Frankie And The Heartstrings: Vaux Brewery And I

Frankie & the Heartstrings ( are a great new band from that hot-bed of new music; Sunderland. First came The Futureheads and the Golden Virgins, then Field Music (whose new album is surely one of the best of the year) and now we have some new upstarts Frankie & the Heartstrings. In recent months they have released two new singles. One is the usual 2 track 7″. The other is the more obscure 10″ but its not any old 10″. It comes housed in a canvas bag with badges, postcard and the first copy of their own fanzine. The record itself captures them live at the Independent in Sunderland on the 12th of September 2009. It contains 6 delicious cuts;

(1) Intro/What goes around

(2) Possibilities (available to download from the NME)

(3) Tender is the night

(4) It’s obvious

(5) Sex crimes

(6) Hunger

The cover of the single (pictured left) is a photo by North-East based photographer Keith Pattison. ( It depicts the sitting room of a striking miner. (He photographed the miners strike in 1984, ask your dad) On the TV set is Arthur Scargill, leader of the NUM. (Again, ask your dad) This use of these images tells us where Frankie & The Heartstrings sit on the political fence. In their fanzine they interview Keith Pattison about his experiences of the miners strike. To those of a certain age, myself included, the strike moulded our whole way of thinking. It was not just the strike but the whole movement around it that made us politically aware and, at times, active. I have fond memories of seeing Billy Bragg and the Redskins at the Bunker in Sunderland. Both gigs were aimed at raising money for the striking miners. These gigs and these photos raised our awareness of the political nature of the strike. It made us choose which side we were on. Frankie & The Heartstrings are showing which side they are on and it is definitely the same as me. It is refreshing to see a young band who are prepared to wear their political hearts on their sleeves. Further on in the fanzine they lambast their local council about not using the old Vaux Brewery building. For those not familiar to the area Vaux was a great brewer that produced the local delicacy; Double Maxim. Their name even adorned the shirts of Sunderland Football club during the 80s and maybe even into the 90s. I have very personal memories of these buildings. So it was with great excitement/surprise that I saw they had mentioned them. When I was little, in the late 1970s, we used to live in a Vaux pub (The Clayton Arms in Dudley, for those who may know it) Every week we were supposed to post our order of beer off to the brewery in Sunderland. My dad not being the most organised would often forget to do this. So, after the wrestling on a Saturday night we would drive the 12 miles or so to Sunderland to post our order directly into the Vaux post box. Guaranteeing it got there for the Monday morning. And guaranteeing we got our Double Maxim on the Wednesday. Am I going off the point?

The whole package is released by their very own record label POP SEX LTD. ( It comes in a neat canvas bag (pictured). My wife wanted to steal this from me until she realised it had POP SEX written in large on it. These bags may be the in thing but that wasn’t going to go down too well on the school run. The label specialises in releasing everything that Frankie & The Heartstrings do. They have sold off mix tapes, the stamper used on the 7″ single as well as this vinyl package. They are currently selling limited screen prints with tickets for their forthcoming tour. (See tour dates below.) I am hoping to get to the gig at The Cluny to give them the whole Northernline treatment.

Finally, yes finally. Have I mentioned the music? Their 7″ release contains 2 superb tracks; Hunger and Fragile. It was limited to 777 copies and came out on the legendary Rough Trade Records. Unfortunately it is completely sold out. The tracks remind me of loads of great bands; The Futureheads, The Smiths, The June Brides, Bradford, Gene……

The singer, Frankie of course, does have the look of a young Morrissey but dont let my lazy comparisons put you off. Their music is uplifting and intelligent. Buy the 10″, go to ebay for the 7″, go see them live. Visit the web site (

As the legendary fanzine once asked  “Are you scared to get happy?”

3 Apr 2010 20:00
Leadmill Sheffield, Midlands
5 Apr 2010 20:00
The Cluny Newcastle, Northeast
6 Apr 2010 20:00
Mojo Liverpool, Northwest
7 Apr 2010 20:00
King Tut’s Glasgow, Scotland
16 Apr 2010 20:00
Louisiana Bristol, Southwest
17 Apr 2010 20:00
Ruby Lounge Manchester, Northwest
1 May 2010 20:00
Live at Leeds Leeds, Northeast
7 May 2010 20:00
Guildhall w/The Futureheads Gloucester
8 May 2010 20:00
Kasbah w/Futureheads Coventry, Midlands
10 May 2010 20:00
Thekla w/Futureheads Bristol, Southwest
11 May 2010 20:00
Cavern w/Futureheads Exeter, Southwest
12 May 2010 20:00
Wedgewood Rooms w/Futureheads Portsmouth, South
13 May 2010 20:00
Roadmenders w/Futureheads Northampton, South
14 May 2010 20:00
The Great Escape Brighton, South
15 May 2010 20:00
The Great Escape Brighton, South
30 May 2010 12:00
Evolution Festival Newcastle, Northwest

By peter on March 6, 2010

Check out all the pics

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