take me home


Where did our love go?

December 17th

My highlights from Saturday:

* Black Kids, "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You" - A hit last month, a bigger hit this time, with more people singing along and punching the air, and generally going mad for this very late entry for Single Of The Year.
* The Supremes, "A Hard Day's Night" - From their "A Bit Of Liverpool" album, Diana Ross and the girls cover the Fabs in fine style.
* All My Friends, "Up And Down The River" - To have one brilliant songwriter in your band is a rare but wonderful thing. To have two marks you out as something very special indeed. This glorious song, written and played by Garry Hoggan, the bass player from Butcher Boy, could be Elliott Smith in the sunniest of moods, a jaunty, jangly, feelgood hit to be!
* Brigitte Bardot, " L'Appareil A Sous" - Shimmysome, handclappy ye-ye from Ms BB.
* Neutral Milk Hotel, "Song Against Sex" - Debut HDIF airing for this fuzzed up indie folk classic!
* Ernie K Doe, "Here Come The Girls" - How cool is HDIF? So cool we play the song from the Boots advert (ie, not very cool at all!). A glorious song that came at just the right moment!
* Mountain Goats, "This Year" - I'm gonna make it through this year if it kills me.

December 10th

Thanks to everyone who came to HDIF in Brixton on Friday. One of the most enjoyable HDIFs in months for me - a lovely atmosphere, David Gedge turned in a brilliant set (starring: "Sheela Na Gig" by PJ Harvey, "Into The Groove(y)" by Ciccone Youth, and "Feels Like I'm In Love" by Kelly Marie!), and it was great to see everyone dancing away in the Canterbury. My highlights:
* "Diece Rigazze" by Lucio Battisti - glorious Italian beat pop from 1969 to open my post-midnight set. One of those gems you can't help grooving along to.
* Boy With The Arab Strap followed by My Baby Just Cares For Me by Nina Simone - just one of those fantastic moments that comes out of nowhere. A request at just the right time, and two songs that were meant for each other.
* Emma's House followed by September's Not So Far Away - had a bit of a Field Mice moment later on!
* I'd Rather Be An Old Man's Sweetheart (Than Be A Young Man's Fool) by Candi Staton - a nod to the very early days of HDIF. Don't think I've played this at the club for four years - sounded fantastic.
* Just Like Christmas by Low - what better way to end the night?

November 20th

Last Saturday's HDIF was lots of fun. My highlights:

* Yesterday's Gone by Chad & Jeremy - A moment of poise and style. I loved watching a dancefloor full of cool kids grooving to this folk pop tune from the sixties.
* I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance by Black Kids - Super cool Arcade Fire meets Go Team brilliance from America. Sounded great.
* Ain't Go No, I Got Life by Nina Simone - Just the perfect groove to this, at just the right moment.
* My Wandering Days Are Over by The Tigermilks - Punk rock storms HDIF, as this American punk duo deliver a souped up version of the B&S classic. With, um, mixed results. I thought this would stop the dancefloor in its tracks for a moment, but hoped that people would have fun pogoing around for a song. Instead they just looked a little bemused. Everyone wanted to know what it was, but no wanted to dance to it particularly. Fantastic!
* Aint Love Good Aint Love Right by Jimmy James And The Vagabonds. Storming soul track!
* Important In Your Life by Jonathan Richman - First song of my post midnight set, nice cool start! Rockin' Shopping Centre came a few hours later.
* Sunny Sundae Smile by MBV. Our nod to their glorious return. Let's fall in love, it's exciting!
* Cathy Come Home by the Twilights. Bye Kez! Good luck!

October 23rd

We're very pleased to announce the release of the third album on the HDIF label, "Fill Up The Room" by Saturday Looks Good To Me. Way back in the mists of time when I first thought about starting up a label, the band I wanted to put out was this one. I had their second album, "All Your Summer Songs", which I adored for its dreamy mesh of lo-fi style and girl group romance, and I'd daydream about how amazing it would be to put our their next record. I didn't know anything about running a label - I'm still really just making it up as I go along - but I wrote to the band anyway, coming clean about the fact I was a total novice but offering my services anyway. I heard nothing back. Fair enough. Why should they want to put out a record with me anyway?

That next album, "Every Night", came out a year later, and it was wonderful. The pure pop companion to the more experimental debut, all Jonathan Richman charm and Supremes swagger. And not long after, I met the band when they came over to play HDIF Presents in 2005, and then DJ at HDIF at the Phoenix a few days later. That night at the Phoenix still has a hazy, dreamlike quality in my memory. Eugene Kelly from the Vaselines had DJ-ed first, and then the Saturdays had turned up around midnight, after playing a show at the Marquee on Leicester Square. The Phoenix was packed - looking at the photos now, it turns out loads taken that night ended up on the inner sleeve of "Kids At The Club" - and the band came in and proceeded to wreck my record collection, leaving albums out of sleeves and CDs strewn everywhere, as they threw on a random collection of songs with seemingly no rhyme or reason. Here's a Velvet Underground song! Here's another! Here's the dancefloor blurring to a halt as "You Made Me Forget My Dreams" by Belle & Sebastian floats around the room. It was a weird, funny, unpredictable, magical night.

They returned earlier this year to play a show at Brixton Jamm with Lucky Soul, and immediately it was clear something had changed. Or rather, that something had clicked with the band. Whereas before there had always been a distance between the perfect pop of the records and the more on-the-hoof live performances, now it was all coming together, like those songs coalescing majestically that night at the Phoenix. You could hear the experimental feel of "All Your Summer Songs", the swoonsome melodies of "Every Night", and something new, something bold and forward-thinking and exciting. The day after, the band played a free Pop Art show at the Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes, knocking out Jonathan Richman and Belle & Sebastian covers, and just having a blast as a Sunday night party band, but I was still struck by what I'd seen the night before. I was talking to a friend and he asked me if the band were putting out a new record. I said, yeah, they've signed to K. And he said, "And will you be putting out the album over here?" And I was like, no. I'd love to but...you know...I asked them once, and didn't get a reply. They wouldn't be interested. "Oh well", said my friend, "shall we go?" And I was kind of lost for a second. No, it's OK, I said. You go on. I'll just say goodbye to Fred.

So here we are. October 23rd, 2007, and Saturday Looks Good To Me's fourth album is coming out on my label. I still can't quite believe it. Better still, the version we're putting out is totally unique, featuring two bonus tracks ("No Reaction" and "No Reception", which give the HDIF album a spectacular finish, the latter in particular just sends my heart soaring), and a 12 page booklet, featuring sleevenotes written especially for this release by Fred. And what sleevenotes they are. Written about the band, but really written about the love we all have for music like this and records like this and moments like this. Look very carefully and you might even spot some of what I've just been talking about right in the middle of it all.

October 8th

Thanks to everyone who came to HDIF on Friday. It was one of my favourite Brixton HDIFs for a while, one of those nights when all seems well with the world!

Here's my highlights:

* Canada by Low. It's become a tradition over the last four or so months for me to play a noisy song in Brixton that half clears the floor, but makes a select few very very happy indeed. Last month it was Husker Du's version of "Eight Miles High", this month it was this magnificent racket.
* Gimme Some Lovin' by Spencer Davis Group. First airing for this lean, taut soul classic.
* Postcard To Nina by Jens Lekman. A brilliant track from the new album, played early doors.
* C'est La Mode by Annie Philippe. Excellent French vocal garage rock tune, propelled by a pounding Spector-esque beat.
* Surfin' USA by the Jesus And Mary Chain. I played the Beach Boys original last month, so it felt right to plump for the Mary Chain cover this time around!
* Holland, 1945 by Neutral Milk Hotel. I get a rush of excitement every time I hear the intro to this.

September 10th

William Reid! (there til the very end!)
Kevin Shields!
Bloody hell!

It's no exaggeration to say that if it wasn't for the Jesus And Mary Chain, there would be no HDIF. They totally changed my life, introduced me to this thing called indie, when previously I'd been into punk and metal. So to have the man who wrote the songs that changed my life at my little club night UNTIL THE VERY END, is probably as good as it gets for me. Really, I should stop doing HDIF after this. It's the perfect end.

A few highlights:

* Eight Miles High by Husker Du - cleared the floor, pretty much. But suddenly I started dancing. It was fantastic, made me very very happy.
* Legal Man, the a capella version. So yes, I tripped the sound thing again! Sorry! But everyone singing along the "ba-ba-ba-ba-ba" bit until the sound came on again made it worth it!
* The Hardest Walk. I just had to play it. It meant the world to me to do it.
* Hazy Shade Of Winter. Hang onto your hopes my friend!

August 13th

Like most of you I'm sure, I was shocked to read of Tony Wilson's death on Friday. I interviewed Tony on the phone around the time of 24 Hour Party People. He turned what should have been a simple 40 minute chat into a week long odyssey - he did the interview while he was in his car travelling from one appointment to the next, and would only talk for about ten minutes before signing off with a sudden but cheery "Got to go now darling, call me the same time tomorrow!" I ended up talking to him for an entire week, in ten minute bursts. With anyone else it would have been infuriating, but he was so entertaining and charming that I really enjoyed our ten minute chats throughout that week. And for me that experience sums up what made him great - he was a difficult, prententious, brilliant, entertaining character. The world is a poorer place for his passing.

August 1st

My Indietracks highlights!

* Piling onto a steam train on Sunday afternoon for a singalong with Pocketbooks. With a mob of twee kids crammed into the disco carriage, I had a sudden vision of impending disaster - would this be the great indiepop train crash of 2007? Happily the answer was no. Instead, we hollared at the top of our voices, belting out "Ticket To Ride", "My Wandering Days Are Over", "Happy Hour" (which, to my reckoning, ended one "It's happy hour again" too early), "Ice Cream Man", plus a couple of Pocketbooks songs. It was a wonderful moment, and the spirit of the weekend personified. Friendship, good music, lots of booze, and an unselfconscious spark of enthusiasm. I'm still high on the weekend now.
* The School. It's hard to believe this was only their sixth gig. They've come on immensely since we put them on supporting Saturday Looks Good To Me at Jamm a few months back - they've been signed for a two album deal byElefant, Camera Obscura's label (well done Elefant!), and they're improving at an amazing rate. Singer/mastermind Liz has a confident, excited glow to go along with her shy charm, and she's pulling out classics from nowhere like she's been waiting for years for this chance (which, of course, she probably has). Go and see them!
* Wake The President in the church on Sunday. It had been a nice weekend, all told. The bands were friendly, most had remembered to thank Indietracks organiser Stuart for the weekend, there was a sense of happy solidarity to the whole affair. Then a couple of Glasgow lads - twins of Swedish descent, no less - shattered the spell with a drunken, loud-mouthed, fearless and utterly magnificent set. It was like watching a young Edwyn Collins, cloned, high on his own runaway talent, arrogant yet brilliant. We'll be hearing a lot from these lads, I suspect.
* "Hymn For The Alcohol", then "Hymn For The Cigarettes" to end the festival. Just Darren alone playing the latter, with the crowd bouncing along to a drumbeat in their heads. It seemed like the perfect way to finish the festival.
* HDIF on Saturday night turning into a warehouse rave. In a concrete shed that could have held a couple of thousand, a few hundred people danced under green lasers, flashing lights, smoke, and the like. The Orchids had overrun and I only had an hour and a bit, so I bashed out the hits, with no shame whatsoever. Leaping about like a lunatic to that bit in "Funeral Face" by Suburban Kids With Biblical Names where the beats just rise and rise, as the laser flashed and the silhouettes of bobbing bodies stretched out to the back of the hall was definitely one of the best HDIF moments of all time.

July 9th

Thanks to everyone who came along to HDIF on Friday. I was worried that we were going to be hit by the smoking ban to begin with, but The Canterbury soon filled up and it was business as usual. Phew! Following a great set from Derek, my highlights:
* Cindy & Bert, "Der Hund Von Baskerville" - on paper, a German language sixties beat version of "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath sounds a touch too kitsch for HDIF. But, hey, it's fun to throw these things in every so often, and at 1.15 in the morning at the Canterbury Arms it all makes a strange, drunken kind of sense. If you're having trouble picturing the scene, here's a bit of help - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOAzuqngOYo
* "Your Heart Belongs In Tennesse" by The Young Republic - Lloyd Cole fronts a country version of Belle & Sebastian, thanks to this glorious song from these newcomers from Boston. Played early, but these will become HDIF favourites before long I'm sure.
* "River Deep Mountain High" by Ike and Tina Turner - booming Spectoresque brilliance. Or as one regular put it afterwards: "I was grabbing people and braying, "WALL OF SOUND!" I completely lost it." Excellent!
* "Cybele's Reverie" - I must admit, I lost it a bit during this one. Wonderful.
* "The Name Game" by Shirley Ellis - I haven't played this for ages, so was pleased when someone came up to request it. Sounded great!
* "The Concept" by Teenage Fabclub. Second to last song. Twenty past two in the morning. All of it. Including the orchestral fade out bit. Arms in the air, emotions running high. What HDIF's all about.

July 8th

Here's my first story, about a band called The Margarets, from Sweden.

They wrote to me four or so months ago. They were polite and funny and shy, apologising for the vocals on the songs on their MySpace page. I can't remember exactly how they put it now, but I think it had been a long, emotional day. They hoped I'd take that into consideration.

So I played the song, "Sally", and it started well, jangling like Biff Bang Pow and the Razorcuts were still fresh-faced young things with their fringes in their eyes. And it carried on jangling, the band clearly enjoying the sound of their own rickenbackers. Maybe they'd been trying to get that C86 chime just so and had finally made a breakthrough. They jangled and jangled and jangled, past the minute mark, past one minute twenty, just enjoying that classic, golden sound, lost in all those years of unrequited love and unnoticed single releases.

Then at one minute twenty six or so, the vocal came in. And I could understand what they'd meant. John, the singer, has one of those old school indie pop voices - from a long line of not-quite-in-tune dreamers that stretches from Dan Treacy to Stephen Pastel and beyond. You can imagine a major label A&R switching off the demo long not after. You can imagine a cabbie telling you the bloke can't sing. I can hear my Mum saying much the same thing. But I'm used to these kind of voices. I know what they mean.

I was watching some Daniel Johnston videos on You Tube last night. He probably "can't sing" either - but again, there's a certain type of indie pop fan that understands what that voice represents. A kind of frailty, an honesty, a willingness to try and hit that note and fail but know it's alright because others have tried and failed in exactly the same way before you. Oddly, it's a comforting sound - someone opening themselves up emotionally, wailing about something raw and personal in a voice that can only invite ridicule, howls of laughter and impressions of a cat in pain. You're either on the singer's side, or you've switched off.

But you're still listening, so it's OK. You're failing with them.

There's more to say, but something strange has happened. My glasses have just snapped. There I was typing away, and ping! Left arm's fallen off completely. Almost as if the process of me writing about the indie nerd demanded something more than mere words. So there - I now look the part. As if I didn't already.

Please listen to The Margarets - http://www.myspace.com/themargaretspop

July 8th

So I've decided to start an mp3 blog.

The idea's simple. A lot of bands get in touch about playing a HDIF Presents show and I try to put on as many as I can. But as we only do a handful of gigs a year, I just can't give a slot to everyone straight away.

So while I'm waiting for the right slot for the various bands I've got on the list for HDIF Presents, I thought I could give them a plug here. Maybe someone else will be able to help out with a gig. Maybe they'll be picked up by a label. Maybe they'll become rich and famous while I'm still agonising over who should play with who and when and in what order. And then perhaps they'll send me cake and an island.

That's the plan anyway. Let's see what happens!

June 18th

Thanks to everyone who came along to HDIF on Saturday. It was a fantastic night - Paul Court turned in one of my all-time favourite guest sets (it was wonderful to hear "Beggin" by Timebox at HDIF, and that version of "Paperback Writer" backed by the music from "Daydream Believer" was
amazing...! I'm not usually a fan of mashups as a rule, but this was something else entirely!), and I had a few moments myself (Blue Aeroplanes! Comet Gain! Loney Dear! Astrud Gilberto! Three Smiths songs in a row!)

June 4th

Thanks to everyone who came along to HDIF on Friday night. It felt like a real summer HDIF to me - just full of friendly energy, with lots of dancing and good cheer. Harvey turned in a superb set of C86 and Nuggets garage pop, probably the favourite of his sets to date, while I managed a couple of moments myself.

My highlights:

* DANG-DANG, DANG-DANG-DANG, DANG-DANG, DANG-DANG-DANG, DANG-DANG, DANG-DANG-DANG, DANG-DANG-DANG - What else, but "You Made Me Realise" by My Bloody Valentine. And what a glorious glorious racket it is. I found myself
leaping around like a man possessed during the white noise breakdown bit, a guy in front of me yelling "Louder! Louder!" as the din spiralled to an ear-splitting crescendo. DANG-DANG, DANG-DANG-DANG, DANG-DANG, DANG-DANG-DANG, DANG-DANG, DANG-DANG-DANG, DANG-DANG-DANG. HDIF moment of the year? Amazing stuff. Followed by: "Where Did Our Love Go?" by The Supremes. Perfect.
* "The Porpoise Song" by The Monkees. Played early doors with only a handful of people in the Canterbury Arms. Sounded magnificent.
* "Car" by Built To Spill. Part of my tribute to the bands playing Primavera Sound - wonderful, orchestral indie rock. "You get the car/I'll get the night off..."
* I was in a Hefner mood, so felt like going for a couple of early favourites. "Sweetness Lies Within" and "Hymn For The Cigarettes" both went down a storm.
* Halfway through, I'm handed a handwritten note: "Please don't play any more Beatles". Ha - no chance! I was in a Beatles mood as well. Harvey played "I Wanna Hold Your Hand", I went for "Paperback Writer" and Taxman" (the latter of which really got hips going on the dancefloor!)
* "Crush The Flowers" by The Wake. Always a pleasure.

May 14th

Thanks to everyone for coming to the HDIF Presents show on Saturday night. It was a fantastic night - one of those nights when everything was perfect. The silence and attention afforded Chris Bathgate to begin with. The style and charm of The School (who have really hit on something special I think). The easy going magnificence of the Lucky Soul Lounge Show (including getting
the crowd to sing happy birthday down the phone to their absent bassplayer!). The jaw-dropping genius of Saturday Looks Good To Me in top form, playing a host of brilliant new songs and just pushing their sound out to wild new places. Not bad for a night out in north Brixton!

April 23rd

Just a quick note to say thank you very very much to everyone who came along to HDIF's fifth birthday party on Saturday. It was a wonderful night - thanks for the cakes and birthday wishes and general good cheer, and thanks to guest DJ Jon Slade, who turned in an excellent set of sixties soul and garage, all from original seven inch singles. Just how we like it.

My highlights:
* The robot disco version of I'm From Barcelona's "We're From Barcelona" - played directly after "Happy Birthday" by Altered Images, this really felt like a birthday celebration!
* "Every Conversation" by the June Brides - The first airing for this in quite a while. Sounded fantastic!
* "I Love You Baby" by Cindy Scott - My new favourite northern soul song. One of those songs that has a spring in its step that you just can't help dancing to. Wonderful stuff.
* "The Smell Of An Artist" by Cats On Fire - I couldn't not play something by the magnificent Cats On Fire after their show at the Luminaire last week. This organ-driven smash sounded immense.
* "In The Night Time" by The Strangeloves. Toe-tapping, hip-shaking brilliance.
* " Neo-Plastic Boogie-Woogie" by Mahogany. In tribute to our American friends who'd just played the Water Rats. Glorious!

April 16th

Thanks to everyone who came to the Butcher Boy, Cats On Fire, Shimura Curves show at the Luminaire on Friday. It was a really special night - the bands were superb, with Butcher Boy playing a heartstopping encore of "Fun" to the kind of you-could-hear-a-pin-drop silence that always gives me goosebumps. I stood in the DJ booth to the side of the stage with all of Cats On Fire, just in awe. One of those Ink Polaroid moments that will stay with me for a long, long while.
I played a few songs afterwards, and then John DJ-ed for the last couple of hours. So I got to go out and chat and dance and take photos and just enjoy the club. You know, it's not half bad. I think I'll go again!

April 10th

As predicted, the Thursday before Easter at the Canterbury Arms is a packed, messy night. A fantastic guest set from Daniel from Malmo - Los Campesinos! Hurrah! - and then it was me.
My highlights:
* Disc-Hoe by Those Dancing Days - A brand new band from Stockholm. I'd sign them to the HDIF label in a second if they hadn't already been snapped up. Rest assured, this teenage, all-girl, five piece is going to be HUGE. Imagine an ungimmicky Pipettes meets early Blondie. I actually played two of their songs during the night. "Hitten" (Swedish for hit - See? They're fantastic already, aren't they?) early on, and then this around 1am, when everyone was up and dancing. It's funny - usually when I play a great new song, a few people come up to find out who it was. With TDD, everyone was too busy dancing. This is one of those songs that feels like you've known it for years - an organ driven slice of perfect pop that's all handclaps and shaking hips, topped off by the brilliant vocal of Linnea, a mop topped superstar in waiting! We love Those Dancing Days!
* She May Call You Up Tonight by The Left Banke - We lay on the bed, there, listening to the Left Banke, just for inspiration...A gorgeous song from the Sixties legends.
* Certain People I Know by Morrissey - A classic, glam rockin' cut from "Your Arsenal".
* Sweet Baby Of Mine by Ruth Brown - Brilliant soul tune from the activist blues singer who died last November.
* "Bad Education" followed by "Postcards From Italy" - footstomping magnificence.
* "Keep On Keepin On" by The Redskins. I've become newly obsessed with this song - a scorching political dance classic from the days when they weren't afraid to write couplets like: "We've got to get the reins in our hands ourselves/Stand firm! Hold tight! And fight!"
* "Laika" by Arcade Fire followed by "Be Young Be Foolish Be Happy" - Come on Alex, you can do it!

March 19th

Thanks to everyone who came to HDIF on Saturday. A fantastic set from Ali and Andrew from Lucky Soul, building up from slow-burning soul heartbreakers (including a Dusty song I hadn't heard before which blew me away ), to hip-shaking floorfillers. Then it was me...! My highlights:
* "Cotton Fields" by the Beach Boys. An inspired request by Clare, HDIF's queen of the London gig guide, which just flew. Watching people go berserk, almost mosh-pit berserk to this was just amazing. One of the things I love about HDIF is that everyone shows up ready for action - ready to sing, dance, clap along, punch the air, self-consciousness and "cool" be damned. I can't imagine the ecstatic reaction we had during "Cotton Fields" anywhere else.
* "Whiskey" by Voxtrot. A gentle, beautiful song, which I presume was written around the same time as "The Start Of Something". There's more than a hint of B&S in its lilting tones, but even so...I could happily dance away my cares all night to songs like this.
* "Ride My See-Saw". A girl rushed up to me after I played this, amazed, saying "I must be the only person on the dancefloor to know who that was by!" Who was it then? "The Moody Blues! They were my parents' favourite band!" And she was right of course. The debut airing for this footstomping sixties pop gem.
* "Eyes Of Love" by Future Pilot AKA. I have to admit, I burst out laughing when I first heard this song, saying "What the hell is this???" It was on the covermount compilation that came with this month's Is This Music? magazine (an excellent issue by the way, well worth picking up), so I had no idea who or what it was. It sounded like Lily Allen as remixed by Duglus from the BMX Bandits - an "Uptown Top Rankin"-style sunny pop tune, with an decidedly indiepop twist. Further investigation revealed that it was Future Pilot AKA (ie, Sushil from Soup Dragons), with Stuart and Sarah from B&S on vocals. I've since got the Future Pilot AKA album, which is excellent too. Eccentric, but excellent.
* "Sympathy For The Devil" by Sandie Shaw. All I can say is: Sorry to the people who wanted to make requests who had to wait while I had a moment during the duration of this song. I'd been waiting to play this all night, and my, it was spectacular. Not just for Sandie's vocal, quite a stern, suitably demonic performance from the Eurovision queen, but the drums, which come crashing in a third of the way through, and just build and build from then on. I remember the Chemical Brothers saying they wanted to write a song called "Here Come The Drums", but couldn't ever get drums immense enough to match the title. Well, these drums probably aren't that immense either, but they sure sounded like it to me on Saturday night.

March 12th

I paid one of my semi-regular visits to my favourite boot fair on Sunday. It's in a school in Battersea, and was recently featured on Celebrity Boot Fair for Comic Relief or something like that, with "stars" selling stuff for a good cause. I didn't see it, but everyone else must have because the place was packed. I spent an hour in near-gridlock with other pushchair-wielding Dads, being forced past boxes full of vinyl that I'd normally spend a happy fifteen minutes digging through.

I was going to cut my losses and head home (for the post-boot fair ritual of tea and cake), when the crowds parted and there was room to sift through a box of albums. It was a strange mix: the usual Eighties cast offs like Bros alongside indie oddities such as The Rhythm Sisters. And lurking towards the back, a copy of "Somebody Up There Likes Me" by the Brilliant Corners. £1.50 and it was mine. A website called Retrovinyl has it onsale for £30.

And what a record. The front cover shot features some women backstage at what looks like a carnival, getting into exotic costumes - one is a yellow and green emu it seems, another is sporting a giant white and green flower afro, while the back cover captures the group in all their Eighties indie glory. Rolled up jeans. Stripy t shirt. Neat leather jacket. Manly semi-quiff for singer Davey. Released on McQueen records, manufactured by Revolver, distributed by The Cartel, catalogue number MCQ LP1. It's as much an artifact from a bygone age as a simple record.

Of course, it sounds magnificent. Went down just right with that tea and cake. Ironically, the indie track I've selected this week isn't from "Somebody Up There Likes Me", but I have my reasons. Looking forward to hearing it on Saturday!

March 6th

As always, I thought it was going to be a quiet one. With the Orchids playing their first London show in over ten years across town, I thought everyone would be at that. I know I would have been if I'd had the chance. I explained the situation to Everett, our guest DJ, and he was fine about it. "It'll be fun," he said. "We can catch up and play some records as well."

And so we did, swapping tales of fatherhood, while picking out songs by Herman Dune and the Magnetic Fields. And, of course, the place started to slowly fill up. I always love the first hour and a bit at the Canterbury Arms. It feels like the best pub in the world - people dotted around the tables, pints in front of them, the week to dissect, with some wonderful music at a manageable volume in the background. If I owned a pub, it would be like that all the time. No big screen TV, no blaring chart sounds, nothing at all from the 21st century essentially. A nice amount of people there. We'd go bankrupt within the week...!

Everett turned in an excellent set, as always, and by the time he'd finished at 11.30 (he did an early shift as he had to catch the last train home), the Canterbury was nicely full and there was a great, buzzy atmosphere. "This is exactly the wrong time to leave, isn't it?" he said, as he said goodbye.

My highlights:
* "Can't You See That He's Mine" by The Bristols. This was the female-fronted garage rock one that everyone was asking about, a glorious garage rock dancer propelled by the French vocals of Fabienne Delsol. A best-of of her songs with The Bristols came out last year on the excellent Damaged Goods label. You can get an mp3 of this song from here -
http://girljukebox.typepad.com/sugartown/2007/02/the_zombies_ind.html - and
buy the album from here - http://www.damagedgoods.co.uk/bristols/index.html
- Tell Ian I sent you!
* " The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts" by Sufjan Stevens. Glorious! Bouncing around to this was one of the best bits of the night for me.
* "The Letter" by The Boxtops. One of those instances when a request hits me like a lightning bolt. "Can you play 'The Letter'?" I was asked. Yes yes yes...I can! Don't think I've played this at HDIF for two years at least. A huge pleasure to hear it again.
* "Love Will" by Suburban Kids With Biblical Names. Finger-clicking gorgeousness from the Swedish duo.
* "It's Just A Song About Ping Pong!" by Operator Please. Brilliant, mental, Love Is All-style racket from Australia.

February 5th

A huge thanks to everyone who came along to HDIF on Friday night. It was an amazing evening. Kevin Rowland was every inch the gentleman, as expected, and he turned in a superb set of seventies soul, and stuff like the Stones, T Rex, David Bowie, Serge Gainsbourg, Toots And The Maytals, and loads more. Plus he sang over the end of a couple of songs! You can just imagine the response...
My highlights:
* Soundchecking with Kevin at around half past eight. He's set "Young Americans" by David Bowie playing, and is singing into the mic I borrowed from Brixton boy Fruitbat. And he sounds spectacular. That voice you know so well from any number of classic Dexys songs, belting out "Alright! Young Americans, Young Americans..."
* HDIF regulars Sarah and Natalie arrive with a present. "We've brought you some fudge from Swindon!" I spend the rest of the night being offered fudge by Kevin Rowland. Between us, we see off most of the packet.
* "Pressure Drop" by Toots And The Maytals. I don't think I've danced so much at a HDIF before. Everyone who comes up just laughs at me. I'm beaming like an idiot.
* "No Fun" by The Stooges. The last song of Kevin's set, but I start it going so it becomes the first song of mine. It sounds immense.
* Just seeing everyone dancing and having fun and getting on with it. There are a few first-timers who stand gawping, but the HDIF regulars register there's a legend in our midst and then get on with the important business of dancing and enjoying the music. It all feels very relaxed, very low key and friendly. Just how it should be.
* Kevin Rowland, generally. What a lovely, lovely man.

January 28th

Aren't I'm From Barcelona just the greatest live band on the planet at the vmoment? I saw them at ULU this week and they were magnificent: a gentle riot of balloons, confetti and pure, childlike joy. And the encore, where half of the crowd clambered onstage to bounce along to a disco remix of "We're From Barcelona", was hilarious. I stood in the crowd, spotting HDIF-regulars. "Oh look there's...and isn't that...hey, that's..." A wonderful night!

January 15th

So here we are: a new year, and a new page in my weblog. It's amazing to think there's five years covered just below - all slightly more comprehensibly than last year, which was lost in a haze of parenthood. Calvin's almost six months old now, has two front teeth, is teething for Britain, and is the best thing ever in the history of best things. Hopefully I'll be able to keep this weblog updated this year. I'll do my best...!

Onto the results of the HDIF Poll. As the results came in, it looked like being a fractured year - with lots of votes going to lots of different artists. But in the final few furlongs it all started coming together for just two bands. Camera Obscura always had the single of the year, that much was obvious from the start. But in the guest DJ category it was head to head between Gav and Darren, with only the former nipping in front at the very last minute. In gigs, I'm From Barcelona at JAMM was the clear frontrunner, but in albums it was all over the place, with only a last minute dash claiming it for the Swedish collective. So a great year for Camera Obscura and IFB, but 2006 was about more than just those two bands - it was about a ton of amazing music, coming from all quarters. One to remember, then. But can you spot which band are conspicuous by their absence?


Album Of The Year

I’m From Barcelona, “Let Me Introduce You To My Friends”
Beirut, “Gulag Orkestar”
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan, “Ballad Of The Broken Seas”
Joanna Newsom, “Ys”
Various Artists, “The Kids At The Club”
Camera Obscura, “Let’s Get Out Of This Country”
Tilly And The Wall, “Bottoms Of Barrels”
Yo La Tengo, “I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass”
Hot Chip, “The Warning”
Hidden Cameras, “Awoo”

Single Of The Year

Camera Obscura, “Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken”
Peter, Bjorn And John, “Young Folks”
I’m From Barcelona, “We’re From Barcelona”
Girls Aloud, “Something Kinda Oooh”
Cats On Fire, “Draw In The Reins”
Fanfarlo, “Talking Backwards”
Hot Chip, “Over And Over”
The Mountain Goats, “Babylon Springs EP”
Tilly And The Wall, “Night Of The Living Dead”
Lucky Soul, “My Brittle Heart”

Gig Of The Year

I’m From Barcelona/Suburban Kids With Biblical Names/Strange Idols at JAMM
Tindersticks at The Barbican
Lucky Soul/Irene/Language Of Flowers/Gresham Flyers at Brixton Windmill
Camera Obscura at the Scala
Jarvis Cocker at Koko
Silver Jews at the Scala
Isobel Campbell at Bush Hall
The Fall at 93 Feet East
Beirut at the Roundhouse
Nightmare Before Christmas

Guest DJ Of The Year

Gavin Dunbar from Camera Obscura
Darren Hayman from Hefner
Pat Nevin

Who You’d Like To See DJ at HDIF

Saturday Looks Good To Me
Phill Jupitus
Chris Geddes

Also mentioned:

Jens Lekman
Kevin Rowland
Bruce Springsteen doing a soul and R&B set
Jamie Holman from Tompaulin
Guy Chadwick
Gordon King from World of Twist/Earl Brutus
David-Ivar from Herman Dune
Lloyd Cole
Sharon Leach from The Gresham Flyers
Amelia Fletcher
Shirley from Spearmint
Shop Assistants
Kim Phaggs & Chelsea Kelsey
Stephen Street
The Legend!
Stephen Pastel
Steve Mackey from Pulp
Ben Gibbard from the Postal Service
Pat Nevin
Marc Riley
Stuart Staples
Tali White from The Lucksmiths

2006's weblog is right here

2005's weblog is right here

2004's weblog is right here

2003's weblog is right here

2002's weblog is right here

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