Pastime Records

Independent record label


National Pastime’s frontman Andy Botterill may very well be one of the hardest working cats in all of the United Kingdom.  He’s in a thousand bands, and releases most of their material on a label he runs himself.  Not to mention an immense consistency of gigging around Exeter and wherever he can manage to drop his feet.  And with such a chaotic work schedule and a plethora of material piling up on his resume, sometimes an album or two might get sadly under rug swept.  But, it’s when you finally take the opportunity to check out each release from the awesome and talented Pastime Records, you will find you were missing a gem.  And with that, we have the Coma EP.  A translusive piece of art that should for no reason whatsoever, be looked over.

At the tail end of 2010, National Pastime released the amazing lo-fi pop masterpiece Bookmarks.  It was a beautiful display of total beauty in simplicity.  It felt like a total display of everything Andy B and company had to offer.  That is until Coma EP landed Por Avion in my mail box a couple of months ago.  And I fell in love all again.  Here we find these lovable pop masterminds advancing beyond anything we have heard before.  The singularly amazing track “Goldsworthy Gurney”  is actually sort of a stretch from their generalized lo-fi sound, and it is a real treat to say the least.  And even when they move to more familiar territory on a track like “Read Your Mind”, there is a delightful sense of advancement that simply leaves you with a great sense of the jollies, and a yearning to cheer for the happy crew.  And don’t be surprised if you hear these cuts again on a full length album sometime soon.  Or damn, you may already be able to considering Pastime Records works like a manic poet on benzederine trip.

National Pastime is an amazing group that just never fails.  They do more than bring a full-bodied sound to Andy Botterill’s solo work.  They incorporate a wonderful electric feel to tingle the ear drums while listening beautiful stories of love, life, and the eternal search for a cure to the cancerous spirit of non-creativety that bites each and every one of us at some point.  This is beautiful stuff.  It just can’t be said enough.

Bliss Aquamarine review of the morrisons rainy day ep BY KIM HARTEN JANUARY 2012

THE MORRISONS Rainy Day EP CD (Pastime)
Just in, this latest release from The Morrisons. Here, backing vocalist Elaine Churchward plays a bigger role than on much of their other material, providing vocals on all four tracks. Rainy Day is a well-crafted indiepop number with twin male/female vocals and mega-jangly guitar. Do I Care is another prime slice of old-school indiepop. Mystery Girl combines influences from 80s indiepop, 60s pop and 60s American folk-rock. Brighter Days also draws from 60s US folk, whilst also adding clattering drums and tambourine for maximum DIY indiepop effect. The Morrisons are a continually impressive band, perhaps THE most exciting indiepop band I've heard in recent years. Visit their site at



ANDY B 'love songs in a different key' REVIEW

Andy B - Love Songs In A Different Key

Album review by KevW

If Exeter singer-songwriter Andy B had any serious aspirations for stardom he'd maybe have chosen a more Google-friendly title with which to embark upon his musical career (we gave up after the first five pages) but the humble name is the perfect partner to the humble indiepop that constitutes 'Love Songs In A Different Key', the third in a trilogy of albums that began last year. These simple tunes are wilfully ramshackle and human, and it these attributes that makes this such an endearing record. Using guitar as a base, they're lightly ordained with piano, occasional strings (we're hardly talking Arcade Fire or Spiritualized here) and equally charming and off-kilter accompanying vocals.

This is indie as it was thirty years ago, music made with the tools available, not recorded in plush studios with all mod cons and a blank cheque. Lyrically it's very sweet (but not twee) and the structures are fairly basic with the routine rhymes in the lyrics (gone, wrong, hang on, so long - face, race, space, pace) only serving to add to the charm. Erstwhile indie producer Andy Fonda is at the helm and deserves a pat on the back for realising that these delightfully fragile songs are best not tampered with too much. 'Love Songs In A Different Key' has an almost live feel that gives an warming intimacy; it's not shiny and note perfect and the backing vocals on 'Not Fooling Anyone' and 'Life's A Disease' are better for being unrefined.

Songs like 'I'm So Glad I Found You' and 'Lost For Words' are what DIY indiepop was made for and the real strengths of this album lie in it's honest simplicity. Andy B won't become as much of a recognised name as Katy B and is unlikely to need to reinforce the mantelpiece for Brits and Mercurys as this album is largely unremarkable. What it is though, is genuine, charming and, in it's own little way, quite adorable. Above all it's reassuring that artists like Andy B exist and are content to make music that's theirs and is stamped with their own personality. On an album full of love songs, this fact reminds you that it's not just looks that count, what's inside is equally as important.

National Pastime 'Don't Let IT GET AWAY' EP review

National Pastime - Don't Let It Get Away EP

EP review by

Exeter C86 revivalists continue their quest to bring us the best in DIY indie sounds with new EP 'Don't Let It Get Away', a collection of songs as timeless as the raw strum of a guitar. It's been over two years since National Pastime last released anything, and naturally their sound remains (as it likely always will) pretty much the same. With bands of this ilk it's about the quality of the songs. We know the style, and most guitar-pop lovers will embrace it fully. Title-track 'Don't Let It Get away brushes aside the production desk in favour of recording the song as if it was being performed in the room with you. Of course this approach works, it's tried and tested.

Unusually for lead-songs, it's not the best of the four on offer. The jangly 'Like A Boxer' pitches itself somewhere between The Byrds, Simon & Garfunkel and your favourite Sarah records band. It's another one that doesn't have a sell by date. Curiously, 'Run With Me Now' is included here twice, as 'Remix 1' and Remix 2'. Remixed by who isn't exactly clear, but they've done a great job. The second is a pensive, dreampop-like number that does add something extra, something that you'd expect from a remix (possibly just some production!) and it's quite beautiful. It's 'Remix 1' that's where we find the gold. The song is one of the best they've written and unless it had that "R" word following its name you wouldn't realise this wasn't its original incarnation. It's a lovable piece of indiepop from a lovable band.



FALLING TREES 'the memories that hold us together' review

REVIEW: Falling Trees - The Memories that Hold Us Together

I'm very fond of this kind of record.  What kind of record is that, you might ask.  It is a record that on the most immediate level dwells in the musical world of the past -- the Postcard, Sarah and Creation labels, the C86 sound, and production that is tasteful and competent by devoid of gloss.  But at a deeper level, it is a record made by musicians that are making the record that they want to make because that is the sound they want and their mates are the guys they want to play with.  Current musical tastes and charts just don't enter the picture.  So The Memories That Hold Us Together by Falling Trees is an album that takes you back to a wonderful era of guitar driven pop music.  And given that introduction, it is perfectly appropriate that the album is released on Exeter, UK's Pastime Records.

The members of the band are Andrew Padfield (lead vocals), Paul Stolworthy (rhythm guitar), Andy Botterill (lead guitar, bass, keyboards) and Chris Head (drums) and Andy Ward (additional drums).  The production duties were handled by Andy Fonda, drummer from C86 favorites, June Brides.

Track 3, "November Rain", boasts a bubbling bass line and has a relaxing vibe.

There is plenty of genuine emotions in The Memories That Hold Us Together, but it never beats you over the head, and it is all adroitly dress in hooks and professional craftsmanship.  The result is an album to savor and explore.

The closing track -


Brush Strokes On Canvas – Fabulous Art For Pop Kids

ole0First I have to admit that I was predisposed to enjoy this compilation, even before I listened to it as I noticed quite a few of my favourite bands in the track listing – people like Phil Wilson (of June Brides fame – one of the best bands ever), Simon Bish / aka Simon Goalpost (who ran the wonderful Pop Noise label, which is sadly missed), A Fine Day For Sailing & Banana And Louie (both bands which feature the amazing talents of a one, Matthew Stead, an highly undervalued Pop genius), Andy Botterill / aka Andy B (head honcho at the Pastime Records Label and a man with great taste and a member of many bands, like National Pastime and Falling Trees to cite a few), Bright Lights Big Zombie (one of my favourite bands of the past few years), National Pastime, Falling Trees and The Morrisons (all bands who have released some amazing albums in recent times). But just having a solid line up doesn’t always make for a great compilation, you still need to have the tunes and this disc really delivers, with some of the finest music being released today. I’ll try to share a few thoughts on the songs and as usual name drop some other artists when the music so inspires me.

Catherine And The Owl are a band that I know very little about and I find their sound warm and appealing as well as bit dark underneath and a great opener to the CD. Simon Goalpost follows and how can you go wrong with a tunesmith of the highest order, always a joy to listen to. It keeps getting better with Phil Wilson up next, who not only is one of the nicest people but also a genius and a legend in POP music – it’s nice to have him back – Long live The June Brides! And I hope they have a new album in the works after listening to their latest single. Banana And Louie serve up some beautiful pastoral pop of the finest pedigree, reminding me of The Beach Boys (a bit obvious since they are named after Brian Wilson’s dogs), The Ladybug Transistor, The Lochness Mouse, The Pearlfishers and maybe some Pastels thrown in the mix – you get the picture (their recent album is absolute must for any Pop fan). Mozura is a new band to my ears and I love the groove and the swagger of this tune and really should search out some more.


National Pastime are a band I’ve already written about often and I really love their sound and especially the vocals which fill the songs with so much passion and emotion. Another new band to me is Raining Globe and I love the guitar intro and at times they remind me of Snow Patrol at their finest moments. The Morrisons present some more perfect Pop which at times reminds me of The Undertones (especially when he says “By Your Side …”), and what better compliment can you give someone. Secrets For September provide a dreamy backdrop that complement the vocals and the theme of the song and a joy to listen to. Bright Lights Big Zombie, as mentioned are already favourite and easily one of the best new band I’ve heard in a long time – this is a brilliant tune from a stunning album (which you can read more about here – ).


I have also been a fan of Andy B (aka Botterill) since the early days when he and Simon Bish sent me several TVP covers with the various bands they played with and his productivity and quality of tunes continues to improve and impress. This compilation speaks volumes on his impeccable taste and an ear for a great tune. The much missed A Fine Day For Sailing was the band Matthew Stead was in before forming Banana & Louie and you can’t go wrong with any of their releases if you’re a Pop fan and if you have not heard their last 7” single with the “Smith’s Song”, you’re really missing out on some timeless pop and a collector’s item that will likely sell for a small fortune in the near future. Talking about Pop geniuses, leads me to the one and only Simon Bish, a former member of Peel favourite Thrilled Skinny and owner of the wonderful Pop Noise empire and member of countless bands (and also to be featured on TVP tribute 4) is a real treasure and it will be well worth your while to check out his solo work if you enjoy Teenage Fanclub, Ride, Big Star, The Orchids or that era of Creation/Sarah Records sound.

The Falling Trees are up next with “Things To Look Forward To” and the title says it all as I always look forward to something new by this very talented band (I really enjoyed their last album The Memories That Hold Us Together and a new recording by them is just out, which is amazing and captures them in a live setting) – I love the vocals with so much passion and emotion, reminding me in some ways of Adrian Borland although not really sounding like him, it’s just the feeling that is poured into the songs. Fonda follows with more classic pop with jangling guitars, a touch of feedback and a great groove and tune to match – I don’t know much about them but I do know I’d like to hear more. The Akibas are another band that is new to my ears and I’m enjoying what I’m hearing with those rich vocals and a warm sound as they sing about deceipt and lies. Now don’t be scared off by The Coffin Collectors, as they are not a goth band and the music is not dark and gloomy, but rather joyous as here they present their wonderful love song to the red haired girl. Count To Fire’s “Falling In Line” is a beautiful laid back number with some jazzy piano and some hints of Americana in the vein of Lambchop or Willard Grant Conspiracy.

The final song by Console is a real treat – Wow! I love this song – it’s like Ceremony era New Order doing one of the Cure’s best songs from their early days, with hints of Joy Division, The Sound and in more recent years St. Deluxe. It has an amazing instrumental start and even without the singing I was hooked so when it builds (ooh and how it builds!) and the vocals enter, it makes for essential listening – you must hear this song. This is the first song I’ve heard by Console but I really want to hear their first album and their follow up, which I have been told was never released as they morphed into Bright Lights Big Zombie. That is a shame and an injustice that I’m sure will be rectified at some point. For now put this song on repeat and enjoy!

All things considered, you cant go wrong with this collection and Im sure you will find a few new gems to treasure!


The Morrisons - Morrisons Brew

Album review by

The band do go to certain lengths in the press release for this album to disassociate themselves with anything to do with The Doors or the major supermarket chain. However ironic/comical it might be to think that the retail giant would be selling copies of this record, it's highly unlikely. Back when The Morrisons first formed the chain was known as Safeway anyway. The year was 1986 and their sound fitted in with the now legendary C86 scene, and they can even add John Peel giving them a spin to their list of indie credentials (a flexidisc no less!). Following a break in the '90s, the current line-up have released five albums in the last ten years. This is no nostalgia trip or quick reunion, this is a current band in full swing, simply one that have been treading the boards for a while.

The amount of new material released shows that there's no lack of creative talent in the band, and 'Morrisons Brew' doesn't sell you short either; there are thirteen tracks here, all of which conform to the ideals the band most likely had when they first formed (and I was a mere six-year-old). The sound is classic, traditional British guitar-pop that fits any indie or C86 tags you may wish to plaster on it. There's no way you can accuse The Morrisons of being revivalists though, this is what they've always done. So you can look forward to fairly minimal (but not lo-fi) production, songs that are made from simple guitars and beats; there's no showmanship here, and also plenty of golden melodies and pop tunes. It may be an album that's low on surprises, but it makes up for this in consistency.

They begin with a highlight in 'Arrow In Your Heart', and other particularly strong tracks include the brassy 'Storm', 'Look At You' and the '60s jangle of '1000 Miles Away' which could be nicked off a Nuggets compilation. Tracks like 'Rainy Day', 'Do I Care' and the lovely 'Back To The Start' (plus many more) help to ease the concentration needed for a record with so many songs by adding some sweet female backing vocals for diversity. Extra variety also helps break up the record without losing too much cohesion with the addition of slower tunes such as 'Captured In A Jar', the folky 'So Sad So Mad' and even the country-tinged 'I Still Like You'. There's (as is often the case) another highlight saved for last. The folky and reflective 'Secret Place' rounds things of nicely. These great survivors are showing no signs of standards slipping just yet


Prospecting for Gold at Pastime Records

We like Exter, UK, musician Andy Botterill not only because he writes and records music we like, but because he is one of a number of UK musician who are keeping the jangle pop/C86 banner waving. Andy releases his music through Exter-based label Pastime Records, which he also runs. And today we are prospecting for gold in Pastime Records' recent catalog by highlighting some excellent 2011 releases from the label that should be of interest to readers who, like me, never tire of the C86/jangle sound. (Facebook link for Pastime Records)

Andy B

We'll begin with Andy B, which is the recording name for Andy Botterill. Andy released two solo LPs in 2011, Buttons and Badges and Letters Home. For these projects Andy played guitars, keys, piano, bass and sang lead and backing vocals (and drums on the first LP). However, various musicians, including Elisabeth Bennett, Andy Fonda, Andy Ward, and Ant Smith helped out with instruments and vocals on some of the tracks. Andy Fonda (who also plays with Phil Wilson) provided the excellent production.

Andy's recordings feature the classic C86 sound, a "storytelling" feel and Andy's winsome, heartfelt vocals. Here is "Daisy Smiles" from the uniformly delightful Buttons and Badges --

Letters Home begins with one of my favorite Andy B songs, "Television Girl". It is a taut post punk track and showcases Andy's talent for songwriting. It is followed by the more relaxed jangle pop of "At the End of the Day" --

The third track presented here from Letters Home is "Nice to See You Again" --

Andy is a dedicated and industrious guy. In addition to running the label and recording his own music, he plays in Falling Trees and National Pastime (which is discussed below). And he is an articulate and passionate advocate for the music he loves. It is easy for us to urge to to support him.

In additional good news for fans, Andy has recorded new music that we can expect to hear later this year.


National Pastime

In 2011 Pastime also released the Coma EP by National Pastime, which is the band's second EP for the label. This band consists of Andy Botterill, Andy Padfield, Ant Smith and Chris Head. This four track recording is a really fine C86 nugget. The band has its roots in lo-fi guitar pop, but my current favorite track, “Goldsworthy Gurney”, suggests that the band is fully capable of greater breadth. Here is title track "Coma" (which also appears on Andy B's Letters Home) --


Bright Lights, Big Zombie

The noisiest of the 2011 Pastime releases we are covering today is the delightfully named Bright Lights, Big Zombie. Also based in Exter, the band is comprised of Leo Collett (guitar and vocals), Tom Davies (drums), Sam Hemmings (bass), and Dan Wright (guitar, piano and vocals). Bright Lights, Big Zombie count Ride, Syd Barrett, The Velvet Underground among their influences, but I hear a bit of Weather Prophets and BMX Bandits in there as well. I recommend that you stream the entire album here, but if you don't have time for the whole thing right now, listen to the first track and the jangle delights of "Figure" and "Voices in the Dark" --
<a href="" mce_href="">Bright Lights, Big Zombie by Bright Lights, Big Zombie</a>


As you see above, The Morrisons wear there style on the sleeve--their album sleeve for their Rainy Day EP displays a Rickenbacker. And the jangly C86 indie pop inside matches the cover. This band's style is a bit different than the bands discussed above. The vocals are very much to the fore in the mix with warm male vocals and female harmonies.

The fourth track, "Brighter Days" --

By way of background, The Morrisons were formed in 1986. They disbanded in 1988, but reformed in 2004 and have been recording and playing new material. The members are: Elaine Churchward (vocals); Adrian Maxwell (percussion); Dave Clifford, an original member (bass); Ian Churchward, and original member (guitar and vocals); Phil Andrews, and original member (guitar and vocals); and Guy Bolt (drums, keys and vocals since 2004, but currently on leave to spend time with his family).

The Morrisons also have a full length album scheduled for release on Pastime records this year. If this EP is a good indication, it should be a "must have" for any fan of the jangle pop sound.


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 – ) which was just being launched and they had big plans for the shaping of music to come (

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 – and the National Pastime album “My Star Has Fallen” – 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 – ) 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!!!


Andy B / Buttons & Badges

Ric finds pop deliciousness in the new record from Westcountry lad Andy B...

Filed in Album Reviews | Released on Pastime Records

Andy B / Buttons & Badgesimage

Andy B
Buttons and Badges
(Pastime Records)
* * *

Those expecting the next Jessie J or Katy B beware! Andy B is in fact a Devon based indie pop songwriter in the mould of Belle and Sebastian, with a vocal twang reminiscent of Eddie Argos.

This record presents a stripped and relaxed DIY vision, and songs like 'I Can Read You Like A Book' and 'It's Not That Easy' have an underlying melancholy to the more familiar pop charm which is hard to resist - especially when there's a rusty, standup piano bringing out their bittersweet nature.

Although the record doesn't quite edge into masterpiece territory, you get the idea it was never intended to do so; a modest collection of subtly magical pop tunes is, after all, sometimes all you can ask for. It'll be interesting to see what Mr B gets up to next.

NATIONAL PASTIME 'bookmarks' review

If you find yourself twirling a bit around the very enlightening world of British lo-fi pop, there are two names you most definitely need to know – Pop Noise Records and Pastime Records. Yes, with the brilliant collaborations of artists such as Simon Bish, Andy Botterill, and Andy Fonda, these gentlemen have efficiently taken the British underground by storm, and are not likely to be “little known” for much longer. One such brilliant submission to said lo-fi world worthy of glorified acknowledgment would have to be Bookmarks, by the Botterill fronted group National Pastime. A National Pastime song is not much different from any other track from the Pop Noise/Pastime regiments. The songs are simple, sweet, and absolutely lovely. Although the tracks are generally short in length, they’re certainly not short on content. “The Girl With The Long Brown Hair” might very well be the album’s true highlight. It is a classic tale of chasing the girl with all the right moves, but a bit of a devilishness to her that makes her that more attractive. And one cannot deny Andrew Padfield’s vocals blend so perfectly over the lo-fi, almost surf, sort of pop music that moves smoother than an ocean’s tide.
National Pastime is the type of band that seems to really understand the beauty of simplicity. At a time when the world is moving at a pace that breeds obscurity and egomania, it is a breath of fresh air to hear an album like Bookmarks bringing back good old ideals such as love and tenderness. And the simple fact that this is Pastime Record’s 11th release proves that we have not heard the last of this brilliant group, as well as the plethora of brilliant minds making wonderful pop music in their respective regions of the United Kingdom.

Review at Comfort Comes

Andy b's 'Difficult Girl/walking the tightrope' ep reviewed by sounds xp

Andy B

Difficult Girl/Walking The Tightrope EP Pastime Records

Article written by Kev W - Apr 27, 2014

Andy B is a man who likes to keep himself busy. As well as being a driving force behind the prolific National Pastime, he's also not slow in producing solo material. Very much in keeping with his band, Mr. B's solo work also draws heavily on lo-fi indie music from days gone by. The sound may be old but it hasn't passed its sell-by-date yet, and the liveliness and lack of pretence or over-production brings a freshness and vitality. Recent album 'Those Were The Days' is now available in remixed form courtesy of Andy Fonda who actually remixes the songs rather than simply taking samples of the tunes, chopping them up and throwing beats at them. These new versions are available in bite-sized sampler form with the 'Difficult Girl'/'Walking The Tightrope' EP which pulls in a handful of tunes from the record. 'Difficult Girl' is very much a period piece; the kind of timeless tune that you suspect will be made for many years to come. You can hear traces of Orange Juice amongst a plethora of less celebrated indie bands from that era, whereas 'Walking The Tightrope' is more pensive but just a pacey. With its great bassline and gently atmospheric keys hiding below the meandering guitar line, it's a highlight from the album.

Offering a very similar effect but perhaps with added sadness is 'No One Said This Would Be Easy', another song that deals with break-up, but does so from a different angle; this time he's the one who's ditching his love, not the other way round, and he assures her “you'll forget me in a week or two”. On 'The Best You Can Do' we're given another excellently lilting bassline and an intro that could have been nicked from an early Belle & Sebastian session. Following a trio of songs that are maybe more mellow without the tempo ever really dropping, 'Let Me Out Soon' jumps things up a notch with a harder vibe, although it again deals with romance gone wrong. With both his solo records and those released by National Pastime, Andy B often gives us music that comes wearing rose-tinted spectacles, glancing back at previous moments in his life and longing for them to return. It's this reason that heartbreak is a common theme (although it's never overwrought), and 'Exit Stage Right' fits that mould exactly with a style and atmosphere that we've heard on the EP's other tracks. This is hardy a rare theme in popular music of any kind, it would just be nice if it always felt this naturally made.

Andy B's 'IF I DON'T TRY/COMA' EP reviewed by SOUNDS XP

Andy B

If I Don't Try/Coma EP Pastime Records

Article written by Kev W - May 20, 2014

Can someone please give Sambassadeur a pint of whatever Andy B's been drinking? It's about time we had a new album from them. The Exeter singer-songwriter and member of multiple bands churns out material relentlessly, and while he rarely breaks his tried and tested mould, there's nothing being released just for the sake of it. His latest EP, 'If I Don't Try/Coma', is a quintet of vintage-sounding DIY indiepop tunes, much like previous releases. That often forlorn tone is brought into both 'Coma', which contains some rather fetching backing vocals and buzzing guitar, and also 'Life's A Disease' (“brings you to your knees... you must pay in tears”). The familiar bobbing bass makes an appearance in shared title-track 'I Don't Try', along with the subtle introduction of a wider array of instruments for the nicely melodic chorus.

The crowning moment, and perhaps the unsung hero of this EP, is 'New World'. Here more voices are brought in, along with flute, violin and organ to give a lush and rather pretty sound that's not far from early Belle & Sebastian. Sometimes it's the sadder and more reflective tracks that actually feel the most potent, and this is regularly the case with Andy B. 'Days Pass Me By' isn't full of the joys of spring, but the music neatly matches the lyrics and results in a song that's meant to be properly listened to, not just stuck on as backing music. This record is another welcome addition to his catalogue, but I'm starting to run out of shelf space...

Andy B's 'THOSE WERE THE DAYS' album & 'CURSED' EP reviewed by the sound of confusion

Andy B - Those Were The Days/Cursed EP

Album and EP reviews by

I think it's safe to say you know what you're getting when you buy an Andy B album, and this is no bad thing. 'Those Were The Days' is his forth full-length, and in terms of quality it's immaculately consistent; there are no ups and downs. The music is, and unless there's any kind of epiphany will probably remain, very much in the same style as the previous releases, but this too is no bad thing. Fans will know by now that Andy B isn't on a mission to change the world or to build his own recording studio in the grounds of his platinum disc-lined mansion. Andy B is an indie artist whose music goes back to when "indie" actually meant something. He even goes as far as to cite C86, Sarah Records and a host of traditional guitar-pop bands as his influences.

Previous single tracks 'Let Me Out Soon' and 'I Can See Through You' both feature, and those two songs alone give a good snapshot of what this record is all about. It's almost ironic that the opening track is called 'Something New' when it sounds like it could be up to thirty years old, and this is by design. This might be a consistent album, yet this song does seem to shine a little brighter. The same could probably be said of 'Worth The Wait' which bears all the hallmarks that makes Andy's records such an enjoyable listen. What's interesting though, is that there is no lead guitar, backing vocals keyboards or overdubs on the whole record. Reading what Andy has to say about the it indicates that he was aiming for something new, but with an easily recognisable voice and songwriting style you probably wouldn't realise these facts unless you were told.

We've singled out the bass on previous records, and again it proves to be a plus point. There's no lead-bass or anything overly technical, but those simple, bobbing and melodic lines on songs like 'The Best You Can Do' and the chiming, contrasting (it's uptempo but oddly downbeat) 'Walking The Tightrope' are a joy and do bring some individuality along with them. Those lovelorn lyrics that have been found on past releases are still here. "It's time you tried to find someone new, you'll forget me in a week or two" is the parting gesture offered on 'No One Said This Would be Easy'. 'Exit Stage Right' comes to terms with a failed relationship too, offering a way out: "this is the final curtain, exit on stage right"; and 'Cursed' is sadder, more reflective ("it's just been harder than we guessed"). Again it's filled with bobbing bass and jangly guitars though, offsetting the pain. For classic, vintage indiepop the set the controls for 'Difficult Girl' and the summery 'Accessory'. The final bow is taken by the title-track; another look back at the past and the conclusion of another fine set of songs by someone who rarely offers anything but.

As a companion piece to the album, Andy B has released the EP 'Cursed' which features different mixes of four album tracks which have been done by June Brides drummer Andy Fonda - the man who was responsible for the full-length. This reimagining of a few songs is not just a bite-sized introduction to those new to Andy B's work, they also offer a fresher, more vibrant take. In fact I'd even go as far as to say that the extra touches, especially to 'Cursed' and 'Something New' mean the songs benefit from this different approach, the organ on the latter being a particularly nice touch. 'I Can See Through You' also has some electronic keys applied that give a new take, although perhaps the album version just about tops it on this occasion, and it's also a close call with 'Worth The Wait', both are great recordings, and separating them is a challenge. So for any newcomers out there, you can either jump in at the deep end and go for the album, or wean yourself into this world with the EP. Both yield fine results.

ANDY b's 'LET ME OUT SOON/I CAN SEE RIGHT THROUGH you' ep reviewed by the sound of confusion

Andy B - Let Me Out Soon/I Can See Through You

Single review by

He's a prolific man is Andy B. As well as being involved in various capacities with other bands and also Exeter-based independent label Pastime Records, he's not slow in getting his solo work out there. It's been eighteen months since his most recent, 'Love Songs In A Different Key', and as we have a small window before another of the bands he works with drops some new tunes, Andy is putting out his fourth LP, 'Those Were The Days', and to spread the word of this latest collection, a promo CD has been made available to buy which features 'Let Me Out Soon' and 'I Can See Through You', as well as the album's title-track as a bonus/B-side. The record is called 'Those Were The Days', the label is Pastime Records; it all points to a time gone by, and anyone familiar with the label's output will know that when they say indie music they mean it in the truest sense, both in terms of recording, distributing and so on, and also in terms of sound.

Much of their material has that classic DIY sound that conjures up images of long-forgotten Glasgow bands making albums for a five on an old tape recorder in a bedsit somewhere. There's a certain romance to that, and it's the same feeling that we find here. None of these songs are heavily produced, in fact they're little more than demos, but that's kind of the charm. 'Let Me Out Soon' marries a Smiths bassline to a Ramones chorus, so you can't really go wrong there; things get a little more reflective on the slower 'I Can See Through You', a song that sounds as though it's only held together by sellotape and blue tack, but this only serves to make it more endearing. The bonus track again gazes longingly into a past chapter of life, perhaps wearing rose-tinted spectacles, and daydreams about events and people that come and go throughout your life, almost to the point where you wish you could build him a time machine to go back, just for one last look at those years of youth. Proof that the personal touch can be a great a tool as a huge desk littered with buttons and faders.

National pastime's 'all our yesterdays' reviewed by the sound of confusion

National Pastime - All Our Yesterdays

Album review by

'All Our Yesterdays' is perhaps the perfect title for this new album from National Pastime, as their sound is distinctly and deliberately retro. They cite Sarah Records, C86, The Smiths, The Television Personalities and so on as inspiration for their music. When you think of indiepop there are often centres where there's always been a big focus on the genre. Glasgow, London and Manchester would all be notable for their past and present scenes, but search a little more and you find pockets all over the UK that are home to bands of a similar ilk who maybe aren't as celebrated due to little more than their location. Recently places such as Nottingham, Brighton, East Anglia and various parts of Wales have all delivered some great guitar-pop. The scene in the south-west is equally worth investigating, from exciting newcomers like Bridport's HUSH! and Torquay's Big Wave, to more established bands who've been quietly plying their trade for a while.

This quartet from Exeter (where it seems most men are called Andy) fit the latter description, with this album being their first since 2010's 'Bookmarks'. National Pastime's third long-player is also the 28th release on local independent label Pastime Records, a great find whose artists we've featured regularly: see also Falling TreesThe MorrisonsAndy B as well as the precursor to this album, the 'Don't Let It Get Away' EP, the title-track from which opens proceedings here. It's not just the music that recalls the cult heroes of indie fans everywhere; the simple, almost DIY production (how ungainly these songs would sound with the kind of styling that neighbours Muse and Coldplay use), the jangly guitars, nicely bobbing bass and wonderful clattering beats and so on, it's also the lyrics that occasionally seem to yearn for days gone by. You only need to head to second track, the lovely, swoonsome 'All Of My Life' ("will I ever stop dreaming about yesterday?") or its successor 'Long Lost Summer' which focuses solely on a love story that ended too soon, many years ago.

While the sounds, style and formats may all be recreations of past stars (in our eyes at least), these are new songs, so while you will hear the echo of long forgotten bands, this album isn't a copy and it relies on decent songwriting in much the same way that the current psych revival (Tame Impala, Pond, Temples etc.) does. Those bands recreate and re-imagine names from way back when and are celebrated for it, and so National Pastime should be celebrated for their take on their favourite artists. Especially as they may achieve more commercial success with a different sound, but becoming stars isn't the reason for this band's existence. 'My Star Has Fallen' adds some piano to give a little extra dimension and isn't the only track to do so, but it's the organs of the excellent 'When Not If', the constant hum of guitar on 'Real Deal' and the classic pop of 'Run With Me Now' and 'Leave Them In The Shade' that present a wonderful mid-album run of top tunes. The catch being that the run doesn't end; 'Running Scared' is a highlight and the reflective closer 'Judge A Book' sounds like an old 45 from three decades ago, just like it should. We don't know what the yesterdays of the members of National Pastime entailed, but we suspect that a great record collection accounts for at least part of them.

National pastime's 'judge a book' ep reviewed by the sound of confusion

National Pastime - Judge A Book EP

EP review by

When what we know as pop and rock music began, it was all about singles. Three-minute pop songs to play on the radio and buy on 7". Albums were really a means to sell more copies of the singles. You'd have the couple of songs you know and love, several covers and maybe a couple of poorer originals if you were lucky. When people talk about classic albums they rarely mention much before the 1960s (in pop and rock that is), for it was in that decade that bands evolved away from the throwaway nature of single songs to looking at a complete body of work. By the middle of the decade we were getting records like 'Pet Sounds', 'Revolver' and many others. In a strange way, this throws up another problem. With a general length of around 40 minutes or so, a whole album can be a bit much for casual listeners to take in. They're still likely to skip to the singles and miss out on plenty of other equally good music.

Last year Exeter indiepop band National Pastime released their latest album, 'All Our Yesterdays'. It was an enjoyable and nostalgic trip through the sound of indie music as it used to be. Anyone who missed out on the full-length might find this bite-sized sampler an easier route into some delightfully melodic and endearingly DIY guitar tunes. The four songs here represent a good cross-section of the album, from the opening, Housemartins-esque pop of 'Judge A Book' to the more upbeat yet reflective 'Long Lost Summer', there are hooks aplenty and melodies to spare. You could perhaps call 'All Of My Life' the most typical of the '80s indie sound that National Pastime favour; if you took it to the Antiques Roadshow the specialists would have a tough time dating it. Much like the album, this EP is about growing older, about looking back on the past through rose-tinted spectacles ("will I ever stop dreaming about yesterday?"), but it's not in a sad way, it feels more like a pause for thought. Fans of the indiepop genre will surely enjoy the album, so if this EP is the gateway then so be it. With the Belle & Sebastian piano of 'My Star Has Fallen' and the almost live, intimate vibe of the songs, it's really a bit of a hidden treasure.

National pastime's 'goldsworthy gurney/all the times' ep reviewed by sounds xp

National Pastime

Goldsworthy Gurney/All The Times

Pastime Records

Article written by Kev W - Apr 26, 2014

This latest release from Exeter indipoppers National Pastime might be trying to trick us into thinking it's a double A-side single, but really it's a four-track EP that follows hot on the heels of recent album 'All Our Yesterdays' while containing totally new material. As is usual, this collection is firmly rooted in the retro guitar-pop sounds of labels like Postcard, Sarah and early Creation Records; the band have never tried to hide the influence of the groups they love, and as well as being musically nostalgic, lyrically they often look to their personal pasts (whether real or fabricated is for them to know) for inspiration. In that respect, it's perhaps 'All The Times' that sums up National Pastime the best. The jangly sound, the poppy melodies, the maudlin keyboard and strings that add a reflective sadness to the song, and then lines about looking back over past experiences and lost love. The orchestral feel brings a certain majesty too.

'Goldsworthy Gurney' is made of (slightly) sterner stuff, perhaps more fitting for a song about the forgotten Cornish inventor who has been almost written out of history despite hugely important inventions which led to the development of steam-powered vehicles and electric light. Not your regular subject matter, that's for sure, but this is to their credit and once again it could be lifted from a 7” from 30 years ago. With perhaps even more vigour is 'Careless Talk'. The clattering beat and grittier guitars are offset nicely by the soft vocals, and the lead guitar and use of keyboard in the chorus adds a similar stateliness to that found on 'All The Times'. Given their release schedule over the past year (an album and three EPs), it's all the more impressive that nothing is here just to make up the numbers. 'No Guarantee' doesn't break the mould musically, and neither does it do so in quality. This could be National Pastime in a nutshell: always borrowing, but always doing so with a certain style and charm.