Cleaners From Venus: Vol. 3
The legendary lo-fi band Cleaners from Venus formed in the small town of Wivenhoe, southeast England at the turn of 1980s by Martin Newell. The man, the myth, but to rock singer and part-time kitchen porter with a love of sunny 1960s pop music, punk rock and musical comedy. He never cared much for any kind of musical rule book and broke new ground with music that garnered a cult following and a highly-influential sound that continues to inspire. These 4 albums are the final chapter in the unveiling of the entire discography from the band, spanning the end of Martin Newell's long, storied run as the Cleaners from Venus (1985-1992). Included are Living with Victoria Grey, Number Thirteen and My Back Wages, which Newell considers a new release as it is finally being released as he originally intended it. The fourth album is a collection of rarities and unreleased material from the time that My Back Wages was recorded, called Extra Wages.
The beautiful 4xLP box set includes original liners written by Newell himself with unreleased photos, as well as a 16 pages book of Newell's poetry.
The beautiful CD foldout wallet with booklet includes original liners written by Newell himself with unreleased photos.
Cleaners From Venus: Living With Victoria Grey
The late summer of 1985 was a rather pleasant one for Martin Newell. Now past 30, and sick of being at odds with the London music industry, he decided to give up - not music exactly - but any attempt to make a living from it. Though Newell and his new musical partner Giles Smith continued to casually record and "Under Wartime Conditions" continued to pick up good reviews, including one in the UK's Sound magazine, there was no intent to continue on. Yet it was due to this sporadic period of recording that the Cleaners came to, quite non-chalantely, release the cassette "Living With Victoria Grey".
After sending the nearly unmarked cassette to a few fanzines and selling the cassettes for $2 apiece (or even giving them away), Newell once again forgot about music until a young man named Andy McQueen offered Newell an interesting deal: though there would be little money, he and Smith could record a high quality Cleaners record without the interference of a producer. The two began working on "Going to England". Although 7 of the songs from "Living With Victoria Grey" would appear on the album, the cassette was all but forgotten, the only master copy having been lost. It wasn't until almost 10 years later that Newell was approached by a man he'd never met before who said , "You sent me this, many years ago and told me to look after it. I did. I thought you'd like it back now.". It was the master copy of "Living With Victoria Grey". Over 10 years after it's initial, quiet release, Captured Tracks are pleased to present "Living With Victoria Grey" on vinyl for the first time as part of the final installment of the Cleaners from Venus collection.
Cleaners From Venus: Number Thirteen
Following the release of "Living With Victoria Grey", Martin Newell and the Cleaners from Venus once again began taking their musical careers seriously, releasing a few singles and two vinyl LPs. However by late 1988 Newell and bass player Peter Nelson left the band and ended up forming a side project by the name of The Brotherhood of Lizards. After busking and loosley recording some demos, the band were signed to the independant label Deltic Records. Newell and Nelson gained quite a bit of media attention for their guitar driven rock by refusing to tour by anything but bicycle. This generated a lot of attention for the band, but unfortunately Nelson left the band before it could fully come to fruition.
What we find in "Number Thirteen" is a transitional period from Newell. Intended as a demo, the cassette received positive feedback, but ultimately led no where. At 37 years old, Martin Newell reflected upon the almost two decades of hard work and musical activity which had led him to this point. One morning he got up and began to coolly put his instruments away. He turned his small upstairs music studio into a room for books and writing. He decided to turn to the life of gardening that he'd always thought upon. However the simple life of a gardener would not last long. Newell soon found renowned with his poetry and writing, penning a semi-regular column for London's Independent, appearing on many TV and radio programs and publishing several collections.
Finally, in autumn of 1992, through another series of connections and coincidences, he was asked if he would like to make a solo album, with none other than XTC's Andy Partridge in the producer's chair. The first thing which he did, before dusting off his long abandoned instruments, was send Andy Partridge a handful of songs from the Cleaners from Venus' "Number Thirteen" cassette. Four of these would eventually form the basis of what became his first solo album and international success, The Greatest Living Englishman. The quartet of songs chosen by Partridge were, "The Jangling Man", "Home Counties Boy", "A Street Called Prospect", and "Christmas in Suburbia".
"Number Thirteen" is one of the many stepping stone releases that have led Martin Newell and the Cleaners From Venus through their storied career. Available for the first time on vinyl, and seeing it's first wide release, Captured Tracks are pleased to give you "Number Thirteen".
Cleaners From Venus: My Back Wages
Considered the "last ever" Cleaners From Venus release, "My Back Wages" is comprised primarily of songs written in 1992 while Martin Newell was quarantined with the Chicken Pox. While some songs made it onto Newell's "The Greatest Living Englishman", many fell into obscurity, never to be released.
That is until some 8 years later when long time Cleaners supporters JAR Music Germany, a small DIY label, released a collection entitled "My Back Wages". Newell claims to have had no knowledge of the release, but the punning title of the album has his paw prints all over it.
After spending the years between 1992 and 2000 focusing on his writing, poetry and gardening, and when the release surfaced in 2000, Newell had little recollection of even sending the songs to his friends at JAR. When Newell heard it, he was surprised to find that musical additions had been made to the tracks, which polished up his spontaneously and sometimes sloppy recording style. Newell felt touched that anyone would be interested, or even care about something which he'd regarded as a rag-bag of demoes. Conversely, as a natural musical anarchist, the idea that anyone, anywhere, considered that they knew better than he did, annoyed him.
This version of My Back Wages as issued by Captured Tracks, therefore, is Martin Newell's own 'producers cut' of oddities, out-takes and 'orphan songs'. "Crane Drivers" for instance, was made after a friend with a brand new Roland U20 keyboard, lent it to Newell for two days, challenging him to make a complete song using only the sounds contained within its pre-sets. "Haunt Your House" was a demo written for The Damned, who were short of songs for an album at that time. It was never used.
Over 20 years later, Captured Tracks are thrilled to give Newell the chance to release this material on his own terms and put the Cleaners to rest once and for all.
Cleaners From Venus: Extra Wages
Parting is such sweet sorrow!
We at Captured Tracks have been so honored to release the wildly expansive catalogue ofMartin Newell and the Cleaners From Venus that we couldn't say goodbye without just onemore!
This bonus LP contains the remaing outtakes from Newell's 1992 recordings that resulted in"My Back Wages", along with a few other rareities. It would be nice and tidy to be able tosay that the Cleaners from Venus story ended right here with this rather more than definitivecollection of broken or misshapen tracks.
The truth of the matter, however is that the story may not quite be over yet...
Donovan Blanc: Donovan Blanc
Donovan Blanc is the realization of a purified version of the duo's work, fit for consumption by disciples of technicolor baroque and singer-songwriter pop music. The record's aim isn't to evoke nostalgia, but rather to re-contextualize the familiar and foreign to create new moments; some that are bold and exuberant, and others that are reserved and melancholic. Donovan Blanc delivers a glimpse of the lush textures and vivid colors of pop's golden age through a modern lens.
Craft Spells: Nausea
After a dormant period following the release of the Gallery EP in 2012, Craft Spells’ Justin Vallesteros is back with the gorgeously ambitious Nausea.It’s Craft Spells' second proper full length LP, and first since 2010's critically acclaimed Idle Labor.
Since last on the radar, Justin moved to San Francisco to find a niche in the Bay Area music scene. This proved difficult within the regarded garage rock scene and insular DJ night crowds currently dominating the area's music community. Here, Justin fell into a slump, creatively. With a severe bout of writer's block he retreated to his parent's house in Lathrop, CA. Away from the city, he put down his guitar for a full year in favor of properly training himself on piano, the instrument from which all the tracks for Nausea were written.
The Bats: The Bats Volume 1
This box set contains three re-issues of New Zealand indie-pop pioneers The Bats ranging from early original recordings to previously unheard studio out takes.
Featuring tracks from 1984 to 1988, this compilation shows a group that has gone on to influence countless bands around the world with their jangling guitars that express both an optimism and deeper melancholy.
Compiletely Bats, originally released in 1987, gathers together the four-piece band's first three EPs - 'By Night' (1984), 'And Here is Music for the Fireside' (1985) and 'Made Up in Blue' (1986), along with bonus outages and demos from the period.
Daddy's Highway, their 1987 debut, stands as one of the most outstanding New Zealand albums from the 1980's that glows throughout with shimmering harmonies, whispered vocals, reeling baselines and a sweet sense of despair that is as catchy as it is thought-provoking.
The Law Of Things, recorded in 1988 and released in 1990, was the The Bats follow up album and yet again showcased the band's knack for irrepressible indie pop songs. Re-issued this year again on 2xLP, this CD version also includes their 1988 EP 'Four Songs' as well as never heard before studio tracks from The Law Of Things sessions.
Presented in a 3CD box which includes all original art work as well as accompanying, posters, flyers and ephemera from the time.
Mac DeMarco: Salad Days
Salad Days is the follow-up to 2012's lauded "Mac DeMarco 2" which saw the Edmonton local propelled into the limelight. Written and recorded around a relentless tour schedule (which picked up all over again as soon as the LP was done), "Salad Days" gives the listener a very personal insight into what it's all about to be Mac amidst the craziness of a rising career in a very public format.
The lead single, "Passing Out Pieces," set to huge overdriven organ chords, contains lines like "..never been reluctant to share, passing out pieces of me.." Clearly, this isn't the same record that breezily gave us "Dreamin," and "Ode to Viceroy" but the result of what comes from their success. "Chamber of Reflection," a track featuring icy synth stabs and soulful crooning, wouldn't be out of place on a fantasy Shuggie Otis and Prince collaboration. Standout tracks like these show Mac's widening sound, whether insights into future directions or even just welcome one-off forays into new territory.
Still, this is musically, lyrically and melodically good old Mac DeMarco, through and through. The same crisp John Lennon/Phil Spector era homegrown lush production that could have walked out of Geoff Emerick's mixing board in 1972, but with that peculiar Mac touch that's completely of right now.