Thursday, October 29, 2009

Split Enz - I Got You

Here's one for the nostalgia file. I was never a huge Split Enz fan, and I didn't like Crowded House at all. But you've got to admit this is a classic.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Urusei Yatsura - First Day on a New Planet

Urusei Yatsura were sort of the lesser-known Scottish version of Pavement, with a Japanese pop culture obsession thrown in for extra fun. Their first album was really quite good although I thought they went sort of downhill after that.

This was my favourite track of theirs, from that debut album We Are Urusei Yatsura.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Saint Etienne - Like the Swallow

I'm not a huge fan of dance music, but every so often a band comes around that is so unbelievably brilliant at it that I can't help but love them. Saint Etienne are one such band, or at least they were at the time of their debut album (I confess I never paid much attention to them after that). I mean, great tunes + heavenly female vocals = great band regardless of the genre, right?

This is probably my favourite track off Foxbase Alpha. It only starts being good around 3.40, but you have to listen to it from the start to get the proper effect.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Partisans - Police Story

On a more somber note, here's an old punk tune that's been running through my head a lot lately for some reason. It was one of my favourites in my spikey-hair days, although it was a long time before I learned what it was actually about: the violent death of 54-year-old Jimmy Kelly in the custody of the Liverpool police. It was recorded as "death by misadventure", because he was drunk when he was lifted - despite eyewitness testimony of police brutality and the (reluctant) admission by one of the arresting officers that he had punched him in the head several times. Were any of the police involved punished or disciplined in any way over this event? What do you think?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tramway - Maritime City

So many wonderful Sarah songs, so little time. I don't know anything at all about Tramway, but isn't this just a gorgeous tune?

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Boo Radleys - Sunfly II: Walking With the Kings

I've posted a couple Boos bits already but nothing from their earlier years, even though they were much better then. So here's a b-side from the Boo! Forever EP (which was basically the single release of "Does This Hurt?").

Awful, pretentious title. But great track.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ultra Vivid Scene - Staring at the Sun

Ultra Vivid Scene's self-titled debut album was one of the classics of American shoegaze but their follow-up, Joy 1967-1990, was much more straightforward pop. Apparently this wasn't actually their intention but rather the result of Hugh Jones's production. I remember at the time being a bit disappointed, because I loved the debut, but almost two decades on I've come to the conclusion that the second album is the one that's aged better.

This was its first, and best, single.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Charlotte Hatherley - Grey Will Fade

Continuing with the Ash theme, here's the title track from their ex-guitarist's first solo album (it was actually initially recorded as an Ash b-side). Funnily enough I like her solo stuff more than I like the Ash records she was on. She has a great voice, doesn't she?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Ash - Goldfinger

Here's another early Ash tune, from their first proper album 1977. Though it was the highest charting single from that album, it seems to have faded somewhat from public memory - if you hear something from it on the radio or in a club these days it's much more likely to be "Oh Yeah", "Girl From Mars" or "Kung Fu". At least it seems that way to me.

I always really loved this song anyway, it's a perfect example both of Ash's innate pop sensibilities and their brilliance at the teenager-in-love lyric. I feel like a teenager listening to this - and it's been a long, long time since I was.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Boo Radleys - Stuck on Amber

I mentioned before that I'm not much of a Giant Steps fan. I'm not a huge fan of Wake Up!, either, though I'd probably slightly prefer it. It's more straightforward pop and a lot less self-conscious than its immediate predecessor.

Actually I'd been so disappointed with Giant Steps that I'd pretty much written them off after it, but then one year when I was living in exile in a horrible corner of the world - the less said the better - a friend back in England sent me a mix tape (remember "tapes"?), just to torture me with what I was missing out on, and put this song on it. It persuaded me to go back and give the Boos another chance.

I still think their shoegaze era was their best, but I suspect that's just me.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

St Christopher - All of a Tremble

For the most part, I really don't like St Christopher. There's not too many Sarah bands I can say that about. But I just don't care for Glenn Melia's voice, and his songwriting pretty much leaves me cold too.

This song is the exception - two and a half minutes of sheer pop perfection, more than infectious enough to compensate for the vocals (which I still find grating, but at least tolerable here). And almost worth a listen for the title alone. I love a good song title. Why couldn't they all be like this?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Teenage Fanclub - Every Picture I Paint

Teenage Fanclub's first album was a lo-fi and rather ramshackle affair, with little evidence of the irresistible Big Star pop that characterised Bandwagonesque. It's much closer to indie rock, really, which makes sense since it was on Matador. I don't dislike it but I wouldn't listen to it nearly as much as Bandwagonesque. Unfortunately I don't think their later material even lives up to the debut, much less its (deservedly) highly-acclaimed follow-up.

Here's one of the handful of songs from A Catholic Education that hinted at what was to follow ... at least for the next album.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Rainy Day - I'll Keep It With Mine

Long before the tribute album became such a tiresome cliché, a bunch of musicians from the Paisley Underground scene got together to record an album of (mostly) '60s cover versions. Rainy Day - it was never quite clear whether that was the name of the album, or the name of the "band" - was choc-a-bloc with treasures, such that I had a hard time deciding which one to put up here.

In the end it came down to either this one, a Dylan cover sung by the Bangles' Susanna Hoffs, or David Roback's version of Buffalo Springfield's "On the Way Home". I might still put that one up some other time, because it's just gorgeous. But this one has slightly more memories for me.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Verlaines - Ready to Fly

I know a few people who think the Verlaines really went downhill in the 1990s, but I'm not one of them. Sure they were a bit more polished and could probably have benefited from less production. Songs were still great though.

This is the title track to their 1991 album.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Jupiter - Leave the Ground

Summershine was Australia's equivalent of Sarah or Slumberland (notice the pattern?), the early 90s label of its country for indiepop kids. Only problem is, most of its bands weren't great. Pleasant and enjoyable enough, sure, but they never put out anything I'd really consider essential. Still worth a listen if you're into that sort of thing, and I assume you are if you're here.

This is from Jupiter's album Arum, which has a couple really strong tracks and a lot of stuff that's almost good, but not quite. In that sense it kind of epitomises the label as a whole.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lilys - February Fourteenth

One of the best American shoegaze bands, Lilys started out in Washington DC and then moved around almost as much as I did. Last I heard they were based in Philadelphia but to be honest I haven't really been keeping up.

Their sound has undergone similar changes, from the Dinosaur Jr influence of their first single (this one), to the really heavy MBVisms of their full-length debut, to their very Kink-y biggest hit, "A Nanny In Manhattan". Their most recent album, 2006's Everything Wrong Is Imaginary, is nothing like any of the above and might just be the best thing they've ever done.

But here's that first single, anyway. I bet they never play this live any more.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Soup Dragons - Whole Wide World

The Soup Dragons' 1990 breakthrough album was so thoroughly horrid I've had trouble convincing people that they actually used to be good once. But they were. Really good, in fact. They weren't on C86 for nothing you know.

Their early singles were collected by Sire and released on the Hang-Ten! compilation which is, quite simply, something no indiepop fan should be without. You can pretend it's by someone else, if you need to.

Here's a little taster.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Lilac Time - Return To Yesterday

I remember when this song was released. Nobody could really believe it was the same Stephen Duffy of Tin Tin, whose one song that anyone ever heard of was, oh let's say just a little bit different from this. Not in a bad way though.

I loved "Kiss Me", but nonetheless thought this was a fantastic single and it still holds up beautifully twenty years later. Pity the album it was on wasn't anywhere near as strong overall.