Christmas Countdown


I know it’s a cliched and grumpy old man complaint but Christmas starts earlier every year and it gets on my wick- the shops have been full of Christmas tat for weeks, the adverts on telly are non-stop Christmas related, the shopping frenzy begins. Whatever joy can be gleaned from our winter festival has been sucked and spat out even before advent.

It’s not all bad news though- the nice people at Occultation Recordings have sent me an advance copy of their Christmas single, shortly to be released on 7″ vinyl. A 7″ single is one of the best Christmas presents. The A-side is by Factory Star, whose debut album came out in the summer and was reviewed here. Factory Star are led by ex-Fall guitarist Martin Bramah and turn in a lovely little tune here, musically reminiscent of the point when post-punk became 80s indie. A little ramshackle, not really that Christmassy at all, it’s a good ‘un. Go get, and then order the vinyl.
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Yes, really.

I posted Time Goes By So Slow by long lost Manchester band The Distractions a few weeks ago, at the prompting of a reader called Dan, who also lives in Sale. It turns out Dan is part of the team at Occultation Recordings, a record label launched in 2009 to release records by The Granite Shore and The Wild Swans. Since then they’ve released some stuff by The Distractions, Jonathan Becket and are planning a Distractions compilation for later in the year. Recently Dan emailed to offer me a chance to hear and post tracks by Factory Star, currently unavailable anywhere else.

You can find Occultation Recordings here

Does this mean Bagging Area is a proper blog now?

And have I lost my independence and integrity?

And what if I don’t like the album? Can I say so?

Factory Star are a band led by guitarist Martin Bramah, who led The Blue Orchids and survived two stints in The Fall (during two of their most revered periods.) He’s a proper post-punk guitar player. Factory Star have been around since 2008, gigging and playing a session for (fellow Fall survivor) Marc Riley. They recorded their debut album during three days in Liverpool in January this year, playing live with hardly any overdubs and then mixed it the following weekend. Occultation are due to release it later this month. Factory Star take their lead from post-punk’s twin influences- 70s punk (New York variety) and 60s garage, filtered through a very northern Englishness (big mills, railway arches, Manchester suburbs, the cemetery and pylons on the sleeve art). There’s wheezy 96 Tears-esque organ all over this album along with clanging guitars and the half spoken, half sung vocals of Bramah. In places it’s slightly reminiscent of a Mancunian Pavement (who were often accused of plagiarising The Fall, not least by MES himself). The song titles alone are interesting; Away Dull Care, Cheetham Bill, The Fall Of Great Britain, New Chemical Light, Black Comic Book, Stone Tumbling Stream, Arise Europa! amongst them, and the album title itself, Enter Castle Perilous. Luckily the songs live up to them. There’s some good stuff here, for Fall fans and non-Fall fans alike. This is album opener Angel Steps, which gives you a good idea of what to expect.