If you’ve been paying attention for the past three days, and you are a fan of The Divine Comedy, and you can join the dots, you’ll know why the indie disco playlist is ending like this.
She makes my heart beat the same way
As at the start of Blue Monday
Always the last song that they play
At the indie disco, the indie disco
At the indie disco, yeah
The Divine Comedy, “At the Indie Disco”
And if you work your way back from that lyric, you should find that the last three bands mentioned before “Blue Monday” are, in order: Blur, The Cure and The Wannadies. All of which should answer the question “why didn’t he close with Common People, the weird old fool?”. Firstly, oi! no need to get personal, and secondly because I never knowingly let an opportunity for a playlist joke to slide by unused.
It’s worth noting that Neil Hannon has since confessed that he made the whole thing up. “At the Indie Disco” is not in any way autobiographical. It is an imagined evening at an non-existent regular haunt, with imagined landmarks, and fictional DJs who can always be relied upon to finish the evening the same way.
And Blue Monday itself? Do I need to introduce it, explain it, describe it? Look, it’s “Blue Monday”, it’s incontestably regarded as the biggest selling 12″ record of all time, its original die-cut cover cost more to produce than Factory could make selling the single (this was not the first nor the last piece of terrible Factory money mismanagement), it’s a gateway drug of a track, a bridge between the old world of disco and the coming days of rave, and whichever version of it you happen to find to listen to, you don’t have to love it to know how important it is.
If I was pressed to name my favourite band from the town of Skellefteå, in northern Sweden, I’d probably plump for The Wannadies. I’d give an honourable mention, though, to Moon Safari, just for having named themselves after the Air album of that name without really knowing anything about the French band that was inspiring them.
What we have here in the form of “You and Me Song” is, essentially, brilliant Britpop. Yes, I’m using the term Britpop somewhat loosely, since The Wannadies clearly aren’t putting the Brit in Britpop, but there’s no denying that this has all the required elements. It’s catchy, you can sing along, and you can get over-excited and dance to it like you’re 18 again, leaping around stupidly through the chorus, and making doe-eyed mime during the verses.
Due to its emotional versatility (I’m only guessing here), “You and Me Song” has been used to soundtrack scenes in both Romeo + Juliet and Coronation Street. Not only that, the song has also been used in adverts by Pets at Home and Toyota. Due to its popularity, it appeared on two Wannadies albums – Be a Girl, and its follow-up Bagsy Me.
And lastly (and possibly leastly), due to a coincidental quirk, it is related to an earlier song in the indie disco playlist, because its b-side was a cover of “Blister in the Sun” by The Violent Femmes.
The official video for “You and Me Song” is on Youtube, but isn’t available in my country. Try your luck with it here:
If that doesn’t work, you’ll have to watch the charming fan-made video below instead
The Cure’s first Top 10 hit in the UK, The Lovecats came out at a time when I was a young pop-picker listening to Shakin’ Stevens, Modern Romance, Madness. With its “ba-ba-ba-baa” sections, playful bassline, hissing and sound embellishments and apparently simple lyric it was easy to be drawn into its world.
And then there was Robert Smith, stalking through the video like he was auditioning for a Rentaghost spinoff, adding himself to the pantheon of confusing ’80s pop idols, and doing a pretty good job of masking the darkness, the anti-pop of his band’s stock in trade.
Some might feel that The Lovecats is not highly danceable, but that only holds true if you’re the sort who believes dancing to be in some way a co-ordinated activity. For the rest of us, happy to jerk and twitch along as we ignore the gap between what we think we look like and the awkward reality of it, songs like this are a great leveller.
There once was a time when I would have worried that the new track from Alex Feder, “Moments of Silence”, sounded a bit like, I don’t know, like pop music I suppose. Like something a bit soft and squishy, and not cool and edgy how I liked it. For a start, you can hear all the words, there’s a sort of choir-like backing vocal, it’s all pretty polished, and it just keeps building and building in a very radio-friendly manner, sounding generally (in the warped world of my mind, at least) like a cross between Bruce Hornsby & The Range and The New Radicals.
Nowadays, I realise that none of these things are necessarily bad, and on “Moments of Silence” they combine for four and a half minutes of joy. Frankly, it’s enough to make any reasonably committed indie kid question his musical beliefs.
We asked 100 indie disco fans to respond with the first word or phrase that came into their head when we said “Song 2”.
We also asked one Jubilee Line ticket barrier to respond with the first word or phrase that came into its head:
100 indie disco fans and one ticket barrier said:
“Song 2” was the second single from Blur’s self-titled fifth album in 1997. After “Beetlebum” topped the UK singles chart on the back of a wave of “yay! not Parklife III or The Great Escape II” good feeling, “Song 2” piggy-backed on its success: what started out as a statement against dumb American rock, and then went on to become Blur‘s most successful hit in that country. It has since become the most successful, biggest, dumbest song of them all, used here there and everywhere – in the US, in the UK and elsewhere – at sporting events to celebrate goals, touchdowns, scores of any kind. In fact, at any gathering of the people where frenzied excitement is expected, “Song 2” will probably be found blaring out of a soundsystem at some point. At least British Gas haven’t got their hands on it yet – they’re still squeezing every ounce they can out of “The Universal”.
In a Facebook group that I’m a member of, someone was asking for the best tracks by Swedish bands. Accepting the rather ludicrous and arbitrary “no ABBA” rule laid down by, it wasn’t hard to think of the winning answer.
The Mary Onettes are one of many splendid bands signed to Sweden’s Labrador Records. A little less twee than some of their labelmates, on their self-title debut album they created a warmly nostalgic sound that harks back to heady new wave / new romantic days of the ’80s, with echoey drums and big choruses. It brings to mind New Order, A-Ha, Talk Talk, and you won’t hear a more perfect encapsulation of the Duran Duran song than on “R.U.N.” from the Lost EP.
“Lost” sees The Mary Onettes at the very top of their game: a driving rhythm pounds along through the verse and into a colossal chorus backed by heavenly synths. Perfect.
Earlier this year, “Common People” was voted the top Britpop anthem by BBC 6 Music listeners, beating off all competition to land this predictable and ultimately meaningless title. It’s no surprise to see it top this chart, frankly – it’s more surprising that anyone bothered to vote for anything else. If you can’t see that this is clearly the finest Britpop moment that there ever was, you’re not listening right.
The rest of the Top 10 was rounded out by heavy hitters such as Blur, Suede and Oasis, with guest appearances from The Verve’s great stolen track “Bittersweet Symphony”, The Bluetones‘ wonderful “Slight Return” and the wrong Ash song (“Girl From Mars”). Landing disappointingly outside the Top 10 was “Something For The Weekend” by The Divine Comedy, the song that you should have voted for if you had already taken it as read that “Common People” would win.
I’m probably preaching to the converted here – you almost certainly know and love this song already (but if you know and hate this song, I would love to hear from you), and there’s a good chance you can mime along to every word of Jarvis Cocker’s witty lyric. Altogether now…
She came from Greece she had a thirst for knowledge
She studied sculpture at St Martin’s College
That’s where I Caught her eye.
She told me that her Dad was loaded…
And to think that “Common People” was kept off the number one spot in the Summer of 1995 by the legendary musical pairing of Robson Green and Jerome Flynn from ITV’s Soldier Soldier, and their version of “Unchained Melody” (double A-side with “…White Cliffs of Dover”, no less!).
A couple of weeks ahead of its release on September 8th (UK) / 9th (US) The Dew Lasts an Hour, the debut album from Berlin-based dream pop group Ballet School, is streaming exclusively on Hype Machine.
A successful album launch can in no way make up for the personal tragedy that has recently visited the band, forcing them to cancel their entire summer festival programme, but if you like what you hear, please go out and buy the album. If I catch anyone leaking or stealing this, I reserve the right to regard you with severe disapprobation.
The full album tracklisting is:
“All Things Return at Night”
You can pre-order The Dew Lasts an Hour from Bella Union now. The album is available on CD (with six bonus tracks) or white vinyl.
“No Harm” is taken from the recently released EP Panorama by Canadian singer/songwriter Tara Rice. With hints of PJ Harvey, its gothic pagan shadows contain a sinister yet beguiling darkness.
The video, meanwhile, is –
a celebration of the god Pan and all of the things that he symbolized before the spin was spun and the propaganda machine turned him into “the devil”. We’re talking love, music, free will, knowledge, dancing, sex and all the good stuff!
Quiet Little Voices was the first single by Scottish indie rock band We Were Promised Jetpacks. It is taken from their debut album These Four Walls, released in 2009. On their choice of first single, the band said:
it was a joint decision. that’s one of the many good things about FatCat. we chatted, and it [Quiet Little Voices] seemed like the obvious choice. it’s our oldest song, and probably one of the only ones that’s quite catchy. some radio stations had started playing the demo, so we hopped on the bandwagon and put it out!comfortcomes.com
Hmm. Quite catchy? I’ll say!
It’s not hard to see, from this and subsequent releases, why We Were Promised Jetpacks count Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad among their influences. All three bands share common themes of melodic loudness delivered with a Scottish accent, accompanied by a hint of frustration bubbling under the surface.
The band’s third album, Unravelling, is expected later this year; a preview is available in the form of the track “Safety in Numbers”, which the band made available earlier in the Summer.
After the petty to and fro of his label dispute with Harvest over its handling of World Peace is None of Your Business, Morrissey today announced the more straightforward matter of an 18-date European tour this autumn. Countries whose Morrissey fans will soon have a better than average chance of having to work their way through the local refunds system include Poland, Italy (where Morrissey has scheduled six dates), Germany, Denmark and Sweden.
Rumoured dates in Budapest, Bucharest and Istanbul have not surfaced, unfortunately, possibly due to a perceived lack of vegetarian options in local restaurants. The tour kicks off, as promised, in Portugal, and concludes with a night at the O2 Arena in London.
Full schedule details:
Monday October 6 LISBON, Portugal (Coliseum)
Monday October 13 ROMA, Italy (Atlantico)
Thursday October 16 MILAN, Italy (Teatro Linear)
Friday October 17 BOLOGNA, Italy (Paladozza)
Sunday October 19 PESCARA, Italy (Pala Gpii)
Tuesday October 21 FLORENCE, Italy (Obihall)
Wednesday October 22 PADOVA, Italy (Geox Theater)
Friday October 24 VIENNA, Austria (Konzerthaus)
Wednesday November 5 HANNOVER, Germany (Capitol)
Saturday November 8 LUND, Sweden (Sparbank Arena)
Sunday November 9 COPENHAGEN, Denmark (Falconer)
Tuesday November 11 GOTEBORG, Sweden (Lisebergshallen)
Thursday November 13 STOCKHOLM, Sweden (Hovet)
Wednesday November 19 WARSAW, Poland (Stodola)
Friday November 21 KRAKOW, Poland (Laznia Nowa)
Sunday November 23 BERLIN, Germany (Columbiahalle)
Nominated in the “Best Hard Rock performance” category in the 2003 Grammys, “No One Knows” eventually lost out in that super-important award race to “All My Life” by Foo Fighters. In other words, a song by Dave Grohl’s band beat a song not by Dave Grohl’s band, but which is chiefly memorable for Dave Grohl’s performance in it.
It’s not all Grohl, of course: his chorus pyrotechnics are offset by the simplicity of the song’s verse, and matched by the ferocity with which Josh Homme delivers the riffage. But still, arms and sticks flying everywhere, it’s Grohl who steals the show.
Here’s a somewhat different take on the track from The Divine Comedy, one that’s extraordinary in its own right. Pushing the “hard rock” element to one side, it brings the oompah of the original center-stage and throws in a banjo, because, well, why not?