Strawberry Whiplash play Hits In The Car

If you take a look back to the glory days of C86 (if a aesthetic so famously and intentionally shambolic can have ‘glory days’), one of its defining characteristics is the consistent lack of LPs—if you stop to think about it, the C86 catalogue is probably 90% EPs and Peel Sessions. It’s a common tale, really, not simply reserved for 80s indiepop (just look at all those now priceless 1960s garage and northern soul recordings, or the Oneders), but it’s long since become a hallmark of the DIY aesthetic. I’m happy to say, however, that it is not a trait that has been passed on to their more recent descendants—a trend most recently defied by Glaswegian pop proponents, Strawberry Whiplash.

Over the last few years, Strawberry Whiplash have released a string of picture perfect EPs on Matinée Recordings, most recently the unforgivably catchy Stop, Look and Listen 7” (December 2011). With nearly every recording a sure pop hit (if, in an autotuned universe, it were actually possible for this sort of thing to become an RIAA-approved ‘hit’), it would be entirely possible for Laz and Sandra to hang their hats on the occasional cluster of fuzz pop gems. Instead, much to my delight, they have released their first LP, appropriately titled, Hits In The Car.

Hits In The Car is a collection of 13 mostly new tracks that tell the story of a relationship from the initial spark of attraction to the eventual decay and dissolution. I say ‘mostly new’ because, tucked in among a baker’s dozen sparkling fuzz pop gems are some tracks from previous EPs, like the aforementioned ‘Stop, Look and Listen’. They serve, of course, to further the narrative, but hearing the irresistible melody of the once eponymous ‘Picture Perfect‘ in a new context also serves as a pleasantly unexpected reminder of just how much you’ve always loved Strawberry Whiplash.

[Download: “Stop, Look and Listen” mp3]

Alongside the classic Whiplash are several others destined to assume their rightful place in the cannon. The opening one-two punch of ‘Do You Crash Here Often’ and ‘Everybody’s Texting’ offer the perfect hybrid of late 70s post punk and the shoegaze classics of the late 80s, while the crunchy guitars of ‘You Make Me Shine’ set up what proves to be a glistening duet between Laz and Sandra which includes a short but oh-so-sweet solo guitar bridge. The pivotal point in the album narrative, ‘What Do They Say About Me’, is the sweetest bit of paranoia you’re likely to hear on a pop record, and, like all good forms of doubt and suspicion, it’s infectious. The penultimate track, ‘Sleepy Head’, once again sees multi-instrumentalist Laz McCluskey assume lead vocal responsibilities. It is also, fittingly, a far cry, stylistically, from the vast majority of Strawberry Whiplash tracks, being driving, dissonant, hard-hitting bit of shoegazing and the perfect foil for Sandra’s resolute and oddly soothing closer, ‘First Light Of Dawn’.

Strawberry Whiplash could have easily contented themselves with being a phenomenal singles band like so many of the acts from the flash-in-the-pan scene whose torch they bear. And, up to this point, they have been. But with Hits In The Car, the band have proven that they can be—and are—so much more than that. This blog has, in many respects, grown up alongside Strawberry Whiplash, so they will, of course, always have a special place in my heart. But with a band so consistently easy to love, I suppose it was bound to happen.

Hits In The Car is available on CD from Matinée Recordings.

Tracklist: Hits In The Car

  1. Do You Crash Here Often?
  2. Everybody’s Texting
  3. Now I Know It’s You
  4. Picture Perfect
  5. You Make Me Shine
  6. Looking Out For Summer
  7. What Do They Say About Me?
  8. Dining Out In Paris and London
  9. Stop, Look and Listen  [mp3]
  10. Another April
  11. It Came To Nothing
  12. Sleepy Head
  13. First Light of Dawn

New Music from Isobel Campbell

Earlier this evening, Isobel Campbell, Mark Lanegan’s frequent collaborator and co-conspirator (formerly of Belle & Sebastian) announced via Twitter that fans could download for free her reimagined version of Franz Ferdinand’s “Walk Away” in exchange for an email address.

Though her work with the former Screaming Trees frontman has been turning several heads over the last half-decade or so, and the tour for their Hawk LP (2010) remains the most properly brooding and seductive live show I have ever scene, Bel, as a solo artist, has remained sadly elusive. The current cover of “Walk Away” is, I believe, the first we’ve heard from her since Milk White Sheets in 2006. Those familiar with the Franz Ferdinand original should take note, this is a complete reimagining of the urtrack—more closely related to the great French chanteuses of the ’60s and ’70s than any Glaswegian guitar pop you’ve ever heard—more Françoise Hardy than Franz Ferdinand.

While Milk White Sheets, blew me away by frequently applying adventurous, contemporary melodic counterpoint and harmonic colors to traditional songs and folk melodies, “Walk Away” recalls an earlier vein in the enigmatic Ms. Campbell’s body of work. Built on the foundation of a subdued jazz drum kit, simple bass line, and sustained chordal string harmonies, a fairly prominent glockenspiel countermelody to complement to her soft, sweet, and breathy vocals provides much of the textural interest here and hearkens back to her first post-B&S album, Amorino, or, even more so, to her days as The Gentle Waves.

If you follow her various social media outlets, you understand how elusive Bel can be. With only some 70 tweets to her name, you’d be forgiven for believing she’d given up on the music thing entirely. But with a recent uptick in Twitter activity (including this promising post from just over a week ago), and now the offer of this new track, it seems likely that there might more for us Isobel Campbell devotees in the relatively near future. Until then, head over to her website and trade your email address for a glimpse of what’s to come. Then, tell all your friends to do the same.

Follow Isobel on Facebook and on Twitter (@Isobel_Campbell)

Indiepop’d: Stop, Look, and Listen

It’s time I took a break from dancing with wild abandon to old Alphabeat videos (with moves I learned from 1980 Cyndi Lauper) to post the first dedicated installment in our new Indiepop’d Friday series. And with that, it’s only right that we return to the place that started it all. From the early days when the original C86 tape celebrated the eponymous scene that may or may not have even existed before it was named, Glasgow has been a sort of Fertile Crescent for all things indiepop. Even now, 25 years later, the Britain’s second city remains home to many of the premier indiepop bands, labels, and club nights. And out of that jangly come Strawberry Whiplash.

[DOWNLOAD: ‘Stop, Look, and Listen’ mp3]

Strawberry Whiplash have been featured here a couple of times in the past, so I won’t go into too many details, but for those who were not with us the last time Laz and Sandra made an appearance here (two years ago) here are the basics. Laz plays the instruments. Sandra sings. The rest you can probably guess from that introductory paragraph you read about 30 seconds ago. (Bonus fact: Laz also plays in Bubblegum Lemonade.) If you want to know more, you can go read those old posts or their page on the Matinée website.

And you’ll probably want to be heading over to the Matinée site anyway to pick up a copy of ‘Stop, Look, and Listen’, the band’s new 7” and their third release on Matinée (not including a few compilation contributions)*. While their last release, the Picture Perfect EP, incorporated trace elements of shoegaze alongside jangly 60s guitars, ‘Stop, Look, and Listen’ owes more to the likes of The Shop Assistants and Talulah Gosh than to My Bloody Valentine.

The powerful melodies and whimsically wispy female vocals are vintage C86, but at the same time, this isn’t exactly the amateurish shambling of your parents’ indiepop. This is melodic DIY at it’s best: upbeat, jangly, and unforgettably singable. And how nice it is that now, in the waning days of the year we put the nail in the coffin of indie rock, there’s still a haven for we, the Terminally Uncool, on the periphery of the crumbling Kingdom of Leon. It’s enough to make you want to pull out your best jumper and do that pseudo-running man indiekid dance in the most unironic way possible.

The ‘Stop, Look, and Listen’ 7” is limited to 500 hand-numbered copies on transparent red vinyl and is available from Matinée Recordings as well of several independent record shops around the world (and internet).


1. Stop, Look And Listen [download mp3]
2. In The Blink Of An Eye
3. Luck Is The Residue Of Design

*While you’re there, have a look at their immense year-end clearance sale. There are some fantastic deals to be had. I pretty much bought half the catalogue last week, so tweet me for recommendations.

Belle and Sebastian write about love

Occasionally, I find myself muttering things along the lines of “it’s about time for ______ to release another album”. I try not to say these things too often because I, like most of you (the discerning listeners I know you are), ultimately prefer quality over quantity and I’d hate for my favorite bands to put out something rushed and rubbish because they’re afraid I’ll start snatching up Justin Bieber records left and right if they don’t. That said, four and a half years after the release of The Life Pursuit, it really is time for Belle & Sebastian to release another record. So I think you can understand what a relief it is to add Belle and Sebastian Write About Love to the rotation.

As with any Belle & Sebastian release, there are a handful of people who are once again irate that the band haven’t slapped a new cover onto If You’re Feeling Sinister and called it a day. For the rest of us who realize that fourteen years is a long time in the life of a band (Stuart Murdoch is 42 for goodness’ sake!) and that some changes are bound to happen, there is, instead, the search for that ineffable quality that makes a Belle & Sebastian record a Belle & Sebastian record. Most will, of course, find the answer they’re looking for by the conclusion of the album’s opener “I Didn’t See It Coming” with Sarah Martin taking on the bulk of the vocals. Those holding out for an even more vintage B&S vibe will be pleased with “Read the Blessed Pages” which harks all the way back to the unreleased (to my knowledge) “Rhoda” and is, arguably, the most straightforward and personal song Stuart has put out in a decade.

Stylistically, Write About Love falls somewhere between the intricately orchestrated Dear Catastrophe Waitress and the more intimate affairs of the late 90s. Speaking of affairs, there is one holdover from last year’s excursion into God Help the Girl, namely the presence of guest vocalists. It’s not as if the band have never involved guest vocalists—who could forget Monica Queen’s epic turn on the inimitable “Lazy Line Painter Jane”?—but this time round, you might say the guest vocals have gone markedly upmarket. Most notably for casual fans of the mainstream is “Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John”, a duet between Stuart Murdoch and, believe it or not, Norah Jones. It’s a juxtaposition that’s jarring at first, but after a few listens, you begin to realize that there is in fact room for Miss Jones in the B&S aesthetic. More likely to go unnoticed is the title track, a healthy dose of northern soul with a hefty cameo by Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan bound to boost my Whovian crush on my darling Sally Sparrow by at least 47 points.

While “Write About Love”, with its pitch-perfect blend of Life Pursuit and God Help the Girl, is easily the high point of the album for me, there is more still to sate your obsession for the next few years. There’s the crisply soulful “I Want the World to Stop” and Stevie Jackson’s pseudo-psychedelic “I’m Not Living In the Real World”, both of which went over beautifully with the last night’s audience at the Chicago Theater. And on the old school front is the sweetly melodic “Ghost of Rockschool” and some priceless moments scattered throughout “Calculating Bimbo”.

Those of you who are regular readers probably know what I am going to say next. It’s my favorite thing about this blogging racket: the fact that I have absolutely no obligation to maintain any semblance of neutrality. You’re only reading this because you want to know what I think about Belle and Sebastian Write About Love and I’ve only bothered to write about it because I want you to know why I was able to listen to it six hours a day for the better part of a week. God knows I’ve never seen a penny from anything I’ve ever written here and I’m certainly not beholden to any of the parties involved with this album. To my knowledge, I have only ever been in the same building as Stuart Murdoch once, but he and the rest of the Belles have been in my head for years and to hear Belle and Sebastian Write About Love is pretty solid proof that they are still there. Like I said, ineffable.

Newes from Scotland


Keeping with the “what I did on my spring break” theme, I reckon it’s about time I talk a bit about Glasgow, the sexiest city in the world, where everyone is effortlessly fashionable and Americans confidently mispronounce the name. Given that the Glasgow scene is typically lightyears ahead of everyone else, I figured it was best to pick a club, sit back, and listen. In the end, I spent two nights at Bloc+. Following is a selection of what I heard, in chronological order.

Louise Against the Elements: LAE opened the Slow Club Night (not, to my knowledge, related in any way to Slow Club the band) sporting a stripped down version of their normal set up (which, as I understand it, is sort of the idea of the night). Their sound is oozes American soul and blues rock influences, not that I want to label it an American knock-off (in fact, new research suggests that much American roots music is knock off of Scottish tradition). The music is definitely worth a listen. If I were to offer criticism to the band it would be in the arrangement of the set list. Namely, that it could benefit from some more rhythmic variation among the first few numbers and that they ought to close with “Baby Blue”, which is, by far, their best song.

Closing out the Slow Club gig were The Cinnamons. The magazine I read advertising the gig touted the band’s catchy synthpop. Synthpop, however, does not translate well in an acoustic setting. What does come across loud and clear? These guys can write an incredible hook! I might even go so far as to say that I prefer the acoustic set up—which is not to take anything away from their intended, plugged-in, sound—but the stripped down version makes the band’s uncanny melody-writing ability undeniably apparent. Check out “Analog Man” and “Dead Man’s Shoes”.

The next night was a gig sponsored by Detour Scotland, a relatively new monthly podcast spotlighting the best in Scottish music—with a twist. It is really worth checking out: I’ll embed one of their videos from this particular gig at the end of this post. Detour night brought four bands and more people than fire codes should probably allow. It was hot and crowded, the girl next to me smelled strongly of vinegar, and, in the end, proved to be one of the most memorable gigs of my life, for which one of the acts, MOPP, is more than moderately responsible.

Kristin asked me yesterday what I think the next big thing to come out of Glasgow will be. I’m not sure, really. But I will say that MOPP could likely be the “next to next big thing”(that is, something else will probably crop up before that, but this has staying power). Essentially, it’s 80s-laden, uber-reverbed, monumental pop—everything you love about 80s synth music without all the creepiness of “The Air Tonight” (dear God, I hate that song!…). I hesitate to even attempt to describe it any further. All I will say is that, before the show, everyone I spoke to told me it was going to be phenomenal and, having now heard MOPP, I would have to say that, if anything, “phenomenal” is an understatement.

For those of you who are so inclined, (which ought to be anyone looking for good music) visit MOPP on MySpace. Whilst you’re there check out his remixes at the bottom of the playlist. I am a particular fan of the remix of Oasis’s “Wonderwall”, though there’s a Phoenix remix on there as well for those of you reluctant to venture beyond pre-approved contemporary indie fare.

That’s it for now. I will award 83 Sexy Indie Nerd (SIN) points to anyone who can identify the source of the title of this post (without Googling it). And, if you’ve read it, you can be my best friend and maybe we can make out a little bit the next time we see each other.

A Picture Perfect EP from Strawberry Whiplash

Picture Perfect EP - Design by Jimmy with image from Gordon
Picture Perfect EP - Design by Jimmy with image from Gordon

Once upon a time, I told you about a band from Glasgow. No, not that one. Not that one either. This one. At the time, Strawberry Whiplash were coming off the release of their debut single “Who’s in Your Dreams” on Matinée Recordings. With it, Sandra and Laz (the same man behind Bubblegum Lemonade, also on Matinée), found an audience well prepared to be seduced by their brand of fuzzed-up C86. And now, this month, Strawberry Whiplash are back with their follow-up, the Picture Perfect EP (and, dare I say it, it nearly is).

Strawberry Whiplash reach a degree of excellence in the opening measures of this EP that few bands can even dream of and, even more impressive, manage to sustain it throughout all four tracks without ever becoming pretentious. Sandra’s vocals are hypnotic and intoxicating; delivered with such a straightforward, unassuming sweetness that the listener would certainly feel like the scum of the earth for turning a deaf ear. And yet, the fuzzy (at times, even crunchy) sound of Laz’s guitar, keeps things from ever turning saccharine.

And the Picture Perfect EP has the sixties stamped all over it. The title track features the perfect simple sixties drumbeat, reminiscent of just about every good song released from 1961-1965, whilst “Celestial” betrays shades of Strawberry Alarm Clock in between bursts of organ, a la The Doors. “Hay in a Needlestack”, with the prominent pairing of a glockenspiel doubling Sandra’s vocals on the refrain, is by far the pinnacle of sweetness on this EP. The EP closes with “Falling Through”, which is, quite simply, quintessentially Strawberry Whiplash.

I’ve been spinning this EP since Saturday. I must have listened to it about a bazillion times by now. At 11 minutes, this is not a difficult feat to accomplish, made all the easier by the fact that the band’s trademark brand of shoegaze-y C86 is particularly easy to swallow. My only issue with this picture perfect EP is that I wish it was longer; now that would be even perfecter.

You would be well advised to head over to Matinée and make your purchase as this release is limited to 1000 copies. However, if you’re the sort of person who likes to try before you buy, you can download the title track, “Picture Perfect”, here.

MP3 – Strawberry Whiplash, “Picture Perfect”

Two reviews for the price of one, which is free

Regina SpektorFar

Regina Spektor is back with a new album (her third or sixth, depending on whether you can count or not). There are a lot of things to like about Far, the new album, out on Tuesday. People who got all pissy over the Begin to Hope, will like that this leans more in the direction of her older albums on this record, while those who loved the last album will be happy to know that, while there is a lot to think about in this record, they don’t have to think about it unless they want to. (Read the rest)

God Help the GirlGod Help the Girl

It’s not unheard of for a band to provide the soundtrack for an album and history would indicate that it is really something of a hit or miss experience. Think about it. Where would we be if Once had not launched The Swell Season into the spotlight? Then again, Björk’s soundtrack for Dancer In the Dark (a sickeningly brilliant film by Lars von Trier) was a major disappointment, if only because the other actors who sang with her could not begin to approach the shear drama and power packed into every pitch she produces. God Help the Girl is, in a way, a soundtrack as well, but one accompanying a film by Stuart Murdoch that does not quite exist yet. So we have to begin the review process at a loss. (Read the rest)

An open letter to “cool” kids everywhere

In case you have forgotten, there are some big releases due out next Tuesday the 23rd (Monday for you Brits). I was going to review one of them, God Help the Girl, tonight, but I got distracted (more on that later). Instead, expect a double review on Monday (GHG, and Regina Spektor’s Far). Also on the cards in the near-ish future, Imogen Heap announced yesterday that her new album, Ellipse, will be released (in the States) 25 August, which is also the scheduled release date for Fun’s upcoming Aim and Ignite. But the biggest news of the day, at least for me (and not only because I love Welsh accents), The School have finished recording their debut LP! With mixing and stuff still to be done, they are aiming for an October release. So excited!

So, anyway, why are you not reading a review right now. Well, I was doing a bit of research whilst writing my God Help the Girl review and came across this analysis over at Drowned in Sound. I am not going to argue with the judgment of the author because he has had a lot of time to listen to listen to a hard copy of the record whilst I have had only recently had a couple of passes through an online stream. I do, however, take issue with the tone of the article, because it seems that Mr. Tudor has fallen victim to his own coolness.

We are not 100 words into the article before he declares God Help the Girl to be “another step backwards”–for Belle & Sebastian. Funny thing, though. This is not a Belle & Sebastian record. Judging GHG in light of Tigermilk or If You’re Feeling Sinister is like calling Band On the Run a step back for the Beatles because it’s not The White Album. I suppose it would not be completely justified to take Mr. Tudor too severely to task for the style of his critique. As a reviewer, it is essential to recognize that there are certain landmarks within each genre (for instance C86 or the Velvet Underground) and that they are necessary in describing other albums and artists. And in a genre that was in many ways created by Belle & Sebastian 13 years ago and dominated by them throughout the ensuing decade, B&S references are inevitable. Perhaps, he has simply taken that comparison a step too far. (Ironically, I suspect that, frequently, reviewers are not nearly as familiar with the reference points they invoke as they let on. I, for instance, have never actually heard the C 86 compilation, but that hasn’t stopped me from referencing it on several occasions. Or, everyone touts the “literary influences” of Belle & Sebastian, but how many of them have actually read John Whiting’s The Devils? [For the record, I have.])

Now, it is quite possible that, upon closer examination, I will not like God Help the Girl. They may not arouse in me the undying devotion that Belle & Sebastian do. Be that as it may, it will be a strike against God Help the Girl, not against B&S. Who knows, it might even awaken the ennui in me and I will find something in the album to be entirely indifferent about. You will have to wait until Monday to find out. But I have listened to it a couple of times and, unfortunately, I like it. I guess I’m not a critic after all, but one of those pathetic, toxic creatures who typically reserve their passion for football clubs and SciFi television programs. I am a fan. Luckily, I live in the American Midwest where we’re all backwards, inbred, and friendly to begin with and you will never have to come within 35,000 feet of me.

It’s UK Day at FAIBW!

Hello, everyone!  Please forgive us for not covering Follow An Indie Band Wednesday (FAIBW…fyi) last week!!  We are eternally apologetic.  Tonight will not disappoint because tonight I noticed that many of the best from FAIBW are from the United Kingdom and I am thereby declaring today UK Day at FAIBW.  Do I have the authority for that?  Well…yes.

We Were Promised Jetpacks hails from Glasgow, Scotland.  I had never heard them before tonight and I’m ready to purchase everything they’ve got out.  Too bad I am poor.  Anyway, We Were Promised Jetpacks can be described as tight alternative indie, with driving guitar and cathartic build.  I’m  in love with the listening experience here…the intense amalgamation of talent and passion.  Between the four songs on their myspace page, I can’t pick one favorite–everything they’ve got is so completely together, and their hearts are completely in it.  They strike the glorious balance between power and fragility, something that doesn’t always fall into place with other bands.  Also, Eric and I decidedly love Scottish accents, although he will be less than thrilled that these are boy accents and not girl ones.

My next UK favorite of the day is Dinosaur Pile-Up.  These alternative indie Brits have not let me down except in picking a weird band name (boys are weird).  They have especially not let me down in their attractive myspace profile picture–it is QUITE sexy.  But seriously…I was going to say that Dinosaur Pile-Up is pretty similar to We Were Promised Jetpacks in its drive, but their heavier guitars and darker vocals really make that a stretch, so I won’t say it.  They’re more grunge than melodramatic, but they’re absolutely adorable nonetheless.  And very rock’n’roll.  Also, I really want one of those cool tshirts.   White, size small, please.  Who is going to make that happen?  They’re so rock’n’roll!!  And maybe some Clash-inspired lyrics?  Did I make that up?

Finally, in keeping with tonight’s trend of inexplicable band names, United Kingdom origins, and a more alternative vibe than you usually get from Miss Indie Folk (that’s my new nickname, btw), here is Scientist The Orange Pip!  Actually, Scientist The Orange Pip is, while still alternative  indie, not too far from crossing border into emo, but their innovative sound and rhythmic play prevents them from getting there and emotionally convinces me, which is something most emo (read: Dashboard Confessional) fails to do.  However, if you have emo leanings, this may be your thing.  The changes in “Lupitas Observation” rival The Format’s ability to brilliantly cater to ADHD listeners, so obviously I recommend it, and “Proof of Propensity” has a great sound as well, a bit different from their other songs.  I think my favorite thing about these guys, though, is their background vox.  Is that weird?  They’re fun, biotches.  So, button up those skinny jeans, smudge that eyeliner, and freaking check it out.

Thanks The_Recommender, Miss_Cain, and NatGuy for winning suggestions this week.  Thanks to the UK for producing such fabulous music.  See ya next week for Follow An Indie Band Wednesday!  (Unless of course something cooler comes up, in which case you should be here anyway, shouldn’t you?)

This is the International Tweexcore Underground

In many ways, the city of Glasgow is a driving force behind The Indie Handbook (and not just because I am of Scottish descent and not-so-secretly wish I could live there)–it is also the home of indie gods Belle & Sebastian (and one of my celebrity crushes, Isobel Campbell). No, this is not about Belle & Sebastian, seminal as they may be, you already know how fabulous they are. This is about fellow Glaswegians, Strawberry Whiplash, a band with one of the best names I have ever heard.

Strawberry Whiplash are Laz McLuskey (who writes the songs, plays the instruments, and also records as Bubblegum Lemonade) and someone named Sandra (who sings the songs that Laz writes). You probably wouldn’t actually have to listen to Strawberry Whiplash or see a list of their influences to have an idea what to expect, a photo of Laz with his classic red Rickenbacker would be sufficient. But for those of you not as presumptious as I am, think of that jangly C86 guitar sound with a Velvet Underground fuzziness (see also: “Factory Girl”, a musical homage to Warhol’s “poor little rich girl”, Edie Sedgwick).

The band is part of an impressive lineup on Santa Barbara’s own Matinée Recordings (including Bubblegum Lemonade, Cats on Fire, the Electric Pop Group, and the Hermit Crabs). I will probably refer to this roster a lot in the future. But right now, I am only concerned with the distinctive, cutting Rickenbacker jangle and Isobel Campbell-like vocals of Strawberry Whiplash. They have released one EP, Who’s In Your Dreams, all of which you can hear on their MySpace.

My favorite thing about Strawberry Whiplash: they are self-defined “part-time indie popsters” with real jobs, like we are, but we (much to my dismay) do not live among the Scots (and their intoxicating accents).