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Jan 30

The Steady and Inevitable Rise of Pastime Records

Back in 2009 I wrote about Andy B and a young Pastime Recordings label, based in Exeter UK (now shortened to Pastime Records – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pastime-Records/180633851974327 ) which was just being launched and they had big plans for the shaping of music to come (http://www.myspace.com/48342032/blog/507761006).

I watched them grow along with the wonderful Pop Noise Records (a label where some of the bands shared releases on) and eagerly awaited their next new release and even raved and ranted about some of them as they matured and perfected their craft (ie. owner Andy B’s releases – http://www.myspace.com/48342032/blog/530177373 and the National Pastime album “My Star Has Fallen” – http://www.myspace.com/48342032/blog/536706145 which is highly recommended).

Now I have not written as much in recent days about them, but it’s not because there has not been stuff to write about, but rather the challenge of finding time to do their releases justice. Just this past year there was a very accomplished Ep by Ant Smith and another EP by National Pastime with 4 gems to keep us going till their next release, having had some very good press in Artrocker and finally getting some well deserved recognition in the UK.

There has also been several new albums by Andy B (who also plays with National Pastime and Falling Trees), the latest being “Letters Home” – Pastime 019 (which is available at CD Baby – http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/andyb1 ) which is easily his finest offering with some amazing production by Andy Fonda and the addition of beautiful backing vocals by Elisabeth Bennett (who also adds a nice touch with the Violin) and a host of contributing musicians (including Andy Fonda, Andy Ward, Ant Smith, and more) to give the songs a full treatment and some interesting twists and turns.

The first song “Television Girl” has a bit of an early Gang of Four rhythm going on, but sounds nothing like them, maybe a bit more like a polished mid period Blue Orchids and when Lizi starts singing it takes the song to a different place. The indie pop of “At The  End Of The Day” is easily one of my favourite songs from the album  and has hints of early New Order and The Wild Swans and yet not really sounding like them at all. Another song you must hear is “New World” especially when the chorus hits and the lovely backing vocals take the song out of this world – must be heard loud! and preferably on a good sound system to be truly appreciated. Andy pours a lot emotion into his songs and you easily get sucked into them and really start feeling sorry for the characters’ in the songs – I hope they are not all sung from personal experience.

Another impressive release this past year is an EP by The Morrisons –Rainy Day Ep – Pastime 018, whose “Mystery Girl” is a pure Pop gem which reminds me of a quieter Frank and Walters with some Razercuts thrown in and a nod to The Cure on the chorus. “Rainy Day” is also a wonderful tune with it’s male/female vocals that remind me a bit of The Beautiful South, maybe The Hardy Boys and maybe Ben Watt and Tracy Thorn, but I’m not really sure – just sure that I like it.  I guess I am in good company being impressed with the EP as it got 5 stars in Artrocker magazine. Well worth searching out.

Well now as we enter 2012, they are ready to make a bigger Splash (check out the magnificent Bright Lights Big Zombie CD, which I must find time to write about and I just found out that the wonderful Vollwert Records in Germany is releasing a compilation of UK bands featuring some of the Pastime Records artists) as they go from strength to strength and amass a solid collection of releases – Well done Pastime!!!