Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Smashing Orange - My Deranged Heart

Swervedriver-esque shoegaze from the tiny US state of Delaware. I saw this band once or twice in the early 1990s and they were pretty good, though never as good as they seemed to think they were.

This was from a 1991 self-titled mini-album on Native.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Rank and File - Rank and File

A cowpunk band with the emphasis on the "cow", even though they were from LA (have you ever seen a cow in LA?) and featured alumni of notable punk bands the Dils and the Nuns. A lot of their debut album, Sundown, is just too country for my tastes; this song leans pretty heavily in that direction too, but it's catchy enough anyway.

From 1982.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Spinning Jennys - I'd Laugh If Your Head Exploded

Apart from a split flexi with the Fat Tulips, the entire recorded output of Norfolk's Spinning Jennys consists of a single 7" released in 1991 on the Tea Time label, which saw the few people who ever heard it lump them in with the baggy crowd. But the 7" also includes this wonderful little two-minute venture into indiepop-punk which wouldn't have been out of place on C86. Would have liked to hear more of this kind of thing from them.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Super Furry Animals - Inaugural Trams

I remember how excited we all were about SFA when they first appeared in the mid-1990s but I doubt any of us expected that a decade and a half later they would still be putting out records as strong as this. The whole Dark Days/Light Years album (2009) is excellent, but this track in particular is remarkable for how effortlessly it plants itself under your skin.

There's an element of the novelty song here, as there always is with SFA, but again they manage to transcend that and turn it into what is simply an irresistible piece of electro-bubblegum pop (with suitably insane lyrics). In the hands of a lesser band it would probably be just as infectious, but not in a good way.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Inspiral Carpets - She Comes in the Fall

Always really fond of this one from the Inspirals, who to this day I am convinced were much better than Happy Mondays. Heresy to some, I know.

From their debut album Life, from 1990.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Talulah Gosh - In Love for the Very First Time

This one originally appeared on a cassette comp in 1987 called I Dream of Jeannie, but you can get it on the Backwash compilation. Don't blink or you'll miss it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lush - Untogether

A track from Lush's first proper full-length, Spooky, from 1992. It's a disappointing album overall; some of the songwriting isn't really up to scratch and it all gets buried in Robin Guthrie's overly, erm, lush production. This is a nice little offbeat pop tune though, and a good foretaste of the direction their sound was going in.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Big Star - Stroke It Noel

Here's one from Big Star's Sister Lovers album that you don't hear an awful lot about, but it's such a lovely, sad, haunting song. You'd be afraid to turn down his request for a dance, he sounds like he might top himself if you say no.

Love the strings on this one too.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Windmills - Boxing Glove

Essex boys the Windmills emerged in the C86 era but only managed one single before disbanding - then reappeared ten years later, still sounding like an '80s Creation band. Of the Blow-Up, Jazz Butcher variety. Which wasn't necessarily my favourite Creation subgenre. But wasn't terrible either.

This is from their second album, 2001's Sunlight.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Bluebells - Everybody's Somebody's Fool

Another piece of irresistible two-and-a-half minute jangle pop from one of Scotland's finest. This track was one of their first releases, on a flexidisc given away with their 1982 debut single "Forever More", and was then given a proper outing on the Sisters LP. A couple of people I knew at the time reckoned that this was their best song. It definitely wasn't far off it.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Bats - Smoking Her Wings

Not much time today (I have a rapture to prepare for ☺) so here's a little Flying Nun to hold you over. From the Bats' second album, The Law of Things from 1990.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Duncan Browne - On the Bombsite

Here's a real little treasure that not many know about. Duncan Browne was an English singer-songwriter who started off in a very laidback psychedelic folk vein, releasing a debut album in 1968 that might be described as Nick Drake singing Chaucer poems over a baroque orchestra. Or maybe not. Some of it is a little OTT, but this particular track is a lovely little pop song that really should have been a hit.

His music took a much more mainstream turn during the '70s and he might be slightly better known for some of that, such as his recordings with Metro, whose "Criminal World" was covered on Bowie's Let's Dance album. I don't find much of his work in that period very interesting.

He died in the early '90s, shortly after the debut was re-released to apparently little more notice than had greeted it the first time around.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Colourbox - The Moon is Blue

Colourbox's sample-heavy electronic dance music was an odd fit for 4ad in the mid '80s, and their lone, self-titled album wasn't one of my favourites of the era - but then sample-heavy electronic dance music rarely is. Which of course is not their fault. People who are generally into this sort of thing seemed to think it was a masterpiece and I'm sure they're better placed to judge than I am. Aren't I being very diplomatic today?

I bought it on the strength of this track, a modern torch song sort of along the lines of the Style Council's exquisite "The Paris Match" (though Lorita Grahame's formidable voice can't match the aesthetic qualities of Tracey Thorn's). Alas, nothing else on the album sounds remotely like it.

From 1985.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Psychedelic Furs - Love My Way

Here's a real nostalgia one for all you '80s kids. Forever Now, their 1982 third album, was where the Furs really shed their punk and post-punk roots and settled firmly into that genre that was slowly ceasing to be "new wave" but never really found another name that everyone could agree on. It was the Britpop of the '80s, I suppose.

Having said that, this particular song was as new wave as anything they ever did. And oh how I loved it! I had the 7" and it skipped right at the start of the chorus after the second verse and to this day, every time I hear the song I still subconsciously expect it to skip at that point. Which is how you know you really loved a record. Even today I'm still awed by what a great tune this was. One of the best singles of the era, definitely.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Red House Painters - New Jersey

I never really got into Red House Painters in the way some of my friends did. In part, I put that down to a residual suspicion of Mark Kozelek, which may not be entirely fair. Some of their music, in fairness, really is quite exquisitely beautiful, if a bit... self-indulgent.

In 1993 they released two self-titled albums, both of which contained different versions of this track. I'm apparently the only person in the world who prefers this one, the more upbeat of the two, from the second of the albums (their third overall). But judge for yourself - the first version is here.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Felt - A Wave Crashed on Rocks

A lot of Felt fans will tell you that Forever Breathes the Lonely Word was their best album. It's certainly far more accessible than any other, sort of like Lloyd Cole with organ, maybe. Personally I still prefer their Cherry Red era but if you're going to pick up something from the Creation years, and you should, it simply has to be between this and Poem of the River.

This one's a particular favourite of mine.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

That Petrol Emotion - Swamp

A darker but more solid record than its predecessor, 1987's Babble was an utterly magnificent collection of postpunk-influenced '80s guitar pop-rock which helped make the Petrols darlings of both the critics and the dancefloors, here as well as in Britain (I'm not sure many of their admirers there read the liner notes or understood what the songs were about, but never mind). It was absolutely one of my favourite albums of the year and in fact I was a bit obsessive about them at the time. But it still holds up remarkably well almost 25 years later.

This was the opening track, and it was one of those songs that as soon as it began you knew you were in for a monster of an album. Although never a single, it definitely had its impact; when they played in Dublin a year or two ago a number of punters (myself included) were heard after the gig lamenting the fact that this wasn't on the setlist. Here's a live clip from the early '90s which does a pretty good job of showing why.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pavement - Gold Soundz

Pavement might have come to the world's attention for the mildly abrasive stylings of their debut album, but this track, from the 1994 follow-up Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, is really just a gentle pop song, which could have been a massive hit if, erm, well I guess if the listening public had any taste. (Sorry if that sounds overly harsh, but I have been watching the Eurovision semis all week.) Actually, it reminds me of something the Replacements might have done after they "matured"...but much cooler. Maybe the fear of a comparison like that explains why they felt the need to lower the tone with this silly video.

Lovely song, anyway.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Apologies ...

... for my unexpected absence yesterday. Actually, I was here, but Blogger was in read-only mode for about 24 hours.

Posting is finally back, and now YouTube is banjaxed.

Hopefully normal service will be resumed tomorrow. In the meantime, go listen to the Velvet Underground, or something.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hunters and Collectors - Talking to a Stranger

Australian post-punk from the '80s. They were sort of in a Moodists, Laughing Clowns vein, though with a bit more Krautrock influence thrown in (they took their name from a Can song). Not indiepop in the slightest, and not always my cup of tea, but worth listening to on your darker days.

This is probably their best known track. Outside Australia, anyway.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Monday, May 9, 2011

The dB's - Moving In Your Sleep

I've said before that I don't really get the love for the dB's but I have to admit this one is really nice. It has kind of a Sister Lovers thing going on. You don't hear enough of that album from most Big Star-influenced bands.

From their debut, 1981's Stands for Decibels.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Frankie Rose - Thee Only One

I can see that haven't posted anything recent in a while, so here's a 2009 single from ex-Vivian Girl/Crystal Stilt/Dum-Dum Girl Frankie Rose. (What a pedigree!) It's pretty much what you'd expect, which is to say, a great piece of bubbly fuzzy guitar pop. On Slumberland.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Fun Boy Three - Summer of '82

The B-side to their cover of "Summertime" (yes, that "Summertime"). It's very much in keeping with the style of their first album, which is to say still fairly Specials-like.

To this day, I can't ever look at strawberries and cream without this running through my head.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Julian Cope - Kolly Kibber's Birthday

A wonderful track from his debut solo album, 1984's World Shut Your Mouth (which did not include the song of the same name, and was all the better for it). In typical Julian style I don't really have any idea what it's all about but it's a far more somber and brooding track than the title would suggest.

This is really Julian Cope at his best - a far rarer specimen than it ought to be.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Coast - Now That You Know Me

Also-ran Brit-poppers of the mid-1990s. They were actually really good live, but their recordings weren't really up to much which is probably why you've most likely never heard of them.

I think this was the closest thing they had to a hit, from 1996.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ultra Vivid Scene - Crash

This wouldn't have been one of my favourite UVS songs back in the day but I've developed a new appreciation for it lately. They might have been known as a shoegaze band but this is closer to classic '80s new wave than anything else.

From their 1988 self-titled debut album.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Sweetest Ache - Briaris

The Sweetest Ache were one of Sarah's underachievers: the quality of their output never really matched the quantity, and too many of their songs sounded like minor album tracks, even the A-sides. Basically I think they just didn't really have the songwriting skills to cut it. Which is a shame, because I always wanted to like them more.

So how they managed to come up with this astonishing thing of beauty is a bit of a mystery. It's not just the female vocals, although they would improve anything in the band's catalogue; the song itself sounds like nothing else they ever recorded. In fact, it sounds like almost nothing else in the world.

Simply gorgeous.

It's from their 1991 debut album Jaguar.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Mabuses - In the Long Run

The best way to describe London's Mabuses would be Syd Barrett fronting the Monochrome Set. That's a bit simplistic, obviously, but it does a good job of capturing their quirky/arty psychedelic pop sound. They released two albums in the early '90s, disappeared for yonks and then resurfaced a couple years ago. Not sure what they're up to now, if anything.

This is a relatively straightforward (by their standards) pop piece from their self-titled 1991 debut.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Animation - Where It Rains All Days

A wonderful little treasure that escaped the notice of virtually everyone when it was released in 1984, even though it fit in perfectly with the kind of vaguely '60s-inspired guitar pop that was all the rage on US college radio at the time. Their lone release (as far as I can tell), a five-song EP, was produced by the singer of the Smithereens and is very similar stylistically to that band. Actually, I never really cared much for the Smithereens, but they never wrote a song this good.

The rest of the EP is meh, but if the quality of this track tempts you (and why wouldn't it) you can get the whole thing from Wilfully Obscure.