AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #256: THE AFFECTIONATE PUNCH

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.

SIDE A

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.

SIDE B

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.

3. Papercuts
4. Will We Ever Know? (both lifted from Those Fanzine Days mini-album, released 4 June 2020)

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

Bandcamp

The Affectionate Punch – https://theaffectionatepunch.bandcamp.com/
Amanda Sanderson – https://amandasanderson.bandcamp.com/

Soundcloud

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

JC

DREAMS CAN COME TRUE

I’ve mentioned before how this blogging thing I’ve got going has led to so many amazing things or events in my life.

Everytime something incredible happens, I think it really can’t get any better….until something else comes along and tops it. This time round, I really do think it is the pinnacle.

Your humble scribe has now contributed to a commercially released piece of music……..

There have been many occasions, and I’m going back decades to well before all this started, that I wished I could somehow end up in a recording studio doing something like contributing handclaps in the background, just so that I could say I had been part of something truly creative. I’m now almost 57 years old and I really thought that dream would never come true.

Until…….a few months ago The Affectionate Punch got in touch and asked if I would consider doing a spoken vocal version of a new song that the collective had just written. It was an immediate ‘yes’ from me but on the proviso that if my effort wasn’t good enough to the ears of the professionals, then I wouldn’t be offended if it ended up not being used.

Scars is the latest EP from The Affectionate Punch. It was released yesterday, as usual, on bandcamp where you can have it for free or make a donation to support the efforts of those who make the music. Here is TAP to offer more in the way of backrground:-

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 e.p. consists of 6 vocal interpretations of Scars in addition to 1 instrumental track. Each track has its own cover art.

Scars I has Holocaust Nancy on vocals
Scars II features the talents of Paul McKeever and Amanda Sanderson
Scars III is spoken by The Vinyl Villain with The Additions on vocals
Scars IV has Amanda Sanderson on vocals
Scars V is the instrumental version by The Affectionate Punch
Scars VI is the spoken word version by The Vinyl Villain
Scars VII is a remix by The Pocket Calculator Club

mp3 : The Affectionate Punch – Scars III (featuring The Vinyl Villain with The Additions)

It’s a huge understatement to say that I’m incredibly thrilled by all of this. It’s very much a one-off on my part and I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity.

And wouldn’t you know, there’s a promo been made for Scars III…….

Speechless.

Click here to visit, listen and hopefully purchase from bandcamp.

JC

STUFF BOUGHT IN 2019 (2)

Here’s my second look back at stuff bought and enjoyed immensely in 2019, featuring a Glasgow-based musician, and his friends, whom I gave a couple of mentions to last year, one of which came via a wonderfully composed guest contribution, courtesy of strangeways.

As was explained, The Affectionate Punch 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’. All sorts of music influence the songs that eventually emerge – indie, twee and shoegaze are, perhaps, the biggest influences – with guitars, keyboards, loops and samples all deployed to great effect along with guest vocal contributions from friends in Scotland, England and the USA.

All the songs are released digitally on bandcamp, with one full-length album and three EPs available right here.

One of my favourite bits of music throughout 2019 appeared on the Bittersweet Me EP, which TAP released at the beginning of December, something that is wonderfully multi-layered and finds our project leader channeling his inner Robin Guthrie.

mp3 : The Affectionate Punch – Betwixt and Between

The other three tracks are equally good. Don’t take my word for it….visit the bandcamp page and listen for yourself.

JC

 

HARKING BACK TO A POST FROM A FEW DAYS AGO

You’ll hopefully recall that my dear friend Strangeways composed this wonderfully composed introduction to a Glasgow project that goes under the moniker of The Affectionate Punch.

In a nutshell, TAP have been releasing music online since November 2018, with the songs 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.

TAP is led by just one person in one room, but 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.

I pointed readers in the direction of the soundcloud page for TAP and also the dedicated youtube channel.  I also mentioned that plans were in place to master some tracks that would then be added to Bandcamp, as a free download, as an LP with the title So Long Ago, Goodbye.

Just a few days later, I received an e-mail from TAP

“Hi Jim

Just a wee heads up that the LP ‘So Long Ago, Goodbye’ is now available as a free download from Bandcamp.  Had it not been for Strangeways and TVV I would not have thought to do this – thank you.

You’ll note a proper thank you at track 10.  The first and last time I think I’m likely to type the 3 letter acronym that the ‘kids’ seem so fond of.”

And here, in all its glory, is said Track 10:-

mp3 : The Affectionate Punch – OMG! TVV

I was utterly speechless.

I’ve been lucky enough to have received some mentions and the occasional ‘thanks to’ within singles, LPs and one box set, and I’ve even, in real life, featured a fair bit in a political biography.

But this tops everything.  A piece of music, three-and-a-half minutes in length, on an album, named after me!

I am still utterly speechless. Oh my gawd indeed.

So Long Ago, Goodbye can be downloaded from here. It’s a wonderfully beguiling, intruiging and mesmerising listen. And of course, you can try before you download.

It is, if you choose, free of charge, but I would hope you would consider even a small contribution to support this artistic endeavour.

JC

PS : Here’s a reminder of the link to the soundcloud page and to the youtube channel.

THE AFFECTIONATE PUNCH

A GUEST POSTING by STRANGEWAYS

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 (that’s about a second or two in KSST – Kevin Shields Standard Time).The rush is an essential ingredient, and a few songs have been abandoned midway when it’s clear they’d require lengthy noodling.

Other things that often take longer than the creation of a typical TAP song:

· Watching The Godfather Part 2
· Observing a couple, with a baby, park a car and remove from its boot items essential for a lunch in a café thirty yards away
· Resolving, via telephone, an issue that doesn’t make a large company more profit

Back to our B&Q shelf for a moment: although 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.

strangeways

————————————————————

JC adds…..

Much of the stuff by TAP has been brought together on pages at Soundcloud and YouTube, and pointers to these place will be provided in due course.

As I’ve said before, I tend not to feature new or unsigned bands/musicians on the blog, but there was just something thrilling and different about what The Affectionate Punch is/are setting out to do that I wanted to bring things to your attention.  Besides, Strangways is a person of impeccable taste. The idea that music of this quality and distinction can happen almost in what is the musical equivalent of the blink of an eye is astonishing.

mp3 : The Affectionate Punch – I Fear

I Fear was the debut single from the collective, with the video put on YouTube on 10 November 2018 and the song placed on Soundcloud at the same time.

There are now an incredible 31 tracks on Soundcloud that can be accessed here

There are 11 videos on a dedicated You Tube channel that can be found here

While most of the songs are original compositions, you’ll also be treated to the occasional cover, such as this:-

There’s plenty of instrumentals out there too, with this one being reminiscent of the work of Robin Guthrie:-

mp3 : The Affectionate Punch – Neon Afterglow

And finally, a couple of the more recent additions to the collection:-

mp3 : The Affectionate Punch – Such Is Life

The next steps are to master some tracks that will then be added to Bandcamp, as a free download, as an LP with the title So Long Ago, Goodbye.

There’s also a planned release for a cover of Lene Lovich’s version of I Think We’re Alone Now. It will feature Amanda and Paul on vocals.

I’ve a feeling TAP might be featuring here again in the not too distant future.

JC