Saturday, December 18, 2010


Cinnamon Songs is going on a month's sabbatical. Unfortunately I've got too much to deal with in real life at the moment, and as much as I love doing this blog, I just won't be able to manage it for a while.

I will be back a month from today. Promise!

Have a great Christmas.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Chapterhouse - Something More

Have I really not posted any Chapterhouse yet? Wow. Actually, I was never really that big a fan of theirs. But at that time, you had to listen to them anyway.

This is from their second EP, Sunburst, from 1990. Worth watching for the very shoegazey hair alone.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Dø - On My Shoulders

The first Finnish band to make an appearance on this blog (well, French-Finnish anyway). The singer, whose name I'm not going to even attempt to spell, has an interestingly screechy voice that would probably be hard to listen to if my hangover was any worse. Some of their folkier songs are quite lovely.

This was a 2007 single, and also appeared the next year on their debut album A Shoulder.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Depeche Mode - See You

One of my absolute favourite early DM songs, from their second album A Broken Frame. They're so young and innocent looking in this video! In perfect keeping with the lyrics, which Martin Gore probably wrote when he was 15 or something.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Colourfield - Frosty Morning

Here's a fantastic track from my beloved Terry Hall, off the b-side to the 1985 single "Things Could Be Beautiful". It's much better than the a-side, actually.

I always loved the line with the help of god and a few marines, and was really disappointed when I learned he didn't write it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lulu - To Sir With Love

Classic 1960s girlpop. This is one of those songs that makes me wish I wasn't such a hopeless singer, because I'd love to belt this out the next time I get roped into karaoke. It's really one hell of a chorus, isn't it?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Black Watch - Williamsburg

Another vaguely shoegazey LA band (from the Swervedriver school of shoegaze, but a bit more mainstream), the Black Watch have been putting out albums forever without anybody really seeming to notice - even though some of them are really quite good. Start with Tatterdemalion, from 2006.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Anything After - Mistake

Anything After's 2007 debut There's Something Wrong has a lot going for it: Mary Chain guitars, C86 melodies, Sarah vocals. Often all in the same song.

The songwriting's inconsistent, unfortunately, and some of the tracks just wind up being, well, shouty. But at their best, they're not far from amazing.

Check 'em out.

Friday, December 10, 2010

AC Marias - One of Our Girls Has Gone Missing

Angela Conway has done most of her music business work behind a video camera, but in the 1980s she released a few singles - and one fabulous album - under the name AC Marias, a collaboration with Bruce Gilbert from Wire. The music was catchy, often kind of spacey pop, Conway's ethereal vocals being the highlight.

This was the title track.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Blur - You're So Great

Blur's self-titled fifth album, from 1997, isn't their best but I absolutely love this track, which was written and sung entirely by Graham Coxon. Funnily enough I also like it better than any of his solo recordings, although some of those are pretty good too.

"City's alive, and surprise, so am I." That line always get me.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Orchids - Peaches

One of the more dance-oriented tracks from the Orchids' 1991 album Unholy Soul. I generally prefer their tweer stuff, but this is a real foot-tapper.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Kate Bush - Delius

I think Kate Bush is generally a love-or-hate kind of artist. I fall into the first category, so I'm probably a bit biased in saying this, but I do actually think that this song is one that might even win over some of her critics. It's quite understated, at least by Kate Bush standards, and really very beautiful. It was the b-side to the 1980 single "Army Dreamers", from her third album Never for Ever.

In saying it's "understated" I should make clear I'm only talking about the song - the video is typically OTT.

And, even if you hate her, watch the opening two seconds just for the hilarious '70s tache.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bill Nelson - Flaming Desire

Bill Nelson allegedly hates being compared to David Bowie, but his career has spanned the same length and has taken as many twists and turns - though I don't think Bill ever died his hair orange and claimed to be from Mars.

He started off in the prog-rock mould and was famed for his guitar skills, but in the late '70s his music (then with Be-Bop Deluxe) became very keyboard-oriented and by the early '80s it was pretty much synth-pop heaven. And a lot of it really was heavenly, even for someone like me who was only ever mildly into synth-pop.

This was from his 1982 album The Love That Whirls.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Mob - The Mirror Breaks

Anarcho-punk bands were always famous for their willingness to experiment musically, which is one of the things I admired about them. This is a really good example. Musically it's practically jangle-pop; Marc's vocals are obviously a bit harsher than what you'd usually expect from that genre, and lyrically of course it's typical apocalyptic gloom. Still, not a million miles from what McCarthy would be doing in a couple years' time.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Kickstand - My Reputation

Here's another wonderful piece of super-lo fi DIY twee pop from Kickstand - Hoboken, New Jersey's tragically underrated answer to Beat Happening. Only much better.

Their compilation LP, self-titled and issued on the short-lived Queenie Records from New York, really is essential.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Honeybunch - Hey Blue Sky

Yet another gem from Providence, Rhode Island's incestuous indie scene. Honeybunch were active in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and nearly perfected the folky-twee sound that most of their related bands (Velvet Crush, Springfields etc) were famous for.

This was their absolutely exhilarating debut single. For more, check out the compilation Time Trials 1987-1995.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pete and the Pirates - Come On Feet

Here's something a little more recent. Pete and the Pirates are from Reading and have put out one album so far, 2008's Little Death, a great collection of indiepop tunes with all the right influences (C86, Flying Nun etc). More recently they've put out an equally promising single, "Jennifer", which I thought about posting but I decided not to because its video really isn't something I want to think about right now, while I'm eating my breakfast.

Anyway, here's a track from Little Death.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Throwing Muses - Green

The first Throwing Muses album was a stunning piece of work, ten amazingly well-crafted songs showing diverse influences, clever wordplay and total unpredictability. It's particularly impressive when you consider they were only teenagers when these songs were written.

"Green" was Tanya Donelly's sole contribution, and my personal favourite on the album. It's probably always a bad sign when your favourite song on an album is the one not written by the main songwriter - and sure enough, I think it was all downhill for the Muses after this, but Tanya's songs would continue to stand out for me.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Game Theory - Wyoming

This was from Game Theory's final LP, Two Steps from the Middle Ages. It's one of the catchiest straightforward pop songs they ever released, with great dual male-female vocals. I never understood why it didn't make their best-of collection, instead of the dull "Leilani" from the same album.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Television - See No Evil

Television didn't really do "pop" songs, but this one might have come pretty close were it not for Tom Verlaine's snarling vocals. I'm not actually sure if they were meant to be snarling, or if it's just that he can't sing - but it doesn't really matter, it's still a great tune. And those guitars. Jesus, those guitars.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Scars - Leave Me in Autumn

Another totally unseasonable song, but trust me, I need it in this weather. Scars were from Edinburgh and were active in the late 1970s and early 1980s, starting off as a post-punk band but becoming best-known for an utterly delightful pop single, "All About You". I'm sure that'll make an appearance here eventually, but for now I'll put up my own personal favourite Scars track, which is also from their only album (1981's Author! Author!).

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Yo La Tengo - The Summer

Because I really needed to hear a summer song on a bitterly, bitterly cold winter night like this. From Fakebook.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Breeders - Drivin' on 9

A great Breeders track from their second album, Last Splash. I really think Kim Deal might have my favourite voice ever.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sloan - Two Seater

The main thing I remember about the release of Sloan's 1992 debut album Smeared was how many times they were compared to the Knack. That was (usually) meant as a compliment, although I'm not sure their label, Geffen, saw it that way in the midst of the Nirvana era. Personally, I would have preferred the album a little rawer, but it's not bad at all. I bet they were great live in those days.

This is the album's highlight, though I don't think it was ever a single.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Pretenders - Talk of the Town

I've never been a huge Pretenders fan, but this is really one of the classic songs of the late punk/early new wave era - one that it's impossible to listen to without getting nostalgic, though lyrically it's the sort of song that probably made people nostalgic the first time they heard it. Not that I'd remember, since I was 11 when it came out.

Check out the dancers for a good laugh.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

His Name Is Alive - The Dirt Eaters

HNIA were far and away my least favourite 4AD band in the early 1990s, so to say I was pleasantly surprised by their 1992 EP The Dirt Eaters would be a bit of an understatement. Blown away, more like.

The title track's gentle, rolling folk (with incongruously creeply lyrics) is the EP's highlight, but there's also the similarly-styled "We Hold the Land in Great Esteem", a haunting cover of Rainbow's ""Man on the Silver Mountain", and the cacophonous but addictive "Tigers". Only "Are We Still Married?" falls flat, although frankly, it sounds like it was intended to.

It is really an astonishing release, and I can't understand why Warren Defever didn't do more of this sort of thing.

Monday, November 22, 2010

June and the Exit Wounds - How Much I Really Loved You

June and the Exit Wounds' 1999 album A Little More Haven Hamilton, Please is a rather odd little beast - a blend of indiepop, baroque pop and lounge. I don't like all of it; in fact, there's a fair bit of it I'm not mad about, but you certainly couldn't fault them for effort and ingenuity.

This is the first track. It's sort of downhill from here, but not too far down.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Come Saturday

One of the songs of the year last year, if not of the decade. If you aren't listening to TPOBPAH yet, what on earth are you waiting for?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Magpies - Worthless

I don't really know anything about this band, except that they made a couple of appearances in the early '90s on compilation albums and split 7"s with songs that featured female vocals and fuzzy guitars over pleasant little twee pop tunes. I wouldn't suggest you should go and track them all down, or anything, but they're certainly worth a listen if you like that sort of thing.

This was one from the Brilliant (that's the name of the label, silly) compilation Something Pretty Beautiful, from 1993.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Cure - Six Different Ways

An odd but delightful album track from 1985's The Head on the Door. The Cure always managed to bury a few offbeat pop treasures on their albums. Well most of them anyway.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pylon - Cool

An early Athens, Georgia band, Pylon stood apart from the REMs and other jangle-guitar merchants who put that city on the musical map by their harsher, more discordant but also more rhythmic sounds, which drew more from no-wave than from the usual Athens influences of the Byrds and Big Star. They weren't always an easy band to listen to, and I'm not a huge fan of theirs, but in small doses they could be really engaging.

This was their first single, released in 1979. Definitely one that sticks in your head.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

XTC - Jason and the Argonauts

XTC's catalogue is very hit and miss, and it's not just a case of "I like their old stuff better" - there's plenty of rubbish in their early recordings, too. But English Settlement was, by and large, a fine album, and this is a lovely song.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Witness - Zip Up

Surprised I haven't posted anything yet by A Witness, an underrated C86 band from the Manchester area. Their sound was more abrasive than some of their contemporaries - shades of maybe the Fire Engines, or Josef K in their less melodic moments - which I suppose made them something of an acquired taste. Keith Curtis's voice was a bit jarring too. Still, I liked them, mostly.

This track appeared on a 1988 EP called One Foot in the Groove, although this is the Peel Session version, which is the one that appeared on the 2002 retrospective Threaphurst Lane.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Felt - The Day the Rain Came Down

A great pop tune from Felt's Cherry Red era. Not too many of those, but it shows how they were already moving towards a poppier sound by the time of this album (Ignite the Seven Cannons), their last with Maurice Deebank. Actually, the songwriting on this track is significantly closer to Forever Breathes the Lonely Word than to the earlier Felt style. Though the Deebank guitar is unmistakable.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Icehouse - Street Café

Another great track from the 1982 Primitive Man LP. The video is classic '80s too, splashing the budget on plane fare to an exotic locale with the singer trying to come across all Indiana Jones. Same director that did the early Duran Durans, if you couldn't tell.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bawl - Mistake

Here's a great piece of '90s Irish alterna-pop. Bawl, who were from my neck of the woods, put out a promising debut album in 1996 and then reinvented themselves in inferior form under the name Fixed Stars. Singer/songwriter Mark Cullen now performs under the name Pony Club.

I don't think this was ever a single, but it should have been.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Three O'Clock - I Go Wild

The Three O'Clock's 1982 Baroque Hoedown EP is so full of pop classics, I could post every track from it here. Eventually I probably will.

Here's a great one with a fabulous video, too.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chisel - Waffle House

A great song for a cold and miserable day like today. Waffle House, for those not in the know, is a southern US institution - a place where you're always guaranteed a good, cheap meal, served by a waitress who's seen better days (not unlike myself) and accompanied by a piping hot cuppa coffee that will be refilled every time you put it down. I don't even really like the American south, but it's almost worth going to just for Waffle House alone.

The lyrics aren't actually about Waffle House, by the way, at least as far as I can work out. But it's still a great song.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Joy Division - Atmosphere

I'm in this kind of mood today. Still one of the greatest, and saddest, songs ever written.

I'll post something really cheery tomorrow. Promise.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Orange Juice - Consolation Prize

A classic from Orange Juice's debut album, You Can't Hide Your Love Forever. It features what has to be one of the greatest indie lyrics ever (and one that could only have been written by an indie band), "I wore my fringe like Roger McGuinn's". Genius.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Magnetic Fields - 100,000 Fireflies

The first ever Magnetic Fields single, and isn't it still as sweet and innocent today as it was nineteen years ago. What a lovely song.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

David Bowie - Look Back in Anger

Don't think I've put any Bowie up here yet, even though he was obviously a huge influence on a lot of the bands I like.

This is a great track from Lodger, an album that seems to have sort of fallen down the memory hole, but is actually quite good - the best of the so-called "Berlin trilogy" I think, certainly a lot more pop than the other two.

Trivia: the b-side to this single, "Repetition", was wonderfully covered by the Au Pairs on their debut album.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Biff Bang Pow! - Love's Going out of Fashion

A great single from The Girl Who Runs the Beat Hotel, BBP!'s second album. It's rather fast-paced and unusually, well, desperate sounding. I actually wonder if Alan McGee had to do something in the studio to get just that right note of desperation in his voice, or maybe he was just having a really stressful day. Anyway, it's a great song.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bangles - The Real World

An absolutely classic Bangles track, from their 1982 self-titled debut EP. All jangly guitar pop and harmonies. Why couldn't they have stayed this good forever?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Blondie - I'm On E

Here's a great little two-minute pop song from Blondie's second album, 1978's Plastic Letters. You really get a sense from this one of how much Elastica took from them for their sound.

For the young 'uns reading this, being "on E" meant something a little different back then.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mighty Mighty - Law

Just another great C86 track. Mighty Mighty actually put out a number of singles in the 1980s but this is the only one that anyone seems to remember.

They played at Indietracks last year, but I'm not sure if that was just a one-off or not.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lorelei - Mostly I Sleep

More 1990s DC-area shoegaze on Slumberland. This was Lorelei's second single - their first with this line-up, which included a new singer - and it's actually quite pop compared to a lot of their other material. Really nice.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dalek I - Destiny (Dalek I Love You)

Early synthpop, a genre I enjoy in small doses. The Daleks were from Liverpool and sounded like the lovechild of Gary Numan and David Bowie ("Ashes to Ashes" era). This was from their 1980 debut album, Compass kum'pəs.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

14 Iced Bears - Balloon Song

An early single from the Bears, back when they were still firmly in C86 mode. Not much to say about this other than isn't it great?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Look Blue Go Purple - Cactus Cat

My only real complaint about Flying Nun is the fact that for the most part, it was a boys' club. In fairness I don't know if that was really their fault or if it reflected the actual gender balance of the NZ indiepop scene.

LGBP were exceptional in this regard - and they didn't put out very much. Shame, because this was an absolute classic.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Psychedelic Furs - Mr Jones

A 1980 single, later re-recorded for the Talk Talk Talk album. It still has the rough edges of the Furs' earliest material but you can see the direction they're going in.

I've always loved the couplet from this song's chorus: "Movie stars and ads and radio define romance / Don't turn it on, I don't wanna dance". Actually, I once won a radio phone-in contest by being the first person to identify where that lyric came from. The presenter couldn't believe anyone got it so quickly. This was in the pre-Google era, mind.

I'd almost say it's more true now than it ever was.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Julian Cope - Laughing Boy

Julian's post-Teardrop Explodes stuff is a mixed bag, but I do like a lot of the early tunes and I particularly loved this one from Fried, his second solo album. Warning, it's long and slow and not really a pop song by any means... and better listened to than watched. But it's quite lovely.

Music starts at around :24.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tears for Fears - Pale Shelter

This is a really nice one from TFF's debut album, The Hurting. I bet they're embarrassed to feck about the video now though. Especially the part where they're walking along solemnly in a hail of paper airplanes being thrown at them. I was 13 when it came out and even then I thought they looked silly.

Great song though.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Language of Flowers - Leaving

Now here's a real treasure. Language of Flowers were from Belfast and featured the heavenly (indeed, almost Heavenly) vocals of Tara Simpson and the classic jangly guitars of C86 and Sarah. Do I need to say more? I didn't think so.

Alas, they released only one album before splitting, 2004's Songs About You. This was the highlight...and what a highlight it is.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Technical problems

Blogger is being most unco-operative today. A pity, because I was trying to post something really really great.

Hopefully things will be back to normal tomorrow!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Let's Active - Lowdown

Mitch Easter will be best remembered for producing just about every American jangle-pop band in the '80s, but he did put out some of his own music too.

The appallingly-named Let's Active - they took it from an article about Japanese people's English grammatical errors - made a bit of a splash with their debut EP Afoot, which was all cuteness. They even made a video that had them all playing with puppies. I kid you not. They followed this up with the full-length Cypress in 1984 which showed their more serious side; unfortunately it turned out cute was more their forté. Still, not a bad record by any means.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Brilliant Corners - Meet Me On Tuesdays

A nice little Creation-y '80s band from Bristol. They weren't actually on Creation, though you could be forgiven for confusing them with someone like Blow Up.

This one was from 1986. As if you couldn't tell.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ride - Vapour Trail

I know I posted something just a week or two ago from Ride's Nowhere album but I heard this song again yesterday and it's been stuck in my head ever since. What a lovely, wonderful, captivating little song this is, still sounding as fresh and innocent as it did twenty years ago. That's right... twenty years. Sigh.

Ride - Vapour Trail

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Records - Starry Eyes

Here's an absolutely classic piece of 1970s power pop. Really, it's one of the tunes that sets the benchmark for everything that pop music ought to be.
Just perfect.

Apart from the hair, of course.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Treebound Story - I Remember

Here's an early one from the band that Richard Hawley started off in, before going on to greater fame in Longpigs, Pulp and as a solo artist. Treebound Story only put out a few 12"s but they were quite good in a Mighty Lemon Drops sort of way.

This was their first single.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Club Hoy - On and On

Here's a delightful piece of early '90s bubblegum folk-pop from Sydney. Club Hoy put out only one album and then split, with one member (Penny Flanagan) going on to greater fame as a solo artist down under and the other member (Julia Richardson) pretty much disappearing. None of them, of course, made too much of an impression in this hemisphere but with tunes as catchy as this one it's hard to see why not.

Grant McLennan produced this, BTW.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Siouxsie and the Banshees - Painted Bird

Here's a wonderful album track from 1982's A Kiss in the Dreamhouse. It's amazing how many great Siouxsie songs there were that I just never really paid much attention to the first time around. My loss.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Deerhunter - Disappearing Ink

I have mixed feelings about Deerhunter, but this is an utterly fabulous two-and-a-half minute pop song. It's from their 2009 EP, Rainwater Cassette Exchange.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Blancmange - Don't Tell Me

Here's a fun one from Blancmange's cleverly-titled second album, Mange Tout from 1984. It's totally lightweight synth-pop fluff, but every time I hear it it gets stuck in my head for days. Judging by the video, they didn't take it very seriously either.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Jasmine Minks - Forces Network

One of those bands I always think of as a C86 band even though they weren't. This is from their self-titled full-length debut, released on Creation in 1985. It's kind of an odd little track, I think, but one I like a lot.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Crystal Set - Benefit of the Doubt

The Crystal Set were an Australian band of the late 1980s/early 1990s, led by Russell Kilbey. His voice was a lot like his brother Steve's and their music was pretty similar to the Church's, too. Good stuff but nothing terribly special.

This was an early single and track from their debut album, From Now On.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Buffalo Tom - Birdbrain

American indie rock in the Dinosaur Jr vein (J Mascis was their co-producer). I'm not too much of a fan of this genre but their early albums had a few catchy tunes each. This was the title track from the second one.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Woods - Death Rattle

Here's an absolutely gorgeous little tune from Woods, one of the many reasons to wish I was living in Brooklyn again. It's from their album At Echo Lake, released earlier this year.

Monday, October 11, 2010

10,000 Maniacs - Scorpio Rising

Here's a track from 10,000 Maniacs' second album, 1985's The Wishing Chair. I didn't think much of the rest of that album, nor anything they released after it. But this was one cracking tune.

I distinctly recall seeing a proper video for this many years ago (with Natalie Merchant doing her best whirling dervish imitation), but I can't seem to find it anywhere now.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ride - Polar Bear

Here's a really wonderful one from Ride's full-length debut, Nowhere. Lyrics (well, some of them anyway) courtesy of JD Salinger.

By an odd coincidence, the Charlatans' debut album which came out at almost exactly the same time also had a song with this title. It wasn't nearly as good though.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Velocity Girl - Forgotten Favorite

An early(ish) Velocity Girl track, after they replaced Bridget Cross with Sarah Shannon on vocals but before they shed the heavy shoegaze influence. It's very Charlottes but with muddier vocals - sounds a bit dated now but that wonderfully catchy chorus still has the kind of pure pop melody that never gets old.

Actually, I think when they did drop the shoegaze stuff and became more or less a straight pop band, they weren't nearly as interesting. But maybe that's just me.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Tullycraft - Falling Out of Love (With You)

There are a few sort of classic indiepop bands that I'm just not really a big fan of. Tullycraft are one of them. My first problem with them is the vocals, which always rubbed me the wrong way. My second problem is that I think they were really just a lo-fi Weezer with a better record collection. So I just never really saw the attraction.

They did, however, do an absolutely lovely version of this Stephen Merritt tune, and for that they deserve unqualified praise. And a blog post.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Joy Division - Shadowplay

Bit busy today so here's an old classic. I always thought this was one of Joy Division's strongest songs - it still sends shivers up my spine.

Allegedly some other famous band covered this recently, but I make a point of never listening to Joy Division covers. Unless they're by Low.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Orchids - Tropical Fishbowl

A very simple and lovely one from the 1990 Penetration EP. Isn't it amazing how much a song can say in only two lines?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Yo La Tengo - Alrock's Bells

Yo La Tengo's debut album Ride the Tiger seems to be generally viewed as something they did when they were still just a work in progress, but I prefer it to a lot of their later material - especially once they started getting into that spaced-out drone stuff. To me they were always at their best as a simple folk-pop group.

This is one of the nicest tracks on the album.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Blur - Clover Over Dover

Here's a lovely album track from Parklife, a perfect example of the greatness Blur were capable of when they weren't being overly clever or writing stupid songs about "characters".

Actually, this one sounds even better today than it did 16 years ago. Was it really 16 years ago? God, I'm old.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

79cortinaz - She's Awake

Another recently defunct Irish band, 79cortinaz came from Carlow and managed to put out one album (co-produced by Rat Scabies) before splitting a year or two ago.

This was a nice little track from that album, Hopioki.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

(The Sounds of) Kaleidoscope - This is False Telegraph

They come from Washington DC, they feature ex-members of the Lilys and Ropers, they have "kaleidoscope" in their name. All this can only point to one genre... shoegaze! Yes, there are still a few bands around flying that flag. And (TSo)K manage to do it without sounding totally anachronistic, which is always commendable.

This is a good live version of a track that appeared on their 2009 album, All This Heaven.

Friday, October 1, 2010

That Petrol Emotion - Cellophane

The Petrols' third album, 1988's End of the Millennium Psychosis Blues, was an astronomical disappointment. The huge slip in quality can be traced to two (possibly interrelated) factors: the departure of main songwriter Seán O'Neill, and the remaining members' sudden interest in dance music which, let's just say, wasn't where their talents lay.

I saw them again in Dublin recently and they didn't play a single track from that album. If they had, though, this would have been it: a tuneful, Irish-themed ballad that would have fit in well amongst the mellower tracks on their classic debut.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Connells - Over There

More 1980s North Carolina power pop. I was never a huge fan of this band, who I generally found kind of boring. This, however, is a genuinely lovely song, quiet and understated but epic in its own way. Nice trumpet, too.

It's from their 1987 album Boylan Heights, produced by Mitch Easter.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Comet Gain - Another Weekend

Here's a brilliant track from their 1994 Holloway Sweethearts 7", a lo-fi classic. I actually had trouble deciding which of its four songs to post, but in the end the pure irresistible charm of this one won me over.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Danse Society - 2000 Light Years From Home

The Danse Society, from darkest South Yorkshire, made brief waves in the early '80s as a band bridging the gap between dance music and goth. They had a more commercial sound than the likes of, say, Cabaret Voltaire, but apart from a few minor club hits they never really captured the public imagination. I had a re-listen recently to what was meant to be their breakthrough album, 1984's Heaven is Waiting, and a lot of it is pretty awful if I'm honest.

The title track was decent enough though, and I'm still quite fond of this Stones cover.

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Jealous God - In Her Eyes

My Jealous God were a London band active in the early 1990s. They put out a few singles which saw them lumped in with their northern compatriots in the baggy scene, but none of them ever really went anywhere.

Their first single, "Everything About You", struck me as overhyped at the time and let's just say age hasn't improved it. This b-side was a far superior track, I think.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Death Cab for Cutie - A Movie Script Ending

Always loved this one, with its wonderfully sad lyrics and almost-but-not-quite-lo-fi sound. It does kind of go on a bit longer than it needs to but the first couple minutes, anyway, are exquisite.

It's from their third album, The Photo Album, from 2001.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pulp - Something Changed

A really underrated Pulp single, the last one from Different Class. It's basically just a simple straightforward love song, not necessarily the first thing you expect from Pulp.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Robyn Hitchcock - Acid Bird

A lot of Robyn Hitchcock's stuff is too self-consciously clever for me, and crosses the line into novelty act territory. But this is a wonderful song, with the loveliest Byrds-like guitars. It's from his 1981 debut solo album Black Snake Diamond Role.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The dB's - Spy in the House of Love

North Carolina's dB's were critical darlings of the early 1980s US college-rock scene, but I never particularly warmed to them. Sure they were smart, and had all the right influences, but I always felt their songs were lacking that crucial something. I've tried listening to them again recently and I haven't really changed my mind. I guess this is one of those bands whose appeal is just always going to escape me.

But in the spirit of giving credit to a band who must have been doing something right to earn the rave reviews they used to get, here's one from their third album, Like This. It's not a bad one, in fairness.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Associates - Tell Me Easter's on Friday

An early Associates single and one of my favourites, though I don't think it was one of their bigger hits (all being relative, of course).

That little keyboard sequence will be stuck in my head for days now!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Jane Pow - Warm Room

One of the few British bands released on Slumberland in the early '90s, Jane Pow came from Southampton and had a few really nice singles that never got the attention they deserved. This was the best of them, an understated little number that reminds me a bit of the Durutti Column. Stunning.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Buzzcocks - Airwaves Dream

The last song on the second-last single the Buzzcocks ever released, this sounds like nothing else in their catalogue - it's much darker and more brooding, despite the ultra-fast pace. I think it's one of the best things they ever did.

You can always tell disillusion is setting in when artists start writing critical songs about the media and sure enough, they broke up within a year of releasing this.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Dead Flags - Anymore

Here's another Irish band, this one from Sligo and in the punk-pop vein. I discovered them at the Hard Working Class Heroes festival a year or two ago. Actually, I hadn't planned on seeing them at all, since I wasn't impressed by the songs they submitted for the HWCH page, but it worked out that there was no one else that I wanted to see playing at the time they were on so I decided I may as well check them out for a few minutes. And I have to admit they won me over with their energy, the snappiness of their set and the all-around likability of lead singer Billy Fitzgerald. Still find some of their songs a bit dodgy, but there's a definite base to work from here.

This is from their recently-released debut album Gentlemen's Club.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Red Letter Day - From Far Away

Red Letter Day were a Hamburg band on the German Marsh-Marigold label. Their 1990 self-titled debut album has much to recommend to indiepop fans, with some songs that would slot easily into a Sarah Records comp, a couple that you'd swear were the Mekons and this one, which sounds like Lloyd Cole fronting an '80s Creation band. The songwriting is a bit weak in spots and a couple of the tunes tend to drag, but overall it's still more than worth the trouble seeking out if you're into that sort of thing. And you are, obviously, if you're here.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Felt - The World Is As Soft As Lace

The first Felt song I fell in love with, from their 1984 mini-album The Splendour of Fear. I think it's a nice bridge between the minimalistic styles of the earlier Crumbling the Antiseptic Beauty and the fuller sound that characterised their later Cherry Red era. And Maurice Deebank's guitar is gorgeous as always.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Close Lobsters - Don't Worry (Violently Pretty Face)

Another great C86 band. For a while there they actually seemed poised to break through to alt-rock stardom - this was at the time of their brilliant 1987 single, "Let's Make Some Plans", which had the advantage of a superb video as well - but alas it never happened and instead they broke up after a somewhat disappointing (but, in fairness, not bad) second LP. They are very fondly remembered by indie fans everywhere. If only the Soup Dragons had met the same fate.

This song was released on the What Is There to Smile About? EP, alongside "Let's Make Some Plans", but I've posted an earlier (and renamed) version from a demo album I gratefully obtained from Wilfully Obscure. There's a touching innocence to this particular recording, which fits the song really nicely.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lush - Thoughtforms

Here's a lovely track from Lush's debut release, the six-song Scar from late 1989.

Their subsequent Mad Love EP included a re-recorded, sped-up version, for reasons I've never been clear on. Why tamper with perfection?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Forever People - Sometimes

Yet another incarnation of the Razorcuts, this was from a 7" released in 1992 on Sarah, which was only fitting given that the Razorcuts were such a massive inspiration for most of Sarah's bands. Pity they couldn't have written better songs for the occasion, though. This was the b-side, and the better of the two, but still pretty mediocre compared to their previous works.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tomcat - Little Fairy

I know nothing whatsoever about Tomcat apart from what's listed on their Myspace page - which isn't very much - but the tunes are pretty good. Sort of Bends-era Radiohead with a bit of a soft shoegazey influence. This is my favourite.

Anyone knows anything about them, please share.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fight Like Apes - Do You Karate?

If there's a word to describe Fight Like Apes, it's fair to say "divisive". There are an awful lot of Irish indie fans who seem to nearly go into an incandescent rage at the mention of their name. They seem to sell out all their gigs, though, so somebody must get it.

As for me, despite my usual suspicion of anything that reeks of novelty band, I have to admit to enjoying a couple of their tracks, this being one of them. Nothing to go ape over though (sorry).

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Prefab Sprout - Goodbye Lucille #1 (Johnny Johnny)

I've always loved a lot of Prefab Sprout's second album, Steve McQueen from 1985, but I have to confess that the charms of this song escaped me for a long time. Not that I disliked it or anything but it didn't have the instant allure of, say, "Appetite". But not too long ago I was listening to the album again and I couldn't believe how much this jumped out at me. I actually had to stop and listen to it again a second time in a row, and then I thought... how on earth did I manage to overlook such a gorgeous tune all these years? Shame on me.

It was called "Johnny Johnny" on its single release and re-named as "Goodbye Lucille #1" for the album, by the way. No idea why.

Friday, September 10, 2010

So Cow - Casablanca

So Cow is really Brian Kelly, and is sort shaping up to be the Irish equivalent of the Television Personalities, though he's got a good few years (and releases) to go to catch up. All my reservations about the TVPs apply here too (excessive cleverness, name-dropping etc) but I can overlook them for songs as irresistibly catchy as this.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Reverbs - Trusted Woods

The Reverbs' seven-song Happy Forest is the earliest recording I'm aware of by Ric Menck, who would probably be best known to readers of this blog for his work with the Springfields or maybe Velvet Crush. It was fairly typical mid-'80s Big Star/Byrds-influenced jangly power pop, and wasn't very well received either by the critics or the public at large, but I think it was quite nice.

This song in particular ranks up there with anything Ric's done since. Maybe not quite hitting the heights of the Springfields at their best, but not a million miles below - and certainly well above the kind of bland Velvet Crush, in my opinion.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ride - Time of Her Time

Ride's second album Going Blank Again was a bit of a disappointment after a series of stellar early EPs and Nowhere, their generally solid full-length debut, but it still managed a few quality tracks of the sound I fell in love with them for - catchy pop tunes beneath the wall of shoegazey guitar noise. It was all downhill from here, though.

This was kind of a minor album track but it's always been one of my favourites. I always wondered, though, why were they so obsessed with the concept of time?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chin Chin - Dark Days

Here's a very obscure little gem from Chin Chin, probably Switzerland's finest all-girl C86 type band. (If anyone knows of a better one, by all means pass on the info!) They released only one album, 1985's Sound of the Westway, which was reissued on Slumberland earlier this year. Go get it.

Apologies for the audio quality, but I think the essentialness of it shines through.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Disco Inferno - Love Stepping Out

I know I just posted a DI song last week but they're so good, here's another. Besides, this is quite different to the previous one, pointing more in the direction of AR Kane or what Butterfly Child would soon be doing than of Wire or Joy Division like their earlier works. Acknowledged more or less universally by DI fans as something of a watershed in their recording career, it was, amazingly, only a B-side; the A-side, "Summer's Last Sound", treads much the same ground sonically but not quite as enthrallingly.

It's a little slow to get off the ground, but keep listening. You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Boo Radleys - Firesky

I've mentioned before that Everything's Alright Forever is my favourite Boos album but I haven't yet posted anything from it, I think. The reason I depart from the general consensus on this is I simply think the tunes are better, it isn't as self-consciously clever as the usual favourite Giant Steps and it just sounds so bloody amazing. There's so much going on here, I think I hear something new every time I listen to it.

This was never a single, but for me is the album's high point.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Mocrac - Happy

Here's another Dublin band. I went bananas when I first heard this song, a delightful piece of twee indie dance pop, but was really disappointed the one time I saw them live as it turned out that none of the rest of their songs sound remotely like this and what's more, they aren't very good. I hate it when that happens.

Still love this track. That's Cathy Davey on vocals BTW.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cocteau Twins - Wax and Wane

Here's an early one from the Cocteau Twins, off their debut album Garlands. It's my favourite Cocteaus album, which might be kind of surprising, since it's overall the darkest and least pop-like thing they've ever done. But I just find it more interesting than their later work, which always seemed a bit samey and gimmicky to me. Though still pretty good, most of the time.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Radiohead - Fake Plastic Trees

I've never been one for the cult of Radiohead, but I admit that I almost fell into that hole with the release of The Bends, which is really a remarkable album worth all the hype that surrounded it. It's not innovative or ground-breaking in any way; it is very mainstream and major-label sounding; but the sheer quality of the songwriting puts it miles ahead of most of what you'd consider its contemporaries. Put simply, nearly all of its songs are superb individually and when you put them together into a single package, well, you just have an absolute, utter classic of an album. I'll never get tired of it.

And I'll equally never understand why their later albums are so highly rated. To me, they just sound like a band whose ambitions got the better of them and led them to overlook the things that they were really good at. And Thom Yorke's voice has just seemed to get whinier and whinier. I still think as far as huge superstar "alternative" bands go they're one of the better ones, but The Bends is the only album I'd go out of my way to hear.

Here's an acoustic version of the song that I still consider to be their crowning achievement.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Go-Betweens - Hammer the Hammer

Here's an early single by the wonderful Go-Betweens. It was released in-between their first and second albums in 1982 and has since been made available on some re-issues of Before Hollywood, as well as on the 1978-1990 collection.

It's quite dark, lyrically, which is kind of fitting for the mood I'm in today. Great track.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Disco Inferno - Set Sail

Disco Inferno wasn't exactly the obvious choice of name for a band whose music blended the post-punk sounds of Wire and Factory Records with the atmospheric trance of the likes of the Underworld, which perhaps explains why they seemed to have slipped under most people's radars. And that's really a tragedy, because many of their recordings were things of stunning beauty meriting a much wider audience of those with discerning taste. Like readers of this blog.

They were from Essex and put out a number of albums and EPs in the early to mid 1990s, absolutely all of which are worth picking up, if you can find them.

This is from their 1991 debut, Open Doors, Closed Windows.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Dandy Warhols - Good Morning

The Dandy Warhols can always be relied on for at least a couple cracking tracks on each album. Of course, they can also be relied on for a couple duds, but the advantage of doing a blog that's all about the songs is that you don't have to worry about those ones.

This is, of course, one in the first category, from their 1997 second album The Dandy Warhols Come Down.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Opal - Fell from the Sun

Opal tend to arouse swoons of adoration from a lot of indie music fans but I have to confess I'm not one of them. Mainly, I find their earlier folky stuff a little boring and their later, more psychedelic stuff too overwrought and lyrically embarrassing at times. Plus, I've never understood the love for Kendra Smith's voice, which I find flat and often tuneless. From the shocked reaction I always get from saying that, though, I know it's just me.

I did have high hopes for them when they first emerged as Clay Allison, mainly because of this song, which is genuinely wonderful. Pity they never really lived up to this again.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Damon and Naomi - Pyewacket

Damon and Naomi were the two-thirds of Galaxie 500 that weren't Dean Wareham, and after he left and went off to do kind of boring indie rock with Luna they continued on much as they were under their own names. By "much as they were" I mean the music is pretty close to Galaxie 500's laid-back, psychedelic-influenced shoegaze. Same dodgy vocals too - none of the three was ever much of a singer, not that that bothered me particularly.

This is from their second album, 1995's The Wondrous World of Damon and Naomi .

Friday, August 27, 2010

Headless Chickens - Totalling Dad's Car

Continuing my pledge to bring you another Flying Nun track at least once in every...while or so, here's one from one of that label's more atypical bands. Headless Chickens were into electronics and sampling, and at times you could have been forgiven for mistaking them for "Madchester". To be perfectly honest I didn't really care for a lot of their music.

But, as always, there were exceptions and this is one of them. It's from their 1988 debut album, Stunt Clown, and is a lot closer to the classic Flying Nun sound.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Blancmange - Sad Day

Blancmange were a fairly ordinary English synth-pop band of the early 1980s, certainly not one of my favourites, though they did have a number of good tracks on their second album Mange Tout (get it?). Their debut, 1982's Happy Families, was by and large a much blander affair but it did have this one very nice instrumental, a version of which also appeared on the seminal Some Bizarre collection. It's not essential by any means, but I like it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Love - The Good Humour Man He Sees Everything Like This

I am almost literally dying with a hangover today and can't write anything clever, so I'm just going to mention that if you are still one of those people that loves sixties-flavoured indiepop and hasn't heard Love's Forever Changes - I'm continually amazed at how many of those people there are - there is a big ol' void in your life that needs filling. Stop reading this and go out and buy it. Seriously.

But if you're still here, give this a listen. "Alone Again Or" may be the classic track from this album, but I've always been particularly partial to this one.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Sundays - My Finest Hour

Slick production and the almost too perfect pop of "Here's Where the Story Ends" might have lead some indie kids to dismiss the Sundays as just another radio-friendly alternative band, but the truth is their 1990 debut Reading, Writing and Arithmetic was absolutely choc-a-bloc with the sort of fey wispy jangly guitar pop that most of us swear by, so I don't see why the atypical commercial appeal of their music should have deterred anyone. Anyway, they weren't really that radio friendly. Radio doesn't really like songs about girls beating up boys and throwing up on their dresses, last I checked.

I could have posted almost any of the songs on this album, but this one highlights Harriet Wheeler's astonishing voice to particular effect, I think.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lotus Eaters - The First Picture of You

A lovely radio hit from the early 1980s. The Lotus Eaters had a lot in common with their fellow Scousers Pale Fountains, both bands specialising in tuneful, lyrical, well-orchestrated melancholy guitar pop. They never really gained the Fountains' cult status, though.

Hadn't heard this for a long time before today. It still holds up well.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mogwai - Summer

I mentioned recently that I'm not a huge fan of Mogwai's style of music, since I generally find it too background-y for my tastes, whereas I prefer music that engages you. But a good song is a good song, and janey mack is this ever a good song. And remarkably engaging, too.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cutaways - Lovers Are Lunatics

It seems that lately I've been posting a lot of recently-departed Irish bands but let's face it, if you haven't heard them already you're probably not going to hear them anywhere else at this point. Cutaways were from Belfast and they were cute and engaging in a Bis sort of way - with the same problem Bis had where you wished they'd just write better songs. But I never really liked Bis and I thought Cutaways were OK.

This is from their 2008 EP Start Stop! Start Stop!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Moodists - Chatter Shapes

The Moodists were a dark Australian post-punk band and so had to endure the inevitable Birthday Party comparisons. In truth, though, the similarities were minor. Their music was less chaotic, more engaging, sometimes even approaching pop - some of their stuff isn't a million miles away from what the quirkier C86 bands like A Witness would be doing a few years later. But Dave Graney's growly vocals pretty much ensured they'd never be a part of that club - not that I'm suggesting they'd want to be.

This is from their 1983 debut EP, Engine Shudder.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bright Light Fiasco - The State We're In

Another Irish band that is no more. Bright Light Fiasco (great name) were from Kildare, outside of Dublin, and had moderate success here with two singles before splitting up a couple years ago. I wouldn't have been a huge fan of theirs as they're a little too mainstream "alternative" for my tastes, but this is a nice quiet one.

The image is from one of their singles. I'm not sure what the song is from, as it was sent to me and Google says it doesn't exist anyway.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Let's Wrestle - I Won't Lie to You

I hadn't been expecting much from Let's Wrestle two years ago when I saw them take the stage in a tiny club in London, sandwiched between a few other bands who I was initially more interested in, but I was very quickly overwhelmed by the charms of their youthful spirit, Wedding Present-ish guitars and completely bonkers lyrics. Haven't been quite as impressed by their recordings but to be honest, the standard they set at that gig was high enough to allow them a little room for slippage.

Besides, you've got to like a band that discovers its myspace URL is taken and comes up with this as an alternative.

Here's a 2007 single which also appeared on their debut album, last year's In the Court of the Wrestling Let's.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Buzzcocks - You Say You Don't Love Me

I'm too busy for a proper post today, so here's a song that really speaks for itself. Enjoy.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Panda Kopanda - You Reached Into My Heart

Panda Kopanda are a Belfast band with a super-DIY ethos and a sound that brings to mind all the best of American indie rock (Death Cab, Elliot Smith etc). Their debut album This Hope Will Kill Us was released last year to a great critical response but I'm not sure they've been heard from any rate I haven't noticed any Dublin appearances, and I think I would, they're so good.

This is an older track that I got from their myspace page ages ago but I don't think it was ever released on anything. Dunno why, because it's the Pandas at their most sublime.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hazel O'Connor - D-Days

Here's a fabulous piece of early '80s new wave from one of the true (if underappreciated) stars of the genre. I must track down Breaking Glass again, her 1980 cult classic film. I remember being awed by it when I saw it as a very young teenager just becoming acquainted with the "new music" (or whatever it was called then) scene.

Incredible video too. In a manner of speaking.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Coast - You Can Look

I saw Coast, a Scottish Britpop band based in London, a number of times in the mid-1990s and they always put on a pretty good show but they never really seemed likely to go anywhere. And indeed, they didn't. Their EPs (I don't think they ever made it to an album) haven't aged particularly well either, although I still enjoy the odd one from them.

This was a b-side to their first single, "Polly's Domain" from 1995.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Kinetiks - Bite the Bullet

The Kinetiks are no more, but during their several years of existence they livened up the Dublin scene with their unusually appealing take on the modern indie-rock sound. This was my favourite, an irresistible 2008 single which I just couldn't stop playing for weeks on end. RIP.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Romeo Void - Flashflood

San Francisco's Romeo Void weren't exactly a one hit wonder, but it's fair to say that there are probably a lot of people who'd remember one particular track of theirs even if they didn't remember their name. That particular track, "Never Say Never", had an exceptionally attention-grabbing lyric in the chorus which very nearly took the song into the realm of novelty status. The rest of the song's lyrics were actually very astute and literate, and kind of sinister in fact, but of course it was the gimmicky chorus that got all the attention and led to some people dismissing them as a gimmicky band.

It didn't help that their only other single of any renown, "A Girl In Trouble (Is A Temporary Thing)", was blandsville central.

They put out three albums in the early 1980s, with a sound that wasn't atypical of the American college rock of the time. What did distinguish them from the others, however, was Debora Iyall: an ethnic (Native American) woman with a powerful voice, insightful lyrics and a mind of her own, which didn't always rub music industry types (or audiences) the right way. I met her once in the late 1980s, in the queue for the ladies' at a Big Music Event, and I have to say I was a little bit awestruck by her even though I was never a huge fan of her band.

They did have their moments though, and this is certainly one of them - a sad and lovely tune from their 1982 second album Benefactor.