Saloon (band)

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Saloon
Origin Reading, England
Genres Indie
Years active 1997–2004
Labels Darla Records
Website Myspace.com
Past members Matt Ashton
Alison Cotton
Adam Cresswell
Amanda Gomez
Mike Smoughton

Saloon was an English indie musical group from Reading, who formed in 1997 and disbanded in 2004.

Formation[edit]

Saloon was originally formed in late 1997 by Adam Cresswell (bass/synthesisers) and Michael Smoughton (drums). In early 1998, they added Alison Cotton (viola) (who came from another Reading band, British Air Powers, who went on to become British Sea Power) as well as Amanda Gomez (lead vocal) and Matt Ashton (guitars).[1]

With their line-up complete, the group played their first gig at The Fox and Hounds in Caversham, a pub made famous by an early performance by Lennon and McCartney.[2]

Style[edit]

Saloon drew on a range of influences of electronic and more guitar-based acts, Saloon developed a futuristic pop sound that incorporated Cotton's viola playing, Cresswell's interest in Moog synthesisers, and Ashton's feedback-tinged guitar style, along with samples and more exotic instrumentation, such as stylophone and glockenspiel.[3]

Early recordings[edit]

A home-recorded, four-track demo (The Blue Demo) containing four songs garnered fanzine acclaim and, by the end of 1998, Lisa Millennium / Conquistador was released on their own Belmondo label. Upon issuing Futurismo (a split 7" with Derby band Lazer Guided) in 1999, Saloon came to the attention of DJ John Peel, who championed the band and their subsequent single releases. The band recorded three Peel sessions; aired 4 July 2001, 7 August 2002 and 19 April 2003.[4]

The band then released songs through various independent labels including "Shopping"[5] (Amberley Records), "Electron"[6] (Bearos Records), "Snow"[7] (Fortuna Pop), and "Impact"[8] (Glamour Puss), a split with the Sonic Catering Band. The band eventually settled on Darla Records[9] for the US releases and the Track and Field Organisation in the UK,[10] on which they were to release their last singles "Free Fall",[11] "Have You Seen The Light"[12] (a split with Dressy Bessy) and "Girls Are The New Boys".[13]

Gigging and touring[edit]

The band toured extensively (reportedly in a post-van[14]) and, alongside tours in the UK, France, Sweden and Holland, Saloon played a number of support slots with their peers and influences, including shows with Laika, Billy Mahonie, Of Montreal, Herman Dune and, the band they were most commonly compared to, Stereolab. Saloon also curated their own club night and Festival at the Rising Sun Arts Centre in Reading called ‘Happy Robots’ which brought the likes of Pram, Electrelane and Manitoba to the town.

First album[edit]

At the same time as gigging and releasing numerous 7" singles, the band wrote and recorded their debut album, a process which took them a year and half.[15] "(This Is) What We Call Progress"',[16] which was engineered by singer Amanda Gomez at the Reading College School of Art and Design (now part of Thames Valley University)[17] and mixed by Andrew Prinz of Mahogany in his New York studio, who also designed the sleeve. The album was released in April 2002 to mostly favourable reviews, including the Sunday Times in the UK who listed it amongst their top 10 of the year.[18]

Festive fifty controversy[edit]

Saloon quickly got to work writing the follow-up. Between the release of the albums the band were hit with unexpected success when Girls Are The New Boys reached number one in Peel's annual Festive 50. This was one of four Saloon releases in the coveted chart, with two entries in 2001 and two entries in 2002. Following this success, Saloon came up against its first serious criticism with accusations of vote rigging. One fanzine Unpeeled went as far as printing an alternative Festive 48[19] which excluded both of the band’s 2002 entries. Although the fact that the band were invited back for a third Peel Session suggested that Peel and his production team felt there had been nothing irregular, the criticism clearly disturbed feeling within the band. In a 2006 interview Cresswell, while commenting on their 2001 festive 50 number 12, commented “despite only being released on a 500 copy limited split 7" … this song [Impact] reached Number 12 in John Peel's Festive 50. No one accused us of cheating that year though. Bitter, me?”[20]

Second album[edit]

The self-produced second album If We Meet in the Future[21] was released in June 2003, again to mostly positive reviews including the NME who awarded it 8/10.[22]

Split[edit]

Despite this, following its release the band completed their touring commitments and disappeared. In May 2004 it was announced that Smoughton, Ashton and Cotton had quit,[23] and on 30 October 2004, five days after the death of Peel, Gomez and Cresswell announced the official split.[24]

Aftermath[edit]

A compilation album of the early Saloon singles Lo-Fi Sounds, Hi-Fi Heart[25] was released in 2006. Gomez and Cresswell also provided production duties on the 2004 album, Let's Get Static, by another Track and Field band, The Projects.[26] Gomez briefly also covered keyboard duties in the band. At the turn of the decade, Ashton, Cotton and Cresswell were still writing and recording respectively in band's called 'The Leaf Library','The Left Outsides' and 'Arthur and Martha'. In 2010 Smoughton and his wife were killed in a car accident in Canada.[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ STRONG MC The Great Indie Discography 2nd Ed. Edinburgh: Cannongate
  2. ^ Reading Evening Post 12 April March 1999
  3. ^ Allmusic.com
  4. ^ "BBC.co.uk". BBC. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  5. ^ "Discogs.com". Discogs.com. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "Discogs.com". Discogs.com. 3 July 2000. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  7. ^ "Discogs.com". Discogs.com. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  8. ^ "Discogs.com". Discogs.com. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  9. ^ "Darla.com". Darla.com. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  10. ^ "Trackandfield.org.uk". Trackandfield.org.uk. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  11. ^ "Discogs.com". Discogs.com. 24 September 2001. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  12. ^ "Discogs.com". Discogs.com. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  13. ^ "Discogs.com". Discogs.com. 21 October 2002. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  14. ^ http://www.melodycat.de/?p=12
  15. ^ Get Reading Retrieved 15 May 2012
  16. ^ "Discogs.com". Discogs.com. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  17. ^ Tvu.ac.uk[dead link]
  18. ^ Sunday Times; 8 December 2002
  19. ^ "''Unpeeled'' Fanzine January 2003 website". Unpeeled.net. 4 January 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  20. ^ "''Popnews'' Interview with Adam Cresswell and Matt Ashton April 2006". Popnews.com. 18 November 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  21. ^ "Discogs.com". Discogs.com. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  22. ^ NME Second effort from Reading's only exponents of Kraut-Folk; 21 June 2003
  23. ^ "Web.archive.org". Web.archive.org. 22 May 2004. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  24. ^ "Web.archive.org". Web.archive.org. 30 October 2004. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  25. ^ "Discogs.com". Discogs.com. 30 January 2006. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  26. ^ "Gullbuy.com". Gullbuy.com. 11 January 2005. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  27. ^ University of Reading, Alumni, Obituaries Retrieved 15 May 2012