Almost a year to the day since seeing Julian Henry and Harvey Williams play up in That London, I’m delighted to discover that a new Hit Parade 7” is in the process of winging its way into our hearts. Delighted too to note that ‘A’ side ‘I Like Bubblegum’ features the welcome return of Cath Carroll to the Hit Parade fold in a classic call and response role with Julian. Well, come on, if you have a song called ‘I Like Bubblegum’ it makes such prefect sense to do the call and response thing... Flip-side ‘Zennor Mermaid’ meanwhile beautifully betrays Henry’s Cornish roots and is a downbeat delight.
The 7” is released on September 13th on JSH Records (but of course!) and as a digital download from October 4th. Dates in diaries now please folks. And with proceeds from all sales going to the restoration of Porthmeor Studios in St. Ives, might I suggest you buy a couple of copies and send one to a dearly beloved? Or just to someone you fancy. Your call...
Okay, so the sound of young China might be the source of the excitement du jour, but you know I will always have a sizeable soft spot in my heart for the Swedes. There is a sign I pass with some regularity on my bicycle rides. It is out by Clannaborough Barton on the way to Bow and it says simply ‘Devon Swedes’. It makes me smile every time I see it. I have visions of some little countryside enclave of ex-pats gathering in a thatched version of the Harcourt Arms.
Actually that’s not strictly true. I am usually too busy catching my breath after Copplestone hill to have visions other than blurry ones of the road stretching into the distance. But you get the idea. And if it is the idea that counts, then this morning that vision is enhanced by music (of course) and includes those Devon Swedes gathered round a stage in the corner of the pub enjoying the smartly delicious sounds of Marching Band.
Now I am sure I have mentioned Marching Band in my murky past, perhaps when their ‘Boys On Bikes’ tune was stuck on repeat in my head, but whatever, these past couple of months it is their Pop Cycle set that has been enchanting me the most. I am more than willing to admit that perhaps it is the tangential reference to ‘cycles’ that has me hooked, but in truth that is simply a bonus as the magically melodic and swirlingly bittersweet sounds are more than enough on their own.
Produced by Bear Quartet’s Jari Haapalainen (whose name you may recognise as the hands behind the desk for The Concretes and Camera Obscura amongst others), Pop Cycle sounds both sparklingly contemporary and timelessly classy. With a blend of Power Pop (think Teenage Fanclub recording a set of Raspberries covers) mixed with gently melodic noir shapes (dream of Swirlies recording a Beach Boys tribute album) Pop Cycle is one of the finest treats served up by this year so far.
After the limited interest shown in my Tour De France ‘Song-a-Stage’ project in July it would perhaps be idiocy to embark on a similar scheme over the next three weeks for the Vuelta (Tour of Spain). But idiocy never stopped me before, so here we go with stage one. For those of you not familiar with stage races in cycling, the overall leader wears a coloured jersey to denote his status. The Maillot Jaune is the most famous of these, but the Giro D’Italia’s Maglia Rosa runs it close, at least amongst cycling fans (Italians would put it first, of course). The leaders jersey in the Vuelta has swapped colour a few times over the years, and this time around it has settled on a nice red. And since his HTC Columbia team stormed through the floodlit streets of Seville to win the opening time trial stage last night, it is Mark ‘The Cock’ Cavendish who pulls on the first red jersey of this years’ race. XTC provided the podium soundtrack.