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.