Bart Cummings has been a steadfast indie pop stalwart for two decades. Starting with the Cat's Miaow in 1992, then on through Hydroplane, the Shapiros, Pencil Tin, and his label Library Records, Cummings has left behind a sparkling resume of sweetly simple and true indie pop recordings. Bart & Friends first popped up in 1998 with the album 10 Songs About Cars and Girls, but then vanished before coming back strong in 2010 with the addition of a bunch of former members of the Lucksmiths, as well as Cummings' partner in the Shapiros, Pam Berry, on vocals. They released an album in 2010 (Stories with the Endings Changed) and are back with two newly issued EPs: There May Come a Time for Matinée Recordings and It's Not the Words You Say for Shelflife. The former features Berry handling the singing, the latter has former Summer Cat Scott Stevens behind the mike. Both are excellent records, full of great singing and the kind of gentle pop songs that instantly melt your heart. We asked Bart what's been inspiring him lately.
First, here's a track from the Shelflife EP....
Early 80's Electro pop
Anyone who has ever had the briefest of listens to any of my songs could work out that I really love the Velvet Underground/Field Mice/Orange Juice/the Who/Aislers Set, but there's lots of music which excites me just as much but never seems to filter through. My favorite era of music is from 1979 to 1982. It's got it all --Joy Division, Echo & the Bunnymen, Orange Juice, Madness-- but most importantly my first true love and one that I keep going back to, electro pop. If it's got tinny preset drum patterns and one-finger synth playing, I'm there. If it's made by guys wearing makeup or long raincoats, it doesn't matter. I really can't pick one song to represent the genre....I'd be agonizing for days whether it should be something by OMD or Japan or Human League or Depeche Mode. Luckily in my search I stumbled across this documentary called Synth Britannia. Okay, it does go for over two hours, but it is two hours well spent I can assure you. I still harbor the dream that one day I'll ditch the guitars and record some songs all played on synths using just one finger.
I dont know a real lot about De Montevert other than they are/she is Swedish and have released a couple of my favorite songs of the past 12 months. "Du Kommer Angra Dig" was something I listened to repeatedly for a week when I first heard it. The bassline is particularly hypnotic and she has a lovely voice. Another single "Skyll pa Mig" has the melodica/xylophone double whammy that I'm a total sucker for. I think there's an album due quite soon which I'm eagerly anticipating.
Dave and Ansell Collins - "Double Barrel"
I could've picked any of the big ska hits from the late '60s, but this is my favorite. The bass, that piano, "you're thin, baby, you're thin". I don't know where to start with the video though. I got into music like Desmond Dekker, the Pioneers, etc through the predictable backward route starting with 2Tone. Pretty much any ska from the last 20 years does nothing for me.
While it's always cooler to namecheck the Kinks and the Who, I've always had a soft spot for a catchy chorus. I only recently joined the dots that the person responsible for some of my favorite songs of the sixties was Graham Gouldman, and while he did use a bit of a formula (short guitar riff intro, repeat the first line in each verse and use that as the title, use the middle eight as a second chorus,) they are still good songs. He wrote songs for Herman's Hermits, the Hollies, the Yardbirds and in Australia, the slightly less known Mike Furber and the Bowery Boys. I'm not quite as enamored with 10cc, but I think he was an inspired choice of producer for the Ramones. Pam and I did "Bus Stop" at Indietracks recently, mainly because I'm a smart arse and it had been raining.
This one ticks a lot of boxes. Musically, I love the whole early sci-fi electronic music, be it Louis & Bebe Barron's Forbidden Planet, Wendy Carlos, Tristram Cary, or the BBC Radiophonic workshop. There's a very geeky documentary on the BBC Radiophonic workshop called The Alchemists of Sound which shows how the Doctor Who theme was recorded with tape loops. It would have taken forever to record! There's also a great radio documentary specifically on Delia Derbyshire called Sculptress of Sound, which I also recommend. But music aside, it's the one thing that my whole family all enjoy watching, and the new season starts in a bit over a week which is about the only thing keeping us going through a cold bleak winter.