Guest Post: Hleger presents The Private Press Mix

Hleger is a South African musician whose experiments have taken him to every corner of alternative music, from drone to folk, psychedelia to bedroom pop. His diverse influences are spearheaded by DIY pop idols R. Stevie Moore and Ariel Pink, yet here he goes one further by exploring the world of 1960s Private Press music; the artists who recorded by themselves, for themselves!

Stuart Kets (Hleger) presents...
The Private Press Mix:

Eddie Callahan - "Santa Cruz Mountians"
D.R. Hooker - "Weather Girl"
Circuit Rider - "Just for Today"
Sister Irene O' Connor - "Fire"
Ted Lucas - "It's So Easy When You Know What You're Doing"
Dave Bixby - "Drug Song"
Ted Lucas - "It Is Nice To Be Stoned"

Tueurs de la Lune de Miel - Route Nationale 7

Although Tueurs De La Lune De Miel (The Honeymoon Killers) were beloved in their native Belgium, the band went unfairly unnoticed in the Anglosphere. The French-speaking sextet explored new-wave, jazz and rockabilly, although here, a more straightforward route was taken: covering Charles Trenet's memorable Route Nationale 7. The song was quirky and inventive, comparable to the Flying Lizards and arguably paving way for acts like Stereo Total in the 1990s.

Label: Crammed Discs
Year: 1981
Genre: New Wave, Chanson

Guest Post: Half-Gifts presents Craig Safan & John Joyce - Life Is Looking Good

Introducing the first ever Dig That Treasure guest post! Half-Gifts is a zine and blog run by the viciously talented Jude Noel and here, Noel abandons his roots in shoegaze and dream pop and writes about the unlikely earworm 'Life Is Looking Good' from 1977 family comedy Breaking Training.

Half-Gifts presents...
Craig Safan & John Joyce - Life Is Looking Good

The songs most likely to get stuck in your head seem to come from the most unlikely places, and no source seems less likely to produce pop gold than Breaking Training, the 1977 sequel to baseball-themed family comedy The Bad News Bears. Living up to its optimistic title, the Motown-Influenced song 'Life Is Looking Good' gives the film’s turning point some extra kick, transitioning seamlessly from the 1812 Overture as the film’s titular baseball team pulls onto the interstate, headed for the Astrodome. In fact, the song’s chorus borrows its melody from the Tchaikovsky classic. Songwriter Craig Safan is able to capture the spirit of the seventies perfectly. Its grainy, disco sound meshes perfectly with the long hair and carefree attitude of the decade.
- Jude Noel, Half-Gifts.

Label: n/a
Year: 1977
Genre: Baroque Pop, Disco, Soundtrack

Profile: /please/

Bristol teenager Ellen Davies broke the punk mould of Art Is Hard Records earlier in 2013 when she released e . p, a collection of warm and delicate songs drawing influence from Kate Bush, Julia Holter and Carissa's Wierd. Opening track Calliope's dark optimism leads into the piano-driven near-ballad Absolutely, decorated with acoustic guitar and processed percussion. Stand out track Chevron offers a whirring electric guitar, while closing track Gestalt ends the collection abruptly and mysteriously. Above is a cut from Art Is Hard's Biweekly 5" Pizza Club, a beautiful reinterpretation of Bonnie Tyler's 'Total Eclipse of the Heart'.

Label: Art Is Hard/Sewage Tapes
Genre: Dream Pop, Electronica

Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou - Mother's Love

Given its incredibly rich musical history, Ethiopia's relative obscurity on a worldwide scale is unfortunate. Nevertheless, Éthiopiques - a compilation series unmasking Ethiopian composition - is leading the movement to change this. This particular piece, 'Mother's Love', is from Éthiopiques 21. Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou's composition is an intricate, delicate and balmy piano piece, understandably regarded as a lullabye by some.

Label: Éthiopiques (Reissue)
Year: 1963 (Original) 2006 (Reissue)
Genre: Jazz, African Folk

Careful - It's Funny

Almost a year on from its original release date, Careful's 'It's Funny' still carries the same spine-tingling effect it did on initial listen. Upon the urgent and distorted bass, rattling acoustic guitar and wandering organ sit craftily autotuned vocals. Yet here the oft-criticised vocal effect is used passionately, grabbing the essence of Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart and emphasising Eric Lindley's cries of "I fake kissing you... I think hardly of when your father died." Written, 'It's Funny's ingredients are inapposite - yet, in product they produce a touching, frail and frighteningly beautiful piece of music.

Label: Circle Into Square
Year: 2012
Genre: Folktronica, Avant-Garde, Pop

Profile: Kiran Leonard

Pretty daunting that Kiran Leonard is 17 years old. His copious virtuosity has already amounted to several albums and projects, including the nauseating DeerGrips, a 25-minute progressive-rock ode to the apocalypse and most recently - and arguably most accessibly - a double album that channels baroque pop and psychedelia. Difficult, then, to say what the accomplished 'Kiran Leonard' as a portrait actually sounds like, but try Frank Zappa, Zach Hill and Randy Newman for a start.

Label: Hand of Glory
Genre: Avant-Garde, Pop, Jazz

The Sylvers - I'll Never Be Ashamed Again

Strange, if you will, that a Capitol-signed chart-topping act can be considered a 'lost treasure'. And yet, this 10-man family band faded into obscurity in the mid-80s, dwarfed by the success of the Jackson 5 or even Tavares. This song is a perfect three minute sugar rush, equipped with tight harmonies and dated falsetto.

Label: MGM Records
Year: 1971
Genre: Soul, Disco, R&B

Dinosaur L - #2 (No, Thank You)

A short and sweet treasure from Arthur Russell's first 'studio album'; perhaps a crazed and dazed foreshadowing of his later experiments in both classical music and disco. Here, Russell's erratic instrumentation is peppered with calls of "I said NO, thank you!" - quite a difference to his later, gently-sung love songs.

Label: Sleeping Bag Records
Year: 1981/2
Genre: Avant-Garde, Jazz, Post-Disco

Cassida Pax - Her

Ricardo Stacey provides a perfectly chilling contrast on 'Her'; the bright, upbeat instrumental is stained by sinister lyrics of corruption and pornography. Shimmering guitars and a persistent drum machine play host to darkly murmured vocals, and clocking in at just under two minutes the track's moreish melodies lure the listener in over and over again, creating a trance of c86-influenced dream pop.

Label: Memory No.36 Recordings
Year: 2012
Genre: Indie Pop, Shoegaze, Dream Pop

The Stranglers - My Young Dreams

The Stranglers at their rawest. This beautifully honest 1974 demo, driven by a despairing arpeggiated piano, laid the foundations for one of the most successful punk/new-wave acts of the 1970s and 80s. Co-written by Hans Wärmling and later reinvented unflatteringly as a synth-pop ballad, this track is truly a lost gem.

Label: demo
Year: 1974
Genre: Punk, New Wave