Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Brighter - Looks Like Rain

An unusually upbeat number from Brighter, most of whose material was much more on the soft and fluffy end of the indiepop spectrum. Maybe since this one was on a label called Sturm und Drang instead of their usual Sarah they thought they should ratchet it up a bit. Or maybe not.

Anyway, it's one of the b-sides to the 1990 "Next Summer" flexi. The video appears to be some randomer's family photos.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Mayfields - Seasons Pass

Another great tune from the long-lost Mayfields, sounding very much like the Razorcuts here. I think you will agree it's a dreadful shame they didn't leave us with more before they disappeared.

This appeared on the K7 compilation Somethings Burning in Paradise, from 1988.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Adorable - Sunshine Smile

Adorable's first and best-known single. It wasn't one of my favourites of theirs, but as b-list shoegaze hits go, I think it's aged better than a lot of its contemporaries. I still maintain they would have been taken more seriously if they hadn't combined such a twee-sounding band name with a twee-sounding title for the first song anyone ever heard of theirs.

From 1992.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Kate Bush - Hounds of Love

The thing I really like about this song is that it manages to be a supreme accomplishment without much obvious effort, like I'm not sure Kate and her band even fully grasped themselves what an amazing piece of work they were creating. Contrast with "Wuthering Heights" which, though I love that too, does have the air of "trying very hard" about it.

I remember when this album was released - God, I'm old - and this wasn't what I would have considered one of its highlights, based on either my own opinion or the songs that seemed to get noticed from it. "Running Up That Hill", "The Big Sky", "Cloudbusting" - those were everywhere, but this one barely registered at the time. Isn't it funny how often those turn out to be your favourites?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Whipping Boy - Twinkle

Whipping Boy are one of those classic Irish alternative bands who people on this island get all misty-eyed thinking about but I bet hardly anyone outside Ireland knows who they are. See also: Microdisney. I don't think they were great and I have real qualms about some of their lyrics, but on the basis of their strongest material (like this song) you'd have to agree they deserved wider acclaim than they ever received.

This is from their second album, Heartworm, from 1995.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Young Prisms - Feel Fine

Blissed-out fuzz from San Francisco. Nice to listen to in the right frame of mind, though I think they're best taken either in small doses, or with a significant amount of drugs (if you're so inclined).

This is from their debut album, last year's Friends for Now.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New Amusement - Jamboree

One of my favourite Irish tracks of the past couple years, this is a super-high-octane one with chiming, blistering guitars (that's always a good combination) and the type of anthemic melody that you rarely get in a song at this pace. It was all over the radio a while ago, so I'm surprised there doesn't seem to be a video for it.

It's from their 2010 full-length debut My Captain, on Any Other City records.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Spinning Wheels - That's the Question

Great piece of fast-paced jangly indiepop from 1990. Band was from Brighton, apparently, don't know anything else about them.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Walker Brothers - The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore)

I'm overdue for another '60s classic, so here's one I always thought was immense. Although originally recorded by Frankie Valli (!) this is the version most people will remember. And rightly so.

Loving the drummer's stripey shirt, too.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Lighthouse - A Change

1994 release from the Waaaah! Singles Club. It's not one of my favourites, mainly because I find the vocals a bit off-putting. But less so on this track than on the others. 

Don't know anything about the band.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Holly and the Italians - Rock Against Romance

Anthemic tune from Holly Beth Vincent's debut album, The Right to be Italian. This is really very similar to that Nuns track I posted last week, although being released a year later (1981), it was considered new wave rather than punk. Labels, eh?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Glassacre - Tension Agreement

This Aussie duo's 2006 Slow Attack EP consists of five songs of soft electronic pop which straddles the line between ambient and shoegaze. To be honest, most of it is a little too far over on the "ambient" side for me, but this one is quite lovely and actually reminds me of some of Sarah's more atmospheric artists, such as Eternal.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Let's Active - Every Word Means No

Here's an eighties US college radio classic, from one of Mitch Easter's rare forays out from behind the scenes in the recording studio. This is from their 1983 debut EP Afoot, which sounds incredibly dated now but is still a pretty nice little collection of the mildly jangly power-pop so popular at the time.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Ropers - Waiting

Classic DC shoegaze from a real Slumberland treasure, the Ropers' 1993 debut Sunbathe EP. There's something so incredibly innocent about this it gives me goosebumps.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Star Department - Antlers

Newly-released track from these Dubliners' forthcoming debut album, The Pea Green Boat, though I swear this song has been kicking around for a couple years. The Star Department take bits and bobs from all the best genres, including indie-folk, twee, shoegaze and jangle-pop, and make a pretty nice concoction out of it all. I don't like this one as much as their previous best-known tune, "Embers" - it gets a bit meandery - but there's still enough in it to ensure them a place on the "ones to watch out for" list.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Family Cat - Place with a Name

How cool were the Family Cat in the very late '80s/early '90s? Pretty fucking cool. So cool, in fact, that in the US city where I was living at the time, when a media war broke out between two indie record shops, one of them made a triumphal claim of oneupmanship over the other by pointing out that "We had the Family Cat before they did". (I was in London a couple months after this, and met the band and told them this story, and to say they were delighted would be a bit of an understatement. One of them told me there were little towns in the US that they had never heard of, where they were number one on the college radio station.)

There's probably an element of "you had to be there". There wasn't anything particularly spectacular about their music; catchy, shambolic indie guitar bands were kind of a dime a dozen in those days (aren't they always?) but something about the Family Cat really did stand them out from the rest. I suppose a lot of it just probably came down to attitude...and song titles like "Tom Verlaine". How can you go wrong with a song called "Tom Verlaine"?

I'll post that song another time but for now I think I'll go with this, their third single, from 1990. Probably the most "accessible" of their early material, it's a song that never fails to give me a lift - even though it's a little darker, lyrically, than the tempo and deceptively cheery chorus might suggest.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bouquet - Before I Die

Seriously twee band who may have been from Nottingham, Leeds or Sheffield depending on which website you believe (although this 1997 7" was recorded in Philadelphia and released on a French label, Aquavinyle). Erm...what more can I say about them besides "seriously twee"?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Nuns - Wild

Another great tune from the Nuns' classic self-titled debut album. This was "punk" in 1980. I love it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Shumai - Are You Jeff Corwin Experienced?

Indie-girl-pop band from Boston, mid-2000s. I always thought they could have been a little bit better - maybe if they'd raised the tempo a notch, or not named songs after celebrity animal conservationists (like this one) - but still, they were enjoyable enough.

This is from what I think was their only album, 2004's Tastes Like Summer.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Prolapse - TCR

A band I was never quite sure what to make of. Prolapse were from Leicester (though you'd never know it from Mick Derrick's thick Glasgow accent) and made music that could generally be summed up as "post-punk", although they fell between that genre's initial heyday and its 21st century revival. Which probably explains why nobody else really knew what to make of them, either. In fairness, though, they pushed the envelope of even as elastic a genre as that one - as you can hear from this song, which is really just a piece of manic pop. Very manic.

If you don't know what their name means, incidentally, don't ask. Just don't.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

#Poundsign# - Oh! Dolly

I posted something else from this 2000 album not too long ago but I've had this particularly infectious track on the brain lately, so here it is. Featuring Becky Barron (more recently of Scrabbel) on vocals.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ride - Sennen

Ride at their dreamiest, and with some of their nicest guitar ever. It's from the 1991 Today Forever EP.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Men of Westenesse - The Coldest Water

The only single ever released by this Essex band, although they had enough material for a retrospective collection to be issued a couple years ago. Great jangly guitar pop that must have already sounded a bit retro when it came out in 1989.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Felt - Stained-Glass Windows in the Sky

Lovely track from the lovely Poem of the River EP, from 1987. I'm not generally the biggest fan of Lawrence Hayward's lyrics, but I think he gets it just right in this one: less is more.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Sugargliders - Skylight Salt

B-side to "Another Faux Pas in the Cathedral of Love", an early 7" from this Melbourne band and, I think, their only record not to be released on either Summershine or Sarah (it was on Marineville, for whatever that's worth). I think it's a much better tune than the a-side, which is a bit too nerd-rock for my liking.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Icicle Works - Hollow Horse

The Icicle Works are often considered a one-hit wonder (for "Birds Fly"), even though their debut album was an absolute treasure from start to finish and their 1985 follow-up, The Small Price of a Bicycle, wasn't half bad either. This was its opening track.