Tag Archive | "Teenage Fanclub"

Teenage Fanclub – Shepherd’s Bush Empire (Feb 26, 2017)

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Teenage Fanclub – Shepherd’s Bush Empire (Feb 26, 2017)

Posted on 03 March 2017 by Joe

“It’s great to finish the tour in the European Union,” joked Norman Blake, the genial frontman of Teenage Fanclub, who were in London at the end of a three-week tour of the continent.

As well as classics from their 90s heyday their set also focused on more recent tracks, such as I’m in Love, from their 2016 critically acclaimed album Here.

Of course the 40-somethings who packed out their third sell out show of the past year, have not come to just jump up and down to their new stuff – it’s the oldies they also crave.

Teenage Fanclub

And Teenage Fanclub have certainly got them, with 1993’s Radio, in particular sending the crowd wild. This minor hit of the time is sung by bass player Gerard Love, who of all the band appears uncannily to have not aged. Regardless of perhaps having an unsavoury self- portrait hanging in his attic, his delivery of this sparkling piece of pop, was complemented perfectly by the deranged howls from the guitar of fellow founder member Raymond McGinley.

McGinley takes the lead vocal on the next track from their new album, entreating us to Hold On, kaleidoscopic keyboard and Byrds-esque guitar driven gem.

Blake then takes a star turn for It’s All In My Mind. This 2005 track’s simple lines and lyrical harmonies fade and repeat perfectly to showcase their pop sensibilities.

The new and old tracks continue to blend throughout the first half of their set, with Thin Air, from Here, followed by Verisimilitude, one of the many highlights of their 1993 album Grand Prix.

Teenage Fanclub 2

Also being blended was Blake’s endless switching of guitars. Why one man needs two Gibson Es335s for one gig is beyond me.

Ultimately it is the mix of McGinley’s electrifying lead guitar and the solid rhythm section of Blake, Love and the thumping toms of drummer Francis McDonald that enable them to bring real depth to their mid-paced pop tunes. The guitars give the textures to enrich a series of intelligent and heartfelt vocals to produce music of intense beauty.

Midway through their set, a succession of classic songs sweeps the crowd through the 1990s, from the sorrowful keyboards of Dave McGowan on Dumb Dumb Dumb to the acapella introduction to Did I Say, the band bring sunshine with their sincere, heartfelt, yet uplifting vocals.

Few bands could sing “I Don’t Want Control Of You” with any degree of sincerity and there is something refreshing in their positivity in an age of deep cynicism.

The standout Teenage Fanclub track is left till last as they launch into a reworking of 1991’s The Concept. Its guitars are stark and piercing against the driving beat of the rhythm section. The vocal plaintive and heartfelt.

Returning for four encores and finishing with the aptly titled early classic Everything Flows, Blake sings “I never know which way to go”, a line given added resonance as they head into their 50’s in a band started nearly thirty years ago.

Teenage Fanclub may not be the most ambitious band in the world, but there is a solidity and a craft to their work that has stood the test of time.

Words by Gavin McGarvey, pictures by Carlos McGarvey

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Sixteen of the Best Songs of 2016

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Sixteen of the Best Songs of 2016

Posted on 29 December 2016 by Dorian

We recently published our Top 20 Albums of 2016, but this only reflected a section of the amazing songs that came out this year.  There were great albums we missed, albums that just missed out and songs that came out on single this year. So, as a bit of an end of year bonus, here are the best songs of 2016 that didn’t feature in our end of year album list.

16. ESP Ohio – Royal Cyclopean

It wouldn’t be Neon Filler without a Robert Pollard track, and this horn driven gem from his latest collaboration with Doug Gillard is one of his best this year.

15. The Wedding Present – Rachel

There are rumours that this year’s Wedding Present album may be there last, if that is the case then they are finishing on something of a high.

14. Childish Bambino – Me and Your Mama

Donald Glover is a successful comic actor, the face of the young Lando Calrissian and a Grammy award-winning singer, sickeningly talented.

13. The Shins – Dead Alive

The Shins releasing a song that sounds like they could have recorded 15 years ago may not seem that exciting, unless you think early Shins is about as good as music gets. Which I do.

12. Allo Darlin’ – Hymn on the 45

Allo Darlin’ sadly called in at day in 2016, but just as they played their final shows they released one last single. A final document, if nothing else, of why they’ll be missed.

11. Car Seat Headrest – Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales

Car Seat Headrest is the work of Will Toledo, this year’s bespectacled indie geek de jour. The album justifies the hype this time around.

10. The Avalanches – Subways

The new Avalanches album may not be much of a step forward given the huge gap between this and their debut recording, but there were enough good songs to make it worth a listen.

9. Parquet Courts – Human Performance

The New York band have been releasing consistently great music since they broke through with Light Up Gold in 2012. The title track from their latest album shows them in almost subdued mode.

8. Angel Olsen – Shut Up and Kiss Me

2016 was a bit of a breakthrough year for Angel Olsen, her 4th LP getting a lot of attention and radio play. This track showcases as much fuzz-pop as folk and is a bit of a break from the softer country vibe she’s associated with.

7. Case/Lang/Veirs – Best Kept Secret

Three of the best vocalists in country-pop come together and, unsurprisingly, the results are great.

6. Okkervil River – Judy on the Street

Every two or three years Will Sheff’s band release an album and they all range from good to excellent. This track from Away is no exception to the rule.

5. Teenage Fanclub – Thin Air

More than a quarter if a century in and Teenage Fanclub can still produce some of the best melodic guitar pop around.

4. Girl Ray – Trouble

One of the best bands that we saw at Indietracks this year and one of the bands to watch out for in 2017.

3. Field Music – Disappointed

Due to its release at a busy time we sadly didn’t get round to reviewing Field Music’s excellent 2016 album Commontime. We still loved it though and can assure you it was a typically excellent release from the Brewis brothers. This was a single and one of the best tracks.

2. Luke Haines – Smash The System

Smash The System saw Haines revisit some of his previous themes, with a number of nods to his Baader Meinhof album. The Monkees references in this song are confusing but welcome.

1. Eyelids – Slow It Goes

Eyelids didn’t have a new album out in 2016, that is coming next year, but they did release this song and showcased what we can look forward to. Excellent video as well.

Compiled by Dorian Rogers

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Top 10 Songs From 1991- One Of Music’s Best Ever Years

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Top 10 Songs From 1991- One Of Music’s Best Ever Years

Posted on 04 December 2016 by Dorian

This year is widely seen, even as it continues, as being one of the worst years in history.

Political upheaval, bloody conflict and ecological collapse are all themes of the year, as is celebrity death. The latter has been particularly true in music with a number of musical legends leaving us this year.

It has also been a year of notable musical anniversaries with loads of excellent albums celebrating their 10th, 15th, 20th, or 25th anniversaries.

Most notable to me has been the number of great albums from 1991 that celebrating a quarter of a century this year. It may be my age (I was a music obsessed 19 year old in 1991) but it is striking just how many amazing records were released in that year.

Among the albums released were debuts by acts as varied Blur, Mercury Rev, The Smashing Pumpkins, Orbital, 2 Pac, Massive Attack, St. Etienne, Pearl Jam and Mr. Bungle. Julian Cope, Throwing Muses, Dinosaur Jr, Uncle Tupelo, Slint, KLF and Talk Talk all released albums that were arguably their career best during the year.

The best of year lists for 1991 read like those “100 albums to hear before you die” books with Primal Scream’s Screamadelica, REM’s Out of Time, My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless and Nirvana’s Nevermind all hitting the shelves of HMV and Virgin.

It also marked the release of Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque, an album that doesn’t get talked about as much today but beat all of the above to be voted album of the year by Spin magazine, and is one of the albums that I always go back to.

So here, in honour of its 25th anniversary, is a selected Top 10 of 1991.

10. Pixies – Alec Eiffel

9. Talk Talk – Myrrhman

8. Mercury Rev – Car Wash Hair

7.  Slint – Good Morning Captain

6.  Dinosaur Jr – The Wagon

5. Throwing Muses – Counting Backwards

4. REM – Half a World Away

3. Julian Cope – Beautiful Love

2. Uncle Tupelo – Watch Me Fall

1. Teenage Fanclub – Alcoholiday

Compiled by Dorian Rogers

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Co-pilgrim – Plumes

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Co-pilgrim – Plumes

Posted on 16 October 2014 by Joe

Hiding in Winchester is Mike Gale, one of the UK’s brightest song writing talents.  Recording under the name Co-Pilgrim, Plumes is  the act’s  third album of beautiful alt-country and is once again packed full of Beach Boys harmonies and Pernice Brothers/ Teenage Fanclub melodies. It’s a gem, as was his last album A Fairer Sea, which sat on a pile of CDs at Neonfiller.com towers shamefully way past its 2013 release date and reviewing opportunities. Apologies Mike, we loved it.

The experience of A Fairer Sea with us, a small music blog made up of volunteers, shows how difficult it is for those like Gale to get attention. If we couldn’t find time how are the big boys in the music press going to? A Fairer Sea was arguably one of the albums of the year but barely anyone heard it and despite knocking around social media for years Co-Pilgrim can barely muster 1,000 followers across Facebook and Twitter.

So when I say hiding in Winchester, he’s not hiding at all. He’s doing his best to get attention, has a PR firm and crucially is producing great stuff. It’s more the music listening public is hiding from him.

So what is everyone missing? Plumes follows on perfectly from  A Fairer Sea, which featured Ride’s Mark Gardener on producing and backing vocals duty, in retaining Gale’s neat trick of taking melancholy and turning it into something joyous.

Opener Grew Into Something New sets the scene wonderful, slide guitar and harmonies swiftly taking the listener from pessimism through to optimism.  I Know Love and Pushover pack a pop-punch full of west coast shine, while Come out Alive provides a thoughtful slow twinkle to proceedings. Other highlights include Shame On You with its English take on Americana.

Will Plumes help him find a bigger UK audience? I hope so but its confusing release schedule suggests Gale is once again struggling to get the audience he deserves. The album was in fact released with little fanfare in the UK in May but an album launch party venue couldn’t be found until July. A third attempt at UK publicity is now taking place this month to coincide with a US and Europe release.

It is clearly tough for Gale to push his head above the parapet, but he has what so many others don’t have on the UK music scene – genuine talent. Fingers crossed.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

For more information about Mike Gale and Co-Pilgrim visit here.

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The New Mendicants – Into the Lime

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The New Mendicants – Into the Lime

Posted on 24 January 2014 by Dorian

The New Mendicants are a harmony-pop supergroup of sorts formed in Toronto by Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub/Jonny), Joe Pernice (Scud Mountain Boys/Pernice Brothers) and drummer Mike Belitsky (The Sadies). It will be no surprise to anyone familiar with the work of any of their bands to hear that Into the Lime is a string of melodic pop gems with beautifully sung vocal harmonies.

The New Mendicants - Into the Lime

Most of the songs are soft, tuneful and filled with sparkling guitars and bitter-sweet lyrics. A couple of the tracks were submitted (and rejected) for a film version of Nick Hornby’s ‘A Long Way Down’ so suicide (specifically by jumping) is a recurring theme. It is hard to pick out the best of these tracks as the quality is so high throughout the 10 song 30 minute run, but ‘Follow You Down’ and ‘Out of the Lime’ would be my playlist picks after my first few listens. These are such pleasurable, soft and subtle songs, the kind of thing that leaves you sad and smiling at the same time, that you want to play them again as soon as they finish.

It isn’t an entirely subdued affair, ‘Shouting Match’ is a more fuzzed up effort and the albums closer ‘Lifelike Hair’ (sung I assume by Belitsky) has a raucous 60’s garage sound that is like nothing else on the album. It is a slightly odd choice, but coming at the end it doesn’t disturb the flow of the album and adds a different texture.

Fans of Norman Blake coming to this album may be initially dissapointed as Pernice handles the bulk of the lead vocals on the album (and I suspect wrote more of the songs here). However, Blake’s sound is all over the record. His harmony work is wonderful, the playing and arrangements have his stamp and it truly sounds like a partnership. His lead vocal, on a beautiful version of Sandy Denny’s ‘By the Time it Gets Dark’, is one of the highlights of the album.

The New Mendicants

I was lucky enough to see the band play live last night in Camden’s Dingwalls and feel the need to incorporate a short live write-up into this album review. The live incarnation is a slightly different proposition to the album, with just Blake and Pernice on stage and only acoustic guitars (plus some glockenspiel) being played.

The set is a mixture of album tracks, covers and songs by the duo’s various bands being played to a small but attentive crowd. Lead vocals switch between the two and songwriting is tossed back and forth throughout the set. It is as relaxed and proficient a performance as you’ll be likely to see this year with even the mistakes (a fumbled glockenspiel solo) handled like it is all part of the show. The banter is engaging also, with Norman’s noisy tapping foot and Joe’s professed unfamiliarity with Norman’s work being recurrent jokes through the night.

The new songs sound great live and the chance to hear The Scud Mountain Boy’s ‘Grudge Fuck’ and Teenage Fanclub classic ‘Everything Flows’ played by the duo is pretty magical stuff.

They still have a couple of UK dates left to play, so if you are in Dublin tonight or Glasgow tomorrow I urge you to see them play, and why not pick up a copy of the album while you’re there?

9/10 (10/10 for the live performance)

By Dorian Rogers

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The New Mendicants  – Colston Hall 2, Bristol (July 9, 2013)

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The New Mendicants – Colston Hall 2, Bristol (July 9, 2013)

Posted on 11 July 2013 by Joe

Placing myself next to a gentleman, ostensibly of equal age with The New Mendicant’s Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub, BMX Bandits), I ask him what exactly it was that brought him to tonight’s gig – “Teenage Fanclub,” he replies. His answer is unsurprising and in scanning the predominance of audience members similarly just beyond middle age, I feel it likely that it is nostalgia and a love of Glasgow’s cult indie icons, which has fuelled their motives to attend tonight’s show.

Norman Blake (l), Joe Pernice (r)

Norman Blake (l), Joe Pernice (r)

A friendship newly formed in Toronto, Ontario, Blake and his fellow New Mendicant Joe Pernice (Pernice Brothers, Scud Mountain Boys), step on to the stage beneath soft red and blue lighting and the scene is set for a cosy, non-challenging evening of acoustic versions of songs old and new. The duo immediately banter about forgetting their set lists and this relaxed approach very much provides a flavour of what lay ahead.

New song ‘Follow You Down’ leads the way and it is the first of several songs this evening where Blake provides charmingly simple Glockenspiel lines to complement Pernice’s vocal and acoustic guitar. An early surprise in the set is a cover of ‘A Butcher’s Tale,’ a song from The Zombies’ hidden baroque-pop gem from 1968, ‘Odessey and Oracle.’ The first four tracks are met with polite applause before Teenage Fanclub’s ‘It’s All In The Mind’ induces the first nods of recognition and an appreciatively vocal response at the song’s close.

The duo continue to banter in an easy, unselfconscious way between songs and the mood is so laid-back that it is probably just as well that tonight’s gig is a fully seated affair. After new song ‘Sarasota,’ which bears a passing resemblance to Cat Stevens’ ‘Father & Son,’ Pernice tells the story of how Blake’s original glockenspiel had been reclaimed by Blake’s primary school aged son after it was signed by a member of children’s musical group The Wiggles. Blake then reveals the handy colour-coded keys of his new instrument to the audience and, to a chorus of laughter, he performs a light-hearted impromptu ‘Glock’ solo.

A slightly faltering finish to ‘You Was Me,’ and Pernice’s sarcastic lamentation of a song he sold to an American corporation for advertising purposes further adds to an atmosphere akin to two old pals playing for friends in a large living room; introduced sardonically as “A song about coats,” ‘There Goes The Sun’ features more Glockenspiel from Blake and, in playing incrementally quieter at the track’s coda, there is a charming live attempt at replicating the recorded version’s fade-out.

Despite Blake’s bungled attempt at the song’s solo, ‘I Don’t Want To Control You’ is warmly received and, making it back to back Teenage Fanclub tracks, ‘Did I Say’ follows. Seemingly comfortable on their respective chairs, Pernice mockingly undermines the concept of an encore by stating: “Just pretend we left the stage and you guys cheered for 2 more songs.” They remain seated and Pernice delivers the delicately beautiful ‘Cronulla Breakdown;’ written about his wife when they lived in the New South Wales  town. It proved a highlight of the evening and, being plucked from a 2001 Pernice Brothers’ album no doubt unfamiliar to most of the audience, it is the most pleasant of surprises.

‘Everything Flows’ is the final song of the night and, being one of Teenage Fanclub’s most popular tracks, it serves as an audience pleaser to end proceedings. With their places firmly fixed in the history of cult indie-pop, both Blake and Pernice have nothing to prove and it is with nonchalance that they can approach these sit down shows. Perhaps a few of the old favourites would benefit from a full band set up and it’s true that the lack of challenge in such performances will never inspire anything particularly memorable. However, it with ease that one can enjoy these two new but firm cohorts entertaining their friends in this largest of living rooms.

 by Scott Hammond, Pictures by Conal Dougan

 

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The New Mendicants Plan UK and Ireland Tour

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The New Mendicants Plan UK and Ireland Tour

Posted on 24 June 2013 by Joe

Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake is back to his collaborative tricks again, this time teaming up with Joe Pernice, of The Pernice Brothers, and Mike Belisky, The Sadies’ drummer. This newly created trio is called The New Mendicants and formed in Toronto, where Norman Blake moved to last year.

Joe Pernice (l), Norman Blake (r)

Joe Pernice (l), Norman Blake (r)

This month they are touring the UK and Ireland with dates at:

7th           Dublin, Whelans

8th           Cambridge, Cambridge Portland Arms

9th           Bristol, Colston Hall 2

10th         London, The Lexington

11th         Nottingham, The Glee

12th         Birmingham, The Glee

13th         Manchester, Deaf Institute

14th         Hebden Bridge, Trades Club

15th         Glasgow, Mono

Also released this month is their debut EP Australia 2013, which contains an INXS cover as well as versions of Teenage Fanclub’s ‘I Don’t Want Control Of You’ and The Pernice Brothers ‘Amazing Glow’. An album is pencilled in for a 2014 release..

This latest collaboration for Blake follows his  2011 partnership with Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci’s Euros Childs, under the name Jonny.

Watch out in early July for our review of their Bristol performance.

by Joe Lepper

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The Worst and Best Ever Collaborations In Music

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The Worst and Best Ever Collaborations In Music

Posted on 07 October 2011 by Joe

After hearing a brief clip of ageing rock dinosaurs Metallica and Lou Reed’s album it got us thinking about some of the best and worst collaborations in music.

Lou Reed and Metallica

Sometimes giants of rock can get together with startlingly good results, other times these musical link ups end up being complete tosh.

Among our list of terrible partnerships we’ve got a former glamour model and an iconic heavy metal act, a country music great’s flirtation with house music and the most absurd take on Mozart you are ever likely to hear.

Among our best of collection we have one of the best indie dance crossovers of all time and a transatlantic tribute to one of the great pioneers of US music.

 Top Five Terrible Collaborations In Music

5. Jack White and the Insane Clown Posse

Jack White and Insane Clown Posse cover Mozart. What on earth can go right? This mess is as bad as you’d expect. I think both ICP and Jack White thought it’d be funny, but as Tomservo3 who posted it on Youtube says “it was fun to listen to the first few times, but listening to it again it’s just getting boring.”

4. Tammy Wynette and KLF

There’s something chilling about Tammy Wynette singing lines such as “they’re justified and they’re ancient” alongside this house revamp by KLF of their track Justified& Ancient. Wynette puts on a good front and her pay cheque must have been nice as this turned out to be a mega hit, but deep down she must have been wondering what the hell she was doing there. The track, renamed Justified and Ancient (Stand by The Jams), is a terrifying mash up of styles and a welcome entry into our terrible collaborations list.  But hey, it reached number one in 18 countries, so what do we know anyway?

 3. Sam Fox and Hawkwind

For those of you who didn’t have to grow up in the UK and much of Europe in the 1980s Sam Fox has probably passed you by. The former glamour model found  unlikely fame as a kind of soft rock singer across Europe as her modelling career wavered. Along the way she teamed up with metal dinosaurs Hawkwind for a homelessness charity version of the Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter. While I applaud their sentiments the only way this link up was ever going to earn money was if music fans paid them to stop doing it.

2. Metallica and Lou Reed

These giant craggy dinosaurs of rock met at a rock and roll hall of fame event in 2009 and hit it off as they performed a terrible, squealing guitar version of Sweet Jane together. Two years on and they have an album out called Lulu “inspired by German expressionist writer Frank Wedekind’s plays Earth Spirit and Pandora’s Box, which tell the story of a young abused dancer’s life and relationships”, says their website. This is every bit as dire as you can imagine, with the end result essentially Lou Reed talking inanely over squealing guitars.


1. Lemonheads and Kate Moss – Dirty Robot

We got a bit of a ticking off a while back from Lemonheads frontman Evan Dando’s mum for suggesting that his 2009 album of covers Varshons was terrible. For us this version of Dutch duo Arling & Cameron’s Dirty Robot, improbably featuring model Kate Moss on vocals, was an all time career low for Dando. Nevertheless Evan’s mum raved about Moss’s efforts. We’ve revisited it and sadly have to confirm it’s still terrible. “I don’t care for your bleeps and bloops. Go away, why don’t you just shut up” sings Kate on this track. Couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

Top Five Excellent Collaborations In Music.

5. Morrissey and Siouxsie Sioux

Interlude, originally recorded by Timi Yuro in 1968 was among a number of covers presented by Morrissey to Siouxsie for a possible collaboration. They agreed this fitted their styles perfectly and the two got on famously during the recording.  But divas that they are, they soon fell out and even refused to film a video together. EMI finally released this winter track improbably in the summer of 1994. It still reached number number 25 in the UK singles charts. Great stuff from two of the most iconic figures in UK music.

4. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and PJ Harvey – Henry Lee

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds 1996 album Murder Ballads is packed with excellent collaborations, with Kylie Minogue and Shane McGowan among those excelling across these epic crime tales. For us though its PJ Harvey’s duet with Cave on the traditional Henry Lee that is the standout track. They sing this like they really mean  it, with their performances oozing emotion throughout.

 3.Teenage Fanclub & De La Soul – Fallin’.

1993’s Judgement Night was a film soundtrack with a twist. Every track was a collobaration between a hip-hop artist and a rock act. Somehow Teenage Fanclub found there way into the project and their collaboration Fallin’ with De La Soul is the best of the bunch. Laid back, summery, this will take anyone of a certain age right back to the mid 1990s.

2. Pogues and Kirsty MacColl

Narrowly, and I mean very narrowly this missed out on top spot. MacColl and Pogue’s frontman Shane MacGowan’s voices are wondrous for this love song that ended up a Christmas hit in 1987 and for many years to come. There’s an added poignancy as the years roll by due to McColl’s untimely death in 2000. This is as perfect as a duet can be.

1. Wilco and Billy Bragg

Wilco and Billy Bragg’s two volume collaboration to add music to Woody Guthrie’s lyrics has the edge over all the others for the sheer effort and love involved in the project. They also ended up creating some of the best songs of either of their careers including California Stars and one of our Top Ten Tracks About Being A Parent Hoodoo Voodoo.


by Joe Lepper, with ideas from Nic Newman, Barnaby Salton and Dorian Rogers

 

 

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Top 100 Albums (60-51)

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Top 100 Albums (60-51)

Posted on 29 March 2011 by Joe

We are approaching the half way point  as we compile our Top 100 indie and alternative albums of all time. There are some albums here you will have seen on similar lists before. But we’ve also opted for some obscurities with the aim of highlighting some different music for you to seek out.

We have been releasing this list ten at a time every Friday. We hope you enjoy this fourth instalment. Here’s our previous instalments ( 70-61 , 80 – 7190 -81 , 100-91).  See you next week for 50-41.

Also, for  more great albums visit our  Classic Albums section

60.Modest mouse  – Good news for people who love bad news

Modest Mouse were already one of the more successful US alternative acts around during the early 2000s. With the release of this 2004 album their popularity went through the roof. Thanks to singles like ‘Float On’ and ‘Ocean Breathes Salty’ the album became Platinum selling and gave the band a Grammy nomination. While achieving mainstream success the album also retained the band’s edge and showcases a range of styles to appease the casual listener and hardcore Modest Mouse fan alike. The slow banjo strum of ‘Berkowski’, the beautiful ‘Blame it on the Tetons’ and the frenetic ‘Satin in a Coffin’  are removed enough from the mass appeal of  the killer riff of ‘Float On’ to earn this a justified place in our Top 100 list.

59. Apples in Stereo – The Discovery of a World Inside The Moone

Robert Schneider’s The Apples In Stereo are the best place to start when listening to the Elephant 6 and The Discovery Of A World Inside The Moone is their finest hour. From horn blasting opener ‘Go!’ to the acoustic whimsy of ‘The Afternoon’ it never puts a foot wrong. The album manages to be a great retro homage without ever falling into the trap of being a pointless exercise in nostalgia. Vocal harmony, hand claps and a genius command of melody runs throughout the album. Classic pop, psyche, garage and even white funk (‘The Bird That You Can’t See’) make for a really enjoyable set.

58. Dag Nasty  – Can I Say

Along with Fugazi  Dag Nasty emerged form the ashes of DC punk outfit Minor Threat. While Minor Threat’s lead singer Ian Mackaye took a more experimental approach to music with Fugazi, Dag Nasty took a simpler but no less effective route. While sticking to short songs about everyday  teenage frustrations, of friendships and politics the  focus was on melody, with singer Dave Smalley’s vocals perfectly matching former Minor Threat guitarist Brian Baker’s wondrous technique of picking chords on this their debut album. From the title track through to ‘Thin Line’ and ‘Values Here’ to this day the excitement level hasn’t dropped, with the songs sounding as fresh and relevant now as when we first heard them years ago as teenagers when it was released in  1986. Wig Out At Denkos, the follow up album with vocalist Peter Cortner, who is now in The Gerunds, is also well worth checking out. To read our full review of Can I Say visit here.

57. Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel – Nail

Jim Thirwell (AKA Clint Ruin) has been releasing single syllable four letter titled albums under the varied Foetus banner for 30 years. The best of these as Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel in the mid-1980s. An early exponent of the “industrial” sound he produced albums that had a much more varied sonic sound-scape than many of his contemporaries. Built around metallic percussion and tape loops Nail includes a wide and varied set of instrumental sounds from classical orchestration, fierce guitars, big band jazz, twang guitar and old style rock ‘n’ roll underneath Thirwell’s guttural snarling. The album has an impact and is clearly trying to shock (murder, including the Manson family massacre, features prominently) but it features some fantastic music; ‘Descent Into The Inferno’ and ‘The Throne Of Agony’ belie their titles by being great pop tunes and full of catchy hooks.

56.Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago

The story behind this debut album from Justin Vernon recording as Bon Iver is one of the most compelling in our list. After splitting from his band DeYarmond Edison and his girlfriend he holed up in a cabin in the woods for three months with his guitar and some  songs of loss and love he had built up over the years. The end result was this hauntingly beautiful collection. As remote as his isolated cabin the songs are sparse but make full use of a full band feel and even a horn section when necessary. Tracks such as ‘Skinny Love’ and ‘re:Stacks’ stand up on their own, but it as part of this unique project, which made our Top Albums of 2008 list,  that they really come alive.

55. Fatima Mansions – Viva Dead Ponies

Viva Dead Ponies was the second album by former Microdisney singer Cathal Coughlan and stands as his greatest music achievement. Uncompromising, aggressive, abrasive and acerbic yet sugar coated with sweet melodies and pretty synth pop flourishes. Read more about this album in our Classic Albums section.

54. Teenage Fanclub – Bandwagonesque

There are so many good albums from Scottish band Teenage Fanclub to choose from. We could have picked excellent debut Catholic Education, 1993’s Grand Prix or 1994’s Thirteen. But we’ve plumped for third album Bandwagonesque as our choice. More accessible than Catholic Education and coming after the disastrously bad The King, the sound was crisper, full of Big Star style guitar riffs and some fine melodies. It signalled a band with renewed strength from classy singles like ‘What You Do To Me’ to the  melancholy ‘December’.

53. Hüsker Dü – Zen Arcade

Zen Arcade represented a real shift in the hardcore punk landscape on its release in 1984. The first two Hüsker Dü albums were all about short, sharp, noisy, fast blasts, with not a big need for melody. This is a 23 song concept album with a  range of styles and approaches, a kind of indie punk White Album. The punk aesthetic is there, the production is thin and much of the music is loud and brutal; the who record was recorded and mixed in 85 hours and most of the songs captured in a single take. Amongst this are acoustic numbers, piano driven instrumentals and experimental sounds-capes, totally at odds with what their audience would have been expecting. The thing that makes this record really great is the quality of the songwriting, from both the bands singers Grant Hart and Bob Mould. Mould supplies ‘Something I Learned Today’, ‘Broken Heart, Broken Home’ and ‘Chartered Trips’. Hart matches this with ‘Never Talking To You Again’, ‘Pink Turns To Blue’ and ‘Somewhere”. These are all great catchy hardcore punk pop tunes and make this a record that is ambitious and enjoyable.

52. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion Orange

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion in their 1990s prime were one of the best live acts around. Like Jerry Lee Lewis mixed with The Cramps their dirty take on rock ‘n’ roll could have come from the devil himself. The fury and energy of their live shows were impossible to truly capture on CD, but this 1994 album by the band was probably as close as they got.  From the first sensational disco stringed intro of ‘Bellbottoms’ onwards this is an album meant to be played loud. From ‘Dang’ to ‘Flavor’ to ‘Blues X Man’ there’s no let up with Spencer like a filthy southern preacher bellowing ‘blooooozze explosion’ at every opportunity. It also heralded a more experimental period for the band, with the 2010 reissue featuring some interesting remixes blending rap, soul and dance music with the best rock ‘n’ roll since the 1950s.

51.Television – Marquee Moon

‘Marquee Moon’ is a near perfect debut album from a band who would go on to release just one more album before taking a 14 year break. If it had been the only thing they released they would still be seen as an important part of the New York punk and new wave scene, it is too good an artifact of that time. The guitar interplay between singer Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd is brilliant, sparse when it needs to be, and is copied heavily to this day. This tight, stripped down musical approach is paired with a set of songs that never put a foot wrong. ‘Venus’ and ‘Prove It’ are highlights, but the album centers on the  title track, a song that never wears out its welcome for any of the 10 minutes and 47 seconds running time.

Compiled by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers

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Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde

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Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde

Posted on 10 February 2011 by Joe

Smith Westerns from Chicago used to be called lo-fi and on their self titled 2009 debut album they fitted this tag perfectly, with its poorly produced blend of nothing special mixed with fuzz.

But following a move to the Fat Possum label and with producer Chris Coady,  who has worked with TV on the Radio and the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, at the helm the band has been transformed.

The band’s love of British indie from the ’90s has been allowed to flourish under Coady and on this, their second album, they’ve been spruced up a treat.

There are elements of Suede, even Oasis in places, but the overall feel is as near as we’ve heard to Bandwagonesque era Teenage Fanclub and in turn the 1970s sounds of T Rex and Big Star that influenced it.

All guitar squeals and melody with clear crisp production. Sure we’ve heard it before with Teenage Fanclub, but this trio are here and now, have youth on their side and an energy that shines through.

Opener ‘Weekend’, the album’s first single is a great start. It’s harmless but with edge, hard yet sweet. Tough tricks are being pulled off on Dye It Blonde by Coady and this trio of skinny jean wearing, lanky indie-rockers.

Among other highlights are ‘All Die Young’, which starts with church organ before the sweeping, soaring 90s indie guitar kicks in. They love a good melody as well, such as on ‘Still New’.

If there is a criticism to be made its that lead singer Cullen Omori’s voice is not as strong or distinctive as the likes of Brett Anderson from Suede or even the late great Marc Bolan. But its the most minor of gripes. Omori and his band look the part and can expertly recreate the music that we love here at Neon Filler. That’ll do us quite nicely for now.

Dye It Blonde was released in the US in January. There’s been no UK release date set, but this album is fairly easy to pick up as an import via the likes of Amazon for around the £8 mark.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

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