Fonda 500

TrackAlbum / EP / Single
Music Should Always Be Played
By The Hands Of The Animals
Je M'Appelle Stereo
I Love Stereo, Stereo's Good For MeJe M'Appelle Stereo
Push Button SkillzJe M'Appelle Stereo
Computer Freaks Of The GalaxyTruck Records TRAILER008
Roller DiscoThe Village VILCD004
Simon's Alphabetical BeardABCDELP
Un ÉléphantSpectrumatronicalogical Sounds
Digital Space PopSpectrumatronicalogical Sounds
Hey Hey It's The All New
Cuico Clientos Show Show
Spectrumatronicalogical Sounds
Beginning / 44I (Heart) Fonda 500

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Contributor: Paul Jenkins

Several years ago I went to see a much touted band seemingly on the edge of big things. Media hype was building, the internet mumble growing etc. I wangled a free ticket somehow and they almost blew me away. All their songs had amazing bits in. Some songs it was the chorus, some the intro, some the middle eight. But not one song had it all or even most of it. I won’t name the band as that seems unfair, they were doing their best after all. But, like a less brittle version of Samuel L Jackson’s terrorist in Unbreakable, I then set out on a search for a band whose songs were built entirely of amazing bits. Reader, I found them.

Fonda 500 should be bigger than Elbow. For nearly twenty years now, Simon Stone and his mates have been toiling away in almost complete obscurity, making an irrepressible day-glo racket that’s part Furries, part Stereolab, part Hawkwind. They have invented a genre of music I call “Hanna Barbera Ann” – the place where the Beach Boys meet the Hair Bear Bunch, a place of groovy harmonies and sunny mania.

I bought their album Spectrumatronicalogical Sounds on a whim in 2003. It remains one of my top 3 impulse purchases ever, though this one didn’t lead to any man buying me flowers. They’re the best band ever to come from Hull and their dedication to THE MUSIC is such that when I finally saw them live in 2006, they turned down a drink from me because they had to go back to work the next day. The gig was in Cardiff. 250 miles from home.

Their latest album, I (Heart) Fonda 500, continues with the tried and tested formula that has made them a household name in my own household if hardly anywhere else. A winning melange of battered synths, krautrock, tropicalia and bubblegum pop, there is no message in the music of Fonda 500, there is no emotional catharsis, no political undertone, no gesture of defiance nor defeat. More than any band in recent memory, Fonda 500 understands perfectly that great pop music is ephemeral, disposable, almost pointless and that this in itself is something worth revelling in. Lyrics are often nothing more than a song title gleefully repeated, songs sometimes disappear into a pop void after mere seconds have passed; the world of Fonda 500 is one where bleeps and birdsong happily share the same air, where the riffs are heavy and the robots run free.

Apologies we don’t have clips for all ten songs, just go out and buy their records. Trust me on this one.

 

Music Should Always Be Played By The Hands Of The Animals
In which our heroes invent the genre of Machine Folk, the sound of intricate plucking intertwined with the tinny sounds of discarded toys and the cartoon voices of woodland creatures. In anybody else’s hands, this would be twee nonsense but in the animal-empathising hands of Fonda 500, it captures that same sense of lost childhood memory as Boards of Canada. Forget post-rock, this is Postgate-rock.

 

I Love Stereo, Stereo’s Good For Me
If Daft Punk released this, you’d all be hailing its minimal disco cool or some other bollocks.

Push Button Skillz
See above and also below and listen to it here.

Computer Freaks of the Galaxy
Some songs absolutely match their titles. This is exactly how you want this to sound.

 

Roller Disco
To me, this should be the soundtrack to some French 1970s show in which a bunch of roller skating kid detectives are fighting the abduction of the world’s adults by sinister aliens. Play loud, close your eyes and think about the Tomorrow People.

 

Simon’s Alphabetical Beard
Imagine if Belle and Sebastian were utterly obsessed with Sesame Street. Wonderful, isn’t it? None of that Paula Wilcox riding a bicycle to watch Magpie jingly tweed rubbish. This is the good stuff.

Un Éléphant
“Somebody get in on. Get it on. Get it on, Get it on.” That’s about all you need for a lyric sometimes. Like the Quo beating Grandaddy up in a fight backstage at a Pacman convention. It’s fingers in belt hoops, head down, casio nodding boogie.

Digital Space Pop
A Pixies bassline, big eighties synth and a lo-fi sonic overload. Think the Furries on a fifty pence budget. Think Van Halen go acid house.

Hey Hey It’s The All New Cuico Clientos Show Show
My drunken notes read Pinky and Perky playing So You Want To Be A Rock N Roll Star. It’s nothing like that, of course. But it is also everything like that too.

 

Beginning / 44
Fonda 500’s latest album opens with something like the music from Peter Beardsley’s Jokes on the Athletico Mince podcast but much more sinister before turning into an exuberant Hawkwind. Technically, this is two separate songs but I don’t care.

* * * * *

Almost a decade in the making, lo-fi pop pioneers Fonda 500 are back with their magnum opus, I (heart) Fonda 500. A sonic mixing bowl of influences, genres and styles, the album finds the band at the peak of their inventive power, flitting gloriously from epic intergalactic soundscapes to scuzzy sunshine pop, from ice-cool electronica to moments of lowest-fi acoustic tenderness. Available on a beautiful gatefold vinyl, complete with temporary tattoos, as well as CD and download, I (heart) Fonda 500 was released in May 2018

Fonda 500 photo

Fonda 500 are Simon Stone (singer/casio/beatboxing), Nicholas Broten (guitar/keyboards), Jonee Kemp (guitar), Bod (bass/keyboards), Ian Appleyard (drums)

“Irreverence, musicianship, and simple sunny numbers that shine brighter when listening to the album in a state of post gig euphoria … A beguiling cat’s cradle. Fonda 500 perform with aplomb, and make their audience grin from the first off key note to the last!” The Guardian

“Fonda 500 are so wrong they are brilliantly right …The Fondas can afford to take the piss, safe in the knowledge that their songs will dazzle us no matter how hard they try to screw them up! Their contempt for convention is a breath of fresh air in these callow times. They have clearly got talent to burn – and burn it they most certainly will!” NME

“Fonda 500 rule over a kingdom of guitary toy-krautrock nonsense, gleefully unaware of hype, trends and scenesters everywhere … Simon Fonda is the ultimate unlikely frontman, but when he and his scatterbrain crew take the stage, donning hats with ears, singing about Computer Freaks of the Galaxy, and bashing hell out of a vintage Casio, there’s a sense of home: albeit possibly a mental one. They’re just ordinary people doing spectacular things.” Time Out

Fonda 500 official website

Fonda 500 facebook

Fonda 500 discography

All of the Fonda 500 albums and recordings are available digitally on bandcamp

Fonda 500 on Discogs

Jonathan (Jonee) Kemp official website

Fonda 500 biography (Wikipedia)

Paul Jenkins is a pop music obsessive living in fear of being found out as the owner of two Tight Fit singles. His opinions on life in general can be gleaned from his Twitter account @fourfoot. He lives in South Wales with his wife, daughter and a collection of Fall gig anecdotes. His posts on this site include Arab Strap, Tindersticks and Grandaddy.

Read the toppermosts of some of the other bands mentioned in this post:
Super Furry Animals, Stereolab, Beach Boys, Boards of Canada, Belle and Sebastian, Grandaddy, Pixies

TopperPost #729

1 Comment

  1. Ian du Feu
    Jul 3, 2018

    ‘Postgate-rock’ !!! awesome stuff

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