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 since...at 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.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Marine Girls - Lazy Ways

My holidays are over, I'm back at work, the weather is crap and I have a cold. So what better to cheer me up than some Marine Girls?

They're best known now as Tracey Thorn's pre-Everything But The Girl band, which is a shame not only because they were so wonderful in their own right but because it means the contributions of her bandmates get overlooked. The truth is that Jane Fox was equally as responsible as Tracey for making them one of the best-loved indiepop bands ever, and Gina Hartman and Alice Fox's roles shouldn't be overlooked either. Tracey of course was technically the best singer, but if it's technical ability you're looking for this really isn't your band anyway. If I were to pick out my favourite Marine Girls songs there'd be a fairly even split between Jane's and Tracey's.

This is one of the best Jane ones, the title track to their second and final album.