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.