One of the main reasons of owning a record label is to release the music you absolutely love. The music that makes you feel like you can take on the world and win. The music that when you listen, the universe stops and waits patiently until you say its okay to move again. For many of us, that is ASH in a nutshell. The quintessential UK band that does that rare thing of simultaneously lifting you out of the dolldrums, and at the same time being the soundtrack to your heart breaking into a million tiny pieces. It’s all good though. ASH are the one constant in my musical collection over the years, and I hope for many to come.
You don’t need me to tell you about The Subways, they are one of the most consistent British bands in a decade, producing album after album of sincere rock, while remembering the all important mantra that Choruses Are Important. I love them and incredibly happy to be releasing the cassette version of their self-titled album. You can buy this digitally and on CD & vinyl through the bloody great record label Cooking Vinyl.
I have always been a fan of the Independent Label Market and this year I get to be there with POST/POP! It’s the place where the best labels around present exclusive records to the music appreciating demographic in celebration of just how bloody brilliant music is! So it hit me… what can POST/POP bring to this already amazing event? What do we do best? No, not name every actor in Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: Dream Warriors, as that’s not needed right now… YES! TAPES!
So at this year’s Independent Label Market @ Spitalfields on March 28th, POST/POP will be showcasing exclusive cassette tapes from two of my favourite bands.
This time last year I was on a private Bahamian beach with Sky Ferreira next to me, watching Weezer playing Pinkerton. Right now, I am currently writing this at RAK studios, waiting for ASH to reveal new songs from the album they announced today (ASH WEDNESDAY!). So what I have come to understand is that February is the best. The last throes of winter, trying it’s damn best to make scarves a “thing” and the final days of being able to breath mist onto a bus window and draw a treasure map for passengers to follow. I like it. And when I hear a track that insta-recalls my ears back to Weezer, I tend to hang onto it for dear life. That’s where RECORD/START comes in.
“Rock From Afar” is a love song to the music you forgot you adored. There’s more than a little of Rivers Cuomo’s in this tape, but Record/Start adds unique UK sensibility that sets it apart from the American college college set. If I was going to pinpoint a direct influence, it would definitely be The Blue Album, with it’s effortlessly catchy nuances and an undying love for a chorus.
Recently I made a mental note to make an effort to release more music from UK bands. It wasn’t that I was neglecting the UK, I just thought I could do more to promote bands locally. “You can’t start a scene if you spread yourself too thin, Jed” I said to myself in the mirror. I had the best damn intentions, but then I heard JUDE and though they had American affectations to their accents I crossed my fingers that they weren’t from New York. I wanted this band to be from Scunthorpe. “Florida” I noted to myself, nodding slowly. “Close enough”.
Like most people, I hate Manchester United. They make it really easy to hate them. So it came as a complete shock to me how much I love a song about the former United player, Paul Tierney. I want to hate that song as much as I do the team he formally played for, but its impossible. If a track can make me renege on my very firm belief system, then it’s got to be something bloody special. and it is.
“I like a boy in uniform, school uniform…” Thankfully, not my words, but the words of Gwenno Saunders in her guise as part of one of my favourite pop bands ever, THE PIPETTES. Yes, they went through numerous line-up changes, but that did little to hide the fact that there was something supremely fantastic going on. Song after song of incredible pop, each album like a ‘Best Of’, threatening to overshadow every other chorus you’ve ever heard. Yes, its safe to say, that I HEART THE PIPETTES ( and always will). So what next for Gwenno? Well if you had answered ” An album called ‘Y Dydd Olaf’ which is sci-fi inspired Krautrock, sung completely in Welsh… obviously” I would have called you a damn liar.
It was a normal day. I did my usual sound-dump of songs I’ve been recommended, sent, found, onto my phone (yes, I know, not exactly the way audio should be heard for the first time) and made my way home across london. For those of you not from our beautiful capital city, you may not know the particular sense of dread you get from stepping onto a tube at approx 5.30pm in Canary Wharf. It’s like that film ‘The Warriors‘ but the only gangs are ‘The Suits’ and their weapon of choice? Brylcreem covered Dre Beats. Now I have nothing against this particular brand of headphone, but the sound escape is incredible. It’s like being in a rainforest, as you just don’t quite know where the sound is coming from, but the nearer you get, the worse you feel. So I’m surrounded but the gentle tinny hiss of a thousand identikit guys who have just discovered Drake and I set my phone to shuffle. This is a mildly dangerous thing, as the music I tend to listen to is eclectic to say the least, but I suddenly realised that today wasn’t going to be like any other, today is the day I discovered OH VILLAGE. And so you can interact with this memory, listen to that very track ‘Give They Fears’ right now as you read on!
Its purely a coincidence that POST/POP seems to be going Norwich crazy right now. First it was the fantastic Treasureseason, and now, quite by chance, its the equally fantastic, MEGA EMOTION! Then I thought to myself, “Jed, is this really a coincidence? Or do we all just have to face the fact the Norwich is the new Seattle?” I sat myself down and assured myself that these two bands are merely a fluke, and I don’t need to up sticks and move up the map and potentially come face to face with ancestors of Swein Forkbeard, the Viking King of Denmark who probably would not care much for the upturn in power-pop the city he tried to destroy has recently produced.
So what we have here is the brand new single from MEGA EMOTION named “Uncomfortable”, and yes it does get quite awkward when I am singing along to this on the way into the office every day on packed trains. If I had to describe it in a sentence – which I kinda do – I would say that its like John Carpenter writing songs based on the works of Stephen King for OMD at their peak. It’s dark, its lyrically menacing, its catchy as hell and it’s very difficult to expunge from your brain once heard. Hear for yourself!
I have thought about setting up a POST/POP subscription service for almost the entire life of this label. When dealing with limited edition records, and the busy 21st century lifestyle of the modern day music fan, you will inevitably miss out on a release. There is nothing worse than making a mental note to buy a record on preorder, forgetting and then realising its sold out. Ebay is ruthless and punching your knee to inflict pain for the lapse will not bring that record back. I posited the idea to some of my regular customers, and it was met with an almighty “YES!!!” It’s a way to take the admin out of buying the stuff and a hefty financial saving too!
You may have noticed that I usually have a long rambling intro describing how I stumbled across a new band while climbing a tree in a rainforest, narrowly escaping the wrath of a pack of baboons when the band in question appeared like magic – as a hologram – at the top of the tallest tree around ; or perhaps I discovered a band while sinking to bottom of well and a found a small door and while crawling through, I find the skeleton of an ancestor, holding a mixtape with the most perfect band ever as track 1… None of these events happened with TREASURESEASON. I found them on Soundcloud and it was more exciting and magical than 1000 of my convoluted stories ever could be.
You may remember when POST/POP released a Double A side single for PEPA KNIGHT a few months ago. You may have even bought it. If so, you will be one of the many people who have been positively frothing at the ear (is that a thing?) for more PEPA, and it’s about time we wiped that froth from your… ear. Luckily PEPA KNIGHT is better at producing incredible music, than I am with analogies, so here he is with the winter-busting HYPNOTIZED VOL. 1!
HERE IS A PREVIEW OF 3 SONGS FROM HYPNOTIZED VOL. 1
Running a record label is hard work. You have to deal with people telling you that vinyl is old news, and that only anoraks collect it, and to get with the times, and you get force fed articles about independent record shops being closed down every other day. Imagine what it feels like to be a Tape Label. You not only feel the disdain of the general public, but you get looked down upon by the vinyl collectors (AND some record shops) for wanting to release things on a format most people consider “dead”. FUCK THEM. Do what you want to do as long as you enjoy it and it isn’t hurting anyone else, and to me, thats what Cassette Store Day is. Yes it’s essentially a pun on Record Store Day, but its also the one day a year when the little tape labels out there get to lift their heads up (from their shoes) when walking down the street, look a stranger directly in the eye and say “Hi, that tape you just bought… I made that!”
This year, more than most, I have become obsessed with certain songs. Obsessed to the point where I listen to a song on repeat for half a day until the lyrics become meaningless and the music is less music and more the sound of my heartbeat wowing and fluttering until sleep brings me sweet relief. This happened, quite suddenly with the M&O song “Jimi Savannah”. I first heard it while scouring the depths of the internet for new music to populate my radio show (I no longer do my radio show btw, in case you’ve been tuning in on Sundays!) and often tried to find excuses to play it twice on the same show. I then found out that M&O had an album with this song on it called “The Joy” and it fast became one of my standard go-to albums for when I needed guaranteed audio quality. But lo, what’s this? They have another album that preceded, called “Almost Us” and it features multiple guest appearances including Chance The Rapper? Amazing! Let’s stop here for just one second.
CHARITY MIXTAPE FOR THE MICHAEL J. FOX FOUNDATION
POST/POP X SCIENCE FICTION THEATRE
Back in 2006 I started a record label called Pop Will Prevail. The first 3 releases were split 7″ singles with Science Fiction Theatre, run by friend and professional northerner Michael Coates. Fast Forward 8 years and that’s the blueprint for this compilation album. Coincidentally, 2 of the aforementioned releases feature bands on this particular tape, just with slightly different names! (Apple eyes / Dutch Uncles)
In a post-Guardians of the Galaxy world where Walkmans (the correct plural of Walkman) are now being sold on ebay for $800 (and $600 for the broken ones! seriously!) the little tape labels out there have received a little more attention. The fact Starlord’s choice of Walkman isn’t a very good example of a Sony Walkman at all (seriously Starlord, a TPS-L2? You were abducted in 1988, not 1979!) doesn’t matter. Suddenly, the corners of the internet where Tapeheads hide and scurry from the light, are the places to be. Questions like “hey, I am new to this forum, I have a woolworths cassette player from 1993, can someone tell me what an AA battery is?” are going to be myriad, but I say, the more people banging on about cassette culture the better.