A track that for some reason I decided to use as my wake up alarm for about two months. Since I had it on cassette single, this meant that I had to make sure the tape was in and rewound every night. And also, I think, that I’d pressed play + pause. And that the timer was on. Those were the days…
It took the Pixies, borrowing the Hüsker Dü blueprint and bending it to their loudQUIETloud will, to show Bob Mould the way to commercial success. With his new band, Sugar, on “Copper Blue” he put the melody to the front, saving the hardest material for the following year’s mini LP “Beaster”. There’s even an undisguised Pixies tribute (“A Good Idea”), and a love song and actual chart hit (‘If I Can’t Change Your Mind’).
Poor Evan Dando, weighed down by all that lovely long hair, barely has the energy to sing or play guitar, let alone sing AND play guitar at the same time. It takes a lot of studied effort to be this laid back, you know. Juliana Hatfield, meanwhile, seems to have swapped her bass for a camera, for reasons that are beyond me.
Martin Carr tends to be pretty honest about some of his back catalogue, once describing Wake Up Boo! as the most cynical thing he’d ever done. Of I Hang Suspended he writes:
This was influenced by the guitar playing of Bernard Butler. The title was inspired by a line from “Chimes of Freedom” by Dylan. The rest of it is crap. I think Sice knew that as well because it took him ages to muster up enough enthusiasm to sing it.
Lazy Day, he says, is a song about a dream about Charles Manson, which is not obvious from the title, lyric (about 20 words in total), or music – 90 seconds, give or take, of rumbling guitar thrash interspersed with the simplest of melodies. It’s the kind of thing teenage indie-freaks play loud in the hope of annoying someone nearby.
In honour of the one-day football tournament I’m currently slogging my guts out at. I’m using this and the John Barnes rap from World In Motion for inspiration. Jumpers for goalposts? Isn’t it? Marvellous.
Of course, everyone remembers that Boing! was an album by Airhead, and a single by The Wedding Present. One of the 12 they released in 1992 in their monthly chart attack. While Boing can be found on youtube, and features a lovely video with a steam engine and a bouncy castle, NME and I agreed that in 1992, California was one of the singles of the year. Warning: fairly rudimentary vocal stylings on this one, as you’d expect from David Gedge.
Well, I’ve slipped back a year again (kinda – the single was out in ‘91, the album in ‘92…), but I have my reasons. This one just popped into my head while I was thinking about The Wedding Present. 10 points if you know why…
Airhead’s sole album was, in the words of the NME, “an irrepressible, intensely likeable pop album delivered with a sackload of energy, spirit and zero pretension”. Shiny happy pop people making no attempt to hide their influences, in other words. And taken on that level, hard to hate.
It’s the lovely Harriet Wheeler again. If you don’t think she has just the most beautiful voice, you might want to consider booking an appointment with your local ear calibrator.
Had I been older, perhaps, or at least more rock, art-rock, or punk literate when The Jesus and Mary Chain released Honey’s Dead in 1992 I might have seen it more in the context of the gradual dilution of their sound, and the point where they started to turn away from the noise and feedback and towards the acoustic sound that would define their 1994 follow-up Stoned and Dethroned. As it was, from the opening top ten and banned from Top Of The Pops single Reverence, through the sweet melodies of Good For My Soul and Sundown and tracks like Catchfire, Tumbledown, and Far Gone And Out, propelled along by the presence of drummer Monti (borrowed from Curve), the whole piece just felt infused with an irresistible cool.
Who’s this – is it Garbage?
Meanwhile, back in the land of the criminally overlooked were Moose, thrown in the shoegazing bucket because in their very early days, on their first few EPs, waves of guitar did indeed wash over the songs. Not only that, but according to lead singer KJ McKillop it was his habit of looking down at the array of effects pedals at his feet that coined the scene’s name in the first place.
By the time tracks from those EPs had been collected together as “Sonny of Sam”, and Moose had recorded “…XYZ”, the label already started to seem inaccurate. The album is more country-tinged pop than reverb heavy shoegazing, liberally strewn with gems, including a cover of Fred Neil’s wonderful ‘Everybody’s Talking’.