Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Sweetest Ache - if i could shine

Some records can simply be described as things of beauty, this Sarah single one of them. "If i could shine" is such a lovely song, its soul music for the lonely anorak with its mournful vocal and neo-psychedelia backing. Its jangly melody inspiring feelings of melancholy but ultimately hope.

Its no surprise that this song is one of my all-time favourite Sarah songs. Its the kind of magic that stays with you forever. You might not hear the song for years but when you stumble across it you are immediately hit by the warmth of memories, both good and maybe not so. The song, when you hear it, becomes imprinted on your heart and won't ever leave you. So its pretty good then.

Monday, May 30, 2011

MV : "My Sweet Dream" by Sodajerk

Filipino indie pop, and if you've never heard any before why not check out Popscene Manila's bandcamp site for a mountain of great free stuff to listen to?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Thousand Yard Stare - spindrift EP

The sound of early 90s "major label" indie (which is a contradiction in terms of course). I guess Polydor's Thousand Yard Stare sounded like many other British bands of the time, nicely inoffensive little guitar pop songs with an indie beat never far behind. Beloved in university union bars, hated by the music press largely and making a lot of their money from t-shirt sales.

Ah i love this time personally, when records like this were being released seemingly every week, there were plenty of great songs to shake your fringe to in the club. "Wideshire 2" is a fine song with an energetic guitar motif. "Hand, son" has wiggly guitar chords all over it and the usual indie beat. Maybe all seems a bit naff now but i still like the energy and the naivity. You could dance to this (or shake yourself about like you were being electrocuted anyway), try doing that to Codeine.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Edinburgh School for the Deaf - orpheus descending

Another of Bubblegum Records excellent digital only singles. Orpheus ascending/descending are the first tracks from ESFTD who are ex-Saint Jude's Infirmary and who obviously love really long band names. "Ascending" is a lovely laid-back mainly acoustic trackwhile "Descending" is a more up-front guitar led stomp or rumble anyway that reminds me a bit of of the Wedding Present. Bubblegum do it yet again, their digital only singles series has been uniformly excellent so far.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Spectacle - glow in the dark soul

Years ago there was a band called The Cherry Smash who released an EP which sank without trace and is only now remembered on retro weird indie blogs. This wasn't the end of the story though as the band re-emerged on a major label (Island) as The Spectacle and released this album, like the Cherry Smash EP though it also sank without trace.
One of the reasons for that though was The Spectacle was too late. This album came out in 1998 but sounded at least 4 or 5 years out of date. It actually does indeed sound like an album that took ages to come about, the earlier tracks like "Nowhere generation" which reappears more or less identical to the Cherry Smash version are good examples of early 90s neo-psychedelia whereas some of the later tracks sound rather Brit Pop (and personally i hate most Brit Pop). In some ways this album sounds like a career spanning best of!

Anyway this is a bit of a lost gem, take "Stargazing" with its jingle-jangle fuzz and indie beat, if that came out in 1991 it probably would have been an indie dancefloor smash. As it was in 1998 it probably was a bit of a "meh" moment. Well that matters not, in these more enlightened times The Spectacle's album is one you really ought to try and track down. Its one of those albums where the good songs are damn good and you forgive the bad ones easily.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Dylans - Mary Quant in blue

Classic early 90s "big label" alternative from part of the Beggars Banquet organisation. "Mary Quant in blue" is undeniably a great pop song with a rousing chorus, jangly guitars and a shuffly beat, not quite Madchester baggy but close enough. A well worn pop path but very well done all the same. Its of its time and also pretty good. The b-sides go down the baggy path a little more, "Deluxe reverse submarine mix II" is actually not a bad bit of psychedelic acid dance. I can just imagine myself shaking myself like a git at 2am in a club.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

MV : "Pick me up" by Family Gotown

Hunting through some of my CDs i came across some old indie singles, including Family Gotown's 2 EPs from the early 1990s. Here is one of their songs.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Scritti Politti - anomie and bonhomie

In the mid to late 1980s Green Garside's Scritti Politti more or less perfected the classic 80s pop sound with their albums Cupid & Psyche 85 and Provision. Then in the 90s it all went quiet... until 1999 when this album was finally released.

I went into this album with 2 minds, part of me wanted that amazingly smooth white funk 80s groove with dub and reggae flourishes to continue as if there had been no gap between records but part of me was also hoping Scritti would develop its sound and take on something new. Well we get a bit of both here. On "Anomie and bonhomie" Scritti embrace hiphop especially on tracks like "Tinseltown to the boogiedown" and "Prince among men". The songs are fine though to be honest the rapping by guest artists Mos Def & Lee Majors do jar a bit with Green Garside's typically mellow vocals.

I prefer the more straight pop songs, though the 80s pop has gone replaced by a harder 90s sound with a rockier edge. Garside's vocals are as perfect as always though and give the songs some true soul. Stand outs include "Brushed with oil, dusted with powder" which is nothing short of beauty. "Here comes July" is also an excellent track, a rollicking slab of rock-pop, as different as you could possibly get from Scritti's mid-80s stuff but no less essential.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Christine's Cat - your love is... (flexi)

Over the years i heard pretty much every Sarah band and got my hands on a majority of the records but one band eluded me. Christine's Cat who only released one song, on flexi disc as Sarah 13. However thanks to teh intarweb i have now heard this amazing song by Christine's Cat who apparently comprised of a few members of The Golden Dawn. Its a simple and rough indie pop song that has a buzz saw of feedback NOISE TERROR!!! running through it. Brilliant and simple and magical.

It was magic moments like this which is why so many of us continue to love Sarah Records. Yeah.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

MV : "The better things to come" by Lycia

Got a Lycia album the other day, been wanting to try some of their darkwave for some time. It includes this song.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bis - the secret vampire soundtrack

I wasn't born when JFK was shot or Armstrong stepped on the Moon so when people ask me what i was doing when these events happened i either look dumbly at them or hit them for thinking i'm that old. However if they asked me where i was when Bis appeared on Top Of The Pops well i know exactly where i was. Sat in front of the TV enjoying every single minute of it!

They made history by being the first unsigned band to appear on the venerable TV show (though it was not strictly true to be honest) and sang one of the songs here "Kandy pop". This was the closest we'd ever get to a Sarah-ish C86 band appearing on TOTP so it was a genuinely Earth shattered occasion and one of the most important events in history. That of course is my opinion, and you may not agree with it, but it is a FACT.

They rocked obviously. Bis mixed youthful exuberance, lo-fi indie pop and retro electronica. They were actually ahead of the game in many ways. Its fun, its how pop should be.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

MV : "Way too high" by Secret Shine

From the single which was released at the same time as the Temporal album, one of their best songs i think.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Monograph - lorelei

Monograph released a number of records in the late 90s mostly on the post-Sarah label Shinkansen, this being their first album. First of all i absolutely love the name "Monograph" but is what is on the disc any good too? You certainly get plenty of songs, there being 15 on this album though thats tempered somewhat by a lot of the songs being rather short.
I am in two minds about short songs, of course it is PUNK ROCK! but at the same time i hate it when you really get into a song and it stops after about 90 seconds. Still better to flicker brightly for a few seconds than a dull glow that lasts for hours. Wasn't it a very clever man who said it was better to die for something than live for nothing? Oh wait it was Rambo wasn't it?

Its good post-Sarah C86, some beautiful songs that probably should have gone on for longer. Appealing indie guitar pop with a bit of a rocky edge. Its maybe not that original but is a lot of indie joy all packed into some really tasty little pop bitesize portions. Lots of songs to like and if you don't like one there will be another one around in a minute anyway. "The river" and "Our sometime star" are highlights but nothing is really that duff.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

MV : "Wonderboy" by Annemarie

Indonesia is a bit of a hot bed of C86 these days, Annemarie have just released a split single with Skittle Alley on Dufflecoat records.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tsunami - geniuses of crack

This was Tsunami's second single dating from 1991, i was a big fan of their's back in the day. "Geniuses of crack" is a laid-back song with a screechy guitar coda deep in the mix with female vocals well up in the mix that drives on with an almost hypnotic quality. "Answerman" on the b-side is much more straight forward guitar pop thrash but no less awesome. Exuberant and beautiful.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Secret Shine - the beginning and the end

The great thing about Secret Shine is that despite being best known as a Sarah band they've now released twice as many albums since the demise of Sarah than they had before (ok they released plenty of singles/EPs too lets not split hairs), in fact this is their second album since they reformed in the 2000s. Overall this is an accomplished and mature album.

Secret Shine have evolved their sound away from the shoegazey fuzzpop noise of their Temporal and All of the stars (their previous two albums of course) days a bit which maybe threw me a bit at first (and maybe made me a little disappointed as i am just a sucker for waves of poppy feedback.) Of course there is plenty of noise on show here, just a bit different and harder. "In between" still has all the elements, raging guitars, male and female vocal interplay and driving melodies. Other songs though add more electronics and a variety of sonic forms. Sometimes i did find it a bit shrill through not as infused with pop beauty as earlier work.

Some of the songs remind me of New Order for some reason even though the overall sound is very different. "Hole in your heart" is my favourite song here, there is probably no surprise that it is one of the songs closest to their classic sound. You might think i am on a bit of a downer with this album, actually no i really like it but it couldn't match my expectations but thats my fault not Secret Shine. This is an album that isn't as immediate as some of their earlier stuff but there is more substance. It'll last longer in your hearts, this is by no means the end.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Aberdeen - byron

Aberdeen were one of the last wave of Sarah bands and one of the label's few American bands, this being their debut single and was Sarah 93. "Byron" is a great song with a fast beat, jingle-jangle guitar with some reverb effects and clear female vocals. "Fran", one of the B-side tracks, is another good song, more straight forward guitar pop and harking back to some classic era Sarah C86.

Aberdeen recorded 2 singles for Sarah but have been together off and on after the end of Sarah ever since, indeed they have a reunion show planned for later this month in the US. The lead singer Beth Arzy is part of the Trembling Blue Stars mostly these days though.

Monday, May 2, 2011

MV : "My chariot" by The Depreciation Guild

One of the many great songs off their second album.

The Hobbes Fanclub / Leach Me Lemonade

Split singles, nothing says indie and C86 more than these. This is a 4 track split single featuring the intriguing Hobbes Fanclub who comprise a Briton and a Brazilian who have never met and Leach Me Lemonade from Indonesia.

The Hobbes Fanclub are a band who could only exist in the internet age, its two members have never met in real life but via the internet have formed a band and make music, wonderful music. The two members each sing lead on a track here. "Love from the stars" has lovely ethereal female vocals and jingle-jangle guitars. It is un-ashamedly retro and could easily have been a Sarah song. "The boy from outer space" is a bit harder with its boy vocals and guitar lead. A more straight forward guitar pop song and is also wonderful.

Leach Me Lemonade's songs also could easily have come from the Sarah back catalogue. There is a bit of an early-Brighter vibe going on here such as on "The last day of July". "Entire leaves" actually sounds like a lost Brighter song, maybe a little too close to Brighter. The line between inspiration and copying can sometimes be a narrow one. That might be a problem to some but as Brighter is my all-time favourite band... not me!

MV : "Love is a wave" by Crystal Stilts

A bit of a 60s garage vibe going on here.