Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas break!

I'm taking a long Christmas break folks. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you back on January 5th :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Young Bryan Superstar - You're Magnetic

A nice little piece of indiepop from San Sebastian in the Basque country. They also went by the name El Joven Brian.

This was a self-titled four-song 7" from 1993.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Harvest Ministers - You Do My World The World Of Good

Surprised I haven't posted these yet. An Irish band on Sarah? They ought to be all over this blog. *hangs head in shame*

The Harvest Ministers have been around forever (well, since 1987) but don't have a huge discography to show for it: their fifth album was released only last year. They tend to be thought of as sort of a Will Merriman project rather than a proper band, though that's a bit unfair to Padraig McCaul, multi-instrumentalist, who I think has been a Harvest Minister for the duration. And who's a brilliant landscape painter in his own right, btw.

This was their first single, from 1992.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Primal Scream - Imperial

A lot of indie snobs like me will tell you Sonic Flower Groove is the only Primal Scream album worth buying. I would beg to differ - not because I think any of the others are great, but because I don't think this one has that much going for it, either. It's all very earnest and innocuous neo-psychedelic pop but I just think it tries too hard and doesn't live up, in songwriting terms, to its influences.

And if I wasn't mad about it when it came out, most of it really hasn't aged well. But I always liked this one a lot, and still do.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Radio Arts - 04:30 AM

Decent little electro-pop band from Sweden, who don't seem to be around anymore. Shame.

This was from a 2005 EP.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sloppy Joe - Sometimes

Now here's a real treat, all the way from Tokyo. Sloppy Joe's debut album With Kisses Four came out this year, but you could be forgiven for thinking you'd discovered a lost treasure from the C86 era - they really do an amazing job of capturing that sound. To say that I absolutely love it! would be a significant understatement.

Check out Bandcamp for more.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Calloways - Kalamazoo

There is a decided lack of information available about this band. They may have been from Edinburgh, but they don't seem to have released much of anything. This very new-wavey track, which dates to the early-mid '80s, appeared on the wonderful 1996 cassette compilation A Sandwich and a Sweater. Anyone know anything about them?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Michael Knight - Coronation Street

Michael Knight is supposed to be a band rather than a person, although really it's Irish singer-songwriter Richie Murphy + whoever happens to be playing back-up for him at any given time. "Their" music is quirky harmonic pop that often walks the fine line between clever and irritating, but when they get it right it's very very good indeed.

This is a track from their second album, I'm Not Entirely Clear How I Ended Up Like This, from 2008, sounding remarkably like a Franz Ferdinand soundtrack to a spaghetti western.

Michael Knight - Coronation Street YBI11 by yesboyicecream

Friday, December 9, 2011

Aztec Camera - The Birth of the True

It's probably an understatement to say that Aztec Camera's 1984 second album Knife was a bit of a disappointment. I didn't hate it the way that some people did, but I definitely agreed with its critics that it was much blander than the debut and that Mark Knopfler's production drained away a lot of the songs' charm. But having said that, there were still some really nice tracks on it and this was always my favourite.

References to burning down banks are, of course, particularly appropriate again these days.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Inspiral Carpets - Tainted Love

I don't post a lot of cover versions here but I heard this one again the other day and it struck me that it's a really, really good example of a band taking a song that everybody knows and truly making it their own. Which is what a cover should be.

This actually isn't even the best Inspirals version of it - the one on the NME Ruby Trax collection is even better - but it's the only one I can find a video for online and I won't have the time to make one today. Just take my word for it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

McCarthy - Boy Meets Girl So What

Typically cynical track from these rather dour Essex popsters. This was one of their later releases, a 1989 EP (they broke up the following year). It's not particularly one of their best but for some reason it invaded my head yesterday so I thought I might as well share it. I'm sort of in this kind of mood lately anyway.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

BPeople - I Said Everybody

Late '70s/early '80s no-wave sort of band from LA. I picked up a 7" of theirs when I was around 15, I think I found it in a bargain bin or something and thought it looked interesting. I didn't really "get it" at the time though. Rediscovered them a few years ago and while I don't think I was missing a lot, they had their moments, all right. If you're into this sort of thing, you can download a compilation album here.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Dufflecoats - Sunny Tuesday Afternoon

Cheshire band who may have also been called the Applicants, or may have just shared a member or two with the Applicants - there seems to be a bit of confusion on this point in webland. Anyway, they were twee and girly and fabulous and that is really all you need to know. Isn't it?

This is a track from the 1991 Waaaah! CD.

Apologies ...

Another complete techfail yesterday in Chez Cinnamon. I'll be back when I've got caught up on everything else it kept me from doing!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

T.Rex - Mambo Sun

I've been posting a lot of really obscure stuff lately so here's something a bit better known. It's the first T.Rex song I can remember falling in love with. And I still love it - it's such a great example of how the most ludicrous, senseless lyrics can sometimes say so much.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Big Gun - Heard About Love

Another fantastic yet mystifyingly obscure '80s track, this one from a Scottish (Ayrshire) band who released one 7" and then disappeared. Can't say I blame them, actually - who would want to spend the rest of their career trying to live up to a first single as good as this one? It would probably only depress you.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Ammonites - It Hurts Inside

How about another track from that wonderful Everlasting Happiness collection? The Ammonites were a bunch of teenagers from Leicester and put out a number of tapes and 7"s in the late 1980s-early 1990s, as well as making a lot of compilation appearances. Indiepop with not a little punk-pop influence, great stuff altogether.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Shine! - I Just Can't Celebrate Today

The sum total of what I know about this band is what appears on the YouTube page where I got this video from:

Shine! was a late 80's english pop band from Norfolk. They released a flexi in 1989 named "Millions And Millions" on Baz McHat Records. Then, their song "I Just Can't Celebrate Today" was featured on the "Everlasting Happiness" compilation.

If anyone has any more info, by all means please share it. In the meantime, enjoy the tune. It would be hard not to, the (misleadingly) downbeat title notwithstanding.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Working Week - Venceremos

Here's a real blast from the past. I'd completely forgotten about this one! Working Week were one of a number of British jazz-pop groups active in the early to mid 1980s. It wasn't a genre I was terribly enamoured with, but at the time I thought everything Tracey Thorn touched was gold so of course I had to love this song (that's her on vocals, along with Robert Wyatt).

Actually, it's still pretty good, even if it's nothing like anything else I ever listen to. And the video is pure retro class.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Stellastarr - Lost in Time

I certainly wouldn't be a fan of everything Stellastarr (or stellastarr*, if they insist) have done but I have to give them the nod for this track. Mainly because it does actually succeed in what so many of this genre fail miserably at, that is, actually being the big epic blockbuster of a song it wants to be. Credit where it's due.

It's from their second album Harmonies for the Haunted, from 2005.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

New Amusement - Lights Go Down

Dublin band on the wonderful Any Other City label. This one comes from their debut EP, 2008's Any Port in a Storm, and it is pure pop bliss which I don't think I will ever grow tired of. Nice video too.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Orange Juice - What Presence?!

Fab song from The Orange Juice, their final album (from 1984). It's a bit of an odd one even by Orange Juice standards, with its twangy guitars and gospelly vocals at the end there - an ambitious track that could have been really horrible if it didn't work, which fortunately it does. Some of Edwyn's best rhyming, too.

Friday, November 25, 2011

REM - Time After Time

From the 1984 Reckoning album. A nice, late night, mellow, relaxing-at-home sort of song. If you're going to smoke stuff to REM - not that I'm necessarily endorsing that, mind - this is the song to do it to.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Seeping into Cinemas - Chipped Teeth

Dublin band whose debut album 100,000 Times was finally released this year to great local acclaim. Shy, quiet folk-tinged indiepop. The only negative thing about their music is that every time I see them I get really annoyed because I can hardly hear them play over people talking. People who talk at gigs by bands like this should be shot.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Violet Pets - Violets are Blue

Very young London band from the last decade who made records in their bedsits and gave them away. Apparently. Really liked everything I heard of theirs.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Three O'Clock - Marjorie Tells Me

Since I started doing this blog, I've been very pleased to see how many Three O'Clock fans there still are out there (judging by the number of people who end up here by searching for them). They were one of my favourite bands as a teenager - I was actually a member of their fan club, and I didn't join many fan clubs - but I could really count on my fingers the number of people I knew who seemed to have ever heard of them. It's heartening to know that I'm really not alone in my Three O'Clock love, even if this knowledge is about 25 years overdue.

This one's from the 1983 Baroque Hoedown EP. Not one of their better-known tunes, but isn't it just delightful?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Band of Holy Joy - What the Moon Saw

Heard this song the other day for the first time in a good while and was struck again, as I always am, by what a wallop it packs in its (not quite) three minutes. Especially considering how slow it starts off. BoHJ are an acquired taste, no doubt, but what a reward you get for acquiring it.

From 1989.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

OMD - Souvenir

Another gem from early OMD, the band that always seemed to me to do the best job of contradicting Luddites' claims about synth-pop. You really couldn't credibly argue that electronic music was inherently emotionless in the face of stuff like this.

It was their most successful single ever, which is kind of surprising because I think they had a lot more obvious "hits" than this, but I guess that just shows how much better taste mainstream music listeners had thirty years ago.

It's from their third album, Architecture & Morality, from 1981.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Lilys - The Night Sun Over San Juan

Speaking of DC-based Slumberland bands - well, Lilys used to be one, but that was a lifetime (and a number of musical styles) ago. It's rare for a band to last as long as they have and keep putting out records and actually get better, but I genuinely think their last album - 2006's Everything Wrong Is Imaginary - actually does outshine most of their earlier releases. It's miles ahead of the MBV-wannabeism of their early years, less self-indulgent than their "Nanny in Manhattan" era and while there's still a strong psychedelic influence, it's really the closest thing they've ever done to a pop record and they wear that style particularly well.

I hope they haven't called it a day at this point. I'd love to hear what else they might have in store for us.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lorelei - Sometimes...

B-side to "The Bitter Air", an early (1991) Slumberland 7" from this DC band who never recorded anything like this again (they lost their singer shortly after its release; she would later reappear in Racecar, who've made a couple appearances on this blog). The a-side is a slow, pretty atmospheric track but it's always been this one that's really grabbed me: a Perfect Pop tune with jangly guitars and heavenly female vocals. Where could you go wrong?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Bongos - Splinters

Another track from the Bongos' 1985 album, The Beat Hotel. This album got mixed reviews but I remember this song being widely acclaimed as one of the stand-out tracks and I would certainly agree. It actually strikes me as being like something the Sound might have done if they were more on the power-pop and less on the post-punk end of things. Wonderful, in any case.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Public Image Ltd - Public Image

I never took to PiL, despite being a big fan of early post-punk generally. I'm not really sure why. I still find John Lydon one of the most interesting musical personalities around, so maybe I should go back and give his band another listen.

Anyway, here's one I always did like: their debut single, from 1978.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Marmite Sisters - Trevor

Leicester C86ish band who were around for about ten years but were remarkably unproductive, which might be attributed to the fact that they don't seem to have really taken themselves very seriously as a band. You can kind of tell this from their music (that's not meant as a put-down). Oh, and they weren't really sisters.

This is from a 1991 flexi.

Monday, November 14, 2011

April Showers - Abandon Ship

Another 1980s Glasgow band, but one considerably less well-known than yesterday's entrant. Probably because this was (apparently) the only thing they ever released. It's a lovely piece of '80s new-wave pop, full of twee charm despite its slick production (you can thank Beatrice Colin's wonderfully pure, clear vocals for that. The charm, I mean, not the production). An overlooked gem of a record.

From 1984.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Orange Juice - Flesh of My Flesh

From the 1982 Rip it Up album. This one doesn't seem to get mentioned very often in lists of Classic Orange Juice Songs, but that's not necessarily a bad thing - it means that every time I hear it I get a bit of a jolt at how fucking amazing it actually is. Of course, I'm probably ruining that now by posting this, but if it means I'm helping someone else experience the sheer delight of it for the first time, then I suppose it's worth it. You're welcome.

Brilliant lyrics in this one, too, from start to finish. Now that I think about it, why isn't this considered one of their classics?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire

You might think I'm pushing the envelope with this one but I was listening to it this morning and it struck me that it has all the qualities of a great indiepop tune: it's short (really short), catchy as hell and full of snappy li'l couplets. So onto this blog it goes. Anyway, I have a sneaking suspicion that most of my readers know what I mean already, since you all have such good taste.


Friday, November 11, 2011

The Hit Parade - In Gunnersbury Park

One of about a billion singles released by this London band. This one, from 1991, was on Sarah, though you'd probably guess that within the first ten seconds even if I hadn't told you.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Hermit Crabs - I Don't Know How

Glasgow band who walk the fine line between indie-pop and indie-folk. I bet they get compared a lot to Camera Obscura.

This is from a 2009 EP.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Thrift Shop - Begins (On the Fly Mix)

The Thrift Shop was a side project of Neal from Philadelphia indiepoppers the Skywriters/Snow Fairies. I don't think they did much besides contribute to a couple of Red Square compilation albums, including this one from 2002.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Eggs - John's Bar Mitzvah

Funny little DC band, around in the early-to-mid 1990s but having little in common with the Slumberland crowd dominating the local music scene at the time. I suppose you could call them indie art-rock.

Their debut album Bruiser from 1992 was a mixed bag but here's a nice track from it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Ramona

Here's another example of a band whose b-sides are better than a lot of bands' a-sides. In fact, in this case the song is marginally better than its own a-side... though it's a close call. It was on the "Young Adult Friction" 7" (2009), and it makes me swoon.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Slowdive - Beach Song

I've never been a fan of Slowdive - most of the time I just find them, well, boring. But this song kicks. It's from a 1992 flexi.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Vivian Girls - I Can't Stay

It occurred to me last night that although I've posted plenty of bands that are either linked to the Vivian Girls or are like the Vivian Girls, I've never posted an actual Vivian Girls song before. Silly me.

Here's a live version of a 2008 single. It's interesting how close to Talulah Gosh they sound, without all the Spectoresque studio embellishment of their recordings.

Friday, November 4, 2011

#poundsign# - Matinee Sunday

Great San Francisco indiepop band with boy/girl vocals, active in the late 1990s. This is from their second album Underneath the Marquee, which was released in 2000 and seems to be the last thing they ever released.

They remind me a lot of Belle & Sebastian on this one, which is certainly no bad thing.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

David Bowie – Kooks

Always loved this track from the 1971 album Hunky Dory, which is one of my favourite Bowie albums. It was written for his then infant son Zowie. The kids in my own extended family always seem to enjoy it, too.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Chills - Rain

I can't believe I haven't posted this yet. It's a track from the Chills' first proper album, 1987's Brave Words, and it's just...perfect.

And when I say "perfect" I mean in the sense of it being an utterly superb little pop song, not in the sense of it being lyrically entirely appropriate for what's been going on outside my window all day, although that is also the case.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cashier No 9 - The Lighthouse Will Lead You Out

Jaunty little number from this Belfast band who have been getting a fair amount of positive media attention lately. They remind me a bit of the Charlatans on this track, which comes from their recently-released debut album To the Death of Fun.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Daisy Chainsaw - Natural Man

Track from their 1992 debut album Eleventeen which lacks the band's usual manic energy but makes up for it in sheer weirdness. It's the only one that Katie Jane doesn't sing on; I've always assumed the vocals were guitarist Crispin Gray's but I'm not sure I have any actual reason to assume that. I could be completely wrong.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Buzz of Delight - In Summer

I wasn't a fan at all of Matthew Sweet's solo material but he was in a couple decent bands in the early '80s, including this one who dissolved after their 1984 Sound Castles EP. This is the standout track, a genuinely delightful piece of twee power-pop not that far removed from Sixteen Tambourines-era Three O'Clock.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Moped - Window Shopping

Moped were from New Jersey but released their lone album, the splendidly-titled It Won't Sound Any Better Tomorrow, on the Australian Summershine label. It was kind of typically mid-'90s boy/girl indie music, somewhere on the continuum that exists in my head between indiepop and indie rock - nothing you couldn't live without, but enjoyable enough. You can download it here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

My Bloody Valentine - I Believe

B-side to "Feed Me With Your Kiss". I'll say that again: this was a b-side. I still can't quite wrap my head around that. You could take the best bits from the best a-sides of 95% of the records that have ever existed, and make the best a-side you could possibly make from them, and it still wouldn't be fit to wipe the dust off this song. Which was a b-side.

OK, maybe I'm exaggerating just a little bit. But, seriously... can you believe this was only a b-side? I can't.

From 1988.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Riptides - 77 Sunset Strip

Following on from that Pointed Sticks post a little while ago here's some more classic but somewhat forgotten late '70s punk-pop, this time from Australia (Brisbane, to be precise). Robert Vickers of the Go-Betweens was in an early incarnation of this band, who I gather were significantly better known in their native country than outside of it.

This was their first single.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Grooveyard - Summer

From Brighton, apparently, but that's about all that I know about them.

This song appeared on the Uncle Arthur's Pop Parlour cassette compilation in 1987 and on a split flexi with "Sleepyhead" by Ever (which is also on Uncle Arthur) the following year. It's a great little piece of jangly-pop-with-flute. Terrible mixing, but who cares.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thomas Dolby - One of Our Submarines

Thomas Dolby has released some horrific material in his time (see: "Hyperactive") but The Golden Age of Wireless would be a guilty pleasure of mine were it not for the fact that I refuse to feel guilty about any of my listening habits. Admittedly some of it is a little too ploink ploink for my tastes, but this particular track would be lovely on any instrument and is no less so just because it's all synthy.

Apparently he wrote it about his uncle, who drowned in a submarine during World War 2.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Chameleons – Thursday’s Child

I haven’t posted nearly enough Chameleons here, and I see that I haven’t posted anything that isn’t on their magnificent 1983 debut album Script of the Bridge.

I’ll rectify the latter omission at some point. But not today.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Stone Roses - All Across the Sand

I was strangely underwhelmed by the news that the Stone Roses are to play in Dublin next year. Like many others of my generation, I worshipped the ground they walked on in their early years (though my own personal backlash began earlier than most - I never liked "Fools Gold", and I still don't). I never got to see them in their heyday; I still think their debut album is one of the finest ever released, and I've long since got over my reunionphobia. Yet it took me all of thirty seconds or so to decide not to bother with the Dublin gig, and I can't quite put my finger on why. I'll probably regret it later - when the tickets have shot up to €200 on the black market. Oh well.

Here's a b-side to "Sally Cinnamon". Bet they don't play this at the reunion gig!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

His Name is Alive - Is This the Way the Tigers Do?

From HNIA's remarkable Dirt Eaters EP from 1992. It's more abrasive than the other tracks on the EP, though less so than the scratchy and sireny bits might lead you to expect at the start.

If anyone has a clue what the words are about, don't tell me, I probably don't want to know.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Blur - Intermission

Just a brief intermission for the blog as I have a million and one things to focus on over the next couple days. I'll try to make it back for Friday, but if not, Saturday definitely! See you soon.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ride - Like a Daydream

Opening number from their second EP, Play, from 1990. This was really where I felt Ride arrived: its self-titled predecessor a few months earlier had some strong moments, but there was nothing on it with the immediacy of this track, which I have to say pretty much knocked my socks off the moment I heard it. Actually, it still knocks my socks off.

Doesn't Mark look cute with his poofy li'l haircut, too. I bet he cringes seeing this now.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Secret Shine - After Years

In their early years, before they went all shoegazey on us, Secret Shine were that rare Sarah band that sometimes dipped into "too twee even for me" territory. Listen to the song "Secret Shine" (on the Ephemeral 7") if you don't believe me.

Most of the time, though, they walked the fine line without quite stepping over it - and made some lovely music as a result. This was their first single on Sarah, from 1991.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lush - Bitter

Great track from Lush's debut EP Scar. I'm putting a shoegaze tag on it just because it's Lush, but there's really nothing shoegazey at all about this one: it's a simple two-minute rockin' guitar rush with lyrics that, let me just say, I really identify with at the moment. You don't want to know.

From 1989.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Patti Smith - Kimberly

I was planning on writing an intelligent piece about this song - because really, it's a bit of an insult to the wonder that was Horses to post a song from it without writing something intelligent about it - but unfortunately the pub intervened and I am not really in a fit state to write anything intelligent about anything. Let's just say that this is a very enjoyable and underrated track from an album that you should already own anyway.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Lavender Faction - Harbour Me

Durham-based shoegaze band who put out a number of singles in 1990-91 and then disappeared. I never thought they were quite as amazing as some of my fellow indieheads did but they’re certainly worth checking out if you're into this sort of thing.

This is from “In My Mind”, a 1990 7”. Please note that I am not responsible for the atrocious spelling at the start of the video!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

1000 Mexicans - The Last Pop Song

I posted a 1000 Mexicans track a few months ago of them in their pop mode, but this one's a bit darker and draws more from post-punk. It was a 1984 single. Really grows on you after a while.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pointed Sticks - Out of Luck

Vancouver power-pop. This is an absolute belter of a single, from 1979. It was re-recorded for the Sticks' lone album the following year but this is the version you want.

Seriously this one is a classic.

Monday, October 10, 2011

XTC - That's Really Super, Supergirl

Very catchy track from Skylarking which, it must be said, is a particularly catchy-track-laden XTC album. I can sort of see why the XTC purists (and XTC themselves, apparently) weren't all that happy with Todd Rundgren's production, because it is really very slick and radio-friendly, but as far as I'm concerned that just means we got the great pop record that they always teased us with. There isn't a song on it that I would skip through, and there are very few XTC records I can say that about.

From 1986.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

14 Iced Bears - Heaven Star

From their 1991 album Wonder, and it really is wondrous: soft and shimmering shoegazey pop with one of those couplets so stunning in its simplicity ("Waiting on a shooting star/
I hope you are, I hope you are") it puts a lump in my throat. My condolences to the mystifying number of 14 Iced Bears fans who don't like this album - your loss.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dum Dum Girls - Blank Girl

More sixties-influenced lo-fi girlpop. I know these bands are a dime a dozen these days - and most of them are somehow linked to the Vivian Girls - but I haven't yet stopped finding them irresistible, and I hope I never will.

From their 2010 debut album, I Will Be.

Friday, October 7, 2011

REM - South Central Rain

I dreamed about this song last night. Well, to be precise about it, I dreamed this song. From start to finish - even the moany bits at the end. Except that it was me singing instead of Michael Stipe. I think I was about to start singing "Seven Chinese Brothers" when I woke up.

I'm not sure exactly why I had this on the brain. REM have been in the news recently for breaking up, of course, but that's not something I took much notice of. To be honest, I lost interest in them around 25 years ago, and wasn't even really aware they still existed.

But I suppose I'll take the dream as a sign that I ought to post this song, so here it is. Not with me singing though. Trust me, that would give you nightmares.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Disco Inferno - It's a Kid's World

Just a quickie today as I have to head out for the Hard Working Class Heroes festival, something I never miss. I've had a few readers lately arrive at this blog by searching for Disco Inferno songs, which I'm always happy to make it easier to find. This is a 1994 single.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Raining Stars - Gone For Ever More

French band whose sound takes little bits from baggy, C86 and skinny-tie pop. Not a bad collection of influences, I'm sure you'd agree.

This is from their 2008 album From St Saviour To Quickwell.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Salvation Army - While We Were in Your Room Talking to Your Wall

The Salvation Army’s lone album under that name is basically a psychedelic pop record, but one that largely reflects their punk roots – it’s some distance from the fluffy pre-twee sounds that they would become known for as The Three O’Clock. This song is as close as they get to it, a trippy almost-ballad distinguishable from their Sixteen Tambourines period only by the sloppy production.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Four Million Telephones - If I Was There

Another rare finding by Wilfully Obscure, these were an apparently Lincoln-based late '80s band playing mildly jangly guitar pop. Not a lot to write home about here but I think this track, one of the b-sides from this 1988 EP, is rather nice.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Cure - Primary

Faith is a dark album even by the Cure's standards, but this track - well, it's still pretty dark, but it's got a pace to it that makes it stand out a bit from the relentless gloom that surrounds it. It's kind of been lost in the passage of time and doesn't usually even get a look into lists of Cure Classics but every time I hear it I think to myself, "Fuck me, that's a great song."

It may have been partially based on Penelope Farmer's books, although not as obviously so as "Charlotte Sometimes".

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Breezy Porticos - Breaking Away

Denver, Colorado band that seem to have been inactive for a few years now. Their records were all released in the 2000s, but their sound is distinctly early/mid-'90s US bubblegum indiepop, Poole being the most obvious reference. Somewhat lacklustre vocals, though.

This was from a split 7" with New Jersey band the Gwens, released in 2000 on Athens GA label Happy Happy Birthday to Me.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Hollies - Pegasus

This one falls firmly into the "twee before twee existed" category. In fact, it out-twees most of the Sarah catalogue. You don't get much tweer than that! It's from the 1967 album Butterfly, when the Hollies were firmly in flower-power mode, and I've seen grown men collapse in giggles at it - particularly in the closing few seconds. You'll love it.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mirrors Over Kiev - Take Me Down

Late '80s Manchester band whose otherwise perfectly appealing jangle-pop was unfortunately marred by poor vocals. This was their first of three (?) singles, from 1987, on Imaginary.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Echo and the Bunnymen - Pictures on my Wall

The Ocean Rain tour stopped by here last Friday, and even though it was an overpriced seated gig in a larger-than-club-sized venue – all things that usually turn me right off attending – I went along anyway and I must say I’m delighted that I did. First of all, it wasn’t just Ocean Rain that they played, although that would have been enough to make it worthwhile. Actually, “Silver” alone would have been enough to make it worthwhile.

They started off with “Over the Wall” and finished with “The Cutter” and hit most of their career highlights in between. Sounded absolutely great, too; Ian’s voice really hasn’t lost much over the years, though he’s even less comprehensible when he talks. Immensely enjoyable evening – don’t miss them if they hit your town.

Here’s one they left off the setlist, from their 1980 debut, the classic Crocodiles.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Velvet Underground - All Tomorrow's Parties

You'll all know this one, of course, but isn't it nice hearing it again? Music is rarely as perfect as this.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Flaws - Part of You

Another young Irish band, this one from County Monaghan. I've been consistently impressed by the Flaws, whose two albums are full of solid, catchy little numbers like this one. They'll probably never make it really big but in 20 years' time there will be plenty of old farts like me reminiscing about how they should have.

This is from their second album, last year's Constant Adventure.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hello Moon - Sievehead

I've been raving about this band since their early days, and now that their debut album Only Count the Sunny Hours is finally out (on Dublin's coolest label, Any Other City) I have twelve more reasons to rave about them. In all honesty, they're the most utterly charming twee pop band I've come across since around the mid-1990s - and while at least part of that is due to a bashful stage presence that makes you want to pat them on the head and reassure them that yes, you really are enjoying their music and not just clapping to be polite, I'm pretty sure I'd love this record just as much if I'd never had the distinct pleasure of seeing them live. It's simply delightful.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

MacGuffins - Rich Together

Melbourne band whose sole contribution to the recorded history of music seems to be this 1988 single, a thoroughly pleasant if not exceptional piece of eighties guitar pop. Their singer Rowan Smith went on to slightly bigger things (in Australia, at least) with the band Barefoot.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Laugh! - Shed Caved In

Laugh! eventually became Intastella, but you'd never guess the connection from some of the C86-ish material they put out under their original name. Though probably best known for the single "Paul McCartney" - let's face it, if you're a struggling indie band, getting yourself nearly sued by a major celebrity is probably the easiest route to publicity - a far better track was this contribution to the 1987 comp Let's Try Another Ideal Guest House, a benefit for the homeless charity Shelter.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Luna - Speedbumps

Much as I loved Galaxie 500, Luna never really did it for me. I always found them just a little too bland, though I have to admit I might have been drawing unfair comparisons. Maybe I should give them another chance now that enough time has passed for me to accept that Galaxie 500 aren't coming back. Well, I'll think about it anyway.

But since I have already put Damon and Naomi up here, in the interests of fairness here's a Luna song too. It's from their final album, 2004's Rendezvous.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Feelies - Original Love

New Jersey band who were big on US college radio in the early '80s, influential and highly critically acclaimed. They played their music at an amazing pace (those who used to describe the Wedding Present as having the fastest guitars around obviously hadn't heard them) and often mixed their vocals so low as to be almost irrelevant, thereby highlighting the manic energy of their instrumentation. It wasn't exactly easy listening, and in a lot of ways I'd say they're a band I admire rather than genuinely liking. But you certainly can't deny their contribution to the American underground music scene.

This was a track from their 1980 debut album, the very appropriately-titled Crazy Rhythms.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Pooh Sticks - Pandora's Box

The Pooh Sticks were a novelty band who attempted to channel classic rock and pop through an indiepop aesthetic - sometimes successfully, sometimes far less so. They could be immensely entertaining at times, but I'm not sure they'd hold much appeal if you didn't get the joke. Their 1991 album The Great White Wonder was hailed as their masterpiece but 20 years on it doesn't really seem to have much more staying power than novelty records ever do.

This one still holds up well, though, just as a nice little pop tune.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Black Cillas - Sebastian

A 1986 single which seems to be the only thing that London's Black Cillas released in their short (initial) lifespan. Though they tend to be lumped in with the C86 crowd, there's a bit of a New Romantic flare in this - particularly the theatrical vocals.

The band reformed and released a decent track called "Inclement Weather" a few years ago.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Proctors - Perfect World

The Proctors were formed from the ashes of the Cudgels and managed a couple releases on Sunday Records in the early/mid-'90s before they too disappeared. They're back now, and I'm happy to say they've picked up right where they left off: making glorious indiepop tunes to brighten your day. Just try not to let this brighten yours.

You can get it on the Indietracks 2011 compilation, here.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Best Coast - Wish He Was You

Yet another branch on the Vivian Girls family tree (I'm almost thinking I should create a new blog label just for them), although in this case it's probably fairer to consider the stylistic similarities coincidental. Best Coast have, since 2009 alone, released a large handful of 7"s and one cracking debut album - on about as many different labels - and if lo-fi fuzzy-guitar '60s-influenced girlpop is your thing, well, you'll want to own all of them.

This was a b-side to last year's "Something in the Way" 7".

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Mad Scene - Paper Plane

A b-side to the first single from The Mad Scene, the NYC-based band formed by Hamish Kilgour (of The Clean) in the early 1990s. It's like super lo-fi Flying Nun, which of course means it's pretty fantastic.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tindersticks - Tiny Tears

From Tindersticks' 1995 second album, self-titled like its predecessor. It's one of those huge epic tracks we fell in love with them for (or at least I did); don't listen if you're in a down mood.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Game Theory - We Love You Carol and Alison

Lolita Nation was Game Theory's attempt at a White Album - an ambitious double-length mishmash of songs and, erm, experiments. I've always thought the White Album could have stood a little editing and that's even more true for Lolita Nation - really, there's no need for about half of the material on it. But it does also include some of Game Theory's finest moments, including this, one of the catchiest songs they ever released.

From 1987.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Chills - Double Summer

1992's Soft Bomb was supposed to be the Chills' international breakthrough album, but as usual for the Chills, things didn't exactly go according to plan. To be fair it was far from their finest hour, with a few too many tracks that sound forced and awkward instead of the delightful pop of its predecessors. But there are a few brilliant moments, and this is one of them.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Generation X - Kiss Me Deadly

Gen X's reputation as a cartoon-punk band isn't entirely undeserved, but at least a few of their early songs have stood the test of time as solidly memorable punk-pop hits quite apart from all the nonsense that surrounded them. This one in particular - from their 1979 self-titled debut, not the 1981 dud that bore its name - really has to be seen as a true classic, and one of the most authentic-sounding teenage rebellion anthems ever recorded. It certainly triggers all my own memories of misspent youth every time I hear it.

Plus, it's just a deadly (sorry!) tune.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ben Watt - Some Things Don't Matter

He's probably best known as Tracey Thorn's other half but Ben Watt was a singer-songwriter in his own right before Everything but the Girl came into existence. His one solo album, 1983's North Marine Drive, on Cherry Red, was similar enough to what he and Tracey would go on to do together (at least in their early years) although of course lacking EBTG's most vital feature - her stunning voice. Still, it's a very pleasant piece of minimalist jazz- and folk-tinged pop which more than merits a place next to your Marine Girls records.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Pixies - Here Comes Your Man

Have I really not posted this yet? The Pixies at their most straightforward - just a simple, utterly irresistible pop song. The way that Doolittle manages to cover such a wide range of styles and still sound so cohesive and, well, Pixies-like is what makes this such a remarkable album. Still think it was their best.

On a completely unrelated note, if you're in Dublin, don't forget to check out Hello Moon at Crawdaddy tonight for the launch of their debut album, Only Count the Sunny Hours. It's only a fiver in and I guarantee you it'll be worth it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Young Knives - Terra Firma

A lot of old indie farts like me don't have much time for the newer breed of post-punk influenced bands, but I think they've produced a fair amount of worthy material. This track, from the Young Knives' 2008 second album Superabundance, is really quite a fantastic piece of rhythmic driving dance rock (with suitably socially-critical lyrics) in the best tradition of their most obvious antecedents, the Gang of Four. Oddly compelling video, too.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tiny Tide - Come Along Pond

The first Italian band to make an appearance on this blog, I think. Tiny Tide, from Cesena, have an eclectic sound that takes in everything from baroque pop to classic new wave to jangle pop, and are clearly as obsessed with the music they love as I am. There's a lot of name-checking going on in their lyrics and occasionally this takes them into too-clever-by-half territory, but there are also a number of real indiepop gems that don't depend on you knowing what (or who) they're singing about. Here's one of the highlights.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Butterglory - Waiting on the Guns

Lo-fi duo from Lawrence, Kansas, wherever that is. Butterglory put out a slew of records in the mid-1990s on the Merge label, best known for bands like Superchunk and Polvo, which explains why I overlooked them for so long. Their own sound was more like a Beat Happening/Pavement blend, and much closer to indiepop than anything I ever heard from their labelmates.

This is from their 1994 debut, Crumble.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Disconnect 4 - Eighteen

Galway's Disconnect 4 had a fantastic name, oodles of energy and, in Leon Butler, one of the most natural stars I've ever seen at the helm of an unknown indie band. Unfortunately, they also had a fairly uninspiring alterna-rock sound that made it impossible for me to like them the way that I really, really, really wanted to. Sadly for them, that seems to have been a typical reaction.

They're no more now, but I don't think we've seen the last of Leon. At least I hope not.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Funeral Suits - Machines 2

One of the not-to-be-missed bands if you're in Ireland and going to Electric Picnic this weekend. I'm not, but I am getting away for one final escape from this miserable Irish summer, so I'll see you again on Tuesday.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Smiths - Girl Afraid

Don't think this would be remembered by most as a Smiths classic but I've always been particularly fond of it. Upbeat, fantastic jangly guitars, clever couplets, and clocking in at just under 3 minutes - what's not to like?

From 1984, I think.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Au Pairs - Inconvenience

Heard this one in the pub last night and was struck again, as I always am, by how utterly massive it is. It was the Au Pairs' third single, and didn't originally appear on any album but has since been tacked on to the reissued Playing with a Different Sex.

I'm a bit too hungover to write anything more about it, but it's powerful enough to speak for itself.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Split Enz - One Step Ahead

Classic Kiwi new wave, released as a single in 1980 and the following year on their second album Waiata. I always thought of this song as a sort of inferior sibling to their masterpiece "I Got You", but it's still a thoroughly enjoyable little pop song, much better than most of the rest of their material to be perfectly honest.

I really like the video too, but that might just be nostalgia. Or the fact that nobody would ever make a video like this today.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Unrest - Suki

Great track from the amazingly clever Unrest, who started off as not-very-interesting semi-harDCore merchants and ended up on 4ad. Not a trajectory too many bands have followed.

Imperial f.f.r.r., their fourth album, was sort of their breakthrough, in the sense that it was the first time they seemed to receive (or, let's be honest, deserve) widespread attention outside the Beltway. I'd describe it more as indie-rock than indiepop, but there are a few absolutely cracking pop tunes on it, this being one of them.

From 1992.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Teardrop Explodes - When I Dream

The Teardrops at their bubbliest, from their 1980 debut Kilimanjaro. It's long been alleged that Julian Cope wrote this song about Courtney Love. He denies it, but I suppose you would.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Besotted - Mooncrash

Sorry folks, I had some technical problems yesterday. Namely a hard drive that seemed to be trying to commit suicide through an overdose of barbituates or something. I thought it was a bit too delicate to try anything with video files.

Fortunately it seems to have made a recovery this morning so here's what I was going to post yesterday. The Besotted was a side project of Robert Smith's. No, not that Robert Smith, the one from the Golden Dawn. That's the Scottish Golden Dawn, of "George Hamilton's Dead"

Fortunately the small amount of music he produced was a little more original than his names. This song, which appeared on their 1992 "Kaleidoscope" 7" as well as the brilliant K7 Everlasting Happiness collection, is an odd little piece of synth-twee, which actually sounds pretty horrible to start off with. It grows on you pretty quickly, though. Give it a minute or two.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Velvet Underground - I'm Sticking with You

I've posted a couple things here that I've identified as "twee before twee existed" but this surely out-twees-before-twee-existed all of them. Originally recorded in 1969 but not released until 1985 (on VU), it features Maureen Tucker's prepubescent-boylike vocals, and truly the dumbest lyrics ever written. I say that with great affection.

No idea who made this video, but it's more than suitable for the song.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Beat Happening - Our Secret

A band I really should have had on here before. I've actually always considered Beat Happening a bit overrated; as much as I liked what they were trying to do, I never really felt they pulled it off that well.

Nonetheless, it's impossible to deny their influence on twee/lo-fi/indiepop bands across the world. I'd be pretty confident in saying that they probably inspired some of the bands I love into existence, and I will always be grateful to them for that.

This was their first single, from 1984.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Passmore Sisters - Difficult

The Passmore Sisters weren't actually sisters at all, but an all-male band from Bradford active in the mid-to-late 1980s. Their sound was classic '80s indie guitar pop, similar to the Smiths and Housemartins. Well worth checking out.

This was a b-side to the "Every Child In Heaven" single (1987), also available on their lone album, the posthumously-released First Love, Last Rites.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Dentists - Space Man

The Dentists were from somewhere in South East England, but I always thought they had a bit of a Flying Nun thing going. Well, specifically they reminded me of the Chills. They were one of those bands that seemed in the 1990s to be perpetually on the verge of making it big but always fell just short, which was a shame. A lot of their stuff was really good.

This was from their third album, Behind the Door I Keep the Universe (1994). Not an official video.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Heavenly - She Says

1991 single on K Records, later tacked on to the reissued version of their debut album Heavenly vs Satan. It's not Heavenly at their best, but even Heavenly at their worst are still, well, pretty good.

"Escort Crash on Marston Street" was the b-side.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

China Crisis - Working with Fire and Steel

I don't post a huge amount of '80s new wavey chart pop, but I still have dozens of those old records lying about and I'm slowly getting around to re-evaluating them all. One that's fared surprisingly well - considering I didn't really like it that much in the '80s - is the second China Crisis album, Working with Fire and Steel: Possible Pop Songs Volume 2. I think in 1983 I was probably too young to appreciate the subtlety of their songwriting, the political undertones and the fantastic oboe touches that appear in various spots. Everything sounds better with an oboe in it.

"Wishful Thinking" was the big hit off this album, and it is a lovely song indeed, but the title track just edges it in terms of the how-did-I-not-recognise-the-genius factor.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cowboy X - Break Me

A Dublin band that I've really, really wanted to like for a long time. Sadly, they always end up not quite doing it for me - there's a really strong radio-friendly alterna-pop band (think Metric) in there somewhere, but the songwriting skills haven't lived up to the potential. This 2009 single came pretty close, though.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Dandy Warhols - Sleep

Gorgeous track from the Dandys' third album, Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia (2000). It's because of stuff like this that you're able to forgive them all the self-indulgent twaddle they come out with. I suppose a song of this length can't really escape the "self-indulgent" tag either, but you have to admit it's six minutes well spent.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Red Guitars - National Avenue (Sunday Afternoon)

Two Hull bands in three days. Guess it's time for a new label.

I posted a Red Guitars track recently, but for some reason this one is running through my head today. It's a tearjerker from their second album, Tales of the Expected, which came out when I was 16 and unduly susceptible to sentimental romantic claptrap like this. I'm now older and considerably more cynical about these things...but I still like this song. In a nostalgic sort of way.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wire - Outdoor Miner

"Great pop songs" aren't exactly the first thing that come to mind when you think of Wire, but how else could you describe this one? It has all the charm, brevity and infectiousness of anything on C86, as well as some of the most entertainingly inscrutable lyrics ever. The closest thing they ever had to a hit, and deservedly so.

It's from their second album, Chairs Missing from 1978.

Not an official video but goes well with the song.

Monday, August 15, 2011

3-Action! - If Only I Had the Guts

I'm back from my holiday and exhausted, and now need another holiday to recover. Funny how that works out, isn't it?

Since I'm tired and lazy today, and don't know anything about this band anyway, I'll just lift the description from the YouTube page this comes from:

3-Action! was a short lived band from Hull. They released 2 singles on Ediesta Records: "(Don't Loose That) Stealin' Feelin') - 1986 and "A Breath of Fresh Air-Gency" - 1987.

"If Only I Had the Guts" is their best song - a glorious jangle pop tune with trumpets and great vocals.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Marine Girls - A Place in the Sun

Fabulous track from the Girls' 1983 Lazy Ways album. I'm off now for a (much-needed) place in the sun, too. This thing-that-passes-for-a-summer-in-Ireland is making me cranky.

See you on August 15th.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Haywains - Kill Karaoke

Songs that string together other songs' titles are usually shit, but this one has the benefit of both being cleverer than most, and doing it in the context of an under-two-minute burst of fabulous C86-style indiepop which probably couldn't be ruined by even the stupidest lyrics. A really good antidote to all the depressing stuff I've been posting lately.

From their 1991 debut album, Never Mind Manchester, Here's the Haywains.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ham Sandwich - Keepsake

Here's another current Irish band, this one based in the historic town of Kells, County Meath. They have the worst name in Irish music and a lead singer with a tendency to get her name in the papers for all the wrong reasons, but they also have a few deadly little pop tunes and this is one of them. From their 2008 debut album Carry the Meek.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Field Mice - So Said Kay

I haven't posted anything from Sarah in a while, so here's a classic from that label. I'm not as big a Field Mice fan as some and generally prefer their more upbeat stuff, but this is genuinely a beautiful track which more than deserves all its accolades. Also, in a list of Saddest Songs Ever, it would be right up there (or should that be "down there"?) with the Durutti Column song I posted last week. Hmm, maybe my choice of tunes lately is trying to tell me something.

Anyway, it's from a 10" released in 1990.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Vanilla Swingers - Danger in the Past

London-based electronic duo whose only release (as far as I know) was a 2008 self-titled concept album. Sounds dodgy, admittedly, but the music is really lovely. Think a mellower Bird and the Bee, sort of.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Mackenzies - Man with No Reason

Long-forgotten C86 band from Glasgow, in the Fire Engines/Josef K/A Witness sort of vein. As far as I can tell they only ever had two releases of their own, both singles. A couple of them went on to be Secret Goldfish.

This was from a 1987 flexi compilation.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Replacements - I Will Dare

A perfect little pop tune by the 'Mats which shows the heights they were capable of reaching when they could be bothered. Which, sadly, wasn't very often.

I remember when this album came out (1984) there was actually controversy over its title, Let It Be. As in, some people complained that they had no right to call it after a Beatles album. Can you imagine that happening now? What a different world we're in. Of course, these days a lot of people probably wouldn't even know it was named after a Beatles album, which is kind of unfortunate.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Galaxie 500 - Flowers

The very first song on the very first Galaxie 500 album, and when you hear it it's easy to understand why we all went bananas about them. Few of the shoegaze bands they inspired ever got close to the sheer exquisite beauty of this track.

Speaking of bananas, I was delighted to receive word today that a Dublin indiepop band I've been bananas about for some time, Hello Moon, are launching their debut album next month (Crawdaddy on 10th September is the place to be). In the meantime you can preview the album on Soundcloud.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Examine Your Zipper - Follow You

This might just win the prize for Worst Band Name featured on this blog. Can't really find out much about them, except that they seem to be current and Indonesian and they play jangly lo-fi boy-girl indiepop. At least on this song.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Durutti Column - Smile in the Crowd

Bleak but starkly beautiful track from Another Setting, the Durutti Column's third album and the last one that I really loved. Vini must have been in a dark, dark place when he wrote this.

From 1983.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Blindside - Barely a Glimmer

Another shoegazey indie-rock band on Australia's Summershine label. Actually, they sound a lot like their label-mates Jupiter ... at a similar level of so-so-ness, too. (I know that's not a word, but I thought "mediocrity" would be too harsh.)

This is from their first (and last?) album, Hopes Rise, from 1992.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Neverever - Young and Dumb

Neverever are from Scotland but based in LA and that actually tells you quite a bit about their music too - it's like every classic Scottish girlpop band you love, with surfboards. Sheer delight.

This is from their debut album Angelic Swells (great name, that) released last year. On Slumberland, naturally.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Winter Hours - Hyacinth Girl

New Jersey college-rock band notable mainly for Joseph Marques Rodriguez's deep, mournful voice. I don't think they ever really had any "hits" but this track, from their 1986 debut album Wait till the Morning, is the one I remember hearing the most often. And deservedly so.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Happy Mondays - Lazyitis

I was never really much of a Mondays fan. For some reason, they just didn't grab me in the way a lot of their contemporaries did. I tend to think it was because I didn't spend the late '80s / early '90s raving away in a drug-fuelled haze, but that's neither here nor there. Anyway, that's why I haven't posted any Mondays here yet. I just didn't like them that much.

But this song really sums up how I felt all day yesterday when I had a billion things to do and just couldn't unglue myself from the TV. Warm weather does that to me, I guess. Today will be more productive. I promise.

It's from their second album, 1988's Bummed.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

AC Acoustics - Hand Passes Plenty

1990s Scottish band who always sounded more American to me. They were in that sort of indie-rock vein, with a sound a little too heavy to be shoegaze and a little too experimental to be grunge. Not something I would have been hugely into, of course, but quite all right in small doses and when they weren't going out of their way to be unlistenable.

The 1994 Hand Passes Plenty EP was actually rather nice, showing a mellower side to them with more emphasis on the songwriting. The title track is a bit of a slow-grower, I think, but I was surprised at how much it did grow on me eventually.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mary Queen of Scots - Dreaming

Yet another treasure from the Waaah! stables. Mary Queen of Scots were a Birmingham band who appeared on a number of compilations in the early '90s. Their only proper releases were a split 7" with Peru and a self-released cassette tape (I know that's stretching the definition of "proper", but bear with me). They were very very twee, in a Brighter sort of way.

This is from the split 7", which came out in 1993.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sinéad O'Connor - The Emperor's New Clothes

Everyone has an opinion about Sinéad O'Connor. Actually, here in Ireland, plenty of us have more than one. "A bit mad" seems to feature in most of them.

Whatever your view, though, it's hard to deny that she has one amazing voice. And while I don't necessarily approve of everything she's put it to use on, I seem to end up buying it all anyway. And enjoying most of it.

This is a cracking tune from her second album, 1990's I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Eyes of Mind - Alice

A little-known treasure from the Paisley Underground vaults, the Eyes of Mind's entire recorded output seems to consist of Tales of the Turquoise Umbrella, which was mysteriously released as a six-song EP in their native US and a full-length album in Europe. Frankly, they could have released a double LP of this song alone and it would still be worth tracking down - one of the catchiest pieces of bubblegum psychedelic pop you'll ever hear anywhere.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New Fast Automatic Daffodils - Big

I had a complete technology meltdown yesterday. First my broadband, then my iPhone, and finally my electricity all went out on me, one after the other. Just one of those days I guess.

I'd meant to post this song yesterday anyway - can't really believe I haven't posted it yet, since it's one of my absolute favourites from the Madchester era. But it really sums up the kind of day I had.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Holly Beth Vincent - Dangerously

For most people, Holly Beth Vincent's main claim to fame is probably that she wrote the song "Tell That Girl to Shut Up" for her old band, Holly and the Italians, which was much later covered by Transvision Vamp. I didn't care much for the original (sort of a poor woman's "Rip Her to Shreds") and I have even less time for the cover version but for some reason it was a reasonably big hit so I guess I have to mention it here.

A lot of the rest of Holly Beth's stuff is quite good in an early-'80s new wave singer-songwriter sort of way. You know the type. This is her masterpiece, a contemplative and deceptively laid back-sounding piece of synth-funk with strange sporadic horn intrusions and probably her best vocal performance ever.

It appeared on the US version of her second album, from 1982, which was confusingly titled Holly and the Italians but credited to her alone.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Liechtenstein - Roses in the Park

Liechtenstein, despite their name, are not actually from Liechtenstein (is anybody actually from Liechtenstein?) They're from Sweden, but they sound a bit Scottish. Well, more specifically they sound a bit like the Shop Assistants. But that's OK.

This is a track from their 2009 debut album on Slumberland.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Go-Betweens - Man o' Sand to Girl o' Sea

There's always room for another Go-Betweens song on this blog. This was a 1983 single and has the distinction of kicking off with one of the best couplets Robert Forster's ever written, followed immediately by one of the worst lyrics ever written by anyone, ever. Have a listen and you'll know what I mean.

The song was re-recorded for the Spring Hill Fair album but this is the version you want.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Autumn Parade - White Sand

Another band whose entire recorded output was on the 1992 Expo1 compilation. Autumn Parade, I gather, were from the Cheshire area and had a sort of jangly psychedelic baggy sound along the lines of Spirea X or what the Soup Dragons were doing at the time. Actually better though. Not that that would be difficult.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Sound - Longest Days

Another very underrated song from a very underrated band, from their underrated masterpiece, the Shock of Daylight EP from 1984, which is very dark and depressing in a Heaven Up Here sort of way. Although shorter.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Room - A Shirt of Fire

A very This Charming Man-like track from a band whose obscurity continues to confound me. How was this not a massive hit?

It's from their 1984 second album In Evil Hour. Produced by Tom Verlaine, and well worth hunting down - there's plenty more good stuff where this came from.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Felt - Penelope Tree

An early (1983) Felt single when they were still on Cherry Red and hadn't yet added the organ. The vocals are unusually prominent for that era of Felt but otherwise it's fairly close to the style on the Crumbling the Antiseptic Beauty EP. Well, more of a pop song though.

I only found out recently that Penelope Tree was an actual person. I always thought it was like the Joshua tree or something.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

No Monster Club - The Last Bottle in the World

Here's some modern Irish lo-fi for you. Formerly known as Dublin Duck Dispensary, No Monster Club had the good sense to (a) change their name and (b) keep playing their best song, i.e., this one. The chorus has one of those lyrics that's delightfully profound in its utter pointlessness, and now that I've listened to it again I'll be humming it all day.

Dunno where they filmed the video, but it certainly wasn't anywhere around here.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Blondie - 11:59

Album track from Parallel Lines and the b-side to the "Heart of Glass" single. That was the first record I can remember buying and I loved it so much I wore it right out. Only this side, I mean. I don't think I even listened to the a-side very much.

What a great pop song it still is. There's just nothing about it not to love.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Lotus Eaters - Fishing Boat

Not the '80s Liverpudlians of "First Picture of You" fame. This was an American band (Boston, to be precise), active in the early 1990s, who managed only a few 7"s before disappearing.

This was a b-side to their first single, released on the Harriet label in 1992. It's a charming little blend of twee, '80s jangle-pop and what used to be called electric folk - that's probably the mandolin - with some of the purest and sweetest female vocals you'll ever hear. It's a pity they didn't stick around very long.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

New Order - Dreams Never End

Just put on Movement yesterday for the first time in ages and was blown away by this track all over again. It's hard to separate New Order's early music from the circumstances that led to their formation - under that name, I mean - and I'm not really sure how this would sound to me if I was hearing it for the first time without any clue about what preceded it. But with that history in mind, I find it so hauntingly beautiful, and almost innocent in its hesitancy. Everyone loathed the production on this record but in some ways the muddled sound is almost fitting, as it underscores the sense of bewilderment surrounding the band in those very early years.

The song starts the album off on a relatively high note; most of the rest of it sounds underdeveloped and you can sort of see why they turned away from this style not long after - they just weren't comfortable in it. I still find it almost mesmerising to listen to, though, even if I'm not entirely sure how much of that is the music itself and how much is to do with the events that brought it about.

From 1981.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dart - Sleepless

A band from San Francisco who recorded for Ché, releasing a handful of 7"s and an album in the mid-1990s. A sort of typically-American shoegazey folk, or maybe folky shoegaze, not a million miles from the likes of Galaxie 500.

This was their first single, from 1994. Field Mice cover on the b-side.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Velvet Underground - Jesus

It wouldn’t be my normal thing to post songs about Jesus here, but very few songs about Jesus are as utterly gorgeous as this one. At least I assume they aren’t. I have to admit, I wouldn’t really know.

It’s from the Velvets’ self-titled third album, which is fully of lovely little gems like this one – maybe not as groundbreaking as their previous releases, but a pure songwriting masterpiece in its own right. In a lot of ways I think it’s a more obvious indiepop ancestor than their other albums.

From 1969.

Monday, July 4, 2011

I'm So Hollow - Which Way...?

I'm So Hollow were a short-lived Sheffield post-punk band with a very limited catalog, some of which is really good in a Sheffield post-punk sort of way (think Artery, Clock DVA etc). Then again, some of it is awful. Fortunately there's little enough of it that it's easy to filter out the bad stuff.

This is a particularly enjoyable one from their lone album, 1981's Emotion/Sound/Motion.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Dangtrippers - Girl Who Knew Tomorrow

Thanks to Wilfully Obscure for this. The Dangtrippers were from Iowa City - that must have been tough - and released a couple albums of college radio-friendly power pop in the late 1980s. Their 1987 single "Incantation" was listenable if unexciting, but buried at the end of it, almost as an afterthought, was this gem of jangly Byrdsy guitars which almost places them more in line with the Paisley Underground scene (by then, of course, pretty much on its last legs). Great little track, anyway.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

La Sera - Never Come Around

More great stuff out of Brooklyn. Why wasn't it this cool when I lived there?

La Sera, whose self-titled debut album was released earlier this year, is yet another Vivian Girls-spinoff - this one being a solo project of bassist Katy Goodman. "Phil Spector-influenced lo-fi" might sound like a contradiction in terms, but that's really the only way I can describe it.

Warning: the video is seriously disgusting.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Close Lobsters - Let's Make Some Plans

Here's a deadly single from another C86 band, who really should have been mega-stars on the strength of this song alone. I remember actually thinking they just might do it with this one but oddly it didn't even end up being one of their higher indie chart placings, which is mad. I mean just listen to it. It's fecking great.

From 1987.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

McCarthy - Celestial City

Well it took a couple days and a number of not-very-pleasant phone exchanges with what passes for my ISP but I've finally got the home internet sorted...I think. If I disappear over the weekend, you'll know what happened.

Anyway, here's an unusually downbeat one from C86. But then McCarthy, as Revolutionary Communists, weren't exactly a cheerful lot. It's actually kind of surprising they were on C86 at all, in retrospect.

Malcolm Eden went on to Stereolab, who I always thought were kind of overrated.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Red Guitars - Good Technology

Sorry folks, same problems again yesterday. And probably for a while - it seems my home internet is well and truly banjaxed. Hopefully, until that's fixed, I'll be able to shirk the time I need in the office to keep this blog up-to-date.

I've been meaning to post some Red Guitars for a while and now's as ironic a time as ever to put up this song. Their debut single, from 1983.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


...for yesterday's unexpected absence. I was too flat-out at work to post, and when I got home my internet was out. No problem, I thought, I have a new iPhone! I'll just go online from there! So I tried to log in only to get an error message saying: I'm not old enough to visit this site. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Proper service will resume in a few hours.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wild Nothing - Chinatown

Wild Nothing is Jack Tatum, a young Virginian who got his career off to a start with a Kate Bush cover. You have to admire the courage.

His 2010 album Gemini displays all the right influences, C86, shoegaze, '80s janglepop, Sarah. There's also a bit of ambient in there, but the effects are used to enhance rather than envelop, in a way that keeps the focus on the pop element of his songs, where it belongs. It's really nice.

This one sounds like Orange Cake Mix in a blender with OMD.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Polak - 2 Minutes 45

Polak are the band founded by the Fijalkowski brothers after the breakups of Adorable and the Bardots. Unfortunately they never reached the heights of either of those two bands; much of their material sounds like it came out of the sessions for Adorable's inferior second album, Fake. But I'm willing to cut the brothers some slack for the indignity they've suffered by having their wonderful earlier recordings go so grievously ignored.

This was their first, and best, single, from 1998.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sweet Jane - You're Making This Hard

Here's another current Irish band, this one from Dublin. Sweet Jane wear their influences on their sleeves, and certainly wouldn't win any originality awards, but they have such impeccable taste that winds up being more of a compliment than you might think it would be. They're like a really really good cover band, except with (mostly) their own songs. And I've never seen them do a bad gig.

This was a 2009 single, and sounds exactly like the Jesus and Mary Chain (+ girl vocals) in their mellower moments. Which is ok by me.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Kowalski - Take Care, Take Flight

Kowalski are a Belfast-based indie band who sound sort of like an electro-pop Death Cab. Which isn’t a bad thing at all.

This is the title track from an EP they self-released last year.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Prefab Sprout - Appetite

More nostalgia. I was surprised to discover this was the least successful single from Steve McQueen, since it seems to be everyone's favourite song of theirs. I guess that just goes to show you ... something.

From 1985.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Stiff Little Fingers - Barbed Wire Love

While I'm in a nostalgic mood, here's a great track from Belfast's finest. Some of the puns in this song are the stuff of genius; others... not so much.

Originally released on their 1979 debut Inflammable Material. Not sure when or where this performance took place.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Squeeze - Another Nail in my Heart

Many many years ago someone in Melody Maker (I think) described this as "a beautiful, underrated song by the ugly, overrated Squeeze". I remember being really surprised by that because I'd never heard of a critic before that didn't like Squeeze. They always struck me as sort of the quintessential critic's band.

Me, I wouldn't listen to a whole album of theirs, but I do enjoy a lot of the singles. And yes, this is a particularly nice one.

From 1980.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pale Saints - Little Hammer

A track I've always loved from Pale Saints' wonderful 1990 debut album, The Comforts of Madness. Short and...well maybe "sweet" isn't the word, it's kind of haunting really. Ian Masters apparently wrote it after learning he had a heart murmur.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Kind - The House (A Dream)

A lovely little piece of twee indiepop with heavenly female vocals. There's very little information, well actually none at all, available on this band and unfortunately they don't have a name conducive to Googling. All I can tell you is that they appeared on two split 7"s and the 1991 Waaaaah! compilation from Bring On Bull, all of which can be downloaded here.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Catchers - Cotton Dress

Another defunct Irish band. For a very brief period Catchers, from Derry, looked like they might do what almost no twee band has done and crossed over into some degree of mainstream-alternative success but alas, it wasn't to be. Their 1994 debut album Mute was just a little too slickly produced and I think it cost them some of their early followers without attracting sufficient interest from the rest of the world. Pity, because it was pretty good.

This was its first single.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

JJ72 - Long Way South

I would call JJ72 a bit of a guilty pleasure, except that I never feel guilty about my listening habits. On principle.

I'm not sure if anyone outside of Ireland knows them. They were all the rage here for a short period at the beginning of the last decade, having an oddly charismatic singer with the voice of Brian Placebo, the face of a 12-year-old and some really nice lyrics. Musically they tended to venture into bland alterna-rawk territory but still, they were a hard band not to have a sneaking fondness for.

Sadly, they split up after two albums. Their singer's in a new band, and he's a lot less charming now. But I still like this one a lot.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Birthday Party - Jennifer's Veil

While channel surfing over the weekend I stumbled across a Nick Cave live performance and spent the next hour glued to the TV in fascination. I've only seen Nick once, almost 25 years ago, and forgot how utterly compelling he can be.

The Birthday Party, I'm a little more iffy about, for probably obvious reasons. But toward the end of their career they made two tremendous EPs, which were conveniently re-released as a single disc, Mutiny/The Bad Seed.

This track is from Mutiny, which I believe was the final Birthday Party recording, and you can really hear the Nick Cave solo style emerging from it. It's one of those great epic haunting ballads he does so well - one of my favourite Nick Cave songs ever.

1983, I think.