Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Lodger - A Year Since Last Summer

Leeds band active since the mid-2000s but recalling all your favourite '80s indie/jangle-pop. My only reservation about them is I'm not mad about the vocals, but the songs are (mostly) strong enough to compensate.

This is a track from their second album, 2008's Life is Sweet.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Radio - One of Two Ways

2007 single and track from The Radio's second album, Charm Offensive. The Radio were occasionally referred to as an Irish supergroup, although Rollerskate Skinny is probably the only related band that will mean anything to anyone outside of Ireland. And they sounded nothing like Rollerskate Skinny, instead being something of an early '80s (very early '80s) new wave revivalist band. There was inevitably a touch of the novelty act about them, although they were never as crass in their retroism as a similarly-influenced Irish band around at the same time, Neosupervital, who bizarrely seemed to be a lot more popular. Anyway, The Radio had some really nice tunes and were pretty fantastic live. Awful name though.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Guatafán - Cucurucho

A song that grabs you from the very first note, this is an utterly delightful piece of perfect twee-indie-girl-pop, sung in Spanish. It's also a wonderful video, every bit as joyously full of life as the song itself is; if you haven't fallen completely in love with Guatafán by the first 30 seconds of it you're probably at the wrong blog.

It's a 2010 single, on Elefant Records.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Low - Lazy

Low have the distinction of being the only band I've ever heard to cover Joy Division ("Transmission") and sound like they get it. That in itself would make me love them, even if their original music didn't - which, mostly, it does. Atmospheric and minimalist at the same time, they were the perfect bridge between Factory-style post-punk (I hear a bit of Durutti Column in this) and shoegaze... not entirely unlike Galaxie 500, but, well, lower. And slower.

This is a hypnotic track from their 1994 debut album, I Could Live in Hope.

Monday, March 26, 2012

East River Pipe - Make a Deal With the City

A lovely song from 1993's Goodbye California, from a band I'm not normally that enthusiastic about. (They were actually a project of Fred Cornog rather than a proper band, but let's not split hairs.) ERP started off on Sarah and ended up on Merge - a label which, in the 1990s, I always associated with a distinctly US South aesthetic - and I don't think it was so much a change in musical direction as a case of them finally reaching their natural home. You can hear a lot of that sort of Mitch Eastery '60s-influenced pop even in their early material, though with considerably less slick production.

Anyway, whatever about the rest of their music, this is a gorgeous track in its own right.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Crystal Stilts - Crystal Stilts

Another band I can't believe hasn't made an appearance here yet, Crystal Stilts are of course one of the reasons I regret not being in Brooklyn anymore. Obviously I was way before my time.

This track, from their 2008 debut album Alight of Night, always reminds me of the Mary Chain's "Kill Surf City".

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hey Paulette - Our Immeasurable Differences

Absolutely astonished to realise that I haven't posted any Hey Paulette, one of the best-loved Irish indiepop bands. They were from Dublin and wonderfully C86-y, although their heyday was a couple years after that album. Seriously, tell me you don't love this.

It's from a 1989 Peel Session and the song was later released as a b-side to the single "I Really Do Love Penelope", which I think it just marginally outshines. A compilation called Long Ball into Nowhere was released a few years ago and, really, you must get it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Modern English - Just a Thought

I would guess that over 90% of the people who know Modern English at all know them only for that song. And most of them would probably hate this. It's from their 1981 debut album, Mesh and Lace, which is a pretty dark affair...sort of Bauhaus meets the Sound or the Comsat Angels. They were on 4AD after all!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Go-Betweens - Five Words

Conversation with myself tonight:

Ah feck, CG, you don't have time to update the blog today.

No worries, just put up some Go-Betweens. That'll make everyone happy.

So here ye are. From Spring Hill Fair (1984).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Echo Lake - In Dreams

Atmospheric electronic music with heavenly female vocals. Not always my cup of tea, but this London band do it rather nicely. Actually, they remind me a lot of an Irish-based band I've seen a few times recently called Low Sea. I must put them up here some time.

Anyway, this is a track from a 2010 EP called Young Silence.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Aztec Camera - Oblivious

1983 single, from their classic debut album High Land, Hard Rain. It's hard to convey how nostalgic I get hearing this. I think I played this album so many times I actually know every drum beat by heart.

Sounds so innocent today, doesn't it?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dirty Pretty Things - Deadwood

It was easy to hate the Libertines. Their music was incredibly derivative, their fans obnoxious beyond belief and, well, generally they seemed like arseholes. But at times they won me over nonetheless. Carl Barat's post-Libertines material has been less successful in that regard, although this catchy number which opened up the Dirty Pretty Things' 2006 debut Waterloo to Anywhere did fill me with high hopes which, alas, were not fulfilled. Not that I really expected them to be.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Honeycrash - One False Move

Twee, very English indiepop from a Stoke band who seem to have disappeared with only this 1989 7" to their name. The a-side was pretty awful, but this and the other track showed a bit of promise. No idea what their members went on to.

video

Saturday, March 17, 2012

That Petrol Emotion - Genius Move

A somewhat overlooked early-ish Petrols single, released in between their second and third albums (but curiously, sounding closer to either their debut or their later material). It was banned from airplay by the BBC as punishment for including a quote from a Gerry Adams book on its sleeve.

From 1987.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The House of Love - Christine

Their second single, from 1988. The House of Love wouldn't have been identified as a shoegaze band but this is definitely an early shoegaze song. And one of their best, though personally they were never one of my favourites anyway. But I really loved this song.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Strawberry Alarm Clock - Incense and Peppermints

Always thought of this as a classic of '60s psychedelia, although a few years ago I read that Strawberry Alarm Clock were to that scene what Generation X were to '70s punk: a band that the real hippies looked down on. But so what? It's still a great song.

From 1967.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dead Leaf Echo - Kingmaker

A recent release from this New York band, light shoegazey pop in the vein of Chapterhouse or Spirea X.  It doesn't knock my socks off but we'll see what more they come out with.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Edsel Auctioneer - Pop Song #2

The Edsel Auctioneer, from Leeds, were a band I always wanted to like. They had a good name, nice cover art, and were somehow linked to the Pale Saints, who I loved. Sadly their very US-influenced indie-rock was kind of lacking in one crucial thing, namely, songs.
I bought their records anyway, but they never really grew on me like I hoped they would.

This was a track from their debut album, Simmer, from 1992.

video

Monday, March 12, 2012

Wavves - Bug

If Wavves were my age they probably would have been a skate-punk band in the '80s, like Jody Foster's Army or Agent Orange. I was actually never a big fan of that genre, and I've always eyed Wavves with some suspicion too. But you can't argue with songs like this one, which is just a fucking great three-minute pop tune. More where this came from please.

It's from their 2011 Life Sux EP.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Elephant Parade - For You

Totally adorable song from this Brooklyn (of course) duo, from their 2007 album Bedroom Recordings. It's sort of a modern "I'm Sticking With You", which is not a bad thing at all.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Felt - Trails of Colour Dissolve

The b-side to their 1982 third single, "My Face Is On Fire", which I always preferred it to. It's Felt still very much in their early minimalist post-punk mode; even Maurice Deebank's legendary guitar is fairly muted in this one, with the drums being, unusually, the most prominent instrument. I absolutely love this era of Felt.

Not an official video. It's kind of cool, though.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sad Day for Puppets - Again

Swedish band who emerged toward the end of the last decade, channeling that early '90s not-quite-indie-rock/not-quite-shoegaze sound. This was a 2010 single.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Damon and Naomi - More Sad Hits

The first track on Damon and Naomi's first album, More Sad Hits from 1992. It reaffirms what we learned from their Galaxie 500 days, namely, that it is possible to make absolutely gorgeous music even if your singer hasn't got a note in their head.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Number 4 Joystreet - Flowers

Kind of a strange little band, Number 4 Joystreet, from Somerset in southwest England, combined jangly guitars, violin, cello and really high-pitched female vocals to, erm, interesting effect. Even I find them a little too precious for anything more than small doses at a time. But those small doses can be very nice.

This was a b-side to a 1986 single, "Watch the World".

video

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Bangles - Going Down to Liverpool

The BBC had a programme on last weekend about girl groups. It spent a decent amount of time on the Bangles, but unfortunately, it was all in their crap phase (ie after Prince discovered them). So I thought I'd post another one from their 1984 debut album, All Over the Place, which remains one of the finest collections I've ever heard of '60s influenced girlpop. And around these parts, we love '60s influenced girlpop.

I'm not sure how many people know this was a Katrina and the Waves cover. It's not terribly different from the original, though the harmonies are nicer.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Drugstore - Solitary Party Groover

A song that will always remind me of my mid-1990s London club days. Isabel Monteiro is still amazing.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Icicle Works - In the Cauldron of Love

In 1984 my brother, like a lot of people, bought the Icicle Works' self-titled debut album on the strength of the single "Birds Fly". Also like a lot of people, he hated the rest of the album. And so for a small fee (to allow him to buy the single instead) it found its way into my collection - where it could be properly appreciated and, indeed, cherished for the stunning work that it actually is.

I can see why the full album might not appeal to someone attracted by "Birds Fly"'s catchy chorus and general buoyancy. The rest of it is considerably more somber - autumnal to "Birds Fly"'s spring - and there's a literary thread running through it which might have been too much of an intellectual challenge for your average TOTP viewer (not my brother, I hasten to add, who of course is a genius albeit one with questionable musical taste). I wonder sometimes if the band don't regret releasing that as a single in the first place, as it set up expectations that the album wasn't designed to fill. They would have sold a lot fewer records, true, but I think the album would have been judged on its own considerable merits rather than as "Birds Fly"-plus-filler, which is so, so unfair.

As you might have worked out by now, I adore a lot of the tracks on this album but this one has always been the standout for me. It's just...exquisite.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Fire Engines - Candyskin

Their second single, from 1981. It's far less abrasive than their debut and also far less well-known. Interestingly it and its b-side, "Meat Whiplash", both gave their names to bands that followed, though I can't say I remember much about the namesake of this one.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Monkees - Star Collector

I actually choked up a bit on learning of Davy Jones's untimely death this week. He was one of my first pop star crushes, and always came across as quite personally likeable in the interviews I saw with him over the years. And yes, I quite enjoy the music, too. Still.

Here's one that I'm sure won't have got as much airplay in the past 48 hours as "Daydream Believer" and a couple others would have, but it's always been one of my favourite Monkees tunes. A very fast-paced piece of psychedelic bubble-gum pop, with Moog...classic.

From their fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. from 1967.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Colourfield - Your Love Was Smashing

B-side to the 1985 single "Castles in the Air", which it was far, far superior to. Both songs are lost-love laments but the a-side is almost cringe-inducingly maudlin, with lyrics that read like something out of a Mills and Boon novel, while this one is sarky and cynical and everything else we love Terry Hall for. Well, me anyway.