Welcome to Bliss/Aquamarine - alternative, underground and indie music.


MAKE ME HAPPY RECORDS

Indiepop was my doorway into the underground all those years ago, and a genre that is still of huge importance to me, so it's always great to have the opportunity to report on new releases in this style. Make Me Happy Records is an Athens-based label founded in 2017, focusing on Greek indiepop. Their first release was the compilation LP A SPARKLE FROM THE PAST, covering late 80s and 1990s bands, many of whom I remember from my own explorations of indiepop during the 90s. The LP has great nostalgic cover art that brings to mind Sarah Records' Shadow Factory and the artwork on the labels of the early Sarah singles, and comes with a fanzine with photos and biographies of the bands plus a fun story incorporating all the band names.

Raining Pleasure play dreamlike indiepop with violin. One Night Suzan appear with a very lovely jangly indiepop song that brought a big smile to my face. Sound Devise combine the classic indiepop sound with dreampop atmospherics and a dancey groove. The Sanders represent the punky side of indiepop, combining a strong pop tune with fast, crunchy, noisy guitars. The Jaywalkers' songwriting shows an influence of sophisticated 60s pop; there are sunny vocal harmonies from two guest female singers, as well as violin which lends both classical and folk elements to the sound. Impossible Tymes described their sound as 'popadelic'; their song here combines dreamy indiepop with swirly psychedelic effects and psychedelic organ and guitar parts. Next Time Passions make great indiepop in the classic style, their song here a cover of a track by Australian band Upbeat. Kissamatic Lovebubbles must surely take their name from the Strawberry Story song Kissamatic Lovebubble; here they combine DIY indiepop propelled by a jangly strum with fuzzy angular punk to great effect. Starblind make ethereal guitar and keyboard-led dreampop with soaring vocals. This album is a great snapshot of Greek indiepop from the genre's classic era.

ONE NIGHT SUZAN have a retrospective LP, 20 Year Hangover, covering material recorded between 1990 and 1995. The album comes with a full colour inner sleeve with photos, lyrics and memorabilia pics, and free CDR. A blue vinyl version sold out very quickly but it appears you can still get the black vinyl edition. The title track is a superb example of classic indiepop, with lyrics of deep pessimism and despair set to the interplay of beautiful chiming jangle and fuzzy noise - a really moving track. If It's Ever Spring Again is very lovely wistful janglepop. Is It True begins as gentle and melancholic then gives way to exhilarating breakneck-speed noisepop. Mariaaah! is squalling buzzy noisepop with tons of energy and fun. The Field Mice's Fabulous Friend was my introduction to indiepop back in the day and one of the songs that well and truly converted me to this kind of music. Here One Night Suzan cover this song in a style much in the spirit of the original - a really amazing bit of nostalgia that's so exciting to hear! This album is a superb artefact of 1990s indiepop that's absolutely essential for fans of this genre.

TA TOY BOY's CD This Town is an effective synthesis of indiepop and synthpop. Fresh Kiss is an instrumental piece bringing together buzzing guitar noise, retro electronics and indiepop jangle. This Town gives sparkling 1980s-ish pop a dark edge and a noisy kick. Fields of Summer is beautiful jangly indiepop with a dreamlike summer mood, effectively adding synth and organ for a big, atmospheric sound. Beautiful in Furs is built around a punchy, gutsy 1980s pop sound, interspersed with dreamy indiepop choruses wrapped in airy keyboard atmospherics. Ta Toy Boy's multifaceted approach to pop brings various sides of this vast genre into a cohesive and enjoyable whole.

Visit Make Me Happy Records at Facebook and Bandcamp.

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Text Kim Harten, 2019.