wistful opening two songs "Better Friend" and "Burning Bridges" make for a great start" Collective Zine

"deliciously crooned in the seductive lull of opining lap steels all smoked in the warming frosty topped glow of a campfire gathering which amid the honey toned winter-esque harmonies and the countrified cool had us much minded of a mulled wine imbibing studio soiree featuring Kevin Tihista, Rockpile and Moviola." The Sunday Experience