Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Go-Go's - Vacation

Yes, Cinnamon Songs will be on vacation for the next couple of weeks. See you in August!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Church - Sisters

The Church put out about eight billion records so it's not surprising they were a little inconsistent, but I generally really like their recordings up til around 1985. After that I can take them or leave them.

This is an absolutely lovely track from the 1981 Too Fast For You EP...there's a much better video for it in my head.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Stone Roses - Elephant Stone

With all the massive hype around the Roses at the time, it's easy to forget that they really did have some absolutely magnificent tunes. I just heard this one again recently for the first time in a while and I'm still struck by what a great little three-minute pop song it is. A genuine classic.

And don't they look so young and innocent in the video, too?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pow Wow! - So Weird

Maybe it's just me but Brooklyn seems to be producing a lot of really good bands these days. Of course it probably always did and I just never heard about most of them. Pow Wow! have a somewhat eclectic sound, firmly rooted in a lo-fi aesthetic but claiming influences from the Smiths to the Supremes to Burt Bacharach. Actually, their stuff reminds me a little bit of Graham Coxon's solo work.

This was the b-side to their 2009 single "Handhold". Not an official video, I don't think.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Aztec Camera - Pillar to Post

The first single from their classic debut album High Land Hard Rain, released when Roddy Frame was all of 18 years old. I've said it before but I still find it astonishing that anyone could be so talented, and write such mature, thoughtful lyrics, at 18. Of course he probably looks back and cringes at them now.

Surprised there doesn't seem to be an actual video for this.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Explosions in the Sky - Your Hand in Mine

I'm not a huge fan of the whole Explosions, Mogwai, "post-rock" (what a silly name) thing, for a number of reasons. I tend to prefer my songs short and snappy, and I like music that really engages you rather than just sounding nice in the background while you’re doing something else. Same as I didn't like the related genre of "ambient". But I have to admit that once this song gets going, it’s really quite lovely.

From their 2003 album, The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Game Theory - 24

Here's an absolutely lovely piece of jangly guitar pop from Game Theory, a band whose ambition often overreached their ability but they certainly got it right on this particular track. Contrary to what the video indicates it's actually from their 1985 full-length debut, Real Nighttime.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Chisel - Your Star Is Killing Me

Ted Leo's band before the Pharmacists. Their very mod-inspired music isn't normally my cup of tea, and I'm not sure I'd be a fan of theirs if I'd only heard their records, but I saw a couple live gigs while visiting Washington DC in the mid-1990s and didn't they just bring the house down every time.

I bought their CDs on the strength of those performances. I admit I don't listen to them very often, but this (from their 1995 Nothing New collection) is really a great track. If you're into this sort of thing generally, I'm sure you'd like the rest of their music.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Jack - I Didn't Mean It Marie

Jack were a Welsh band based in London, which is where I encountered them in the mid-1990s. They were a lot like the Tindersticks but with less distinctive vocals. Less success, too, which was really quite unfortunate and undeserved.

Here's a particularly impressive track from their fine 1996 debut, Pioneer Soundtracks.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pale Saints - Half-Life, Remembered

Here's a great song from one of my favourite 4ad bands ever. The title track (sort of) to an EP released in-between their first and second albums, it also marked the debut appearance of second guitarist Meriel Barham, whose addition really filled out their sound a lot. It's still a little too offbeat to characterise simply as pop music, though it's undeniably catchy.

You need to turn this one up a bit.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Skids - Into the Valley

A truly classic '70s punk anthem. I always thought of it as just a kids-are-alright type of song but recently I read a quote from Richard Jobson where he said it was actually meant to be a commentary on disaffected local youth winding up as cannon fodder for the British Army in Ireland. Which raised my estimation of not just the song but of Jobson himself, who I always thought of as a bit of an eejit.

They had other good songs, of course, and one of these days I'll post another one.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Housemartins - Build

Quite possibly the best song ever written about the failures of urban regeneration, a subject very close to my heart. It was the final track on their difficult second album, 1987's The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death, and was also a reasonably successful single. It's probably my favourite song they ever did.

Monday, July 12, 2010

See See Rider - Stolen Heart

This is one of my favourite early '90s singles, from a band that didn't last long enough to fulfil their enormous potential. Their members don't seem to have gone on to do anything of note either (with the exception of Phil King, the Zelig of '80s/'90s British indie). If anyone info to the contrary, please pass it on.

But seriously, isn't this a great track? Just try to listen to it without tapping your toes.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Black Tambourine - By Tomorrow

Black Tambourine are a good example of a band that's assumed legendary status now but back in the day I could barely find anyone who'd heard of them. Hailing from the Washington DC area, they were one of the first Slumberland bands and pretty much epitomised that label's shoegazey-twee trademark, complete with haunting female vocals. I actually think they'd have benefited by making the vocals a bit less haunting, though I'm not sure if the effect was deliberate or just a result of not having the budget for a better mix. Anyway, Slumberland has recently issued a full retrospective of the band so if you like this there's plenty more where it came from.

This is a 1991 single.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Drugstore - Fader

Drugstore had the bad sense to start off their 1995 self-titled debut album with a remarkably Mazzy Star-ish song, which led to a lot of people dismissing them as Mazzy Star clones. But there were pretty significant differences between them: while both bands drew from shoegaze and psychedelia, Drugstore were on the fuzzy guitar end in contrast to Mazzy Star's dreamier sounds; Isabel Monteiro's voice is a lot deeper than Hope Sandoval's (it's often described as "smoky") and her lyrics are about a hundred billion times better. It was really an unfair comparison, but it was widespread and it unquestionably held them back.

Another difference was that Monteiro actually had an onstage personality, which made them immensely enjoyable to watch live. I've heard this even from people who don't like their records.

Bonus points for having dedicated a song to Salvador Allende and supporting the extradition of General Pinochet. I always like things like that in a band.

This is a great track from the debut.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Apples in Stereo - High Tide

The Apples in Stereo came from Colorado and were part of the Elephant 6 collective - a label/association/whatever I've always had some reservations about. Too often, the Elephants' psychedelic pop seemed to be more about attitude than songs, and they came across rather smug and irritating. Even when they were good.

The Apples' debut album, 1995's Fun Trick Noisemaker, fell (mostly) into the "good" category and is certainly one I would recommend if you're curious about Elephant 6. But I wouldn't call any of it indispensable.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Bardots - Sad Anne

Because I'll never get tired of plugging the Bardots, even if not one person in fifty who visits this blog has ever heard of them.

This is an early single, and was also on the first ever Wilde Club records release.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bad Brains - Pay to Cum

Just for a bit of variety, here's a classic piece of early American hardcore. A lot of people I know who are into this sort of thing reckon this is one of the greatest punk records ever released. I can't really argue with that.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Red Rose Café - Lines

The Red Rose Café is really singer-guitarist Philip Morrow, a Donegal native, who seems to be performing under his own name now. I've only seen him once, several years ago at the Hard Working Class Heroes festival; he was the first act on the line-up and there were maybe half a dozen people in the audience for his set. And I'm not exaggerating when I say that we were the luckiest half-dozen people in Ireland that night. Shame he doesn't seem to gig very often, at least not in Dublin.

This is from his 2006 album, The New Year Tapes. If quiet, delicate indie-folk is your thing, you really don't want to miss this one.

Monday, July 5, 2010

OMD - Julia's Song

OMD's early music was so beautifully atmospheric, it's really a pity they didn't split up before they started making the bland rubbish that characterised their later works (eg "If You Leave").

This is a particularly lovely track from their 1980 debut album.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Slight intermission

I'm working on a big project this weekend and won't have any time to devote to the blog, so there will be a temporary intermission. See you on Monday.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Wire - Reuters

The very first song on the very first Wire album. Picture a teenager in 1977 buying Pink Flag, bringing it home and putting it on the turntable for the first time... and this comes out of it. I'm trying to imagine that teenager's reaction. As immense as it still sounds all these decades later, what must it have been like back then before we were all so thoroughly accustomed to punk and post-punk and apocalyptic war tunes? Sometimes I really wish I'd been around for that era - how exciting it must have been - but then again if I had been, I'd be even more of an old fart than I am now. So maybe it's just as well.

But janey mack, what a song this is. Still.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Arab Strap – Islands

Arab Strap can be a difficult band to listen to, unless you’re in exactly the right mood - and frankly, if you are in that mood, you’re probably better off trying to get out of it. You could say, in other words, that their music isn’t really in keeping with the overall theme of this blog. Despite being Scottish.

I like this one (from their second album Philophobia) because for once, the lyrics match the sheer beauty of their music. The opening lyrics, that is. Being Arab Strap, they lower the tone a bit after that.