Club Contact

The new MP3 blog from London's club Contact. The idea is to allow people to hear new music they wouldn't have otherwise found but, if anyone has any copyright issues with a particular song, i'll take the link down. Songs are only available for a limited amount of time.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Dusting Off The Crates

Since the excellent Fluxblog laid some truth on the indie world, i've been digging in the archives to find records from my feckless alt-rock youth reflecting the article's core point that the cycle of hype-to-hate in the music press (which as the Klaxons will point out can now be completed within the space of a week) is nothing new. The idea that, in a scene dominated by image and the whims of a select group of "tastemakers", nobody can really invest themselves in a band lest they go out of fashion cuts to the heart of the current malaise in guitar-rock circles.

Possibly the third most famous group ever to emerge from Holland (although in contrast to Shocking Blue and Golden Earring, they do have more than one song) Bettie Serveert were a minor sensation in the US college rock world with their dreamy debut Palomine, even featuring on the soundtrack to the *cough* epoch-defining drama series My So Called Life. They never quite recaptured the interest shown in their debut and ended up rather ignored on both sides of the Atlantic. Although still going, their Dust Bunnies album was probably a last hurrah of sorts before they stopped trying for mass appeal and started making Velvet Underground cover records. The fuzzy pop of Story In A Nutshell weights in at just 1:11 but still manages to pack a few great hooks.

Sticking with our liberal, pancake-eating neighbours, former MTV presenter Marijne van der Flugt's Salad were popular on the London music scene for roughly thirty seconds before being crushed under the weight of the backlash against fellow female-fronted-rock-group Sleeper, a band so mediocre they single-handedly managed to set the cause of gender-balance in indie back four years. It also didn't particularly help that people kept referring to the lead singer as "former MTV presenter" Marijne van der Flugt. They were always just a fraction to odd to be pigeon-holed as generic and too good to deserve the tag of also-rans. Marijne makes handbags and sings in a group called Cowboy Racer these days.

Salad - Drink The Elixir

Although Evan Dando is as close to a songwriting genius as US rock produced in the 1990s, he was never quite accepted by the press. Dismissed, according to the occasion, as "too pretty", "too pop", "too strung-out" or "too self-indulgent", a disasterous appearance at Glastonbury cemented his reputation as a bumbling laughing-stock, regardless of the fact that the quality of his records has always been superb. Sleeping with every woman under the age of thirty in Boston, New York and L.A is inevitably going to make you enemies though. Although It's A Shame About Ray is probably their finest album, Big Gay Heart from Come On Feel The Lemonheads stands as my favourite of his songs.

The Lemonheads - Big Gay Heart

Indie girls have to operate to a fairly arcane set of
rules. Bookishness is mandatory but cross the
thin line into being a geek and you're in trouble. Any evidence that you might want to steal the indie boys' pristine sets of Star Wars figurines or mint-condition comics is cause for grave concern. It's unsurprising that Mary Timony never quite fitted in, coming across like she only stepped away from the Dungeons & Dragons board to eat or record pristine lo-fi pop gems.

Liz Phair made the classic mistake of recording a brilliant debut album and following it up with a series of records that didn't sound exactly the same. Even at her peak, she was always too brutal, raw and inelegant to make her the kind of safe indie crush that journalists love though. Fuck & Run shows her at her absolute best - a combination of superb pop writing and bleak, uncompromising lyrics. The final straw came a few years ago when she enlisted The Matrix to engineer a shiny out-and-out commercial attack on the charts in the style of a slightly more grown-up Avril Lavigne. She sold a comparatively huge amount but remains dead to critics.

Hard as it may be to believe, The Cardigans were briefly the best pop group in the world at one point. The sugar-sweet mixture of French, Brazilian, English and Swedish retro sounds of the Emmerdale and Life albums were combined with knowing winks and Black Sabbath covers in a way which could have been insufferably twee had it not been so perfectly executed. Sadly, the band appeared to agree with large sections of the press that they were little more than an extended joke and moved gradually away from being interesting over the course of the next ten years. Their transformation now thoroughly complete, Nina can duet with the Manic Street Preachers without anyone batting an eyelid (although this might be down to the fact that it's hard to bat your eyelids while sleeping).


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