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.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bear - Never Die

Bear is one of the many projects of Sheffielder Chris Trout, who used to be in AC Temple and also worked with Ian Masters in Spoonfed Hybrid. They put out a handful of albums in the late '90s and early '00s which I'd like to describe as "underrated" but in truth I think they mainly suffered from Bear themselves not really knowing what they wanted them to be. Lots of frustrated talent and potential in them, they're worth checking out though ultimately always a bit disappointing.

This was from an early (1995) self-titled EP.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Die Blinzelbeeren - Entschuldigung

Shout-out to 7iete Pulgadas for this one. I can't read German or Spanish, so I can't tell you anything about this band except that they're sort of like the German Pastels and, well, isn't that enough? It's things like this that make me want to quit my job and become an Indie Anthropologist, travelling around the world to record all the great bands who will otherwise be lost to history. Who wants to give me a grant?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Phil Wilson - Ten Miles

Former singer of the June Brides, one of indiepop's great could-have-beens. His solo career never really took off, which I stubbornly insist on believing had something to do with his very unfashionable decision to release records under his own name rather than forming (or at least pretending to form) a new band. The "solo artist" thing just wasn't really done at the time.

This was his first post-Brides single, from 1987. Not an official video.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Lush - Nothing Natural

Here's another one from Spooky, the first and strongest single from that album. Actually, I think this was one of their best songs ever - it's certainly stood the test of time better than most.

Friday, June 10, 2011

O Emperor - Only Comes to Pass

A band from Waterford in the southeast of Ireland who are often compared to the likes of Mercury Rev and Grizzly Bear. Not exactly my sort of thing but I have to admit they do it as well as anyone else does. Better than many.

This is from a 2010 EP.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Cure - The Walk

A truly great Cure single from 1983. This was their first proper hit, both here and in Britain, and is indelibly linked in my mind with that particular summer.

The "baby" in this video always creeped me out a little bit.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Frank and Walters - Colours

The Frank and Walters are much loved in Ireland but seem to be very little known abroad. I base this judgment on having seen them twice on the same tour in the US where they played to a full house in a city with a large Irish expat population, and then to about a dozen people (including the venue's staff) in another city without one. Maybe that's just the US, though. Their radio-friendly indie guitar pop is always enjoyable without ever being really spectacular, though they have had a number of genuinely great tunes, like this one from the 1996 album The Grand Parade. I ♥ this song.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bel Canto - Dreaming Girl

Norway's Bel Canto are sort of a more electronic version of the Cocteau Twins. I'm not a huge Cocteau Twins fan, nor particularly into electronic music, so when their debut album White-Out Conditions was released in 1987 I listened to it once or twice and then forgot about it. And haven't paid any attention to anything they've released since.

I found a copy of it in a bargain bin recently and decided to give it another whirl and, well, it's still not really my thing. But this one's kind of nice.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Sea Urchins - Please Rain Fall

I must be mad posting this on the first sunny day we've had in Dublin for a while, but I'm just in that sort of mood. Not for rain, but for a Big Epic Song like this one. The Sea Urchins were always really good at this sort of thing, even if their singer really didn't have a note in his head.

I'm escaping this country for the bank holiday weekend, so see you back on Tuesday.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Velocity Girl - I Don't Care If You Go

More American shoegaze. This was Velocity Girl's first single, dating from 1990 and featuring Bridget Cross on vocals. Her syrupy-sweet (if not entirely on key) voice is a nice counterpart to the very lo-fi sound, and this recording has a bit of an edge to it that the band lost when Bridget left to join Unrest and was replaced with the more technically gifted but, IMHO, blander Sarah Shannon. In any case, it's a fine early example of the twee-meets-shoegaze sound that was to become Slumberland's trademark.

Re-released on a 1993 compilation EP, which is the cover image you see on this video.