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Panic Pocket

Mad Half Hour

    A new wave of indiepop is emerging in the UK, and Panic Pocket are at the forefront of it. Playful, tuneful, sardonic and sassy, Sophie and Natalie have been friends since childhood, know each other’s secrets - and probably know a few of yours too.

    Formed in 2017, Panic Pocket soon became a DIY sensation, releasing debut EP Never Gonna Happen, with Reckless Yes in 2019. Their debut album has found a new home.

    Amelia and Rob at Skep Wax Records fell in love with the mixture of punk-grrrl attitude and songwriting skill: “They reminded us of all our favourite bands rolled into one. Panic Pocket know how to turn anger and humour into brilliant pop songs.” Panic Pocket will be the main support band at Heavenly’s sell-out London shows in May.

    Many of Mad Half Hour’s 10 indie-pop anthems are concerned with being at odds with life's accepted milestones, feeling alienated from the people you thought wanted the same things as you, while trying to forge your own path. So the top-down janglepop of ‘Boyfriend’ reflects on what happens when your best friend finds love…and insists on bringing it everywhere, and ‘Get Me’ answers claustrophobic questions about ‘settling down’ with a not-so-silent scream over some deliciously dirty riffs.

    But Panic Pocket’s superpower is their sense of fun. On Mad Half Hour, you’re never more than a few seconds away from a monster hook, killer harmony or an acerbically witty turn of phrase worthy of the band’s heroes Aimee Mann or Liz Phair. From receiving a cryptic “frog emoji” from a long-forgotten one-night stand, to ‘Don’t Get Me Started’’s streetlit walk of shame “via Morrisons car park”, no memory is off-limits, no matter how painful.

    If you want punkpop exuberance, lyrics that are so truthful they hurt, plus some very infectious tunes - then Mad Half Hour is exactly the soundtrack you need, right down to the minute.


    1. Get Me
    2. Still The Bad Guy
    3. Mad Half Hour
    4. Say You’re Sorry
    5. Out Of The Woodwork
    6. Boyfriend
    7. Cheryl (Red Is The Bluest Colour)
    8. I’ve Earned My Right To Be Petty
    9. Mr Big
    10. Don’t Get Me Started


    Le Jardin De Heavenly - 2023 Reissue

      Skep Wax Records are re-issuing all four Heavenly albums over a two year period, and ‘Le Jardin De Heavenly’ is the second. To celebrate, the band are re-uniting to play two sold-out dates at Bush Hall in London this year. The interest and appetite for Heavenly’s music feels as strong, if not stronger than it did back in the early 1990s, with hundreds of thousands of new fans accessing the band’s music through Tiktok and the streaming platforms.

      Each re-issue album includes relevant single releases, a 7” booklet with lyrics, and new sleeve notes by the members of the band. Altogether, the four albums will amount to a thorough collection of the band’s recorded output.

      LE JARDIN DE HEAVENLY - the second album
      By the time their second album was ready to roll Heavenly were an established part of the Sarah Records stable in the UK and honorary members of the International Pop Underground in the USA, where Le Jardin De Heavenly was released by K Records. The songs on the album are rich with pop melodies and complex harmonies but the band aren’t holding back – Mathew’s drumming is intense; Peter’s guitar flourishes are sharp-edged and loud. There are still elements of the gentler twee sound that had become the band’s hallmark (or curse): Different Day and So Little Deserve are winsome, delicate pop songs. But there are also swirls of early shoegaze – Starshy is a dreamy, atmospheric confection heavy with reverb and harmony. And there’s a defiant attitude in there too: I’m Not Scared Of You is the sound of a young woman refusing to be cowed by a male bully. It’s not hard to see how Heavenly ended up as part of the riot grrrl scene in the US (an encounter that would have a profound influence on the band’s later output). At the heart of the album, ‘C Is The Heavenly Option’ feels like a perfect celebration of Heavenly’s transatlantic existence, and the marriage of two indie traditions: Amelia’s English pop voice duets with Calvin Johnson’s gravelly American baritone while the band alternate between cute melody and all-out thrash. It’s a joyous combination.

      The eight-track album was released by Sarah Records and by K Records.

      The Skep Wax re-issue of ‘Le Jardin De Heavenly’ includes Heavenly’s third Sarah Records single – So Little Deserve/I’m Not Scared Of You’ and the first K Records single - ‘She Says/Escort Crash On Marston Street’.

      The vinyl re-issue of Heavenly’s third album ‘The Decline And Fall Of Heavenly’ will follow in Autumn 2023. ‘Operation Heavenly’ will arrive in 2024. 


      SIDE A
      1. Starshy
      2. Tool
      3. Orange Corduroy Dress
      4. Different Day
      5. C Is The Heavenly Option
      6. Smile
      SIDE B
      1. And The Birds Aren’t Singing
      2. Sort Of Mine
      3. So Little Deserve
      4. I’m Not Scared Of You
      5. She Says
      6. Escort Crash On Marston Street 


      I'm Not Sure At All

        Marlody’s first album I’m Not Sure At All takes anxiety, weakness, fear - and turns them into strength: powerful melodies, the sweetest harmonies you ever heard, and lyrics that insist on the possibility of hope, without losing sight of the possibility of despair.

        Dominated by her extraordinary keyboard playing, Marlody’s songs are illuminated - and sometimes made sinister - by occasional bursts of programmed percussion, submarine bass and distant, chiming digital bells. These are deep, darkly beautiful pop songs.

        When she was a girl, Marlody was one of the higher-achieving classical pianists of her generation, winning competitions and destined for greatness. She hated it, and threw it all away. In the intervening years, putting more and more distance between herself and her classical origins, she listened to Yo La Tengo and Shellac and a hundred other things that took music to new, untutored extremes. I’m Not Sure At All is the outcome.

        Marlody’s painful personal journey is not glossed over in the lyrics: Words is about the debilitating effect of psychiatric medication; Malevolence is about the horrible urge to commit inexcusable violence; Friends in Low Places is a remarkable hymn of solidarity with all those people who’ve contemplated taking their own lives. But the songs are strangely uplifting: they offer up their truths so calmly and are so generously wrapped in harmonies that they feel like gifts. There are great stories here too: Summer takes a child’s point of view, describing the beginnings of new life after the loss of a parent. Wrong relates the history of an adulterous affair, with a piercing sympathy for the emotional state of the adulterer.

        There are musical echoes: the infectiousness and daring of some of the vocal melodies might remind you of Kate Bush, the intimacy might remind you of Cate Le Bon, the stabs of anger and pain might remind you of Liz Phair. The keyboard is sometimes as smooth as Fleetwood Mac; other times it’s as raucous and distorted as Quasi. The harmonies are from another place again – you could imagine hearing them in an Unthanks recording.


        01 Summer
        02 Runaway
        03 Change
        04 These Doubts
        05 Malevolence
        06 Up
        07 Wrong
        08 Words
        09 Friends In Low Places
        10 Otherly


        Heavenly Vs Satan - 2022 Reissue

          Recorded in the Oxfordshire countryside, the first Heavenly album was a bid to make a pure pop record. The punk noise of Talulah Gosh had exploded and expired. Amelia had had a go at making a disco hit (‘Can You Keep A Secret’, subsequently released on Fierce Recordings), which was fun, but wasn’t going to trouble the charts. Unbothered by critical or popular reactions, the new band decided to immerse themselves in the creation of a sweet, tuneful pop record. It’s true that the punk influences aren’t hard to discern (Mathew’s favourite band was The Ramones), but it’s Pete’s elegant guitar and Amelia’s melodies and multi-layered harmonies that win out on these recordings.

          The eight-track album was released as CD, LP and cassette by Sarah Records. Subsequent versions included a Danceteria LP and cassette (France), a Quattro CD (Japan) and a CD by K Records (US). These versions included various additional tracks from early 7” releases.

          The Skep Wax re-issue of ‘Heavenly vs Satan’ includes Heavenly’s first two Sarah Records singles – ‘I Fell In Love Last Night/Over And Over’ and ‘Our Love Is Heavenly/Wrap My Arms Around Him’.

          The vinyl reissue of second album ‘Le Jardin de Heavenly’ will follow in early summer 2023. ‘The Decline and Fall of Heavenly’ and ‘Operation Heavenly’ will arrive in 2024. 


          1. Cool Guitar Boy
          2. Boyfriend Stays The Same
          3. Lemonhead Boy
          4. Shallow
          5. Wish Me Gone
          6. Don’t Be Fooled
          7. It’s You
          8. Stop Before You Say It
          9. I Fell In Love Last Night
          10. Over And Over
          11. Our Love Is Heavenly
          12. Wrap My Arms Around Him

          The Orchids

          Dreaming Kind

            The long-awaited new album from the best pop band in Scotland...

            The Orchids were making sophisticated pop music right back in the early 1990s when Sarah Records first started. Their songs were as emotionally pure as anything else on that label, but they were always a step ahead of their peers in terms of song arrangements and musical ambition. With a casual, unpretentious air they made writing perfect pop songs seem easy, almost accidental, and several great releases followed. The Orchids gained a passionate following: people knew a good thing when they heard it and they hugged it close. But maybe now it’s time for the rest of the world to be let in on the secret.

            The songs themselves are a beautiful mix of strength and gentleness. They wrap you in a powerful embrace, making you feel comfortable and secure – and then whisper their insecurities and anxieties into your ear. They say: ‘it’s OK to admit weakness. It’s OK to be fragile. That’s where true strength comes from’. From Glasgow, and proudly Scottish, the band shares a musical lineage with other great groups from that city, from Aztec Camera to Orange Juice, Lloyd Cole to Teenage Fanclub - bands that specialise in song-writing that can tell big stories through small personal fragments, that can make the ordinary extraordinary.

            Ian Carmichael has helped the band create a perfectly produced masterpiece. He subtly accentuates the drama of the songs, with a sophisticated choreography and gloss that never overwhelms the tenderness of the music. In ‘This Boy Is A Mess’ (the first single from the album), the lyric confesses frailty while the arrangement gets stronger and stronger. It is bittersweet and exhilarating at the same time. ‘I Want You, I Need You’ has harmonies as big as a house – but the yearning message remains intimate and close. ‘I Don’t Mean To Stare’ is an elegant version of the song that first appeared on Skep Wax compilation Under The Bridge.

            Album opener ‘Didn’t We Love You’ daringly opens up empty spaces where the reverb of the drums is the only thing you can hear... and then floods your ears with a harmonised chorus, sweet guitar melodies and sweeping effects. Even then, the lyrical lament, expressing the desire to live in a better place - a place unspoilt by the greedy phonies who’ve taken over – comes across as clearly as if Hackett were leaning over for a friendly chat in the snug bar of The Orchids’ favourite Glasgow pub.

            TRACK LISTING

            1. Didn’t We Love You?
            2. Limitless #1
            3. What Have I Got To Do?
            4. This Boy Is A Mess
            5. I Never Thought I Was Clever
            6. Echos
            7. Isn’t It Easy
            8. Something Missing
            9. I Should Have Thought
            10. I Don’t Mean To Stare
            11. A Feeling I Don’t Know
            12. I Want You, I Need You
            13. Limitless #2 (Hurt)

            Swansea Sound

            Live At The Rum Puncheon

              Swansea Sound started in the middle of lockdown. They realised that fast, loud, joyous, angry indiepop punk was the answer to being stuck indoors. Who needs introspection?

              Hue Williams is reunited with Pooh Sticks partner Amelia Fletcher (ex- Talulah Gosh, Heavenly). Rob Pursey (also ex-Heavenly) and Ian Button (Wreckless Eric’s live collaborator) provide the noise. Swansea Sound are the fast, acerbic and joyous past, present and future of indie.

              Four of the tracks were released as singles, all of them now impossible to obtain. ‘Corporate Indie Band’ was a limited edition cassette, ‘I Sold My Soul on eBay’ was a one-off lathe cut that got auctioned on eBay (with a £400 winning bid), ‘Indies of the World’ was a 7” inch single that briefly hit the UK physical charts, but immediately sold out and plummeted back out again. And then there was ‘Swansea Sound’: a requiem for a lost radio station; an anti-corporate lament - another limited edition cassette single.

              First track Rock N Roll Void gives a three minute revision session, just in case you’ve forgotten about The Ramones, The Kinks, The Buzzcocks and the brief explosion of indie noise pollution of 1986. Some of the songs are reflexive – ‘Swansea Sound’ and ‘The Pooh Sticks’. (Who else was going to write a tribute to The Pooh Sticks?) Others are searching for hope in the digital desert – ‘Let It Happen’, ‘I’m OK When You’re Around’, ‘Pasadena’, ‘Angry Girl’. ‘Je Ne Sais Quoi’ is pure pop throwaway fun. The others songs are dead catchy too, they just happen to express a sickness and a contempt for the state of things. ‘Corporate Indie Band’ is about a group who have mortgaged their creativity to a major label and sold their identities to an online marketing team of public schoolboys. Freedom of Speech takes a look at three contemporary ‘alternative’ music stars and considers how they’ve responded to BLM, the pandemic and the rise of right-wing populism. ‘Like self-serving arseholes’, is the unfortunate answer. (You won’t struggle to work out who the three ‘alternative’ stars are.)

              Swansea Sound took their name from a well-loved local radio station when it was given a corporate makeover in 2020. They even used the radio station’s abandoned logo. Like the indiepunk pop songs, something modern acidic and angry has taken up residence in a familiar, borrowed frame. You can throw yourself around to Swansea Sound like it’s 1986, but if you catch the lyrics you’ll remember you’re in 2021. (Sorry about that.)

              The Rum Puncheon, a notorious pub in Swansea, closed down decades ago.

              TRACK LISTING

              A1 Rock N Roll Void
              A2 I Sold My Soul On Ebay
              A3 I'm Ok When You're Around
              A4 The Pooh Sticks
              A5 Let It Happen
              A6 Je Ne Sais Quoi
              B1 Pasadena
              B2 Indies Of The World
              B3 Corporate Indie Band
              B4 Freedom Of Speech
              B5 Angry Girl
              B6 Swansea Sound

              The Catenary Wires

              Birling Gap

                Indie pop comes of age!

                Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey love pop songs, but pop songs with an edge. With their early bands Talulah Gosh and Heavenly, they were often dismissed by critics of the time as fey or ‘twee’, but this prejudice has since been revised: some of those sweet fizzy songs were about date-rape, and the band were an influential part of the movement that became riot grrrl.

                On their new album as The Catenary Wires, the songs are as strong as ever, full of sweet melody and rich with vocal harmonies. But the tunes are now vehicles for startlingly honest adult concerns: the fractured relationships, anxieties, passions and politics of people who live on an island that’s turning in on itself. Like the Go-Betweens and XTC before them, The Catenary Wires know that pop music can convey dark, sardonic, complex emotions, just as well as it can celebrate teenage angst.

                The album depicts England, not just in its lyrics, but in its music. The Catenary Wires have listened to the songs and stories England has comforted itself with over the decades, and re-imagined them. Canterbury Lanes presents a duetting couple, old now and worn down, but still aspiring to put their folk band back together, hoping to rekindle the idealistic flames of the early 1970s. Mirrorball, fizzy with syn-drums and Casio, presents another couple – middle-aged and unattached, who find unexpected love at a retro 80s disco. In the 70s-flavoured pop of Always on my Mind, love appears again, almost by surprise, conjured up by an old photo in a pile of memorabilia.

                The opening track, Face on the Rail Line, is a love song set in the now, full of emotion, but shot through with the paranoia that we all feel, living at a time when we are constantly in contact, but rarely communicate the truth. The last two songs on the album, Like the Rain, and The Overview Effect, are anxious romances, set in a fragile world.

                The Catenary Wires are now a five-piece band. The other members have impressive musical pedigrees of their own. Fay Hallam was in Makin’ Time, and now releases records in her own name. Andy Lewis played bass in the Weller Band, and has more recently worked with Louis Phillippe and Judy Dyble. Ian Button was in Thrashing Doves and Death in Vegas. These talented musicians elevate the songs, taking the arrangements onto another level.

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Barry says: Catenary Wires craft perfectly balanced pop songs, with rich production and a deep rooting in classic British indie music. there are echoes here of the storytelling vocals of Jarvis Cocker or the swooning harmonies of The Beautiful South, but with a casual and personable production aesthetic. Really lovely stuff.

                TRACK LISTING

                1. Face On The Rail Line
                2. Alpine
                3. Always On My Mind
                4. Mirrorball
                5. Three Wheeled Car
                6. Liminal
                7. Canterbury Lanes
                8. Cinematic
                9. Like The Rain
                10. The Overview Effect

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