Saturday, 23 January 2010

Back to the Boutique

By this blog's standard, a very topical post: a plug for a record that has only just been released! Well... re-released.

As part of their early Creation singles reissue series, Love Resistance has just been released as a 3” mini CD by the Vollwert label (John Mulvey wrote about it in the Uncut blog). This one and only outing by Apple Boutique was originally published as a three track 12”, and it has remained unavailable in digital form until now. So those of you lucky enough to call a compact disc player your own finally get the chance to (re)visit this bona fide piece of sceptical pop in all its glory. As presumably most people who have got as far as reading this blog will know, Apple Boutique was comprised of latter-day Felt members John Mohan and Phil King (the band shares its name with a track on The Pictorial Jackson Review). The pair had already played together in The Servants, whose The Sun, A Small Star also finds Go-Betweens-member Amanda Brown playing the violin. Apple Boutique’s Ballad Of Jet Harris in particular fuses some Felty filigree asides into its own, more wistful trajectory, culminating in a none-more-minimal vocal: a series of sighed 'Oh...oh no...'s, groaned by Mr. King himself, which only materialise in its dying seconds.

Phil is not only contributing to the upcoming zine himself, but has also been instrumental in making it possible at all, having introduced us to lots of people and material we would never have uncovered ourselves, as well as being a font of some amazing anecdotes - our metaphorical glasses are raised to him!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010


Over at Stylus Magazine, Todd Hutlock lists his Top Ten Song and/or Album Titles by Felt. As fan parlour games go, it's a good one - and I would disagree almost entirely with his choices. So here, in the spirit of the Sunday of life, are some alternative suggestions...

#10 All The People I Like Are Those That Are Dead
OK, Todd and I are in agreement on this one at least - no way around it. Amazing - not least because of how weirdly Lawrence syncopates it when he's singing.

#9 The Final Resting Place Of The Ark
Impeccable. Despite being one of my least favourite Felt tracks.

#8 Stained Glass Windows In The Sky
At the purple end of things (see also: The World Is Soft As Lace; Crumbling The Antiseptic Beauty). And something like the diametric opposite of a classic 'why not?' Denim title, e.g. Internet Curtains.

#7 Templeroy
I always assumed this was a word Lawrence had scavenged (I was vaguely imagining a ceremonial position in the British Raj). It appears, however, to be a wonderful coinage of his own.

#6 Buried Wild Blind
Always hard to detach titles from the tracks, and I love this one. But the title has a lyricism all its own: desperation in amber.

#5 Mexican Bandits
There are several different genres of Felt title and this belongs to 'overspecific local colour' (see also: Roman Litter; The Seventeenth Century; Vasco da Gama). This, though, is one of my favourites. The instrumentals often seem to end up with the best titles, perhaps for obvious reasons.

#4 Primitive Painters
Christian and I disagree on the merits of the song. The title is also arguably part of the category mentioned above, and perhaps I only like it quite so much because I'm obsessed with cave painting. Nonetheless: oblique - evocative - exemplary.

#3 Black Ship In The Harbour
Auguring ill: a gothic novel in six syllables.

#2 Stains On A Decade
The best album title, belatedly. And probably the most succinct summation of Felt as a band out of time, perfectly aligned (10 albums, 10 years etc.) with a decade to which they did not belong.

#1 Sempiternal Darkness
I don't know where Lawrence picked up 'sempiternal' (in a Chatterton poem?), but the title imparts a weird Miltonic gloom to the beginning of an album  - possibly my favourite - which has many infernal overtones ("You're reading from a Season in Hell / And you don't know what it's about...").

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Girls meet Lawrence on London's picturesque Hoxton Square

A very funny, revealing recent interview with Lawrence by the band Girls, in three parts (courtesy of the Magic RPM site).

I like Christopher Owen's description of Denim on Ice as an "iron fist."

Lots of great asides, such as the story of how Felt came to only make half a pop video, the magic of Michel Polnareff and Iggy Pop's fine work in advertising. We also especially enjoyed the section about meeting, or rather not meeting, your fans and following the example of Burt Lancaster when it comes to autographs.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Felt articles on the web

In advance of our upcoming fanzine (which will only exist in printed form), it is worth pointing out some of the writing about Lawrence and Felt already available on the world wide web.

Foremost among them is Felt: A Tribute, Rui Kalda's virtual shrine to the band. It hasn't been updated for a while now, but it's phenomenally comprehensive: there's a discography, lyrics, loads of scanned articles and reviews, plus a few downloadable rarities. (The link in the pictures section is dead, but the images are still available via Rui's Flickr page.)

There are also several excellent overviews of the band and its career. Lee McFadden gives an ideal introduction on the Perfect Sound Forever site. Written to coincide with Cherry Red's series of re-releases of the Felt back-catalogue several years ago, it weaves together a succinct chronological history with insights from Lawrence ("Every album has the word 'the' in it! No one's ever spotted that!") and acute critical asides.

Alistair Fitchett's 'The Man Who Was Not With It', from 1996, also gives a great general history. He is particularly good on the band's beginning ("Almost everyone who came to Felt late has been confused by 'Index'") and good too on their general untimeliness:

[Felt] seemed totally out of time, existing within their own vacuum [...] It was easy to imagine them as part of the Warhol factory scene, and certainly Lawrence was tragically and beautifully strange enough to have stood out amongst a crowd of Edie Sedgewicks, Gerard Malangas or Billy Names. It was also easy to picture him as a character in a Scott Fitzgerald story; he had that certain doomed existential prettiness that the twenties seemed to suggest. Twenties Lost Generation or Seventies Blank Generation. You could take your pick.

And finally Adrian Denning provides an album-by-album account, offering scores out of ten along the way - some of them, inevitably, controversial...