Posts Tagged ‘Fika Recordings’

Hello! Just a head’s up for a limited edition commemorative EP to mark 10 YEARS?! since the debut Withered Hand album Good News was released.

I hope some of you will find these new treatments of old familiars touching. I marvel at Pete’s Harvey’s string arrangements and it was fun to be reunited with Pete at his studio in Perth where the strings were recorded. I laid down new ten-years-older vocals on four songs and spoke about my attempts at creative and broader recovery.

Here’s the official blurb:

The Springsteen of self-deprecation (!) celebrates the tenth anniversary of his debut long player by re-working four of the album’s finest tunes. They were handed over to Pete Harvey (who was involved in the genesis of the original recordings) to re-arrange, lovely new melancholic string sections were recorded, and Willson re-sang his vocals – effortlessly moving the anti-folk classics towards anti-chamber pop.

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Dan Willson – vocals and guitar
Strings arranged by Pete and performed by the Pumpkinseeds:
Kate Miguda – violin
Liam Liam Lynch – viola
Harriet Davidson & Pete Harvey – cello

Album releases November 25th, 2019

Thanks to Wiaiwya and Fika Recordings for their help in making a vinyl incarnation available. With a limited edition meaning only 300 copies of this Vinyl and 500 CDs will ever exist,

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Acerbic yet winsome Scottish indiepoppers The Just Joans return with the dazzlingly maudlin “The Private Memoirs and Confessions of the Just Joans”, a deeply personal collection of songs that hazily recall the past and contemplate the futility of the future.

A titular twist on the classic gothic horror novel The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by compatriot James Hogg, the new album is the follow-up to 2017’s You Might Be Smiling Now… and contains the kind of melodies and mockery that led Uncut to class the band as the point at which “Stephin Merritt lies down with The Vaselines.”

At the forefront remain the mischievous lyrics and heartfelt vocals of siblings David and Katie Pope, aided and abetted by Chris Elkin on lead guitar, Fraser Ford on bass guitar and Jason Sweeney on drums. Yet it is the recruitment of multi-instrumentalist Arion Xenos and guest appearance of Butcher Boy’s Alison Eales to arrange strings that have helped elevate the band’s music to new heights.

Their progression is most noticeable on lead single “Dear Diary, I Died Again today”, a painfully beautiful admission of everyday anxiety and “When Nietzsche Calls”, the triumphant cry of a spurned lover revelling in the misery of their ex to a backdrop of trumpets and violins. The juxtaposition of the fragility shown in these tracks with the menace of “Wee Guys (Bobby’s Got A Punctured Lung)” – an observation and understanding of the casual violence that once cast a shadow over the band’s hometown – highlights The Just Joans’ ability to seamlessly flip between sensitivity and danger, and sums up why Highway Queens described them as the “perfect Glasgow kiss.”

The Private Memoirs and Confessions of the Just Joans is a veritable smorgasbord of misery, longing and unrequited love; stories of small town resentments, half-forgotten school friends, failing relationships and awkward workplace conversations. As David explains: “It’s a collection torn from the pages of the diary I haven’t kept over the past 25 years. There are songs about places and people I vaguely remember, feelings I think that I once may have felt and the onset of middle-aged ennui.”

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Despite entering new territory with the addition of brass and strings, they have nevertheless maintained the DIY ethos that made them darlings of the underground indie-pop scene, with each song on the album recorded and produced by the band in various gloomy bedrooms around Glasgow.

Releases January 10th, 2020

The Just Joans are David Pope, Katie Pope, Chris Elkin, Fraser Ford, Arion Xenos and Jason Sweeney.
All songs written, recorded and produced by The Just Joans.

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For the uninitiated, 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 Emma’s candid, heartfelt, confessional style of songwriting, and the jubilant power pop hooks that made the first record so special.

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.

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“Like a lot of songwriters, my songs are derived from my own personal experiences, thoughts and feelings, 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. Arranging the songs with Mark and Tom is a massive buzz and playing them live as a band feels exciting and fantastic. Having Joe and Faith put their mark on the songs was also a massive privilege. When we’re working on a new song it gets to a point where we just want to keep repeatedly playing it over and over. However, 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.” Emma Kupa, Mammoth Penguins.

Performed by Emma Kupa (vocals and guitar), Mark Boxall (bass and
backing vocals), and Tom Barden (drums and backing vocals).
Additional guitar (including lead on There Is So Much More) by Faith Taylor. Keys and additional sounds by Joe Bear. Cello by Mark Boxall.

Releases April 26th, 2019

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Cambridge-based trio Mammoth Penguins are soon to return with their third album, “There’s No Fight We Can’t Both Win”. This week the band have announced an array of dates across Spring and early Summer, as well as sharing the video to the record’s second single, “Closure”.

Discussing the inspiration behind the track, front woman Emma Kupa has suggested Closure, “is a song about an interaction, or day, or moment, or occurrence when something shifts and feelings that you may have been carrying around for a while just dissipate”. The track seems to not mourn this passing feeling but celebrate it and cherish the freedom that it brings. Musically, this feeling manifests as probably their heaviest, most dynamic track to date; the moments of shimmering calm never lasting long before a crashing crescendo of rhythmic noise comes roaring into their place. The mighty chorus serves as reminder of the band’s ability to write a scream-your-heart-out refrain; “all the yearning and all the regret, all the sadness just left me”, surely set to soundtrack every storming out of the house moment in indie films for years to come. Plus there is an excellent feather-flying, pillow fighting video courtesy of director Fraser Watson, so what’s not to like really?.

Band Members
Emma, Mark and Tom

There’s No Fight We Can’t Both Win is released on 26th April 2019 via Fika Recordings.

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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.

The band are streaming lead single ‘I Wanna’ today, listen and share here:

‘I Wanna’ is a super simple song about how liking someone can unlock a load of creativity and energy,” comments vocalist Emma Kupa, “and suddenly there are so many possibilities and so much potential, and life becomes way more fun.”

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. 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.”

http://

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.

mapc

Math & Physics Club have been known to cover an REM song, I remember them doing an excellent version of Shaking Through from Murmur, so it not surprising to hear them dropping REM references throughout the new album Lived Here Before. Don’t worry, if you are a fan of their subtle understated pop, they haven’t gone all End of the World as We Know it. They have this great ability to subtly incorporate influences without them overpowering their own of delicate pop.

Upon the release of 2018’s Lived Here Before, it’s been five years since the last Math and Physics Club album, but all the hallmarks of their sound remain intact. The required amount of guitar jangle, sweet indie pop melody, tender and true lyrics, and Charles Bert’s wistfully sincere singing are all on display, and the band delivers a few songs that stand with its best work. The gently rumbling “Threadbare,” the warm-hearted “Broadcasting Waves,” and the insistent “All the Mains Are Down” are all first-rate examples of the best kind of indie pop, when the music, words, and voices work together to wrap the listener in the audio equivalent of a long, strong hug. The record is more than just a few great songs, though. Like on their last album, Our Hearts Beat Out Loud, the band continues to expand its sound, becoming more muscular than ever and stretching the songwriting a bit.

Tracks like the circular “The Pull of the Tides” and the almost C&W “Take a Number” wouldn’t have appeared on an early MAPC album, and Lived Here Before is enriched by their presence. The rest of the record has a fuller, more dynamic sound than the previous album too, and when the songs rock, like on “Past and in Between,” they have some real punch. The ballads like “Dear Madeline” also have a real echoing beauty that the band has previously hinted at but can fully realize now. Credit the production by indie rock veteran Chris Hanzsek for the improved sound, the band for the expansive arrangements, and Bert for coming up with MAPC’s strongest set of songs to date. Put it all together and it’s the best record the band has done and some really fine indie pop that shows the long-running style has some life left in it yet.

Band Members
Charles Bert (vocals, rhythm guitar)
Ethan Jones (bass, keys, etc)
James Werle (guitar)
Kevin Emerson (drums)

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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.

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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!”.

 

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.

“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. If you’re going to call a track Humdinger, it had better be, well, a humdinger, and thankfully these chaps know what they’re doing. Probably their most languid and sun-drenched moment to date, Humdinger, is a wonderful fusion of serenity and the quiet feeling that it can’t possibly last, as Tom explains it is, “the one song on the album where the narrator is at ease with himself and the world. Though there are moments where this tranquillity is nudged by outside tremors, so we know this moment is ephemeral.” Musically, it never gets above a gentle shuffle, yet in the easy languid bass, meandering guitars and steady, perfectly judged drums, there’s more than enough to hold the listener’s attention. This laid-back style also allows Tom’s lyrics to shine, as his vocal, sometimes accompanied by a female vocal (as far as we know unidentified), sing out, “lo humdinger, I’m just a lazy singer with my mind in two.” Always poetic, always musically intriguing; sure it’s unlikely to make much of a fuss, but make no mistake, Jessica’s Brother’s debut album might just be one of 2018’s most exciting .

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.

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Released by: Fika Recordings, Release date: 4th May 2018

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Jessica’s Brother first started playing together in October 2016 when Jonny Helm (drums, also of The Wave Pictures) asked Charlie Higgs (bass, previously of Ramshackle Union Band) to come and play some songs written by Tom Charleston (Jessica’s Brother). The trio clicked immediately, and just 9 months later recorded the album with Laurie Sherman at The Cube and with Darren Hayman.

Jessica’s Brother are a London-based trio, fronted by songwriter Tom Charleston. The band recently shared their debut single, “Overnight Horror”, a track that blends the worlds of Americana and 1960’s folk into a perfectly formed sound entirely their own. The track was the first taste of an upcoming album, coming soon on Fika Recordings. A record the band suggest blends themes of, “joy, anger, silliness”. The album, which features guest appearances from the likes of Allo Darlin’s Paul Rains and Enderby’s Room violinist Dan Mayfield, was, the band say, a result of changing characters, and, “instruments clambering over each other in a small room”. So far so intriguing, Jessica’s Brother may not have shared much material to date.

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There are themes of joy, anger, silliness. The characters change, the instruments clamber over each other in a small room. Their shared influences include Silver Jews, Jason Molina, Richard Thompson and Neil Young.

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Cult Scottish miserabilists The Just Joans released 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.’