This, without any question, is a first in this very long-running series as the ICA features a band/collective whose releases have not yet found their way into any shops and are available only as digital downloads from bandcamp. Nor are there any publicity photos out there to give you a glimpse at the great folk who are part of The Affectionate Punch in one way or another.
TAP came to my attention initially via an e-mail, with G, the main brains and talents behind everything, introducing himself as both a fan of the blog and as someone who was friendly with Carlo, one of my good mates from Simply Thrilled and who has long posted here as Strangeways.
Indeed, it was Strangeways who provided the first-ever posting on TAP on this blog, back in June 2019, when he provided this introduction:-
“So DIY in spirit that their songs should be sold by B&Q, The Affectionate Punch have been releasing music online since November 2018.
This is a Glasgow-based ‘thing’ – yes, they’re a band, but no, they don’t tour – and probably they’re best described, really, as ‘a project’.
Each TAP song is led by speed and momentum, with almost every number taken from spontaneous idea to completed, listenable take, artwork (and, often, an accompanying video) in just a few hours. The rush is an essential ingredient, and a few songs have been abandoned midway when it’s clear they’d require lengthy noodling.
TAP explores a few styles of music, in general, you’d find them in the Indie aisle, probably between the Twee and Shoegaze sections. Led by just one person in one room, lurking close by, and keenly watched by the not-obvious-at-all store detective, would be a gang of contributors: Paul McKeever, a singer/songwriter from Larbet, Scotland, Marshmallow Fortresses, a musician from the San Francisco Bay Area, USA and, most regularly, Amanda Sanderson, a singer from Newcastle upon Tyne, England. As a non-musician myself, it is astonishing to me that this is largely a one-man band. Did I say band? I meant project. A one-man project, albeit one that welcomes these contributions.
The songs? They’re created for fun above all, and are led by guitars, keyboards, loops and samples – not to mention the odd peppering of toy orchestra lurking low in the mix.
And, yes, Associates fans: the project is named after the band’s debut LP. An Associates sample was being used on a previous project and this inspired the entire TAP idea. I love it when pop does stuff like that.”
Over the past 13 months, TAP have been prolific, with 16 separate releases – 8 singles, 6 EPs, 1 full LP and 1 mini-LP – all available via Bandcamp. 66 tracks in all, covering a range of genres as outlined by Strangeways. There’s even a few cover versions thrown in, and, as was mentioned in March 2020, your humble scribe realised a long-held ambition of being part of a recorded piece of music with a spoken word contribution to one of the tracks on one of the EPs.
I’ve devoured all of the TAP releases and reckon there’s material for a couple of ICAs but have given myself the difficult task of narrowing it down to just 10 songs to fit on two sides of vinyl. I’m sure you’ll all find something of interest among the songs. Some of the text below has been lifted from Bandcamp.
1. Scars I (from Scars EP, released 1 March 2020)
“The idea of a Scars e.p. came about following 2 individual comments that suggested the possibility of differing vocal interpretations of The Affectionate Punch songs. This was mulled over with interest resulting in a resounding yes.”
The vocal on Scars I is courtesy of Holocaust Nancy, whose solo material over on the Soundcloud page has been described as a soundscape worthy of Spiritualized and having a feel akin to early Roxy Music. The voice is a perfect fit for what is an outstanding shoe-gazey piece of music.
2. Lo-Fi Dreamers (from Lo-Fi Dreamers EP, released 16 October 2019)
“Lo-fi Dreamers is paean to some of those wonderful bands / artists that helped shape my own musical journey. It’s available as a free download.”
And it made me think of early-era Stone Roses etc.
3. Betwixt and Between (from Bittersweet Me EP, released 1 December 2019)
“The e.p. aims to be uplifting but only you can decide if it meets its intended purpose.”
I featured this previously on the blog, offering the view that it was something wonderfully multi-layered and which found the TAP project leader channeling his inner Robin Guthrie. I stand by those words.
4. How To Write A Marshmallow Fortresses Song (from Daydream Nostalgia EP, released 23 March 2020)
As mentioned earlier, TAP is something of a one-man project but reliant on the occasional guest contribution (kind of like this blog you could say). This is one on which the lyric was written and sung by Marshmallow Fortresses, from the Bay Area on the west coast of the USA, and whose own material can be enjoyed via a Soundcloud page.
5. I Fear (single, released November 2019)
The timely mention of Soundcloud enables me to mention that you can also enjoy all The TAP songs via that particular medium, including 15 tracks that haven’t as yet, made it onto Bandcamp for a digital release. I Fear is one such track its accompanying video is here on You Tube. It is mentioned as being the debut single from TAP, which technically is true as its November 2019 release came after the debut album and two EPs. A very fine upbeat number, reminiscent at times of the C86/87/88 era, has a guest vocal from Amanda Sanderson.
1. Brittle Inside (from the Colour In The 70s/Brittle Inside single, released 4 April 2020)
The earliest material to be found on Bandcamp is So Long, Goodbye, an instrumental album from June 2019. The track Brittle Aside was later re-worked with a lyric and vocal contributed by Marshmallow Fortresses.
2. Life In Between (TAP remix) – Paul McKeever and Amanda Sanderson
Paul and Amanda have solo careers but have also been working together for quite some time, judging by their respective Soundcloud pages. This track of theirs was remixed by TAP around 15 months ago and posted as a You Tube video. It’s a perfect demonstration of the DIY and collaborative effort described by Strangeways when he wrote about TAP on this blog, but if you think the phrase DIY means lo-fo, ramshackle and amateurish, then have a listen to this song and prepare to be astounded.
The newest release dropped onto Bandcamp last month, described as ” a collection of 6 songs and 1 bonus track collated as a mini LP. 3 songs had a limited release, as part of another project, and have since been remixed and remastered.”
These tracks are, in effect, the reason for this ICA. They sound quite different from the rest of the material – pop-orientated and veering towards something approaching a commercial sound. It’s as if TAP has discovered a new-found confidence to finally allow his voice to come to the fore, and in doing so he’s picked up the guitar and come up with some killer chords and riffs. Whether this is a new direction or a one-off nod to things of the past, only time will tell. But given that TAP, under other names, was heavily involved in the Glasgow fanzine scene back in the days, it may well be the latter.
5. Scars III (from Scars EP, released 1 March 2020)
Having opened up Side A with a vocal version of the song, I’ve taken the ego-trip and decided to close off the ICA with the spoken version, courtesy of yours truly, backed by The Additions, which was TAP polishing up my effort with some sound effects and backing vocals, to make into something dreamy, ethereal and majestic. It really is a perfect ending if you don’t mind me saying.
Here’s a list of places worth visiting if you’ve enjoyed some or all of ICA 256
Paul McKeever – https://soundcloud.com/paulmck/
Marshmallow Fortresses – https://soundcloud.com/marshmallow-fortress
Holocaust Nancy – https://soundcloud.com/holocaust-nancy
Amanda Sanderson – https://soundcloud.com/phoebeelena
The Affectionate Punch – https://soundcloud.com/theaffectionatepunch