Trembling Blue Stars – Broken By Whispers

The Trembling Blue Stars are lead by former Field Mice frontman and Northern Picture Library member Bobby Wratton. They were meant to be a one album side project, but such was the success of Her Handwriting the debut album, Wratton drafted a band.  The songs deal with Wratten’s deteriorating relationship and subsequent break-up with former girlfriend and Field Mice band member Annemari Davies.  A sensitive melodrama evolves in this album.

Just as Wratten seems locked in a relationship that no longer exists, the Trembling Blue Stars are in a Sarah Records time warp. This is not a bad thing in my view, but it is as if the last decade never happened.  It has the distinct qualities that your would expect from a former Field Mice member. Sometimes I Still Feel the Bruise has a tiny piece of synth on it. To Leave It Now has a French voice over (slightly pretentious) . The whole album is mostly at a slow tempo, heart breaking lyrics, melancholy and very beautiful melodies.

What originally drew me to this album was the single from this Dark Eyes.  It was more radio friendly than the rest of the album and the most akin to The Field Mice

Dismissed by Pitchfork as fey-pop (I never rated that site).  Many other reviews cite this album as depressing; ‘oh come on’ I spent my pre-teens in a household that listened to Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan and then I discovered Joy Division.  This is not depressing.  But the psychiatric couch of Bobby Wratton

Trembling Blue Stars : Broken By Whispers

She Just Couldn’t Stay
Sometimes I Still Feel The Bruise
To Leave It Now
I No Longer Know Anything
Back To You
Birthday Girl
Snow Showers
Dark Eyes

Air Balloon Road

My seventeen year old daughter suggested that we have a family Sunday out in Bristol.  This roughly translates to Dad paying for train fare to Bristol and lunch, while daughter and mother wallow in four floors of Primark (Bristol has a Primark of gargantuan proportion).  I agreed to this after calculating that it would take me roughly two hours to walk to Air Balloon Road and back from Temple Meads station, I guessed that after two hours wife and daughter would only be on floor three of four in the bargain vestment emporium.

So I walk across not the most picturesque areas of Bristol to Air Balloon Road.  I arrive there and I now have to negotiate the awkward selfie with a road sign.  This is not helped by teenagers  who can’t believe that someone wants a selfie next to road marking, and they found this highly amusing.

Air Balloon Road is another collection of songs from the Sarah catalogue in a similar vein to There and Back Again Lane or the Shadow Factory.  It caused controversy at the time of release because it was available on a CD format, but with a tracklisting as strong as this it would be a travesty if it was not made available to the masses.  Notably The Field Mice End of the Affair which is one of the greatest love songs ever, and led to a girlfriend leaving me because I listened to depressing music all the time, anyway her loss. It has the first Sarah Records song; The Sea Urchins, Pristine Christine.

Various Artists : Air Balloon RoadR-926409-1220153798.jpeg

The Orchids – It’s Only Obvious
Another Sunny Day – I’m In Love With A Girl Who Doesn’t Know I Exist
The Sea Urchins – Please Rain Fall
The Field Mice – If You Need Someone
The Orchids – Underneath The Window, Underneath The Sink
St. Christopher – You Deserve More Than A Maybe
The Field Mice – The End Of The Affair
Gentle Despite – Darkest Blue
The Golden Dawn – George Hamilton’s Dead
The Field Mice – Sensitive
The Wake – Carbrain
Brighter – I Don’t Think It Matters
The Sea Urchins – Pristine Christine
14 Iced Bears – Come Get Me
The Golden Dawn – My Secret World
The Springfields – Sunflower
Another Sunny Day – You Should All Be Murdered
St. Christopher – All Of A Tremble
Action Painting! – These Things Happen
The Poppyheads – Dreamabout
Another Sunny Day – Green
The Orchids – Blue Light
Brighter – Noah’s Ark

One, Too, Twee (An Indiepop Retrospective)

Twesting, twesting, won, too, twee.

One Too Twee – An Indiepop Retrospective was apparently a bootlegged compilation from 2004. There are a few versions of this about, but I think this is the extended version.

It is a slightly controversial compilation with grebo gurus Pop will Eat Itself and the not exactly twee Jesus and Mary Chain. Belle and Sebastian are included, should they be in a retrospective? They were formed 10 years after C86 and still going strong, could be nu-twee?

I could spend days debating why Northern Picture Library and Tullycraft were not included. Well they were trying to keep it to an 80 track compilation. A complete introduction to a fey and shambolic scene, that through C86 kick started the modern indie era. With some well-known and obscure starlets of the twee scene.

Volume 1

01 – Another Sunny Day – Anorak City
02 – The Shop Assistants – All that Ever Mattered
03 – Black Tambourine – Throw Aggi off the Bridge
04 – Talulah Gosh – Bringing up Baby
05 – Pop Will Eat Itself – Like an Angel
06 – Jesus and Mary Chain – Upside Down
07 – The Vaselines – Son of a Gun
08 – Action Painting! – These Things Happen
09 – The Loft – Up the Hill and Down the Slope
10 – The Go-Betweens – Lee Remick
11 – The Bodines – William Shatner
12 – Josef K – Sorry for Laughing
13 – Orange Juice – Falling and Laughing
14 – Bubblegum Splash – Just Walked Away
15 – 14 Iced Bears – Come Get Me
16 – Autoclave – Dr. Seuss
17 – The Soup Dragons – Whole Wide World
18 – Unrest – Winona Ryder
19 – Blueboy – Popkiss
20 – The Flatmates – Happy All the Time
21 – St. Christopher – All of a Tremble
22 -Bi Bang Pow! – Love’s Going Out of Fashion
23 – The Pastels – I’m Alright with You
24 – The Roseships – Room in your Heart
25 – The Orchids – Caveman
26 – Shonen Knife – Twist Barbie
27 – The Sea Urchins – A Morning Odyssey

Volume 2

01 – The Hit Parade – Autobiography
02 – The Groove – The Best Part of Being with You
03 – The Springfields – Sunflower
04 – Strawberry Story – Ashlands Road
05 – Razorcuts – I’ll Still Be There
06 – Tiger Trap – Supercrush
07 – Blast O Country Style – All She Wants to Do Is Ride Her Bike
08 – Tsunami – Brickbook Building
09 – Beat Happening – What’s Important
10 – Marine Girls – Honey
11 – The Clouds – Tranquil
12 – The Sugargliders – Ahprahran
13 – The Lucksmiths – Untidy Towns
14 – The Chesterelds – Love Mountain
15 – The Weather Prophets – Like Frankie Lymon
16 – Miaow – When It All Comes Down
17 – Westlake – Rings on Her Fingers
18 – Lois – Press Play and Record
19 – Sundress – Give Your Heart Another Day
20 – Choo Choo Train – High
21 – The Wake – Carbrain
22 – Louis Philippe – Lazy English Sun
23 – Notre Dame – Sur Ton Repondeur
24 – Television Personalities – Goodnight Mr Spaceman
25 – BMX Bandits – Serious Drugs
26 – The Jasmine Minks – Cold Heart
27 – The Wedding Present – My Favourite Dress

Volume 3

01 – Heavenly – I Fell in Love Last Night
02 – The She-Brews – Leave All Your Old Loves
03 – The Magnetic Fields – 100,000 Fire Flies
04 – Tuscadero – Nancy Drew
05 – Belle & Sebastian – String Bean Jean
06 – White Town – Hair Like Alain Delon
07 – Cobalt – Saturday
08 – Allen Clapp & His Orchestra – Something Strange Happens
09 – Le Mans – Oh Romeo Romeo!
10 – Confetti – Yes Please!
11 – Even As We Speak – Falling Down the Stairs
12 – The Softies – I Love You More
13 – Screen Prints – Evening Feel
14 – Rocketship – Hey Hey Girl
15 – Courtney Love – Shaniko
16 – The Siddeleys – Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)
17 – Honeybunch – Mine Your Own
18 – Opal – Empty Box Blues
19 – Primal Scream – Velocity Girl
20 – Revolting Paint Dream – In the Afternoon
21 – The Pooh Sticks – Sweet Baby James
22 – Felt – Bitter End
23 – Melody Dog – Futuristic Lover
24 – Hopkirk & Lee – Free Arthur Lee
25 – The Clientele – Saturday
26 – The Field Mice – Between Hello and Goodbye

Gaol Ferry Bridge

Untitled-1The last stop on the Sarah tour of Bristol was Gaol Ferry Bridge.  Just a short walk from the centre of the city in an area that was having plenty of rejuvenation.  There were other potential areas we could of visited Battery Point which was miles away in Portishead and Air Balloon Road, which once again was away from the city centre.  I did visit the Thekla, which is a former cargo ship moored in Bristol.  It has been converted to a venue and is where Sarah Records threw a massive party when the label folded.


Below left is a jigsaw of Bristol Temple Meads Station and each piece was given away with a single.  Below right is what Temple Meads looks like now.


This ends the Sarah tour of Bristol.  I am planning a trip to Salford Lads Club as my next great indie pilgrimage.

Various Artists : Gaol Ferry Bridge

Even As We Speak – (All You Find Is) Air
Blueboy – Try Happiness
The Sugargliders – Reinventin Penicillin
Heavenly – Atta Girl
Action Painting! – Classical Music
East River Pipe – My Life Is Wrong
The Sugargliders – Ahprahran
Boyracer – I’ve Got It And It’s Not Worth Having
Heavenly – P.U.N.K. Girl
Even As We Speak – Getting Faster
Boyracer – Cog
East River Pipe – Happytown
Blueboy – Air France
Secret Shine – Loveblind
East River Pipe – Helmet On
The Sugargliders – Theme From Boxville

Shadow Factory


Eventhough there is a compilation called Shadow Factory on Sarah Records, I couldn’t find the location of any of these wartime industrial sites in Bristol.   The front cover shows the view down Welsh Back from Bristol Bridge and I don’t think there was a Shadow Factory there.


This is the first Sarah Records’ singles compilation and it encapsulate everything that is great about the label, “no unreleased out-takes or bonus mix cons, just an honest old-fashioned something we’re proud of, a statement of faith in all sorts of futures tomorrow.”  The text above was created by hand with Letraset and is so enduringly shambolic and beautiful.

These sleeve notes and hardline indie ethos did not shift large numbers of records.  But it created a mystique that enjoys a frantic cult following.

Various Artists – Shadow Factory

download Another Sunny Day – I’m In Love With A Girl Who Doesn’t Know I Exist
The Sea Urchins – Please Rain Fall
14 Iced Bears – Sure To See
The Orchids – Underneath The Window, Underneath The Sink
The Sea Urchins – Sullen Eyes
The Poppyheads – Dreamabout
The Orchids – Give Me Some Peppermint Freedom
The Springfields – Are We Gonna Be Allright?
The Sea Urchins – Pristine Christine
The Orchids – Tiny Words
The Field Mice – Fabulous Friend
14 Iced Bears – Come Get Me
The Springfields – Sunflower
The Orchids – Apologies
The Field Mice – The Last Letter
The Golden Dawn – My Secret World

Glass Arcade

glass-arcade-sarah DSC_0019Next on the Sarah Records Tour of Bristol, we went in search of the St Nicholas Arcade.  This location was immortalised in the compilation Glass Arcade.  It was easy to find. and when I got there I set about getting a picture.  Unfortunately the market sellers were so pushy I left before I could get a picture of the glass roof.  So the picture I took is of the outside.

Glass Arcade is a 16 song compilation featuring 10 bands (yes, The Field Mice have three songs on this record).  It was the third compilation and the music press scathingly called it a change to a more mature label.  The indiepop fizz had been ditched.

Various Artists : Glass Arcade
The Field Mice – Holland Street
Another Sunny Day – Rio
Eternal – Sleep
The Sweetest Ache – Tell Me How It Feels
The Orchids – Farewell, Dear Bonnie
The Sea Urchins – A Morning Odyssey
The Springfields – Wonder
The Field Mice – So Said Kay
Heavenly – I Fell In Love Last Night
The Orchids – Something For The Longing
Even As We Speak – Goes So Slow
The Field Mice – Quicksilver
Eternal – Breathe
St. Christopher – Salvation
Even As We Speak – Nothing Ever Happens
The Sweetest Ache – If I Could Shine

There and Back Again Lane

DSC_0005_thumb.jpg I was a Teenage Shoegazer, but this year I had the misfortune to hit 40.  I was expected to do something ‘special’ for surviving into my fourth decade.  There was talk of holidays, skydiving and other activities.  People who knew me better said that maybe I should go to a festival.  I quickly put a stop to this nonsense and said I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  I wanted to go on the Sarah Records tour of Bristol, which will be serialised in the next few posts.

Eventhough the Sarah Records exhibition at the Arnolfini Gallery had finished.  I picked up a fanzine and a poster from the exhibition.  The first stop on my tour was There and Back Again Lane.  Which is a very small lane, with wheelie bins, backyards and garages.  I did feel slightly self conscious having my photo taken by some wheelie bins and rubbish, but I am sure the local residents must be used to that.

There and Back Again Lane is a farewell retrospective of one of the most indie things that ever existed.  It includes their first issue on Sarah, The Sea Urchins – Pristine Christine Sarah 001, and 21 other Sarah stalwarts including; The Field Mice, Heavenly, Northern Picture Library, Brighter and The Hit Parade.  Strangely this is a CD only compilation, which seems to go against the original vinyl ideology of the record label.

It is a mixed bag of songs.  I would say that it does not sound too twee or shambolic; Heavenly’s – Atta Girl is rocking, and Even As We Speaks’ – Drown has some electronic elements.  Formed in Australia, Even As We Speak sound like a proto Saint Etienne.  The compilation reminds me of C86, because many of the songs I had not heard before I listened to the album for the first time, and it is not necessary what is on the album but what it stands for that is important.


Various Artists : There and Back Again Lane

The Field Mice – Sensitive
Heavenly – Atta Girl
The Sugargliders – Ahprahan
The Springfields – Sunflower
The Orchids – Peaches
Blueboy – The Joy Of Living
The Harvest Ministers – 6 O’Clock Is Rosary
Brighter – Inside Out
East River Pipe – Make A Deal With The City
The Wake – English Rain
Secret Shine – Temporal
Northern Picture Library – Paris
Harvey Williams – She Sleeps Around
St. Christopher – All Of A Tremble
The Sea Urchins – Pristine Christine
Boyracer – He Gets Me So Hard
Action Painting! – Mustard Gas
The Sweetest Ache – Tell Me How It Feels
Another Sunny Day – Rio
The Hit Parade – In Gunnersbury Park
Even As We Speak – Drown