Sunday, 19 April 2009

Paul Richards’ top five bands to see at Indietracks

This morning we woke up to find that Indietracks has been selected as one of the Sunday Times’ 12 hottest cool festivals of 2009. How cool (and hot!) is that!?

Today we’re delighted to be joined by this year’s first special guest contributor to the blog. Paul Richards writes for indie-mp3, DJs at Lostmusic events and runs the 'Indie pop' Facebook group, putting out mixtapes and writing about indie pop old and new. He’s selected his five must-see bands from the line-up announced so far. Take it away Paul...

Butcher Boy

Without doubt the brightest spark in the British indie pop music scene, Glasgow’s Butcher Boy play Indietracks in support of their stunning second LP, React or Die. Constructing the most heartbreakingly beautiful pop songs you’ll hear all year with such subtlety and elegance, HDIF’s flagship band are fronted by the National Pop League’s John Blain Hunt. They released their debut Profit In Your Poetry in 2007, with standout tracks such as ‘Girls Make Me Sick’ and ‘There Is No-one Who Can Tell You Where You’ve Been’ garnering positive reviews with The Guardian calling it a ‘promising debut’ whilst likening them to The Smiths and Lloyd Cole.
Their recent mini-tour saw them play a spectacular show at the Brixton Jamm in March whilst they play later this month at The Luminaire with support from fellow labelmates Cats on Fire and Pocketbooks. React or Die features ‘Carve A Pattern’ (Record of the Week on The Radcliffe and Maconie Show on Radio 2), new single ‘A Better Ghost’ and ‘This Kiss Will Marry Us’ with The Times giving the album 5/5 let’s hope they go on to bigger and better things. Just make sure you don’t miss them.

Camera Obscura

Headlining the Outdoor Stage on Saturday will be Scottish indie poppers Camera Obscura. Since their charmingly understated debut album Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi in 2001, they have released Underachievers Please Try Harder in 2004 and Let’s Get Out of This Country which followed two years later to critical acclaim. The latter includes the dance floor hit ‘Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken’ and the enchantingly sweeping ‘Come Back Margaret’. One of the best songstresses in the business, Tracyanne Campbell’s vocals are warm, gentle and above all achingly tender. That’s not to say they can’t have fun too. Check out ‘Anti-Western’ from their debut, ‘Number One Son’ and ‘Let Me Go Home’ from Underachievers Please Try Harder. Recent radio sessions on Radio 2 and 6 Music has seen them promote new material from the forthcoming album My Maudlin Career, released on the 4AD label. The LP features the single ‘French Navy’, arguably up there with ‘Lloyd…’ as their best song, along with other highlights ‘Swans’ and ‘James’. They’ll be playing a number of European and North American dates prior to Indietracks.

Bonne Idée

Formed in a Gothenburg basement in 2006, Bonne Idée are an unsigned band with a modest but promising output. They haven’t released an EP or album yet, whilst there are only a few songs on their MySpace page which are sung in Swedish and English. ‘Glassbåten’, which can be found on the Birdsongs, Beesongs... Volume A compilation, has an intro that sounds like it could have been lifted straight from Nico’s Chelsea Girl LP as the song has a wonderful melody and delightful accordion. ‘It Will Be Back’, their strongest song, soars with a delightful chorus sung in French complete with ‘ba-ba-ba-ba’s’ bouncing along until the songs end. They are playing a handful of London dates before Indietracks at the Goonite Club, Fortuna Pop and Twee as F***.

The Manhattan Love Suicides

Leeds quartet The Manhattan Love Suicides play fuzzy noisy pop reminiscent of the C86 scene. They cite Sonic Youth, The Velvet Underground, My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary Chain as influences some of which you can hear in their own sound. Personally I can hear The Shop Assistants and a touch of The Primitives too. Their self-titled debut album was released in late 2006 complete with a cover of the Beat Happening classic ‘Indian Summer’. With few of their songs ticking over the three and a half minute mark, tracks such as ‘Things You’ve Never Done’ and ‘Suzy Jones’ are choice picks for first time listeners. Singer Caroline has a fragile yet confident voice whilst musically expect to hear lots of feedback. They released a compilation of singles, EPs, radio sessions and four new recordings entitled Burnt Out Landscapes on their own Squirrel label last year and comes highly recommend.

The School

The School play infectious indie pop with a strong 60s girl group sound. Like Lucky Soul, they sound like they could have been produced by Phil Spector in his heyday, in fact their debut single ‘All I Wanna Do’ has THAT drumbeat intro. There’s a hint of Tracyanne Campbell’s forlorn vocals although they are possibly more indebted to The Crystals and The Marvelettes.
Their debut Let It Slip EP came out last year on Elefant Records. The titled track jangles along with airy vocals of pure innocence whilst there are nice touches of trumpet just at the right moments. ‘Shoulder’ is a great slice of swaying pop with stomping drums much in keeping with their girl group sound. Definitely worth checking out when the sun shines bright.

Thanks Paul! If you’re nodding sagely in agreement or tearing your hair out in bewilderment at Paul’s choices, we’d love to hear from you. We’re encouraging lots of people to write pieces for this blog, and it’s a great opportunity to get your thoughts heard by more people than you possibly expect! Please get in touch at if you have an idea for a blog piece.

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