With a risk of being cheesy I am going to reference Alcopop!’s Twitter handle to start what is essentially a love letter to their wonderful label; I LOVE ALCOPOP.
The good ship Alcopop has now sailed into its tenth year (literally, as it was marked with a boat trip on the Thames) and in that time they have released some of my favourite records, tapes, CD’s, downloads, clothing and other assorted music based items.
So to celebrate, here are, in no particular order, ten of the best releases from the last ten years of Alcopop! Records.
Gunning For Tamar – Camera Lucida (2013)
Gunning For Tamar played incredibly expansive indie rock – quiet and loud in all the right places; a combination which made them excellent both live and on record. The band’s final release, Camera Lucida, was probably the jewel in their crown. Everything they worked on previously came together in the form of an EP which combined story telling, lyrically and musically. Angular guitars, building vocals and a combo of drums, bass and guitar creating aural journeys as tracks flow in and out of each other.
The sad thing is Gunning For Tamar are no longer a band (sob).
Stagecoach – Say Hi to the Band (2013)
This was the one and only full length release by Stagecoach – a band who were seemingly always on the cusp of greatness. The record took a lot of the best bits from previous EP and single releases and packed them into one of the most playable records I own. There is an astounding level of accessibility to Stagecoach’s off kilter indie pop; every chorus hooks into your brain and the verses are full of clever quips combined with an honest emotion. This songwriting approach makes every track on Say Hi to the Band great, and that’s before even mentioning the angular guitar/mandolin combo – trust me, it’s a winner!
The sad thing is Stagecoach are no longer a band (sob).
Ute – The Gambler EP (2010)
Ute are one of those bands I feel privileged to have seen live, in part because they were hard to catch live and in part because they were so good every set felt like an honour. This EP was the closest they came to capturing the slightly chaotic but super tight sound of their live performances. It has so many influence points ranging whole genres (folk, shoegaze) to particular bands (Radiohead, early Mystery Jets) to writers or lyricists (Roald Dahl, Hunter S Thompson, even Nursery Rhymes!). Vocally this is a sublime release. Musically this is a sublime release.
The sad thing is Ute are no longer a band (sob)
Her Parents – Happy Birthday/Physical Release (2013)
From the ashes of party hardcore champions Dananananaykroyd came Her Parents to create arty hardcore. Her Parents were an exciting prospect combining creative lyrics with a snarl, angular guitars and a frantic pace created a double release which left you breathless amused and enthused. The fact both of their releases fitted so perfectly onto a single 12” makes them sound almost like a gimmick but I can assure you Her Parents are serious and well worth a listen.
The sad thing is Her Parents are no longer a band (sob)
The Attika State – Measures (2010)
The Attika State released one of those records that sounded career defining; I honestly think that if this record came out in 2016 it would be the next big thing, sadly it wasn’t. Measures is an absolute triumph of emo/pop inspired indie rock combining saccharin sweet choruses, pop hooks and angular guitar lines into a sound as accessible as it was individual. Vocally the two pronged harmonies and vocal strengths created the perfect platform for lyrics which dealt equally in heart and whimsy. This powerful pop record is another unbelievably listenable choice and further evidence that Jack captains a tight musical ship.
The sad thing is The Attica State are no longer a band (sob)
Radstewart – Wiccans and Beatlemancers (2014)
Sometimes, in a release, intelligence comes across as alienating and/or pretentious. Radstewart, however, managed to document their lives using lyrics full of educational reference without doing either. This release is full of excellent word play and a vocal delivery that combines the modern post punk of Bromheads Jacket with the tone and wit of Jarvis Cocker. However, it’s the musicianship that makes this EP so outstanding; the guitar lines are so sharp and angular they could slices your ears open. It is nearly impossible not to fall in love with this release.
The sad thing is The Radstewart are no longer a band (sob)
Brawlers – Romantic Errors of Our Youth (2015)
If you ever find yourself with twenty minutes to spare I implore you to spend them listening to this album in full. Brawlers are full of infectious and impassioned energy, all delivered to your ears at a furious speed. Every guitar part is brutish and the musicianship is uncharacteristically heavy for what is essentially a modern take on pop punk, with the standard Americanised vocals and lyrics replaced with emotive gruff chunks of truth. Brawlers are a powerful entity and Romantic Errors Of Our Youth is a modern classic.
Tellison – Hope Fading Nightly (2015)
Hope Fading Nightly is not only the best album by Tellison it is also one of the best releases of the last ten years or more (strangely a lot of these seem to be on Alcopop!). Absolutely everything about this album is perfect, you will laugh and you will cry but most of all you will fall in love with Tellison and their incredible grasp of songwriting. Lyrically this is the truest album I have ever heard, the open writing style and clever musicianship fit together wonderfully creating feelings and emotional bonds.
Johnny Foreigner – You Can Do Better (2014)
Not only is this record an aural treat and an excellent example of Johnny Foreigner’s ever improving songwriting it all came pressed on a beautiful piece of glittery vinyl. I would place this release firmly at the top of a very strong back catalogue, with its combination of glitchy, snarly indie punk and a Britpop polished quality. You Can Do Better is an is an absolute hit fest and one that should grace every record collection.
Katie Malco – Tearing Ventricles / The Slow Parade LP (2013/2011)
I love a bargain, this double release is definitely a bargain. Two Malco EPs on one lovely red 12”; the double sided artwork is awesome but most importantly the music is beyond beautiful. Since the first time I heard ‘and the Slow Parade’ Katie Malco’s vocals have had a direct line to my heartstrings and tear ducts; she has one of the most emotive voices I have ever heard. The combination of the stripped back acoustic debut release The Slow Parade and the wider instrumentation of the follow up Tearing Ventricles creates a lovely contrast – but whichever side you’re listening to, prepare to emote.
You can find (almost) all of these albums on various formats at the Alcopop! Records Store.