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.