Monday, January 31, 2011

dEUS - Little Arithmetics

Probably the closest thing dEUS have ever had to a pure pop song. And what an utterly delightful little tune it is. Even my old flatmate who always said she didn't like dEUS couldn't resist tapping her toes to this one, when she thought I wasn't looking. (Oh yes you did, Angela. I saw you.)

It's from their second album, 1996's In a Bar, Under the Sea, easily the best thing they've ever done.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Allen Clapp and his Orchestra - She Grins and Waves Goodbye

Allen Clapp is sort of an American Martin Newell, though not quite as off-the-wall and far less prolific. (With regard to the latter point, I'd say "give him time", but he doesn't seem to have released anything for about five years.) By that, I mean he's someone who's put out a number of clever and charming twee/indiepop records that seem to have been put together largely in his bedroom; his "orchestra" may have included actual band members, but one suspects they were mostly in his head.

This is a track from his 1994 debut album, released on the marvelous Bus Stop label. It reminds me a bit of the Swirlies.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Clouds - Anthem

Australian band from the early '90s who put out a bunch of records on Red Eye (didn't they all?). There was nothing particularly distinctive about them, but they made pleasant radio-friendly pop music that could have been a lot more commercially successful than it was. Outside of Australia, I mean.

This was a 1992 single.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cause Co-Motion! - I Lie Awake

Yet another wonderful Brooklyn band of the past few years. The high price of real estate in Manhattan has certainly been a boon to the Kings County music scene.

Cause Co-Motion!'s recipe is one part lo-fi indiepop, one part '70s punk, run through a blender for about 1.5 to 2 minutes. Yes, it's that good.

This was a 2008 single.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Gun Club - Brother and Sister

The Gun Club came out of the LA punk scene of the early 1980s but always stood out from the crowd, thanks to Jeffrey Lee Pierce's obsession with traditional American music (at its darkest). Think a less cartoony Cramps, or Nick Cave on coke instead of heroin. Some of it I find almost unlistenable, but when they got it right, it was tremendously powerful stuff.

Pierce died in the mid-1990s, apparently from a brain hemorrhage, though it's hard not to suspect that drugs had something to do with it.

This is from their second album, 1982's Miami.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Sugarcubes - Birthday

I never really got the hype around the Sugarcubes. Well, that's not quite true. I got it, in the sense that I intellectually understand the appeal of a band from an otherworldly country like Iceland with a certifiably-insane-yet-cute-as-a-button female singer (with an admittedly massive voice). But their music...meh. Average alternapop, most of it.

"Birthday" was a genuinely great single, though. Here's the Icelandic version.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Blur - Top Man

From 1995's The Great Escape. It's kind of a silly song, like a lot of Blur from this era - well ok, like a lot of Blur full stop - but also undeniably catchy. I'll be humming it the rest of the day.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Associates - Even Dogs in the Wild

Another brilliant Associates track, this one from their 1980 debut album, The Affectionate Punch. A different version of this was released a couple years later on a flexidisc issued by Flexipop magazine. Remember Flexipop? What a great little magazine that was. Until it basically became the publishing wing of the Batcave. I admit I still bought it though.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Bird and the Bee - Again and Again

The title track (sort of) and second single from TB&TB's 2006 debut EP. I remember being surprised at how good it was, because even though I really liked the first single - the wonderfully-named "Fucking Boyfriend" - I thought it had "novelty band" and "one-hit wonder" written all over it. Actually, I still think they're a bit of a novelty band. But as long as they keep putting out fantastic records, who cares?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Partition - Can't Dance Won't Dance

Don't know too much about these guys but they're from London and they've put out a number of records over the past decade on their own Pop Might label. They have sort of a C86, Wedding Present, TV Personalities thing going, which around these parts counts as a recommendation.

This was from their 2005 EP Hear, There and Everywhere.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Cudgels - Summer Colours

An early '90s indiepop band from some godforsaken midlands town in England. They only put out one album and a handful of singles, and sadly never got much notice for them. But they were really pretty good.

You can download the album, along with all other Waaah! releases, for free from here. Thanks to the anonymous reader who tipped me off about that.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Replacements - Within Your Reach

The Replacements' transition from garage amateurs to college radio superstars wasn't exactly a smooth one. Their third release, 1983's Hootenanny, is a bit of a schizophrenic mess, in which the band tries on a number of styles without, it must be said, really succeeding at almost any of them. The music's mostly pretty sloppy and some of the lyrics are really juvenile - which was pretty much standard Replacements fare in the early 1980s but to my ears, anyway, had begun to go stale by this point.

All of which makes this particular track such a stunner. Dropped into the middle of the album, it sounds completely out of place, almost like a different band entirely - with an unexpected drum machine and even more unexpected tender, heartfelt lyrics. You actually have to wonder what it's doing here, on this record. I'm not sure the whole band (much less their existing fan base) was impressed.

Fans of 1980s teen films will remember it from one the most underrated and sadly forgotten examples of that genre, 1989's Say Anything.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Go-Betweens - Spring Rain

Robert Forster's songs were always a little bit edgier than Grant McLennan's, but this one is pretty much just a straight-up pop tune - and it's a classic. I don't really see the appeal in spring rain myself, but maybe that's because where I live, you'd catch pneumonia going out dressed like this for most of the "spring".

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

... and we're back!

It's been a long month, and I've really missed this blog! But fortunately, I had a very productive break, and have dealt with most of the things that were causing me grief for the past few months. Hopefully it will all be back to normal from here on out.

Thanks to those of you who continued to check in from time to time ... you know who you are ;)

It's a dreadful shame to have to come back to an RIP. But I can't think of anything more appropriate to post today. So here is an early single from Broadcast, whose singer Trish Keenan died of pneumonia last week.