It’s rather fitting Sarah Records’ headquarters in Bristol were just minutes away from the Clifton Suspension Bridge, one of England’s most notorious suicide spots. Because for eight years, this independent label’s gossamer paeans and against-the-grain sensibilities had many indie pop fans wanting to take a flying leap.
The visits made Gabrielle Drake apprehensive. Strangers in off-putting attire from places like America or Australia, arriving unannounced at her parents’ brick, Queen Anne home. They climbed out of vans in groups, or sauntered up individually on foot, never put off by Far Leys’ rather uninviting characteristics: the dark Georgian windows, the large, wooden gates at the foot of the driveway, its location at the end of a hushed, leafy Bates Lane.
Why Irish folk? Why now? The easy answer: the ubiquitous summer Irish festival. Somewhere in America, there’s one place taking right now. Music, of course, is thoroughly showcased at such festivals, though it’s frequently done so without any context. The hope is this bluffer’s guide will provide the uninitiated with enough background should they find themselves enthralled with a particularly thrilling set of reels at such a summer festival.
NME’s C86 cassette was promoted with a week-long series of gigs at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts, spawned a genre of the same name, and is feted on a regular basis by blogs such as Indie MP3 – Keeping C86 Alive! Twenty years later, the compilation remains firmly entrenched in the indie pop enthusiast’s consciousness.
Named after a gang of miscreants in a B movie and run by a woman (Bettina Richards) once profiled in the New York Times under the headline, “It’s Her Label and She’ll Sign Who She Wants To,” Thrill Jockey has always been rather left-of-center when it comes to catalogue and convictions. So last November’s industry-shaking move came as a surprise to very few.
Last year, in a piece for the Guardian Unlimited, American writer Dave Eggers reveled in the delight of meeting an adolescent hero: Phil Wilson, one-time singer/songwriter for the ’80s pop band June Brides. Eggers regales, in I-walked-to-school-uphill-both-ways style, how he and fellow Anglophiles would puff 20 miles on beat-up Huffys to Evanston, Ill., to procure near-impossible-to-find vinyl and then bike back, albums snug inside cardboard-lined backpacks, safe from any pothole-induced creasing.
During the early 19th century, affluent Britons suffering from maladies of all sorts trekked to the tiny hamlet of Leamington Priors. There, ailments such as gout and rheumatism were soothed (or, it was whispered, even cured) by the town’s multitude of mineral, saline springs, which had been rediscovered by residents in the 1780s. Bathhouses such as the grandiose Royal Pump Rooms and Baths—featuring the world's first gravity-fed piped hot water system—were constructed upon the springs, allowing vast throngs of the opulent to “take the waters.”