I preferred their early stuff. (but that doesn’t tell the whole story)
The Icebreaker, Domestica, Burst And Bloom, Such Blinding Stars, etc are all pretty much incredible raw, powerful rock records (yes i’m aware some are only EPs, yadda yadda yadda)
While being perhaps their most cohesive and “realised” piece of work, The Ugly Organ presented a shift in the band’s sound that while still thoroughly enjoyable meant the band was never quite the same for me. It doesn’t quite give me the thrill that the emotionally volatile Domestica does/did. Not entirely sure why I’m typing here using past tense as if I grew up with the band, buying their records, this is more of a retrospective thing - I was nine years old when Domestica was first released. Man.
Apologies to who e-mailed me this but “Basically, it sounds like a punk My Bloody Valentine on amphetamines, eating Wavves for breakfast” is the worst thing I’ve ever read. It also has nothing to do with Cowtown, don’t worry, but allows me to do a tenuous link which iiiiiiis… You know how those awful “X meets Y” things journalists do are almost always cringey and wide of the mark and stuff? I think the only one I’ve ever read that makes sense to me is “Like Deerhoof meets DEVO” because tracks like Power Ballad, has the fist-in-the-air anthemicness of say, DEVO’s Gates Of Steel but with the spazzy fun aesthetic of Deerhoof (not that a band that sounds like DEVO needs to sound more fun).
Anyway, Leeds’ premier Party Band of the past few years, I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen them, from the odd houseparty to a ridiculous amount of performances at The Brudenell.
I think I first saw them at one of the CHINCHILLAFESTS (my first would’ve been year 10 of high school i think, which is a terrifying thought) which is probably the most fun date in the leeds calendar. When else can you get slowly drunk all day in a social club watching people like Gay Against You, Trencher, David Thomas Broughton, who’ve all played over the years. Sometimes I think I’m really going to miss Leeds, when a “scene” like this can exist and include awesome bands like Cowtown, Chops, Pifco, Tigers!, Quack Quack, Cissy etc. I can’t recommend chinchilla-tone records enough.
I think roughly 1% of this post has been useful information and that’s probably the following - the LAST EVER chinchillafest takes place this May and if you live anywhere in the UK it’s worth travelling for. Look how great this line-up is, including Cowtown again, and many others. It’s one of the few things that makes me feel okay about missing Matt Groening ATP that weekend.
A Brighter Beat is the one post-Arab Strap album that, for me, comes close to touching the heights of the band.
Does anyone know which football club Malcolm Middleton supports? I hope it’s Falkirk. If it is, it’s my life ambition to find out his views on underappreciated ex-Leeds star Enoch Showunmi. Answers on a postcard.
#279 - Nintendos Advocate - Mario Party Alley Oop The Song
The internet has so much to answer for.
This guy, especially. Idk why i’m including this. Maybe it’s because he’s singing about the world’s most underrated franchise, the mario party series. Maybe it’s because he reminds me of BARR, Wesley Willis and Daniel Johnston, documenting their life to absolutely no one who really cares or listens, and obviously without any talent. Imagine if Daniel Johnston still gained loads of weight, played nothing but Nintendo 64, never met Sonic Youth and experimented with Zantrex Diet Pills and nothing harder. Imagine if BARR’s spoken word masterpiece Summary didn’t have introspective lyrics about relationships and stuff but instead just a series entitled “THINGS THAT REALLY PISS ME OFF” and included subject matter on video game manuals, expired coupons, and “WWE WHORES” (infact you don’t even have to imagine that, you can experience it if you havent killed yourself and more unstandably, closed this window before getting to the next paragraph). Imagine if Wesley Willis had a more tragic existence than he already did. I dunno if i feel sorry him, what. Idk, Idk, Idk.
The thing is, you don’t reeeeeeaaaally have to imagine what this guy making music might sound like. You can hear it. And it’s horrible. He sings about The Legend Of Zelda, Mario Golf, and WWF Attitude (oh jesus christ, that last one is pretty much a rap). And the fact that you don’t have to imagine it is a testament to the awful and horrible nature of the internet, that 30 year old nintendo-fan mongoloids have a platform to expose their mongoloid views/art. I suppose that’s why i’ve included this
Watch this and pretend watching a thirty year old man recording this isn’t the saddest thing you’ve ever seen. Jesus Christ, this is awful. Have you ever heard Complete Consumption Of Us Bothby BARR? It’s quite possibly the bleakest thing i’ve ever heard. Put this spoken word “THINGS THAT PISS ME OFF” rant to the same beat some fucked up result. Imma put this to the test. really awful and lazy and terribly mixed but see:
The worst thing about this isn’t even that he’s put “I hated school and the kids there, I dropped out in the 9th grade and for the next fifteen years I had a blast, playing nintendo and never having to worry about school or work. I’ve been on a 15-year vacation!!!”. It’s not that his videos generally have about 100 views max, making you think “is it really worth it?” when there’s no pathetic degree of infamy like CopperCab and Chris Crocker. It’s not that I swear to god he put one of his activities as “MSN with my girlfriend” which leads me to think he’s never met her.
The worst thing about all of this is, me being a terrible person. I genuinely have some idea about this person, and that’s a really horrible thought, that this has ever entered my consciousness is a tragedy and a waste. I am wasting my life.
I suppose one of the “indie heavyweights” to fall so early in the list. Ridiculously consistent albums. There are 100000 yo la tengo fans who are better yo la tengo fans than i am, and would explain to you why theyre so good, far better than i can. Ask them.
#285 - Vic Chesnutt - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Feels wrong posting this in March. Last christmas I remember downloading this bootleg and later on finding out via the comments of that page that the man had died. So sad. From the unbearably beautiful to listen to now, Flirted With You All My Lifefrom his last ever album,to a track that demonstrates what an incredible piece of work North Star Deserter really is, You Are Never Alone, and countless others, it’s really difficult to choose one track. But the poignancy of listening to him on christmas day, singing his heart out in a crowded bar, is something that’s going to stay with me for a long time.
I’m sure many of you will disagree here but “fun” isn’t a word i often associate with Warp, despite it being an incredible record label. Maybe the best. While the couple of guitar bands on their roster might disprove my thinking - Maximo Park and Born Ruffians come to mind - they’re in my opinion a bit rubbish but more importantly not a great representation of the label’s aesthetic. Jackson And His Computer Band is a project that has the creativity and invention and blanket term of “electronica” that’d make you think Warp Records, yet also a merry playfulness that perhaps you wouldn’t.
#287 - Chin Up Chin Up - We Should Never Have Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers
The thing that has kept me going with this blog has been seeing some of the playcounts recently for bands I love that aren’t especially popular. It makes me happy that despite my terrible attempts at writing, a band like Shield Your Eyes recently had over a hundred plays (I’m guessing mostly americans, too). Well done, internet. However, I do feel for the songs I post on saturdays. Generally the hit-rate is much lower and I guess this makes sense as people are out doing much better things than reading my blog on a saturday afternoon. I even have much better things to be doing with my saturday afternoon (Gillette Soccer Saturday). Future woes to numbers #280, #273, etc, etc, etc.
The extra tragedy with this one is that it’s a band that anyone that vaguely likes indie rock will LOVE and this piece should get maximum exposure and readership. Not that they’re especially unknown or whatever, but there are a ridiculous amount of people who’d love this band but haven’t heard them. imma put this in bold to capture the attention of BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE fans because to these ears theyre pretty similar, and Chin Up Chin Up weren’t particularly far behind. The debut longplayer We Should Never Have Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers is probably up there with the best guitar band / indie rock stuff of the decade, and the title track I’m posting showcases that talent and quality.
I’ve mentioned before here about how I saw them play to barely any people in Leeds a few years back. That day they were supported by Copy Haho and Held By Hands, which with the benefit of hindsight is probably one of the best bills I’ve ever witnessed in this city, and very few people witnessed it. Rubbish.
For fans of the much more popular National, Broken Social Scene, etc but also American Football and Make Believe and more mellow side of Kinsella stuff.
God I love this record so much, such a massive shame they split up.
First of all, RIP Alex Chilton. Really terrible news. I’m gonna listen to Big Star all day.
Sometimes I feel for Cadence Weapon. He gets this whole fanbase of rubbish indie kids who say terrible things like “yknow rap isnt all bitches n shit there’s some really challenging and intelligent stuff if you look deeper”, jesus christ. But I can understand it - having collaborated with Owen Pallett, covering Destroyer and Weezer (do a quick youtube search) and namedropping Al Green and Funkadelic, etc, etc. All of which is pretty great, but if it was representative of what his music sounded like he’d be awful. Luckily he’s not, so it’s not rubbish and wet and poncey and preachy like a lot of “indie rap” is, and that’s because this isn’t indie rap at all, whatever that even is. The beats on this track especially are killer, and it shifts a gear with another layer of samples in the final third that are totally incredible.
Breaking Kayfabe is a pretty solid and thoroughly recommended record, but this track in particular is high above anything he’s ever done before.
Forget everything you knew about Phil Elverum. Whenever certain K Records or Washington bands come up I try and struggle to explain the common sound, especially in the whole Microphones/Mirah/Adrian Orange sorta community. But with this Elverum’s past involvement is like, barely a footnote, it’s almost like his stamp can’t be heard - his drumming is a million miles of what can be heard on, say, The Glow, pt. 2. Infact i’d question quite how much input Elverum ever had with the project, considering he wasn’t in the band in the first place and he has since left, yet they have (more or less) maintained a similar sound. Probably shouldn’t have dedicated a paragraph to him then, though to be fair this is one release he did contribute to.
This track is weird. Like all their output. Almost party funk band vibes and mostly instrumental until batshit crazy vocals and lyrics come in towards the end. Which would be good at describing pretty much all their stuff. Complete anomaly to “that Washington sound”.
I remember back at Brainwash Festival in Leeds, 2007 (I think? Maybe?) Meet Me In St. Louis were playing, I’d heard a few things about them but wasn’t massively bothered so I spent most of their set drinking in the brudenell instead, only to go the venue 30 seconds away to catch their last couple of songs - and, somehow, it didn’t leave much of an impression. Probably, in terms of english rock stuff, I can only think of Million Dead who have recorded better records than Variations on Swing, their first and only album. And somehow seeing a bit of them live didn’t leave an impression, it shows what I know and how rubbish my taste in music is, and why you should probably stop reading. I have massive regret for not watching all of their set now, and realising how brilliant they probably were.
Shortly after, one member left. Then shortly after that, another. And then they didn’t exist. Post-MMiSL Projects you can check out include Tropics and Colour, both of which I’m pretty ignorant of but I’m sure are great. Toby from the band now has a new, pretty great project, which in keeping with the Million Dead mention earlier is a singer-songwritery thing like Frank did post-that band. But this is much better, and less preachy. He also started the really great band, Shield Your Eyes which as you might expect is another mathy Kinsella/Fugazi/Zach Hill/Cursive circa-Domestica sorta thing, to use the namechecks that get used with every single band that’s used unconventional time signatures. Works, though. I’d be willing to bet that based on their sound, the name comes from the awesome Jawbreaker track.
You can buy both their records here, at the Saddam Hussein Records website. SADDAM HUSSEIN RECORDS. If that name isn’t enough to buy from their store, maybe the price range should be - a fiver for a proper 12” really great record (which this track is featured on) and only eight quid for their latest album. Bargains.
The title track from one of many of The Strange Boys early EPs, before the release of their debut proper in 2008. They’re back soon. This has a different vibe to a lot of the stuff theyre doing now. It’s not quite as garagey. Which is good, because while they’re good at doing garagey stuff, they’re not that great. And this is great. Really really great.
Seems really bizarre (but awesome) that Growing’s first release of the new decade is through Vice Records. This track is from my favourite Growing record, Color Wheel. They’re one of those bands that seem to completely exist within their own world. This is so good.