Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Shine! - I Just Can't Celebrate Today

The sum total of what I know about this band is what appears on the YouTube page where I got this video from:

Shine! was a late 80's english pop band from Norfolk. They released a flexi in 1989 named "Millions And Millions" on Baz McHat Records. Then, their song "I Just Can't Celebrate Today" was featured on the "Everlasting Happiness" compilation.

If anyone has any more info, by all means please share it. In the meantime, enjoy the tune. It would be hard not to, the (misleadingly) downbeat title notwithstanding.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Working Week - Venceremos

Here's a real blast from the past. I'd completely forgotten about this one! Working Week were one of a number of British jazz-pop groups active in the early to mid 1980s. It wasn't a genre I was terribly enamoured with, but at the time I thought everything Tracey Thorn touched was gold so of course I had to love this song (that's her on vocals, along with Robert Wyatt).

Actually, it's still pretty good, even if it's nothing like anything else I ever listen to. And the video is pure retro class.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Stellastarr - Lost in Time

I certainly wouldn't be a fan of everything Stellastarr (or stellastarr*, if they insist) have done but I have to give them the nod for this track. Mainly because it does actually succeed in what so many of this genre fail miserably at, that is, actually being the big epic blockbuster of a song it wants to be. Credit where it's due.

It's from their second album Harmonies for the Haunted, from 2005.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

New Amusement - Lights Go Down

Dublin band on the wonderful Any Other City label. This one comes from their debut EP, 2008's Any Port in a Storm, and it is pure pop bliss which I don't think I will ever grow tired of. Nice video too.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Orange Juice - What Presence?!

Fab song from The Orange Juice, their final album (from 1984). It's a bit of an odd one even by Orange Juice standards, with its twangy guitars and gospelly vocals at the end there - an ambitious track that could have been really horrible if it didn't work, which fortunately it does. Some of Edwyn's best rhyming, too.

Friday, November 25, 2011

REM - Time After Time

From the 1984 Reckoning album. A nice, late night, mellow, relaxing-at-home sort of song. If you're going to smoke stuff to REM - not that I'm necessarily endorsing that, mind - this is the song to do it to.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Seeping into Cinemas - Chipped Teeth

Dublin band whose debut album 100,000 Times was finally released this year to great local acclaim. Shy, quiet folk-tinged indiepop. The only negative thing about their music is that every time I see them I get really annoyed because I can hardly hear them play over people talking. People who talk at gigs by bands like this should be shot.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Violet Pets - Violets are Blue

Very young London band from the last decade who made records in their bedsits and gave them away. Apparently. Really liked everything I heard of theirs.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Three O'Clock - Marjorie Tells Me

Since I started doing this blog, I've been very pleased to see how many Three O'Clock fans there still are out there (judging by the number of people who end up here by searching for them). They were one of my favourite bands as a teenager - I was actually a member of their fan club, and I didn't join many fan clubs - but I could really count on my fingers the number of people I knew who seemed to have ever heard of them. It's heartening to know that I'm really not alone in my Three O'Clock love, even if this knowledge is about 25 years overdue.

This one's from the 1983 Baroque Hoedown EP. Not one of their better-known tunes, but isn't it just delightful?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Band of Holy Joy - What the Moon Saw

Heard this song the other day for the first time in a good while and was struck again, as I always am, by what a wallop it packs in its (not quite) three minutes. Especially considering how slow it starts off. BoHJ are an acquired taste, no doubt, but what a reward you get for acquiring it.

From 1989.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

OMD - Souvenir

Another gem from early OMD, the band that always seemed to me to do the best job of contradicting Luddites' claims about synth-pop. You really couldn't credibly argue that electronic music was inherently emotionless in the face of stuff like this.

It was their most successful single ever, which is kind of surprising because I think they had a lot more obvious "hits" than this, but I guess that just shows how much better taste mainstream music listeners had thirty years ago.

It's from their third album, Architecture & Morality, from 1981.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Lilys - The Night Sun Over San Juan

Speaking of DC-based Slumberland bands - well, Lilys used to be one, but that was a lifetime (and a number of musical styles) ago. It's rare for a band to last as long as they have and keep putting out records and actually get better, but I genuinely think their last album - 2006's Everything Wrong Is Imaginary - actually does outshine most of their earlier releases. It's miles ahead of the MBV-wannabeism of their early years, less self-indulgent than their "Nanny in Manhattan" era and while there's still a strong psychedelic influence, it's really the closest thing they've ever done to a pop record and they wear that style particularly well.

I hope they haven't called it a day at this point. I'd love to hear what else they might have in store for us.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lorelei - Sometimes...

B-side to "The Bitter Air", an early (1991) Slumberland 7" from this DC band who never recorded anything like this again (they lost their singer shortly after its release; she would later reappear in Racecar, who've made a couple appearances on this blog). The a-side is a slow, pretty atmospheric track but it's always been this one that's really grabbed me: a Perfect Pop tune with jangly guitars and heavenly female vocals. Where could you go wrong?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Bongos - Splinters

Another track from the Bongos' 1985 album, The Beat Hotel. This album got mixed reviews but I remember this song being widely acclaimed as one of the stand-out tracks and I would certainly agree. It actually strikes me as being like something the Sound might have done if they were more on the power-pop and less on the post-punk end of things. Wonderful, in any case.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Public Image Ltd - Public Image

I never took to PiL, despite being a big fan of early post-punk generally. I'm not really sure why. I still find John Lydon one of the most interesting musical personalities around, so maybe I should go back and give his band another listen.

Anyway, here's one I always did like: their debut single, from 1978.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Marmite Sisters - Trevor

Leicester C86ish band who were around for about ten years but were remarkably unproductive, which might be attributed to the fact that they don't seem to have really taken themselves very seriously as a band. You can kind of tell this from their music (that's not meant as a put-down). Oh, and they weren't really sisters.

This is from a 1991 flexi.

Monday, November 14, 2011

April Showers - Abandon Ship

Another 1980s Glasgow band, but one considerably less well-known than yesterday's entrant. Probably because this was (apparently) the only thing they ever released. It's a lovely piece of '80s new-wave pop, full of twee charm despite its slick production (you can thank Beatrice Colin's wonderfully pure, clear vocals for that. The charm, I mean, not the production). An overlooked gem of a record.

From 1984.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Orange Juice - Flesh of My Flesh

From the 1982 Rip it Up album. This one doesn't seem to get mentioned very often in lists of Classic Orange Juice Songs, but that's not necessarily a bad thing - it means that every time I hear it I get a bit of a jolt at how fucking amazing it actually is. Of course, I'm probably ruining that now by posting this, but if it means I'm helping someone else experience the sheer delight of it for the first time, then I suppose it's worth it. You're welcome.

Brilliant lyrics in this one, too, from start to finish. Now that I think about it, why isn't this considered one of their classics?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire

You might think I'm pushing the envelope with this one but I was listening to it this morning and it struck me that it has all the qualities of a great indiepop tune: it's short (really short), catchy as hell and full of snappy li'l couplets. So onto this blog it goes. Anyway, I have a sneaking suspicion that most of my readers know what I mean already, since you all have such good taste.


Friday, November 11, 2011

The Hit Parade - In Gunnersbury Park

One of about a billion singles released by this London band. This one, from 1991, was on Sarah, though you'd probably guess that within the first ten seconds even if I hadn't told you.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Hermit Crabs - I Don't Know How

Glasgow band who walk the fine line between indie-pop and indie-folk. I bet they get compared a lot to Camera Obscura.

This is from a 2009 EP.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Thrift Shop - Begins (On the Fly Mix)

The Thrift Shop was a side project of Neal from Philadelphia indiepoppers the Skywriters/Snow Fairies. I don't think they did much besides contribute to a couple of Red Square compilation albums, including this one from 2002.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Eggs - John's Bar Mitzvah

Funny little DC band, around in the early-to-mid 1990s but having little in common with the Slumberland crowd dominating the local music scene at the time. I suppose you could call them indie art-rock.

Their debut album Bruiser from 1992 was a mixed bag but here's a nice track from it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Ramona

Here's another example of a band whose b-sides are better than a lot of bands' a-sides. In fact, in this case the song is marginally better than its own a-side... though it's a close call. It was on the "Young Adult Friction" 7" (2009), and it makes me swoon.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Slowdive - Beach Song

I've never been a fan of Slowdive - most of the time I just find them, well, boring. But this song kicks. It's from a 1992 flexi.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Vivian Girls - I Can't Stay

It occurred to me last night that although I've posted plenty of bands that are either linked to the Vivian Girls or are like the Vivian Girls, I've never posted an actual Vivian Girls song before. Silly me.

Here's a live version of a 2008 single. It's interesting how close to Talulah Gosh they sound, without all the Spectoresque studio embellishment of their recordings.

Friday, November 4, 2011

#poundsign# - Matinee Sunday

Great San Francisco indiepop band with boy/girl vocals, active in the late 1990s. This is from their second album Underneath the Marquee, which was released in 2000 and seems to be the last thing they ever released.

They remind me a lot of Belle & Sebastian on this one, which is certainly no bad thing.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

David Bowie – Kooks

Always loved this track from the 1971 album Hunky Dory, which is one of my favourite Bowie albums. It was written for his then infant son Zowie. The kids in my own extended family always seem to enjoy it, too.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Chills - Rain

I can't believe I haven't posted this yet. It's a track from the Chills' first proper album, 1987's Brave Words, and it's just...perfect.

And when I say "perfect" I mean in the sense of it being an utterly superb little pop song, not in the sense of it being lyrically entirely appropriate for what's been going on outside my window all day, although that is also the case.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cashier No 9 - The Lighthouse Will Lead You Out

Jaunty little number from this Belfast band who have been getting a fair amount of positive media attention lately. They remind me a bit of the Charlatans on this track, which comes from their recently-released debut album To the Death of Fun.