Reading Too Much Into Things

Handclaps, sweet harmonies, and a little bit of soul—it’s not the formative years of a nascent Motown, but the newest LP, Reading Too Much Into Things Like Everything, from Cardiff’s indiepop mini-orchestra, The School. And it’s not just early Motown that’s in play here. Whether it’s echoes of Lesley Gore, Del Shannon, or the Supremes, classic textures from pre-British Invasion American rock ‘n’ roll are ever present on the band’s latest effort.

It’s nothing new, of course. The School have always been a band rooted in the ’60s, but Reading Too Much finds the band on firmer footing than ever before. Where the debut LP, 2010’s Loveless Unbeliever, was assembled over the course of several years and lineup changes, the current lineup has been together since early that same year and remained consistent through the composition process of their sophomore release. It’s that consistency which has helped to build a more cohesive album than the first LP. They say you have a lifetime to make your first record. Well, time is one thing. Vision is something else entirely. Loveless Unbeliever was (mostly) the brainchild of a single person with a rotating cast of players, and, while Liz Hunt (vocals, keyboards) may remain the prevailing force, Reading Too Much is clearly a group effort, and music written with the players in mind, and which plays to their strengths will nearly always prove more successful than music written in a vacuum.

While the album is frequently driven by the keyboards which have been so prominent in their previous work, The School are at their best (at least in the context of this album), when the standard keyboard sound is traded in for a digital organ and clean guitars give harmonic vitality to already irresistible danceable rhythms, as on “Why Do You Have To Break My Heart Again” and the lead single “Never Thought I’d See The Day”, where their use in combination with handclaps, upbeat background vocals, and the classic early ’60s drum beat result in what could be a certified dance hit, vintage 1963. In other places, such as “I Should Do” and “Where Does Your Heart Belong?”, trumpet breaks prevail in such a way that will no doubt please fans of early Belle & Sebastian. One of the biggest, and most pleasant surprises here, however, is the melodic, bass-bolstering baritone sax on “The Grass Is Always Greener On The Other Side”, a driving number with such a firm grip on the Motown sound you’d think Mr. Gordy himself had a hand in it. The same could be said for “Stop That Boy” which, at least in my mind, evokes frequent flashes of early Supremes.

As a band, The School are living proof of the enduring relevance of that first decade of rock ‘n’ roll. More importantly, Reading Too Much Into Things Like Everything, makes a strong case for the belief that a good beat and strong melody can get you anywhere, even if the place you want to go is 50 years in the past. Listening to it, you may as well be cruising down Route 66 in a ’59 Impala. It’s just a shame Dick Clark couldn’t be here to see it.

Reading Too Much Into Things Like Everything is available now on LP and CD from Elefant Records.

Indiepop’d: Back to School

I’ve been hearing rumblings about new music from my old friends The School for almost a year, and now, finally, the time has come. A single, along with a whale of a cover designed by drummer and Bubblewrap Collective-ist Rich Chitty, is due out from Elefant Records on 26 March. Over the course of four brand new tracks, we find the band, still champions of the piano-driven 60s pop that dominated their 2010 debut LP, Loveless Unbeliever, exploring new sounds which build brilliantly on the aural textures established in their earlier releases.

These added dimensions are most prevalent on the A-side, “Never Thought I’d See The Day”, in which a digital organ takes up where the piano left off, a move that will please fans of Hollows and The Like. The organ gives the song a more full-bodied feel, while danceable rhythms and Liz Hunt’s usual breathy vocals keep the track firmly planted in the indie pop world without going the full garage. “When He Kisses Me” and “Where Does Your Heart Belong” are more reminiscent of the Loveless Unbeliever days, though a recorder makes an appearance on the latter where, likewise, the trumpet is used to great effect (think Tigermilk-era Belle & Sebastian), while “I Wouldn’t Know What To Do” is a stripped down ballad that relies heavily on acoustic guitar and glockenspiel. Overall, “Never Thought I’d See The Day” sees The School moving ever-so-slightly in a new, you might even say more mature and cohesive, direction, which is a promising development for band and fans alike.

Tracklist:

  1. “Never Thought I’d See The Day”
  2. “When He Kisses Me”
  3. “Where Does Your Heart Belong?”
  4. “I Wouldn’t Know What To Do”

Speaking of which, you all know The Primitives are a thing again (and have been for a couple of years), right? Which is a good thing for me, because I’ve been spending a lot of quality time with their first two LPs lately and my list of indiepop bands who were dead before I knew them has grown so long, it’s a great feeling to finally be able to strike a name off that list. In April, the Primitives (now part of the Elefant roster) will release Echoes and Rhymes. The album, featuring 14 covers of somewhat obscure female-fronted acts from the 60s will be the band’s first LP in over 20 years. If you’re a longtime fan, then no doubt you’re already feeling a twinge of excitement. But if you’re new to the Primitives, pick up their RCA LPs if you can find them (they are, I believe, out of print now, but I see affordable used copies of Lovely and Pure pop up now and then in the better indie record stores).

Either way, get listening because (and this is the best part) The Primitives and The School, will be playing a handful of UK dates together this spring. And I think we all know how great those are going to be.

The School + The Primitives, UK tour dates:

17 May: Brighton, The Haunt

18 May: Leicester, Lock 42

19 May: Wakefield, The Hop

21 May: Wolverhampton, Slade Rooms (Little Civic)

22 May: Manchester, The Ruby Lounge

23 May: Liverpool, Lomax

24 May: Doncaster, The Leopard

25 May: London, Borderline

Further details and ticket links can be found on the Elefant site.

Best of 2010: Albums and EPs

I feel as if I’ve read through innumerable Best Of lists this month, as, I suspect, do you (especially if you’ve managed to make it far enough down your googling results to reach my little bit webspace). And, as is usually the case, most of them probably read as a tidy summation of what began the year as the most anticipated releases of 2010 with a few surprises thrown in for good measure. But, as hard as I try, no list I can pull together could hope to effectively encapsulate the music of 2010. Of course, there are the usual gaps in my listening, as there are with anyone. But, more importantly, I think the legacy of this past year, at least in my experience, will be an idea. ‘Beauty is back‘.

With it’s near-flawless litany of releases, the genre-bending and earth-shattering work of New Amsterdam Records is proof enough that beauty is a priority once again. But add to that the utter sweetness of The Secret Sisters, rampant sexual tension of Bitter Ruin, the raw power of My Gold Mask and Dimbleby & Capper, and the sheer joy of Super Desserts and Allo Darlin’, and our rediscovery of the visceral impact of technique and execution is impossible to ignore.

I haven’t ranked the albums and EPs on this list. Their very appearance here will attest to my attachment to them (if you want more details—well, that’s what the rest of this blog is for). Still, despite the ironic egalitarianism of my Best Ofs, there is one album which stands out in my mind as the landmark achievement of 2010. This one.

Allo Darlin’ – Allo Darlin’

Belle & Sebastian – Write About Love [review]

Bitter Ruin – Hung, Drawn, and Quartered [interview]

Dimbleby & Capper – Slick Maturity [more info]

Hooray For EarthMomo

Ivan MoultThe Mine Canary [review]

My Gold Mask – A Million Miles (From Where We Were Last)

Public Service Broadcasting – EP One

The SchoolLoveless Unbeliever [review] [interview]

The Secret SistersThe Secret Sisters

Sarah Kirkland Snider (feat. Shara Worden and Signal) – Penelope [review]

Super Desserts – Twee As Folk [review]

VictoireCathedral City [review]

Ivan Moult and The Mine Canary

The last time I saw Ivan Moult, he had just played his fourth ever show with The School at the Wee Red Bar in Edinburgh. We’d been lamenting the proposed closure of BBC 6 Music, and the generally sorry state of the music industry. Five months and 4000 miles now separate me from the Wee Red Bar. Since then, 6Music has been granted a reprieve and Ivan has released his debut solo EP, Mine Canary, through Cardiff’s Bubblewrap Collective.

Mine Canary is a far cry from The School. Though there may be a dash of the 60s swirling around in the mix, you’ll find no Phil Spector or Brill Building sounds here. You can trace Ivan’s musical DNA through the folk scene and even deeper, dipping into the Delta blues. The songs are quite stripped down, Ivan’s smoky vocals accompanied almost exclusively by his own guitar playing, their colour enhanced by generous use of open chord voicings and rare, minimal piano fills.

For a disc like Mine Canary, choosing a standout track is an exercise in futility as any one of the last three tracks could be your favourite song on any given day. But, for purely melodic reasons and the sheer unforgettability of it, “Fetch me a bucket” has got to be the high point of the collection. Like any good folk song, it has the ring of something you’ve loved all your life with no distinct point of origin. I cannot tell you how long I’ve heard “So fetch me some water, and some bread and a bucket. / Leave me to sleep it off and send me to my bed. / And tell me in the morning how I ended up corrupted. / And then I’ll realise that you go straight to my head.” going round in my head, because, as far as I know, it’s always been there. What I can be sure of is this: when it is gone, it will be all too soon.

For years, miners in the UK and US would take canaries deep into the mines with them. So long as the birds remained healthy, the miners knew they were free from the immediate danger of toxic gas. And like its namesake, if Ivan Moult’s Mine Canary is any indicator, the world is still a safe place for music.

Loveless Unbeliever

Score: 99

I find it ironic that Loveless Unbeliever, the debut LP from The School, begins “An apology for today, an apology for a lifetime”, because I feel I owe them an apology. I recently discovered that, in my first posts about them (over a year ago, now), I called The School “twee”. I was young and new to this business, but now that I know better, it is only fair that I admit my mistake.

There’s more to The School than twee, of course. They’ve carved out a niche in that sliver of sixties throwback between Camera Obscura and The Pipettes—and what a home they’ve made there! For my money, no one embodies the golden age of pop music better than the kids from Cardiff. Loveless Unbeliever is replete with all the memorable hooks, striking melodies, and tasteful orchestrations, and Liz Hunt’s vocals are nothing short of intoxicating—I still get chills every time I listen to “I don’t believe in love” (also featuring former drummer Rob, now of Voluntary Butler Scheme).

The long-awaited LP includes most of The School’s hard-to-find early material (it’s missing Christmasy songs, including my favorite “Kiss you in the snow”, and “And Suddenly”, a Left Banke cover). And it’s a good thing the old releases have been included, because amongst them are some of the band’s best songs, such as: “Let it slip” which is essentially a perfect pop song, and “I don’t believe in love”, with a melody as sweeping as the lyrics are heartbreaking. And, lest you get the impression that this is an album built on the strength of recycled material, the seven new songs are every bit as memorable as the old stuff. The first single, “Is he really coming home”, picks up right where the Let It Slip EP left off, whilst “Can’t understand” and “Hoping and praying”are two of the most unabashedly fun tracks on the album.

Loveless Unbeliever has been a long time coming. The School were signed to Elefant Records in 2007. In the meantime, there have been some lineup changes and a quite a fuss over their early EP and singles—no doubt all contributing factors to the long wait for this album. Then again, maybe that’s just how long it takes when you set out produce an “album…full of pop hits”. Regardless, there is no filler on Loveless Unbeliever, only 37 minutes perfect indie pop that will spend weeks at a time in your stereo (personally, I’ve just reached the one month mark). Hopefully, we won’t have to wait another three years for The School’s next LP, but, if it’s even half as good as this one, it will have been well worth the wait.

[For more, read our interview with The School]

An interview with The School

There is nothing “normal” about Edinburgh. I passed two hours reading epitaphs in an overcrowded, haunted kirkyard before following adverts scrawled in chalk on the walls of medieval buildings to the Wee Red Bar (which I never would have found had it not been for a handful of strategically placed wall scribblings, because Edinburgh is a city that never fails to confuse the hell out of me—and I love it for that reason) where The School would be playing later that night. So, when the eight of us—87.5 % of the band and me (violinst Steph was not present)–piled into the van that would tow them about the country on tour, I had no idea what to expect.

By the time we’d finished, Liz (lead vocals, keyboards), Ryan (bass), Rich (drums), Fran (trumpet, backing vocals), Kay (violin, backing vocals), Harri (guitar, glockenspiel, backing vocals), Ivan (guitar), and I had covered everything from the new album and the Cardiff music scene to chat up lines and 6 Music. And what I found amongst more than half an hour of clever, insightful answers to questions I didn’t even know I wanted to ask were seven people with real interests, opinions, and the sort of multifaceted personalities you’re not allowed to express in the grown up “real world”—the sort of people I miss having around.

An excerpt from the interview is below, but I highly recommend you read the transcription in its entirety here.

The School Interview

TIH: How did this particular lineup end up together? [pause] Judging by your reaction, it’s probably fairly complicated.

Liz: It is pretty complicated. I started in 2007. I used to be in a band called The Loves, and we did some demos of songs that I was writing which were 60s influenced but more girl-group kind of things and then I recruited Ryan to play bass.

Harri: I saw an advert you put on the internet that said “anyone who can play anything, please sign up”, but I was too scared…

Liz: Yeah, we’ve had quite a few band members. They’ve come and gone because we have so many instruments. It’s just different people’s commitments and stuff, because there are so many different parts going on. In Cardiff, it’s quite a small music scene so musicians are kind of rare.

Fran: I was actually looking for some place to live, so I typed in “musicians in Cardiff” and came up with “wanted: female backing singer and trumpet player/musician” and I was like that’s me!

Kay: I found my advert on my own website, which was interesting. So I deleted it and took it.

Rich: I got in through the old guitarist. He recorded a demo of another band I’m in and they needed another drummer, so I joined that way.

Liz: Yeah. The rest were stolen from other bands. Ivan, I met at gig he was playing and I thought Ah, guitar…

[Read the whole interview]

The School in session at the Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh

I’ve been known to travel a good distance for the right gig. You may recall that, about five months ago,  I drove 400 miles for an opportunity to finally see Emilie Simon perform. It was easily the farthest I’ve ever traveled for a gig. Until last week.

On 6 March, Indie Handbook favorites The School set off on a tour in support of their long-awaited debut LP, Loveless Unbeliever (Elefant). Despite my best efforts, I was unable to be at the official release show in Cardiff, but I managed to meet up with the band at the Wee Red Bar in Edinburgh on Friday the 12th. (More wee and red than it is a bar, the venue is the sort of place you go to hear things before everyone else. Judging by the concert posters covering nearly every available inch of wall space, I’d say it’s a role the relish and fill admirably. It is not the easiest place to find the first time around, but well worth the effort.)

Getting the night off to a psychedelic start was Django Django. Until Friday night, the only Django I was familiar with was the gypsy jazz variety, but if there is any justice in the world, another one will be inducted into the musical vernacular. With captivating energy and song structures and a sound that is as hard to pin down as it is to ignore, it won’t be long before the lads from Django Django assume their rightful place on the throne where the pretender-Kings of Leon now sit.

You may remember Allo Darlin‘s brilliant “Silver Swans in New York City” from Bubblewrap Collective’s 12 Days of Christmas compilation. It was, hands down, one of the best songs of 2009, but you’ve never experienced the dynamic range of a ukulele until you’ve heard Elizabeth and company perform their live set. Long a staple of the twee scene and navel-gazing faux-folksters, the band reclaim it in the name of rock and roll. And they do so with passion and abandon. Don’t believe me? Catch them at SXSW or back in the UK for the final dates of The School’s Loveless Unbeliever tour. My one regret about the show: I got so caught up in talking with one of the band members about Buddy Holly, 3-D movies, and everything in between, that I forgot to pick up a copy of their LP.

Then, of course, there was The School—the reason I scheduled my trip when I did. They’ve gone through some lineup changes in the last year or so, most notably, perhaps, being guitarist Ivan who made only his fourth appearance with the band that night in Edinburgh. I mention this only because, even if you had been there, there is no way you could have known. Yes, perhaps there were one or two hitches over the course of the night (as there are in any live performance—emphasis on the “live”), but most importantly, the spirit of The School came across perfectly intact. That sounds a tad new age-y. Allow me to explain.

If you’ve listened to The School, you know that they have possibly the most innate understanding of the 1960s girl group sound of any band currently active—so much so, that it is not so much a reconstruction of an old style as it is the embodiment and continuation of it. But such a sound is only achieved through intricate orchestration and the vital interplay of melody and harmony, all of which is easy enough to execute in the studio—live performance is another matter entirely. And yet, new as this current lineup may be, it is all there. Common sense says it will only get better, and that is an exciting thought.

Don’t take my word for it, however. The tour is far from over, so those of you in the UK (or headed there this month) really ought to make an effort to get out to one of the remaining dates. In my professional opinion, the London gig on the 27th promises to be especially tight. As a seasoned concert-goer, I can say with complete confidence that last Friday was one of the most memorable performances I’ve ever attended, and worth every one of the 4000 miles I traveled to be there. So what are you waiting for? The remaining dates are posted below. Plan accordingly.

  • 20th Mar – BIRMINGHAM Victoria Inn
  • 22nd Mar – CARDIFF The Gate
  • 27th Mar – LONDON Bush Hall
  • 28th Mar – BRIGHTON Prince Albert
  • 31st Mar – CHELMSFORD Basement

More details about the venues and support acts can be found on the band’s blog. Come out to one of these final dates and see what my friends* can do.

* I say “friends”.  It may not be 100% “Facebook official” (yet), but you know what I mean…

A Switched On Christmas Spectacular

I love Christmas. What’s not to love (even though the fact that half the world celebrates it in the summer kinda freaks me out)? It’s the month leading up to it that I’m not so keen on. Sure, December has its good points, like Starbucks red holiday cups and the incomparable scent of winter (again, with the exception of that freakshow Southern Hemisphere). But, let’s face it, December comes with a lot of crap, too, like traffic, huge crowds, and the incomparable cold of winter (except for you know who). By far, however, the worst facet of the Christmas season is the music. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas music. What I absolutely hate is the effect it has on musicians, namely the “I’m bored, let’s make a Christmas album” attitude. Cases in point: Newsong’s “The Christmas Shoes” and Bob Dylan’s new Christmas album.

No, it’s been a decade since I’ve come across a Christmas album that delivers consistently from start to finish (it was BEC Records’ Happy Christmas volume 1, feat. a young Switchfoot, Starflyer 59, and Five Iron Frenzy, among others). This year, thankfully, has been different. There are a number of promising collections circulating right now. Here are two of them.

The Cardiff-based Bubblewrap Collective has put out a collection that is in some shops this week and ought to be for sale at Rough Trade in London sometime next week. The concept is quite clever, I must say. Twelve artists were given 31 days to write and record a song based on one of the twelve days of Christmas. The result is a varied landscape of often lo-fi, stripped-down indie goodness where ukuleles and glockenspiels (and everything else, really) flourish with an impressive line-up including: The School, Little My, Allo Darlin’, and The Bobby McGees.

Our old friends and Indie Handbook favourites, The School (who are included on a couple of other Christmas comps this season which, if we can get our hands on copies, we will also review for you) have the twelfth day (for those who, like me, don’t have the attention span to make it through the entire song, that’s drummers drumming). And they execute their share of the festivities brilliantly with the handclappy C86 ditty “Drummer Boy”. Brontosaurus Chorus, on “Calling Birds” (that’s the fourth day), manage to pull off what may be the single greatest line in the history of Christmas music: “Christmas is a time for excessive drinking”.

On the lighter side are “Five Golden Rings from the Hi 5 Kings” by The Rocky Nest (including a heartbreaking muted trumpet refrain between otherworldly vocal performances) and Allo Darlin’ with the ukulele-laden “Silver Swans in NYC”. Then there’s the relentlessly charming “Lords Keep Leaping” by Silence at Sea, complete with injected sound effects. I’m going to have to stop myself there, because I’ve got another album to talk about. You’ll just have to check out the other seven days on your own.

Venus Hum’s Switched on Christmas EP (get it here for free) is something completely different from the 12 Days compilation. Rather than a set of entirely new songs, Venus Hum have embraced the spirit of reinterpretation championed by artists like Wendy (née Walter) Carlos on such albums as Switched on Bach and Switched on Brandenburgs. (Once upon a time, the traditionalist in me cringed at the thought of such an atrocity. The post-structuralist in me has since destroyed that aesthetic neophyte.)

Certain tracks on this EP, like “Suzy Snowflake” and “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” translate naturally into such an electrified idiom. Even before listening, the concept is a welcome change. Ballads like “Silver Bells” also sync easily with the band’s dreamy electropop aesthetic, as a sort of hybrid of their first two albums (though it’s more Big Beautiful Sky than The Colors In the Wheel). On the opener, “Let It Snow”, Annette Strean’s vocals have been assimilated into the network and “switched on” along with a seemingly endless array of computers, synths, and processors to dazzling and (aurally) sparkling effect.

Going in, however, I had my doubts about how even one of my all-time favorite bands would adapt two of my favorite seasonal numbers. There is, of course, the classic “The Christmas Song”, penned by Mel Tormé, immortalized by Nat “King” Cole, here given a tastefully switched on treatment, with a bit of ambient crackling tacked on in the opening for good measure. In the cases of electro-programming wizards Kip Kubin and Tony Miracle, it is their sensitivity and, more importantly, ability to hold back that render “The Christmas Song” not only passable, but one of two “must hear” tracks on the EP. The other being “Silent Night”.

Now, about that “Silent Night”. It’s come a long way since Christmas Eve of 1818 and the debut performance (for voice and guitar) at Nikolaus-Kirche in Oberndorf, Austria. But it’s still one of those songs I prefer un-fooled-around with. Sometimes (ok, oftentimes) it’s easy to question if all of the “progress” we as human beings have made in the last 191 years, has really left us any better off or if we’ve regressed, and those really were the “good old days”. Maybe we really have sucked the world dry of all the beautiful things. Venus Hum’s take on this, perhaps quintessential, musical rendering of the birth of Christ is humbly trippy and sufficiently glitchy (just like we are), but the sound of Annette’s voice floating just over top of it leaves me with the sense (and hope) that there just may be some goodness left in the world.

Sleep in Heavenly peace”? Yes, thank you. I believe I shall.

A Sundbergian sliver of daylight

Photo by Alison Wonderland
Photo by Alison Wonderland

I know, I’ve been talking about this for a long time (here, for instance, and here, and here) and, before you ask, no, it’s not here quite yet. The School’s debut LP, Loveless Unbeliever, is slated for release in October, so you have still a couple of months to wait (for you Druids out there, that’s one autumnal equinox – two full moons for you werewolves). But far be it for me to go more than 45 seconds without thinking of my favourite Welsh pop purveyors or the album which is quickly becoming the most exciting thing to happen in 2009 (and it hasn’t even happened yet!).

Thankfully, for those like me, suffering – willfully, faithfully – from twee fever, The School have preempted their LP with the release of a split 7” (Searching for the Now 6) on Slumberland Records this week (the School take the A side with two tracks from George Washington Brown, the latest nom de rock of Pete Gofton, Kenickie’s Johnny X, on the flipside). Of course, if you’ve taken my advice in the past and visited The School on MySpace, you will recognise their cover of Left Banke’s ‘And Suddenly’. The School are perfectly equipped to pay homage to these pioneers of baroque pop with their uncanny evocation of the 1960s girl group sound with a pinch of C86 and just a dash of Camera Obscura. The performance is so well executed, in fact, that it is difficult believe that this is a cover song at all and even more difficult, still, to stop listening. When you’ve had a month like I have, this is the music that keeps you alive; listen to it about a dozen times, and suddenly, the world is full of sunshine.

You ought to know, however, that this song will not be on the album. This is the only release planned for this track (except for the B-sides and rarities collection bound to be compiled in about a decade in celebration of the band’s inevitably illustrious career). And, as if that is not enough of a reason to entice you to open your pocketbook, there are two tracks (‘End of the…’ and ‘Twin Towers’) by George Washington Brown on the B-side. No, he is not likely to be mistaken for The Angels or Shelley Fabares, but is still well worth your attention. So check it out on the Slumberland page. You will not regret it, because, as I’ve said before, at any given moment, The School are reminiscent of everything that you love about music.

Kristin is taking a week off.

Yesterday was Kristin’s birthday and because she is my friend and I have been slacking off lately, I suggested she take the week off. (Also, I am too cheap to buy her a real present.) Sorry folks, you’re stuck with me for the week, but at least you’ll get a brief respite on Wednesday, because I have another guest submission from Dan Holloway. I guess every cloud really does have a silver lining.

But wait, it gets worse. I have been crazy busy lately: the Dublin Irish Festival last weekend followed almost immediately by four and a half days out of town (that’s a lot of hours in my car and even more scones). Consequently, I have had very little time to explore and have been listening almost exclusively to Julie Fowlis, Tilly & the Wall, and the Pipettes. (In the process, I learned a beautiful Scots lullaby, which I will be happy to sing to you, if you are a girl.) So, unless you really want to hear more about one of those artists, you will have to content yourself with the news contained in this article.

In case any of you actually expressed interest in the initial clause of that last sentence, you may be interested to know that Rose Elinor Dougall, formerly Rosay of the Pipettes, is in the process of releasing her second single as a solo artist, with plans to put out a full LP some time in 2010. Also, Gwenno Saunders, currently of the Pipettes, had some success with Welsh and Cornish language electropop before joining the band.

Word from Cardiff is that The School are in post production of their debut LP. Mastering and production work were completed on Wednesday. From what I hear, all that is left to work out are the singles, artwork, and that sort of thing, hopefully to be completed in time for an October release.

Not to mention, we are but a fortnight removed from Fun’s Aim and Ignite and Imogen Heap’s Ellipse. Of course, you knew that already. What you may not know is that you can stream Aim and Ignite on MySpace right now.

Even more pressing, however, is the imminent release of the new album, Silent City (featuring Will Oldham, a.k.a. Bonnie “Prince” Billy, on three tracks), by Columbus, Ohio’s own Brian Harnetty. That is, it comes out tomorrow. For you locals, there is a release party at Rumba on Friday. Super Desserts will also be playing. I’ve heard Brian perform once before, in a local used record store. It was a low-key affair, but I was transfixed. He is Paste’s “Artist of the Week“, and deservedly so.