Monday, November 30, 2009

Moose - Suzanne

An underrated band sort of loosely connected to the shoegaze scene. Well, maybe "loosely connected" is the wrong way to put it. They were considered a shoegaze band but I don't really remember them ever gigging with the other shoegaze bands, plus they were on Hut which wasn't a very shoegazey label. Actually, listening to them now they don't really sound very shoegazey at all. Maybe I'm making the whole thing up.

They were very good, anyway. This is from an early EP.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Puddle - Rat Park

I haven't posted any Flying Nun in a while so here's a particularly obscure one. Most of the Puddle's sole studio album (prior to their recent reunion) is really lo-fi and not terribly indiepop; it's good but certainly wouldn't be in my top ten. I like this one track a lot though.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Technical difficulty

Blogger isn't letting me upload today, so we'll have to take a break. See you tomorrow (hopefully!).

Friday, November 27, 2009

Oasis - She's Electric

In the great Blur v Oasis debate I came down firmly on the side of Blur, but Oasis did get their hooks into me every once in awhile. Most of Morning Glory is great, even if it was so overplayed I was sick to death of it within a few months.

Dunno why this was never a single, I would have had it out ahead of the somewhat inferior "Some Might Say" and vastly inferior "Roll With It".

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thompson Twins - All Fall Out

I know what you're thinking. "The Thompson Twins? WTF?" But for a mainstream early 80s synth-pop band, they were really quite good, at least for the first few records.

This song in particular, from their breakthrough album Quick Step and Side Kick, has an aggravating tendency to get stuck in my head and stay there for days. You'll see.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wah! Heat - Seven Minutes to Midnight

Here's something by the one-third of the Crucial Three I haven't yet posted anything by. Wah! Heat or Wah! or The Mighty Wah! or Scraping Foetus Off The Wah! or whatever they were called at one point or another never enjoyed the success of the bands formed by the other Crucial Two - that's the Teardrop Explodes and Echo and the Bunnymen, in case anyone doesn't know that (and these days I'm never sure what anyone knows) - and I don't think that's entirely unfair, because they really weren't as good. But they were still pretty good nonetheless.

This is an early single.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Aztec Camera - We Could Send Letters

Aztec Camera's debut is well up the list of my favourite albums ever, and has been for about two-thirds of my life at this point (eep). I loved them so much as a teenager that I did silly things, like turning in essays a day late because I decided instead to go see them a second night in a row, in a city 50 miles away. Well OK, I only did that once.

It was all a bit of a letdown after that, of course, but the measure of how much I adored High Land, Hard Rain is that I still picked up everything Roddy did afterwards no matter how desperate it was (and the later stuff, it has to be said, was really pretty desperate). Actually, maybe that was just the measure of how much I adored him. Could you blame me, though, really?

This is an early version of my favourite song of theirs, released on a 1981 NME cassette called - wait for it - C81. Roddy was 17 when this was released. Can you imagine anyone being this talented at 17? And so utterly bloody beautiful as well? Imagine.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Telescopes - High on Fire

One of the less popular bands of the shoegaze era, the Telescopes were - in all fairness - kind of dull in their early years, although they almost made up for it with great titles ("To Kill A Slow Girl Walking", "Everso"). Then they put out their second album, which may have been self-titled and may have been called Highr 'N' Higher and suddenly - well, they still weren't terribly popular, but they were better. I think.

This is a track from that album. I always think of it as the title track, even though it really isn't.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Belle and Sebastian - Ease Your Feet in the Sea

A band that it's hard to settle on one song, because they're all so incredibly gorgeous. Surprisingly enough I didn't take to them right away - I didn't really understand it either, but the first album I heard of theirs, If You're Feeling Sinister, took ages to grow on me even though objectively you'd think it would hit all the right buttons. When The Boy With the Arab Strap came out I did love that one, however, so I went back to listen to Sinister again and this time I "got it". I'm still not sure why it took so long, but whatever.

Anyway, here's one from Arab Strap, probably my favourite, but the competition's pretty fierce.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Undertones - Male Model

There are still a lot of people who will swear to you that the Undertones were the greatest band ever. I don't necessarily disagree.

I've always particularly loved this song. I used to sing it around the house a lot, to the great amusement of my brother (who seemed to think I meant it literally). There doesn't appear to be a video for it so I was hoping to find a live clip; unfortunately the only ones up are with Paul McLoone on vocals and no disrespect to him - he actually does a really good job - it just isn't the same. Come back, Feargal, just for a little bit!

Friday, November 20, 2009

T. Rex - Life's a Gas

Another in the "where we came from" series. This is one of the less-often heard tracks from Electric Warrior, and one of my favourites; the song itself is gorgeous, and Marc Bolan's lyrics, while being as spacey as ever, also manage to convey in a surprisingly simple manner the world-weary resignation of unrequited love. At least that's the way I've always interpreted it. I see on the YouTube page that someone else has an alternate analysis but I refuse to entertain it because if that person is correct then the song means nothing to me. (This is why musicians should never ever ever explain what their lyrics are about... say the wrong thing, and you ruin the song for everyone who thought it was about something else.)

Anyway, here it is. Isn't it gorgeous?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lush - De Luxe

Another in the "can't believe I haven't posted anything by" category. Lush were one of my favourite bands of the shoegaze era and I find that most of their early stuff still holds up pretty well. Spooky was a bit of a disappointment, mainly because of Robin Guthrie's overly-dense production, and it was touch and go after that... but the early EPs were just class.

This was their masterpiece, I think.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tindersticks - Travelling Light

I'm in a migraine-induced medicated state today so not really up to writing much. Here's a gorgeous tune from the Tindersticks, a band that couldn't be further from the upbeat, snappy pop I adore so much but manage to sound utterly amazing anyway. The arrangements ... that voice ... the lyrics ... so sad, but so perfect.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

S*M*A*S*H* - Dear Lou

In the mid-1990s there were a small handful of bands who the NME briefly tried to promote the hell out of, as bringing back the spirit of '77. The Manic Street Preachers (who I've never liked) were of course at the top of this class, with the likes of S*M*A*S*H* and These Animal Men several paces behind. In truth they were all pretty ordinary, though I do give TAM credit for putting on an absolutely brilliant performance the one time I saw them - in a desperate little hole of a town with about 15 people in the audience. From the band's enthusiasm you'd think they were headlining Wembley. Fair dues, lads.

But I don't actually own any TAM records so these will have to do instead. S*M*A*S*H*'s first (and I think last) album isn't bad, but there's nothing particularly exciting on it either; it's best listened to in intervals on your iPod shuffle. If I was going to pick one particular song to go out of my way to listen to, though, it would be this one. Not much of an endorsement I suppose but there you go.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Game Theory - Erica's Word

I threatened to post this ages ago and never got around to it, so here it is now. You can read what I wrote about Game Theory previously here.

This is a wonderful track that should have been a much bigger hit than it was. But really, what was he thinking with that hair???

Sunday, November 15, 2009

X-Ray Spex - The Day The World Turned Day-Glo

They're probably best remembered for "Oh Bondage Up Yours" but this is my favourite X-Ray Spex song. It's just so...cute.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Jam - The Bitterest Pill

I was going to do a quickie here, because I was humming this song earlier, but the stupid record company won't let me embed the video and I haven't got time to track down an embeddable one at the moment. So go here if you want to watch it. And you should, it's a great tune.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Half Japanese - 1,000,000 Kisses

A lazy way to summarise Half Japanese for someone who's never heard of them is that they're sort of like a really low-fi, really DIY Violent Femmes. Jad Fair would probably hate me for drawing that comparison, but I call 'em as I see 'em (or hear 'em, as the case may be).

They've put out about 1,000,000 records, not all of which are completely listenable. Some of them, in fact, deliberately not. Jad's vocals can get pretty whiney and - again, sorry, but it's true - like the Violent Femmes, they're in some ways such a boy's band that it's not always easy for those of us with two X chromosomes to really "get" them. That's not necessarily a bad thing, per se; I don't think many men really "get" PJ Harvey either (although some of them probably think they do!). But it does go some way toward explaining why I've never gotten quite as into them as a lot of my indie friends have.

Anyway, some of their stuff is really quite good, so I do own a few of their records. This is from 1988's Charmed Life.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Blueboy - Sea Horses

OK, now this is twee. Twee with a capital T, in fact. The album cover art is almost embarrassingly twee, like someone doing a piss-take. I wouldn't hold it against anyone for considering it a little too twee. Even though to my ears there isn't really any such thing (well, except maybe some early Secret Shine).

Anyway, if you like twee, enjoy. If you don't, this really isn't the band I'm going to change your mind with.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Pastels - Crawl Babies

I had a Pastels t-shirt once. It was a really nice t-shirt, and I bought it knowing that whenever I wore it to a gig I would be the coolest person there, and would be the envy of all my indiepop friends. I couldn't wait. So I wore it one night - to a gig featuring the creme de la creme of the local indie scene, it doesn't really matter who at this point (and not that I could even remember!) - and the scenesters were suitably impressed. I was asked several times where I got the shirt, complimented on it by a few others and given admiring glances by nearly everyone else. As expected.

I then sat down on an open red ink pad - thus rendering the t-shirt unwearable ever again. I suppose that served me right.

The point behind this cautionary tale is, of course, that the Pastels were/are one of the best loved indiepop bands ever. They're difficult to neatly categorise, because there are elements of so many genres in their sound; it's particularly interesting to note how some of their classic debut Up For A Bit With The Pastels sounds remarkably shoegaze now, in retrospect, although it was released in 1987. I'm not sure if this is a sign of a band ahead of their time, or a band that didn't really have a notion what it wanted to do, but who cares? It sounds great.

Oh, and Stephen Pastel... yum.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Interpol - Obstacle 1

I know some people have really, erm, strong feelings about Interpol but fuck 'em. This is a brilliant track. Everything I loved about Joy Division, the Chameleons and all the other great atmospheric post-punk bands of the 80s. With similarly silly hair.

This is from some American TV show, I guess.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Go-Betweens - Hope

I can't believe I haven't posted any Go-Betweens yet. There can't be many bands who lasted as long as they did and were still adored at the end by so many of those who fell in love with them in the beginning (or near the beginning, anyway). Of course, there aren't many bands who lasted as long as they did without going utterly crap.

I really could post almost anything of theirs* so let's go with one you don't hear often, from the 1982 Missing Link demo.

*except "Don't Call Me Gone". Sorry but that one just sucks.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Piano Magic - Snowfall Soon

Another band I don't know very much about, but the one album I own of theirs, Low Birth Weight, is full of magical little soundscapes that blend shoegaze, electronica and twee - not always entirely successfully, but more often than not.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Tracey Thorn - Plain Sailing

Of all the sad falls from grace in pop music, surely one of the saddest is the way that Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt went from indiepop royalty to makers of music that Celine Dion and Michael Bolton fans wouldn't turn up their noses at. Although arguably the signs were there from the earliest EBTG recordings ("Each and Every One" does have something of an Adult Contemporary feel, in retrospect).

But let's ignore that and remember them as they were in the very early years. Ben and Tracey solo, and the Marine Girls, made some of the finest, most precious (and I don't mean that in the derogatory sense) pop music that anyone was making in the early 80s - and that's no small compliment, given that much of the best indiepop music ever was made in the early 80s. Tracey's beautiful voice was, of course, the main attraction; add those ringing guitar chords, minimalist production and clever couplets and you've got nothing short of utter, divine pop perfection.

Here's the ultimate example. I really have no words for how much I love this song.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Minutes - Ukraine

This one's kinda like yesterday's. Recent(ish), band that I'm generally a bit suspicious of, but with at least one really great pop tune (i.e. this one). Oh, and they're Irish. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Spinto Band - Oh Mandy

Here's something a bit more up to date. I'm not quite sure I trust the Spinto Band - there's a little too much They Might Be Giants lurking underneath the surface - but this is a really great pop tune.

Clip is from the Jools Holland show.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sad Lovers and Giants - Things We Never Did

Sad Lovers and Giants always reminded me of a darker and more electronic Comsat Angels. They never had much in the way of hit singles, though, so they pretty much faded into history, although their recent reunion tour/album did provide them with a brief flurry of nostalgic publicity. Listening to them now I'm just amazed they were so little known back in the day... they were so good.

This was from their 1982 debut Epic Garden Music. It was also released as a single - on the b-side, believe it or not.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Urban Verbs - Acceleration

Here's a really obscure one from the early 1980s, a Washington DC band who never really made it out of their hometown (and weren't all that popular inside it either, truth be told). Their main claim to fame was a family tie with Talking Heads but that didn't get them very far.

This is from their difficult second album, Early Damage.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Blur - Peach

I've posted before about how much I love the Blur b-sides. This is my favourite, from 1992's "For Tomorrow". Give it a listen even if you hate them - it's very un-Blurlike, I think. And also very good.