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Many happy returns to Rough Trade, the pioneering indie label, which celebrates its 30th birthday next week. Thanks for some of the best indie bands of all time, particularly The Smiths, Arcade Fire, British Sea Power, The Fall and Cabaret Voltaire, to name but a few.
Geoff Travis started the label out of the old indie shop in Portobello Road in West London. My happiest memories are of the hours of subterranean bliss i spent in the sister electronic music shop in Covent Garden (right). Both are sadly defunct, but there’s a super new store off Brick Lane in the east end of London to to hunt for the best in underground and forward-thinking music. Many happy returns to you all.
BTW, if you can’t make the shop there’s a 30th anniversary CD for sale. Includes Island Hopping, a mellifluous little ballad from the late Joe Strummer.
Sweden’s splendid all-girl group, Those Dancing Days, are finally about to release their debut album (they’ve actually been waiting for two members to graduate from school), In Our Space Hero Suits, on October 06.
They are a wonderful band who, for me, encapsulate most of what’s so great about being a teenager in every one of their three-minute songs. Spin magazine has recently described them as “Blondie backed by the Attractions … and The Slits rehearsing with Bow Wow Wow”. And even though they occasionally play a bum note, (which actually seems to add to their charm) they actually sound like they’ve been around for ages. When I first heard Hitten, their biggest hit, it was one of those records which you immediately felt you had always been waiting to hear. I like them for the pure, unadulterated joy of thier music and for the soaring Hammond-like organs and for the brilliantly inventive drumming with proper fills, but mostly for the vocals of Linnea Jönsson, who sings with the assurance of someone much older, while retaining the energy and essence of her youth.
The news that David Byrne and Brian Eno have collaborated again of course turns one’s mind back towards My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, the pair’s landmark album of 1981. Byrne once described the intended sound of the album (which took its title from the Amos Tutuola novel of the same name) as that of a radio station being broadcast from the edge of a shantytown sometime at the turn of the millennium.
It is a truly haunting record – incorporating found radio broadcasts, Lebanese mountain singers, and even the recording of a live exorcism. It’s even more amazing when you realise that it was recorded using only analogue techniques, before the advent of digital sequencing and sampling.
Now, thirty years on, the old partners are about to ride again. The first single from the forthcoming album, Everything That Will Happen Will Happen Today, is called Strange Overtones and was released as a free download single on Friday. Unlike Bush of Ghosts, the new material will be song-based. Strange Overtones havs a gospel-inspired vocal track set over a loose funk rhythm and bassline.
The album will be self-released on the pair’s website on August 18.
First sight of the limited edition Joy Division Zune. Only available in the US. Obviously not good in the rain. Designed by Factory’s Peter Saville.