Yuletide Is In

December 24th Sketch

December time again so here is our latest attempt to keep the Bing and Mariah demons from your door. ‘December 24th’ is a 6-track EP of originals from some of the usual Indiecater suspects and a couple of newbies. Not your archetypal Christmas release by any means but a heart warmer all the same. Step into our Christmas this way.

Christmas Time Is (almost) Here Again

Charlie Brown Tree

We like to think of ourselves as Christmas music aficionados with an interest in all things sleigh bell related. So that is why we spend quite a few summer nights tapping up our favourite bands to see if they are interested in writing a brand new song for our Christmas compilations. To a man/woman they laugh at our timing but these are the length’s one has to go to to ensure a festive release. And so since Indiecater emerged from the blogging undergrowth in 2008 quite a few pristine yuletide numbers have slipped out into the wider world. And 2013 will be no different as huddled in various corners around the world, at this very moment, are bands we know in the throes of recording their merry little jangles for inclusion on An Indiecater Christmas 2013. Twill indeed be the season to be jolly.

We Couldn’t Let Christmas Go Without Playing You Some Music

There’ll be no Indiecater Christmas release this year so instead we’ve put together a 12-track retrospective featuring the best songs from our previous compilations. You can buy them here, here, here and you can even take one for free here. As a special bonus to those who buy all three comps there is a discount if you use the code ‘trindiecater’ at time of purchase. Have a lovely time over the next few weeks!


1) Adam & Darcie – Silver Bells
2) Allo Darlin’ – Baby, It’s Cold Outside
3) Candy Claws – Snowdrift Wish
4) Natalie Prass – No Better Time
5) Nina Hynes – Twinkle
6) Renington Super 60 – Here Comes Christmas
7) Standard Fare – Tinsel Politics
8) The Garlands – Christmas Song
9) The Very Most ~ Away in a Manger
10) The Very Most ~ Wombling Merry Christmas
11) Venice Is Sinking ~ The Grey Line
12) I Hate You Just Kidding ~ It’s Fun To Do Bad Things

[Review] The Van Allen Belt – Meal Ticket To Purgatory

The Van Allen Belt - Meal Ticket To Purgatory

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[audio: http://www.mp3hugger.net/indiecater/thevanallenbelt/The Van Allen Belt – Dr. Layman’s Terms-The Hills Are Alive.mp3, http://www.mp3hugger.net/indiecater/thevanallenbelt/The Van Allen Belt – The River Hive.mp3, http://www.mp3hugger.net/indiecater/thevanallenbelt/The Van Allen Belt – So It Goes.mp3, http://www.mp3hugger.net/indiecater/thevanallenbelt/The Van Allen Belt – Way Up.mp3, http://www.mp3hugger.net/indiecater/thevanallenbelt/The Van Allen Belt – Alaska Dreamin’.mp3, http://www.mp3hugger.net/indiecater/thevanallenbelt/The Van Allen Belt – The Revolution Will Be Merchandised.mp3, http://www.mp3hugger.net/indiecater/thevanallenbelt/The Van Allen Belt – How To Get Along Famously.mp3, http://www.mp3hugger.net/indiecater/thevanallenbelt/The Van Allen Belt – Charity Sex.mp3, http://www.mp3hugger.net/indiecater/thevanallenbelt/The Van Allen Belt – ‘Twill Always Be Last Sunday.mp3, http://www.mp3hugger.net/indiecater/thevanallenbelt/The Van Allen Belt – Baby Boomer Backstroke.mp3, http://www.mp3hugger.net/indiecater/thevanallenbelt/The Van Allen Belt – I Can’t Believe You Murdered Me.mp3, http://www.mp3hugger.net/indiecater/thevanallenbelt/The Van Allen Belt – For The 20th Time.mp3, http://www.mp3hugger.net/indiecater/thevanallenbelt/The Van Allen Belt – Love With A 10 Ft. Pole.mp3, http://www.mp3hugger.net/indiecater/thevanallenbelt/The Van Allen Belt – Vancouver.mp3|titles=Dr. Layman’s Terms/The Hills Are Alive, The River Hive, So It Goes, Way Up, Alaska Dreamin’, The Revolution Will Be Merchandised, How To Get Along Famously, Charity Sex, ‘Twill Always Be Last Sunday, Baby Boomer Backstroke, I Can’t Believe You Murdered Me, For The 20th Time, Love With A 10 Ft. Pole, Vancouver]

Stream The Album Above!

I have fallen in love with the voice of a woman I’ve never met or even seen. This won’t end well; I have a wife and kids to think about, but I can’t help myself. The voice in question belongs to The Van Allen Belt’s Tamar Kamin who, along with B.K. Ferris, Tom Altes and Scott Taylor form one of the most talented bands out there today. These guys manage to conjur all manner of ideas with the power of their personalities and the combined unusualness of their musical path. I recently listened to their Meal Ticket to Purgatory album, and it’s hard to do justice to this thick slab of high quality choonz, but I’ll try. I’ll also try not to creep out Ms. Kamin by repeatedly referring to how great her voice is. Or not. We’ll see.

The first track was a hazy chant, designed to test the listener, I reckon. It eventually turned into “The Hills are Alive” which was like stepping into another world. Much of this song sounds like a lost Beatles hit, unearthed from an archaeological treasure trough in John Lennon’s back garden…with some Zappa and Residents thrown in for good measure. This is eclectic stuff, executed with as much confidence and ability as anything I’ve ever listened to. They’ve inspired a new word in me: Optimational, a kind of direct antithesis of a live Morrissey concert. Even stranger, I just checked their Twitter page and they only have 124 followers! Perhaps I should handle their social media efforts…

After “Hills” the next track is “The River Hive”. This one left me speechless. It hits you like an external belt of energy that literally envelopes and infuses star-borne particles that cause flowers to bloom in your heart, flowers that are absorbed into the bloodstream and supply a new kind of motion to the brain. I’m serious; this is amazing. The vocals carry warmth that is so utterly convincing I’m suspicious these guys are remote viewers or at least seasoned emotional manipulators. Don Draper’s famous “Carousel” description should have had this tune as a soundtrack. The tune switches to a musical roiling rhythm for the last minute or so that sounds like the Thirteenth Elevators and Sky Sunlight Saxon’s Masters of Psychedelia fused together in some superhuman genetic physics experiment. It worked. “The River Hive” explodes on the mind’s taste-buds like a picnic in a faraway sunsplashed hippie utopia. The mystery girl swears frequently, providing a realism to temper the dreamy quality of her powerful voice. I really need to find her number. Has anyone got it?

“So It Goes” comes next, like Dusty Springfield skipping along a busy 60s city sidewalk on some unknown designer drug that keeps swaying way out into the far spiral arms of what is possible with our monkey minds. The same optimism of “The River Hive” is present. There’s a sense of being on a journey. On foot. Feet, sorry.

“Way Up” bears the now familiar expert-sounding cohesion of all that flowed before it. Folksy and whimsical, again reminiscent of a top 60s diva, it sounds like Springfield reached her destination where she apparently works as a waitress (at least I hope she’s a waitress and not something filthier). One who says things like “I hide from you, and hope you die…” while sounding like the most wholesome girl in the tri-State area, especially when she signs off with “…I just…hope…you’re in time for dinner!”. Tasty stuff.

“Alaska Dreamin'” comes next. For some reason I see this song as a Van Allen Belt anthem in the same way that “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” is a Kinks anthem. The song bears reference to finding a job was “just a practical joke” and entails driving all night and sleeping all day. Ironically, the tune reminded me more of the daytime, a frenetic retro city, where Mad Men and secretaries thronged archaic sidewalks and slipped into incongruous revolving doors of pale green glass. But that’s just me. Ben Ferris from The Van Allen Belt puts it like this:

“People often ask “How did you make Meal Ticket…?” The answer: by borrowing money from friends and sponging off well intentioned people. And then eventually, I had to deliver pizzas again. When I was working, I kept the radio off. It was on the road that I wrote many of the lyrics. When we recorded ‘Alaska Dreamin’’ I really was a pizza guy.”

Driving all night, indeed. There’s a satire here, and everywhere else, that is not unlike that of cult 80s British band “Deaf School”. The same glittery smile that masks a million guffaws. The same nod to eras past as a way to avoid eye contact with today’s vacuous vipers who live to insult via the Web.

“Alaska” starts with a trademark ‘period piece’ effect. It feels like morning. Clonging (is that a word?), a rapid belltower peals out over a weird mid-60s “Winchester Cathedral” type quasi-English landscape, where everyone dresses in purple velvet with lacy ruffles at their necks. This song has a morphology of its own; Beatles a la “Yellow Submarine” cartoon, complete with elongated legs that terminate in comical Paul McCartneyesque bellbottoms that swish through multicolour leaves, fallen from alien trees at the end of what feels like a fantabulous summer in this secret valley city.

“The Revolution Will Be Merchandised”, possibly a play on “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”, sees the VAB break out the brass instruments. Kamin unleashes more of those strong drawn-out vocals, comparable to Arthur Lee at his best. Along with the cursing comes reference to kids on the streets who are “murdered on a daily basis”, jarring and infinitely more energetic than political messages broadcast by lesser artists. Tamar Kamin’s voice truly sounds like that of someone who is very famous, and it’s a great injustice that needs putting to rights. This is followed by “How To Get Along Famously”, a tune has an old swing to it, with an orchestral quality. When Kamin talks of “everybody’s eyes all over me” and says “Let’s give this town a show” there’s no trace of the former hippiedom. They sound more like sophisticated conservative elitists, or more correctly, social chameleons climbing the status vine up to where the ruling lizards dwell.

In “Charity Sex” the seriousness peters out with a smashing echo trailing off the words, like a female version of that strange “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!” song from 1966. Psychedelic diva Kamin sounds interested, ashamed and appalled by the phenomenon of charity sex, but it doesn’t stop her from singing about it. I just want to run away with her and live in one of her songs forever. My wife’ll kill me if she reads this.

“I can’t Believe You Murdered Me” has a drumbeat tambourine not unlike Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” and a distinct tint of the 80s about it. Reminiscent of Plasticland’s sterling 1984 Color Appreciation album, It ends with the most beautiful little tune repeated several times that resembles a spectral dewdrop condensed from tears of radiant joy on a blade of mystic grass on a lawn that gyrates about some multiverse axis of oneness like a love boat in an ecstasy whirlpool. Too much? Nah. Well, maybe a bit. This little tune, like a lot of this album, either sounds like something else from the deep recesses of the subconscious or else induces dejas vu. Whichever one is true, they definitely know what they’re doing, and that to me is the true measure of a good band. Take The Who for instance; their early-60s catalogue is absolute dynamite, proper top stuff. But later that decade, and especially in the 70s, they lost control of their own sound. They didn’t know “who” they were anymore (God, I’m funny when I get going). Not the case with the Van Allen Belt. By which I mean they know who they are and what they’re doing, not that they’re not funny. They’re very funny, I can assure you, in a kind of a David Byrne sense.

“For the 20th Time” has a kind of Roaring 20s-meets-Sandy-Shaw-on-acid feel to it, and I’m now packing my bags and wondering what I’ll write in the letter I leave on the kitchen table for my wife to find…Kamin mentions “mind control” in this song, arousing more fears that these guys are actually part of the CIA’s Majestic 12 Group. Hmm, maybe I should just forget her. She sounds like trouble.

“Love With A Ten Foot Pole”, as uncomfortable and difficult to accommodate as I imagine that to be, is a virtual rocking gospel house in which the band express themselves as a blinkered yet enlightened flock of rabid disciples. There’s a couple of seconds where it almost sounds like the Doors’ “Light My Fire” but it disappears as fast as it emerges, which is very bloody fast indeed. Then comes the masterpiece, “Vancouver” (as opposed to The River Hive, which is an obscene assault on the heart and brain that causes one to spew liquid emotion from orifices one didn’t know one had). “Vancouver” swishes its bellbottoms across a floor made from Fraser Fir that was a Christmas trees in a public square in some sad little Pacific Northwestern town. “Get out of this ghetto and move to Vancouver with me” is the mantra here. I’m not sure which ghetto they’re talking about, but it sounds a f*ckload more optimistic than Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car”, a song that deals with a similar plan, but on the opposite coast. “Vancouver” enters into a brief “Leaving on a Jet Plane” type corridor at times, before Kamin’s power opens up once more, like a faithful fertile volcano upon which magic mushrooms grow in abundance. The Van Allen Belt – the “real” Van Allen Belt, I mean – is a couple of electromagnetic conveyors of plasma that surround the Earth. By some coincidence (or is it?!?) I have always been interested in plasma cosmology, and it was the band’s name that first attracted me. These people have no gimmicks, no tricks, no bullshit. It’s raw talent in full flow, and oh Jesus I’m gonna miss my kids…

Ian Hough

Another Football Compilation On The Way

With Euro 2012 just around the corner you might be glad to know that we’re busying ourselves on a compilation to honour the occasion (release date mid April). Unlike Fast Forward we’re concentrating on just one team this time. We’ll fill you in on who the lucky country is very soon (obscure clue in the photo above).

Update: And it’s douze points to Irlande! You can listen and buy ‘Sing Up For The Boys In Green’ over here. Should be a great way to kickstart your day.

It is Christmas!

You probably know by now that it’s our favourite time of the year. You might also know that back in 2008 we attempted to give the season an infusion of new songs. Songs that weren’t necessarily Christmas sounding but were nonetheless of the season. 2011 is no different, well, it is really because this year’s December release is completely free to all our many friends. Take a listen to this small but perfectly formed EP over here.

It’s Almost Christmas….

Hello everyone. Just in case you are wondering there will be no Christmas album this year. Boo hoo I know but all is not lost because we are planning a bundle of free mp3s, made up of brand new Christmas songs. Initially this will be sent to all our friends and will be made freely available to all a little bit before Christmas.

Indiecater, keeping it Christmas.

Elephant Stone’s ‘The Seven Seas’ Reviewed!

*** The following is a lovely review of Elephant Stone’s ‘The Seven Seas’, which you can buy on Indiecater over here ***

When I spotted Elephant Stone’s “The Seven Seas” album, I had to listen to it. Being from Manchester and having participated avidly in the late-80s “Madchester” scene, I was pleased to see a band named after a Stone Roses song. The Roses themselves would also be happy, I suspect, once they throw this gem on the CD player and are taken away by its spangling guitars and vocals. The best bit for me was that, though there’s a thick vein of janglepop running throughout, each song a neat little time segment, there are deeper, drawn out experiments constantly taking place. The overall feel is of an airy sunroof open to a fabulous sky, from which breezes of many kinds caress the frazzled nerves and make it all right again. The tracks, “Bombs Bombs Away” and “How Long”, have a child-dressing-the-Christmas-tree edge that shoots janglestrings back through time. The vocal is short and sweet with a hint of aftertaste and a certain amount of effervescence. Indeed, this band captures a cosmic fizz and bottles it in powerful little song packages that are easily consumed by the deep and the shallow alike. Very apt, given the name of the album. The merging of traditional Indian instruments, guitars and electronic sounds is always done with a sparing hand and a blurred edge, building a sense that one is slowly being seduced into a submarine world where all is distorted for the better.

Too many of today’s pop stars are standing on the shoulders of giants. You may think that Noel and Liam Gallagher’s latest individual incarnations represent the continuance of something sacred, or at least an attempt at it, but next to Elephant Stone it sounds like The Monkees found God and started taking themselves too seriously. Don’t get me wrong; I like Beady Eye, but one can only give that kind of repetitive pop so many marks out of ten. Go to a Foo Fighters concert and listen to the versatility of Dave Grohl, then listen to The Seven Seas. It’s in a class of its own. “I am Blind” begins with shades of My Morning Jacket but that’s a short-lived impression that melts and melds to a higher type voice – the voice of Elephant Stone. “The Seven Seas” sounds like George Harrison reincarnated with a more rounded vocal, a fruitiness that stirs subtle echoes of seasonal change and uncertainty. “The Straight Line” goes right into full-on Indian twang via a patient sitar that is totally unpretentious and even mystical. Oh Heartbreaker, by contrast, begins with a strong drudge guitar and those same light vocals that provide a beautiful contrast. I know; you think I’m being unkind to the better-known rock stars by saying stuff like “A live Smashing Pumpkins concert isn’t as good as listening to Elephant Stone on an old tinny transistor”, but there’s a method to my madness.

“A Morning Song” actually hums with power and being – corny, I know, but jeez, this tune has it all; that same psychedelic Christmassy vibe mixed with a George Harrison-with-richer-voice vocals, and the sitar that rises in and out of the overall sound like Krishna’s sharkfin. It’s too good. It is.”Don’t You Know” once again proves this outfit’s mastery of merging, as they hit you with a squelching distorted keyboard a guitar tinkling sweetly around the driving tune like they were made for each other. How many bands pack this kind of punch? Not many, that’s how many. There’s a big sound here that is enveloped by the remainder, just as each fragment of the remainder is enveloped by the rest and melds to the inside of your skull like a kind of friendly smoke that come in your ears before webbing out and condensing into shimmering mauve mind-dew upon your delighted brain. OK, I made that last bit up, but believe me when I say that this is excellent music. Elephant Stone’s “The Seven Seas” – recommended for popsters and serious dudes both. Check it out now.

Written by Ian Hough.

Time For A Slice of Code Pie!

Aren’t we the posh ones with our fancy cassettes and shiny CD’s! Yeah, we’ve come some way since our first collection of unreleased tracks and it is culminating in a brand new album from Montreal’s Code Pie. We are slaves to the music but with this band we’d put our names down for overtime. ‘Love Meets Rage‘ is everything we’d want in an album and we think you’ll be smitten too by heading over here and taking a listen!

Your Love Is Bummin’ Me Out

With Christmas long gone and Valentine’s fast approaching we’ve had to change tact and get all lovvee dovveed up with our next release. The onerous task was one that Dolfish took with a pinch of salt and in process turned our February 14 upside down. He’s an ingenious man is our Max, hope you adore his ‘Your Love Is Bummin’ Me Out‘ EP as much as we do.

An Indiecater Christmas 2010

We look forward to this moment each year, the same way a 6 year old does in those those couple of seconds before the clock turns 12 on Christmas Eve. Yes, it’s this year’s Indiecater’s seasonal offering, featuring 11 tracks of festive frivolity. Ding dong merrily on high, or is it? Only An Indiecater Christmas 2010 can provide the answers….