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Fortuna Pop! Records: a few words…

Posted: December 29th, 2008, by Simon Minter

A few words about Fortuna Pop! Records, who have been happily doing their own thing as a label for the past fifteen years, and who recently sent me a few CDs for review, and in doing so created a rare and momentous occasion – actually receiving unsolicited stuff in the mail that I enjoy listening to, and that appeals to my musical sensibilities rather than being an obvious, desparate push as part of a scattershot PR campaign in order to raise the profile of yet another identikit, no-mark, faceless, bland musical puppet in the thrall of yet another misplaced record company advance.

Anyway, I digress. Fortuna Pop!’s output, in the main, seems transparently influenced by the work of Belle & Sebastian and Sarah Records in the past, along with a variety of twee/indie-pop/C86 labels and bands. But that stuff goes on forever, and despite any trends and turns taken by independent music, always seems to exist. Simple tunes, kind-hearted intent, and a relentless exploration of human relationships: what went right, what went wrong, and how it was affected by it being winter or summer (in general).

The Lucksmiths‘ latest, First Frost (FPOP80) positions the Australian band firmly in the ‘archetypal indie-pop’ bracket. Soft vocals, picked guitar, and a simplistic rhythm section. Throw in the odd fuzzy guitar, and a general feeling of hopeful melancholy, and you get a nicely rounded album here, with touches of the Smiths in their lighter moments, along with the likes of McCarthy, as well as a pleasing tendency to slow things down and introduce some darkness to a create a feel not unlike the work of Low, Idaho, Codeine and so on. I’m in a relaxed holiday mood right now, and this music does nothing but help with that.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart offer their new single ‘Everything With You’ (FPOP82) straight outta New York, sharing a Smithsian sense of melody with the Lucksmiths. They also pour in a liberal dose of shoegaze, with a fuzz of guitar, organ and blurred rhythm recalling Secret Shine or perhaps Velocity Girl. Dreamy!

The Loves single, ‘The Ex-Gurlfriend’ is being offered as a free download, in a very twenty-first century kinda way. It’s worth expending some bandwith on this; why, it sounds almost like a lost Primal Scream demo from around 1987-88. It rocks, but in a soft way, but it’s not soft rock. It’s shambolic – if that terms is used in a positive way – ramshackle rather than messy.

A good place to start with Fortuna Pop! might well be the compilation Be True To Your School (FPOP50), which offers a comprehensive, good-listenin’ overview of what the label has been up to thus far. It showcases not only the various indie-pop flavours that seem to be their speciality, but also quite a range beyond that simple template. Discordia offer neo-Saint Etienne sampled grooving; Cannonball Jane is neo-Saint Etienne sixties-tinged pop. There’s singer-songwriterly stuff from Mick Travis, and shiny, refined music from Fanfarlo and Would-Be-Goods. Throw in a whole load of noisy lo-fi pop (for example Finlay, Mark 700, Twinkie and Milky Wimpshake) and some joyous, brilliant indie-pop (Bearsuit, Spraydog) and there you go. A good label doing good in a musical world where it’s increasingly rare to hear simple, good music, free of sarcasm/irony/awkwardness/angularity/etc. Why, it’s almost like it’s circa 1986…


Simon Minter

Simon joined diskant after falling on his head from a great height. A diskant legend in his own lifetime Simon has risen up the ranks through a mixture of foolhardiness and wit. When not breaking musical barriers with top pop combo Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element or releasing records in preposterously exciting packaging he relaxes by looking like Steve Albini.


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