A DIY INDIEPOP VINYL & CASSETTE LABEL

Vinyl

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

The Ballet - Matchy Matchy [12"]

Artist: The Ballet
Title: Matchy Matchy
Format: 12” LP on black vinyl
Cat#: Fika072LP
Release date: 17th May 2019
Bandcamp | Spotify

Queer New York duo the Ballet marry the DIY ethos of the Hidden Cameras with the wry poeticism of the Magnetic Fields and the romantic pop of Jens Lekman, to create literate, infectious pop gems.

Formed in 2005 by Greg Goldberg and Craig Willse, the Ballet self-released two previous albums: Mattachine! (2006) and Bear Life (2009). These caught the attention of Fortuna Pop!, which released their third album, I Blame Society, in 2013. The Ballet has been joined by a few other musicians along the way including Ginger Brooks Takahashi and Michael O'Neill, who left in 2007 to join JD Sampson in MEN, as well as guest appearances on previous albums from Linton from The Aislers Set, Ramesh from Voxtrot, Scott Matthew, and Kaki King.

In addition to citing Stephin Merritt as an influence, Goldberg, who writes and home records all of the band’s songs, draws from an array of pop artists and periods, from 60’s bubblegum to 80’s synthpop and 90’s indiepop, fusing these in sophisticated and novel ways that reward repeat listening.

The Ballet’s new album, Matchy Matchy, is a return to the upbeat tenor of the band’s first two albums. While inspired by Goldberg’s experience navigating an open relationship with his boyfriend of 14 years, Matchy Matchy is not straightforwardly autobiographical; Goldberg writes from his experience, while also fantasizing about the perspective of his objects of desire, leaving ambiguous which is which. He is generally less melancholic than on I Blame Society, and fans will notice a return to earlier themes (“Looking” tackles Grindr, as “Personal” did Gaydar in 2006). Goldberg is not shy to write songs with explicitly queer subjects (“But I’m a Top,” “Messing Around,” “First Time in a Gay Bar”), while also taking on more universal longings, pleasures, and frustrations (“Jersey,” “Love Letter,” “Cry Baby”).

As the album’s title suggests, Matchy Matchy is also a meditation on sameness, both in its musical material (think limited chords in major keys, repeated phrases and constructions, and citations of Goldberg’s influences) and in its lyrical exploration of queer relationships and encounters. The album reclaims the insult of “matchy matchy,” finding value in repetition and doubling, both within the album and across the Ballet’s discography.

For press enquiries, please contact Jamie Otsa at Wall of Sound PR.


“This amiable embrace of ambivalence distinguishes Greg Goldberg and Craig Willse’s output as the Ballet from the work of their funny musical uncles, like the Magnetic Fields’ implacably ironic Stephin Merritt, the Hidden Cameras’ riot auteur Joel Gibb, even fairy godfathers Pet Shop Boys.
The music is so lovely, all dewy guitars and dripping synth bells, that it makes you understand the appeal of intertwining with someone who doesn’t necessarily respect you.” Pitchfork [7.6/10]

“The new single can only be described as a A-ha’s ‘Take on Me’ with the monochrome tones of The Smiths and it’s unbelievably catchy.” Attitude Magazine [premiere]

“‘Matchy Matchy’ is a beguiling album, one that plays with conceptions of not only sexuality but society as a whole. It’s an album for 2019.” Norman Records [9/10]

“The hooks are still in there, starring these light little keyboard notes maneuvering in and out behind that dancing guitar line. Sure Greg Goldberg has stylistic similarities to Stephin Merritt, but there’s this softness to his voice, a fragility that makes him feel just a touch more open and approachable.” Austin Town Hall

“the album is full of little pop anthems, in which the clean guitars are fused with the drum machines and some xylophone that another. This is the case of ' Looking ' or ' First in a Gay Bar ', which are brilliant. But the best of its more electronic side, appears in ' 20', a whole pop gem, for which many consolidated groups of the genre, would kill.” Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow

“The fact is that it is a beautiful, and irresistible, cut of synth-pop, for which many would kill. Among them his beloved Magnetic Fields .” Indienauta [Spanish]

“a sweet album, with a high playful tenderness” Written In Music [Dutch]

“The Ballet have succeeded in producing a record whose catchy sound never outshines the charm and depth of the lyrics” Lie in the Sound [German]

“The Ballet have become the sort of reliable, approachable yet pertinent little indie-pop act that it’s always good to have around.” The Soundboard

“this duo all the way from New York have fashioned an interesting way of marrying expressive DIY Indie music with some very pleasant and soothing instrumentation” The Independent Voice

“vocals akin with The Neighbourhood, but musically they have instrumentation and dance beats similar to that of Blaqk Audio or Scissor Sisters” Alt Corner

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

We Show Up On Radar - Zanzibar Whip Coral [12"]

Artist: We Show Up On Radar
Title: Zanzibar Whip Coral
Format: Limited edition 12” transparent vinyl
Cat#: Fika071LP
Release date: 22nd March 2019
Bandcamp | Spotify

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Naughty little folk-pop maestro We Show Up On Radar is indeed a person and Zanzibar Whip Coral is indeed his album. A body of songs expelled through his cloud-like body like a turbulent but fruitful gale. This mass of organised air is to be released on Fika Recordings in March 2019.

Nottingham based multi instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Andy Wright - the man inside We Show up On Radar - has conjured up this 9 song popular melodrama using nothing but his own full sized Wurlitzer, complete with rotating platform and wearing his trademark sequinned suit.

Zanzibar Whip Corals is the 4.15 from Waverly Station. The train seats are woven from spun sugar and the train driver is a pelican with secrets in his bill. The gentle breeze spilling through the windows is Andy's voice with a melancholy love story sung for all the weird and wonderful creatures giggling in the distance. His songwriting is tender, almost fragile but his songs are anthemic, bubbling with gentle power. This journey is one of sheer magic and terror, like a lovely nightmare where you wake up smiling.

We Show Up On Radar’s songs are bewitching tales, scattered with references to vegetarian yeti’s, microscopic sea creatures and Greek Gods. It is music that is full of contradictions - childlike and sweet, but a bit wrong; terribly sad, but hopelessly uplifting.

Wright invented libraries and then toured them…. We Show Up On Radar have also recorded on various occasions for the BBC at the legendary Maida Vale studios and Abbey Road. ("surreal, hushed acoustic folk-pop that's both downbeat and delirious" BBC Introducing).

We Show Up On Radar have previously supported The National, Piney Gir, Thomas Truax and Bright Eyes at Nottingham's Rock City and dazzled with a headline show at Club Fandango at the Bull & Gate, London (“an astonishing treat” Artrocker).

Lets all fly away on each other’s smiles.

“This is alt-pop strangeness that would make Wayne Coyne feel like Dido (well, maybe not that strange). We Show Up On Radar is the alias of Andy Wright, a Nottingham-based artist, who is releasing his second album ‘Zanzibar Whip Coral’ through Fika Records. Before doing any research on WSUOR, I had assumed he was some Californian hippie but it turns out he’s from Nottingham which definitely plays into the English sounding melancholy that percolates into the music. There’s a quality to WSUOR’s voice that I really like, it almost reminds me of Gaz Coombs at his most lilting and whimsical.
To put this odd little album in context, artists that it reminds me of are Mort Garson, Flaming Lips, the Beach Boys in some parts (just listen to the harmonies on ‘Willow Tree’), and Daniel Johnston. ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes (Part 2)’ has a tape-recording effect that makes him sound eerily like Johnston in one of his home-recordings, indeed, this is an element that I think WSUOR could make more of in upcoming releases. I prefer the album’s scratchy, lo-fi moments to its glossy, poppy parts.
There are some genuinely heart-felt moments on this album that bely the often quaint music of ‘Zanzibar Whip Coral’, such as the huge, triumphant-yet-sad chord changes on ‘Giant Dinosaur vs Sea Monster’ or the beautiful sample on ‘Crumbs for Erin’. The piano line on ‘A Theogony’ reminds me of a Disney song or an old showtune which is an impressive thing to have achieved.
‘Zanzibar Whip Coral’ is a strange, kaleidoscopic collage of wistful vocals, nursery-rhyme melodies, Beach Boys harmonies, and bizarre imagery (yetis only eating lettuce, anybody?), all gathered up together to make nine songs of pop peculiarity.” Norman Records

“Fragile, sweet and maybe a bit whimsical indiepop songs with a clear uniqueness. The new album is easy to love, like most of his music is. Lovely.” Eardrums

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

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

Freschard & Stanley Brinks - Midnight Tequila [12"]

Artist: Freschard & Stanley Brinks
Title: Midnight Tequila
Format: 12" album on pale blue vinyl
Cat#: Fika066
Release date: 29th June 2018
Bandcamp | Spotify

Following on from 2014’s Pizza Espresso, Freschard and Stanley Brinks come together for 12 brand new tracks.

Midnight Tequila is an irresistibly charming collection of late night tales, woozy ballads and uptempo sing-alongs. 

Clemence Freschard’s beautiful vocal tones lend this a rich, French indiepop/chanteuse vibe, complemented by Stan’s wistful timbre and characteristic warm instrumentation. Perfect accompaniment for that late night tequila.

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.  

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Freschard grew up in a farm in French Burgundy. Aged 18 she moved to Paris, where she baked pies and cakes in a cafe. There, a local musician and regular customer called Stanley Brinks wrote a few songs for her to sing. Homeless in Paris, she saved up just enough money to get herself a ticket to New York. There she found an old electric guitar and started writing her own songs. In 2004 she moved to Berlin, where she recorded her first LP, "Alien Duck". Her second album, "Click Click", recorded in 2006, features electric guitar by Stanley Brinks. On her third album, she plays the drums herself. On her fourth “Shh...” she also plays the flute, and she breaks out the washboard on her fifth “Boom Biddy Boom”. On Midnight Tequila, Freschard brings it back to just drums and vocals.

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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

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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.  

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