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.