Radio Khartoum: sophisticated left-field pop, imaginary soundtracks, graphics by Bügelfrei, and the occasional off topic rant. US distribution for a few select items from Vespertine & Son, Friendly Noise, and Quince Records. French travelers should note that it’s "Radio Khartoum" and not "Radio Karthoum".

Sunshine pop of the palest order. Small-town tales of disintegration, existential limbo, and the dismantling of the welfare state glide on a languid and blissful projection of Bacharachian lightness and easy-listening charm. Produced by Anthony Rochester.


THE HEPBURNS: butterfly fish T-shirt

Click on the images for a larger view of the artwork.

Screen printed on “navy”, “red” and “natural” American Apparel “2001” cotton tees. The blue and red versions have silver and white printing; the “natural” is off-white organic cotton and has aqua and red printing.

American Apparel shirts are cut like 1970s tees and run smaller than other (modern) brands. If in doubt, order one size larger than you usually wear. Or click here for size chart.

The Hepburns at their cattiest. Classic Welsh guitar pop in celebration of civil servants, hack writers, sexual anoraks, glowering cashiers, Mrs Rochesters and other personae non gratae.

“A mosaic of witty, fantastical, individualistic songs that sound well alone and collectively form a breathtaking panorama of lyrical imagery and eclectic sound. I don’t know where this work stands in today’s polluted pop waters, but I fancy that back in the more bracing airs of 1981 it would have been celebrated as the major achievement it surely is.” —Mike Alway, él Records »Listen here.

CAVIL: Mares’ Tails

Lullabies of everyday betrayal and yearning after migratory geese, airborne plastic bags, aeroplanes, train whistles, and other phantoms of freedom. From the dark, wet pavement of a Pennine town to the waltz-infested waters of “Piranha Canal”, these folk nocturnes from Northern England will sit nicely next to your Tindersticks and Montgolfier Brothers records.

“Swims somewhere in the same sea with Ben Watt’s North Marine Drive or Beaumont’s No Time Like the Past. A melancholy, almost spiritual album. A very personal joy. Something you might be tempted to keep all to yourself…” —Corey W. Schmidt, Central Services »Listen here.


Recent arrivals

in the Friendly Goods dept.:

ORWELL: Exposition universelle

Europop 2000 (France)

Airy, orchestral-pop brilliance from Jérôme Didelot and friends, propelled by guitars, piano, strings, brass, vocal harmonies, vibraphone and vintage electronics (Optigan, Mellotron, etc.). Richly arranged, but ever ready with the odd synth, tuba, backmasking or unexpected chord to pierce the mix, Orwell’s fifth album is a return to French after the English experience of 2011’s Continental. Vous ne parlez pas français? No worries! Sunshine pop and baroque rock are the lingua franca here. Vinyl version includes a download code.»Tracklisting.


Wonder (UK).

2010 collaboration between Testbild! and Louis Philippe, available on these shores for the first time ever, thanks to poor planning and no distribution. Lovely, orchestrated stuff. Besides the above-mentioned musical luminaries, recording personnel includes Danny Manners, Sean O’Hagan and the Covent Garden String Ensemble. »Tracklisting.


Kalligrammofon (Sweden)

Six moody, piano-driven, vocal pieces from Testbild! founding member, Petter Herbertsson. Long since sold out at Kalligrammofon, but appearing here now thanks to a shipping snag. »Tracklisting.

THE HAPPY COUPLE: Into the Woods

Félicité Records (UK)

Félicité Records (UK). Johanna Maier and Tom Hilverkus have re-consummated their long-distance songwriting relationship as The Happy Couple and I am very happy to have the result spinning on my turntable. Into the Wood, their first proper full-length, is folkier and darker than their previous singles and EPs (there was a CD on Quince). Indiepop roots are still apparent, but so are the effects of serious record-collecting habits, specializing in the late-sixties folk, psych and electronics departments. What raises the album above the sum of its influences, for me, are Jane's broody lyrics. Quiet piano melodies, guitar noise, and bleeps of all kinds are entangled in unusual song structures to create a sound that is restrained yet exuberant, complex yet accessible. About leaving, coming home, and the journey in-between, Into the Woods reveals its subtleties with repeated listenings. »Listen here.

A lovely, mostly-instrumental album by Seattle-based storytellers, Mr. and Mrs. Muffins. The music here moves effortlessly from the simple and unsophisticated (a melodica or a toy piano picking out a melody) to very accomplished string passages and multi-layered soundscapes with airy choral arrangements that give me the chills. These recordings originally featured as interludes on the Muffins’ first two audio books, and the child-like sensitivity that pervades the album is tempered by longing and just the right shade of melancholy. It’s a winning formula.

“A very, very touching piece of music, just on the right side of melancholy” —Louis Philippe

“Dreamy soundscapes, unconventional harmonies and friendly surrealism, strange instrumental songs that don’t sound like anything else?—Perfect!” —Petter Herbertsson, Testbild! »Listen here.

TESTBILD!: Barrikad.

Kalligrammofon (Sweden)

For this album, Testbild! have switched to singing in their native Swedish, and as you stare at the credits you are likely to discover the Swedish words for many different kinds of horns, harpsichord, church organ, string drum (whatever that is), along with more familiar instruments like guitars, glockenspiel, and yes, more toy piano. Gentle, organic dreamscapes under a cloud of falling folk and volcanic ash…

Vinyl-only release. Includes download code and a poster.
»Watch the video for “En kartbild utan sand” here.

RK Newsletter:


The Hepburns:

» 17 March 2018 — Bristol — Thunderbolt
with The Monochrome Set + Karen


New Release Forecast:

The Hepburns: In the Mean Time

Testbild!: The Lolita Wagner Case

The Hepburns: Where the Missing Words Live

The Hepburns: Insomniac’s Lullaby

Cessna: Bordeaux (vinyl reissue)


RK Playlist Feb 2018:

The Hepburns: In the Mean Time

Alessandro Alessandroni: Panaramic Feelings

The Caravelles: s/t

v/a: Honeybeat: Groovy 60s Girl-Pop

Neoangin: Highway to Hello

Everyday Mistakes: Osbcure Lanes

Alessandro Alessandroni: Ritmo Dell'Industria N°2

Angelo Baroncini & Bruno Battisti D'Amario: Music For Movement

Sandro Brugnolini: Gli Arcangeli

Fabio Fabor: B 82 and B 81

Girls at Our Best!: Pleasure

Anthony Rochester: Hot Hits ’96