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.