I first became aware of Vollwert-Records of Berlin via the fantastic LP they put out by Banana and Louie (reviewed in this issue's albums section). Since then I have received a selection of their other releases.
Morning Favorites are a French band whose Single Days EP brings together the classic old-school indiepop sound with influences from electronica and beyond. Every Single Day combines gentle indiepop with synths and thumping dance beats. No Great Escape is janglepop with retro keyboards and a subtle hint of 60s folk. That's How It Is is hyper-melodic old-style indiepop with an added powerpop kick and some nice use of ethereal synths here and there. Some very enjoyable sounds here.
Jack Orion is the latest project of Brad Orgeron, who has played in over 20 bands since the 1970s. The Hushed EP includes three tracks. Worlds Away is a very beautiful modern folk/singer-songwriter/janglepop song. Desdemona on the Shore is sophisticated janglepop with some quite dark moments and some atmospheric use of strings. Finally there is a cover of Donovan's Lalena, which is again a nicely sophisticated piece with effective use of strings and woodwind. I enjoyed this EP a great deal and am keen to hear more from Jack Orion.
1980s band The Wolfhounds reformed in 2005, and have recently released EP001, a limited edition mailorder-only CD on Vollwert-Records. This CD comprises new recordings of three songs which actually pre-date the band's 1985 debut single Cut the Cake, but were never released at the time. Although the band are often bracketed in with indiepop, the music here is much more raw and angular than anything else that normally fits under that umbrella. Skullface is a warped, intense variety of rock 'n' roll/heavy psychedelia/post-punk. 6000 Acres is pure raw energy, setting impassioned vocals to searing noise instrumentation. Rats on a Raft combines aspects of rock 'n' roll and psychobilly with that distinctively twisted and manic sound that pervades the whole EP. There are also plans for brand new material from the Wolfhounds to be released shortly.
The Anthony Rochesters have a 6 track 3" CDR EP out on Vollwert-Records, entitled Across the Waves. O'er the Grey, Green and Gold is very lovely indiepop that reminds me at times of the less melancholic side of Brighter. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize is bouncy, cheery indiepop complete with vintage organ and trumpet. The Time is Right is a twee indiepop ode to BMX biking, whilst Singing in the Church is an old-school janglefest with more of that trumpet, and The Fans Can Only Deal With So Much (of the Funk) combines indiepop with 60s sunshine pop and retro-futurism. Vollwert releases a lot of limited edition stuff, but this one is mega-limited at just 59 copies, so grab a copy while you can!
Moving onto the albums - My Laundry Life is a new project centred around German musician/songwriter André Daners, whose How to Wallow in Shame CD is out on Vollwert-Records. This is a really fantastic album of well-crafted and tuneful pop songs, that harks back to the 80s whilst still sounding fresh. There are influences from classic janglepop as well as lashings of 80s-ish synth, and plenty of strong, catchy melodies. Aspects of American-style folk music are also evident at times, whether subtle (A Crystal Morning) or more overt (the banjo-based track Massacre Street). Great stuff - I'm very keen to hear more from this band.
The Painted Word is based around Arash Torabi of The June Brides, with guest appearances from Phil Wilson (The June Brides), Dave Morgan (The Loft, The Weather Prophets, The Rockingbirds), and various others. As the band name suggests, The Television Personalities are a big influence on their sound. Their album on Vollwert-Records, Not Yet Saved, features cover versions of TVPs songs (including The Painted Word itself) along with tracks by The Times, Felt, The Weather Prophets, and The Revolving Paint Dream. Across the album you get a mixture of indiepop, psych, mod, American-style folk-rock, and even dance beats and hip-hop scratching. It's an eclectic yet coherent mixture, that has made me curious to hear Arash Torabi's own compositions.
Blandville is the new band of Tim Butt from The Pearly Gatecrashers, whose Good Dreams CD is out on Vollwert-Records. Despite the name, there is fortunately nothing bland about the music, which is summery and ultramelodic, combining aspects of 80s and early 90s indiepop, 60s pop, and powerpop. There are also some more laid-back songs, like Hartley's Corner, which has both melancholic and ethereal moments, and the piano gives it a sophisticated feel. Shakespeare's on the Train adds elements of American-style folk-rock and psychedelia to the classic old-style indiepop sound, whilst Caravan introduces some effective use of retro synth. Another real winner from Vollwert-Records!
Matthew Edwards, formerly of The Music Lovers, has formed a new band, Matthew Edwards and the Unfortunates, which includes amongst others Sasha Bell (Essex Green/Ladybug Transistor) and Jefferson Marshall (Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound). Their album The Fates also features guest guitar from Fred Frith. The music here is sophisticated and quite retro, featuring instruments like accordion, piano, cello and assorted brass and woodwind. The Way to the Stars is part pop, part prog-rock, The Imposter has a retro-futuristic feel, Sandrine Bonnaire is very classy chamber pop, The Liar is country tinged, and I Don't Care is an ingenious psychedelic piece interspersing intense rock and ethereal woodwind sections. Some of the other tracks nod towards lounge music, but manage to avoid the kitsch element that is often attached to that genre. The album is sophisticated without being bland, and combines classic retro sounds with innovative new ideas.
No Sleep 'Til Torcross is a compilation of UK bands/artists, mostly in the indiepop vein. Most tracks are previously unreleased. There are well established names like St Christopher, Phil Wilson, The Pristines, Greg Murray, and Simon Bish (aka Simon Goalpost of Thrilled Skinny), as well as lots of more recent bands whose music is in much the same spirit as the original indiepop scene. Andy B contributes some old-school indiepop with the effective addition of violin. The Sunny Street appear with a really lovely DIY synthpop number. Jonathan Beckett makes an inventive mixture of indiepop and psychedelia. Apple Boutique have a bittersweet jangly indiepop song that sounds straight out of the early 90s indiepop scene. Matthew Stead contributes some gentle and minimalistic indiepop with flute. Our Arthur do an inventive variety of indiepop with synth, recorder, and a horn section in addition to the usual guitars. The Pristines make indiepop with a noisy edge. MJ Hibbett sings an observational narrative with a punky snarl, over an ingenious chamber-pop arrangement by A Little Orchestra. Simon Bish appears with a minimalistic acoustic indiepop number with vocal harmonies and a strong catchy melody. St Christopher appear with a distortion-laden powerpop track that's somewhat noisier than their late 80s/early 90s material on Sarah Records, although it still falls squarely into the indiepop category and still carries certain vocal and melodic attributes that are recognisable as St Christopher. Greg Murray contributes a well-crafted track with cello, piano, flute and banjo, and some nice vocal harmonies. The song fits in OK with indiepop but basically transcends genre. There are also a few tracks that fall outside of indiepop and related genres altogether, most notably the experimental electronica of Simon Fisher Turner. This compilation is a brilliant snapshot of the current UK indiepop scene and an ideal place to start for those new to the genre.
Many of Vollwert's releases are out in limited editions of 100 or less, so be quick if you want copies! For more information on the label, visit
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