Friday, March 11, 2022

Hey! I Know This One!

I wasn't planning on another music post so soon after the last one but then, honestly, when do I plan anything? Most things around here stem from happenstance, serendipity or whim. Or, as in this case, falling down rabbit holes.

It all started when I read the NME's obituary for Gavin Martin, a writer who wrote for the paper back in its late seventies and early eighties heyday. Even though the NME was pretty much my bible for about a decade or so around then, I couldn't bring his name to mind, let alone remember anything he'd written, so I clicked through the link that took me to the source of the sad news to see if that would jog my memory.

Louder Than War turns out to be a music website with a lengthy manifesto rooted in what I'd consider to be the genuine punk ethos of open-minded faith in the future liberally laced with a magpie's love of the past. It's hardly surprising, given the whole operation seems to be run by aging punks and music journalism lifers, exactly the kind of people who can't shut up about music and always want to bang on about the new band they just heard that's going to be the next big thing, even bigger than the lot they told you were going to be big last week. I don't know if that reminds you of anyone.

Louder Than War has a feature called "New Band of the Day" although I don't think they claim to find an actual new band every actual day. Today's pick are Legs on Wheels, who appear to think it's still 1967. I'll pass, thanks.

They can't all be winners but the cardinal rule when you don't find what you want is "keep looking".  Perseverance got me to the extremely uninspiringly named Hotwax. The subheading sold them better: "seriously brilliant teen band from Hastings add post punk invention to grunge grrrl anthems." That packs a lot in, although if I'm going to be brutally frank I might have had about enough post-punk revivalism for a while. Anyway, here they are. Judge for yourself.

What's That Sound? - Hotwax

I liked that one enough to follow up on a couple more. They do one about a cat. It's callled PatTheKillerCat. It's quite scary, especially when the singer keeps screaming "I hate Pat". Then there's one called When We're Dead, one of whose lines goes "IM ALWAYS GONNA LOVE YOU, EVEN WHEN WE'RE DEAD" and makes it sound much more like a threat than a promise. Remind me not to go to Hastings for my holidays this year.

I suppose that might have been the end of it only of course it wasn't. There's always another chocolate in the box. As I think I mentioned a while ago, YouTube's sidebar algorithm seems to have improved radically of late. It tends to give me plenty of suggestions that seem like they have some aesthetic sympathy with whatever it is I've just watched.

Before I went back to the LTW to poke around some more I thought I'd click on a link. There was one that looked like it might be fun. It was this one.

No Mutuals - Fake Fruit.

I liked that one, too, even if it does make me wonder why time ever bothered to move on after about 1982. Also, just what is David Byrne doing these days?Also, isn't that just about the most home-made music video you ever saw? And I've seen a few.

There was some more of that for a while but we'll skip over it for now. Eventually I landed up back at LTW, where I spotted a list. It wasn't exactly news. Entitled "22 Bands for '22" it was posted back before Christmas. Chances are half of them have split up by now and the other half are already in the charts. Life moves pretty fast.

Still, maybe there'd be some bones left over to pick over. I had a quick look. I tend to be overly influenced by names when it comes to deciding which band or performer might or might not be worth further attention. It might be shallow but I've always found it at least as reliable as any other method. It's certainly quick.

Enough set-up. Let's get to the point. I do have one, believe it or not. Well, kind of...

I ended up spending a couple of hours following prompts from the list, from YouTube's suggestions and from a new channel I found along the way. I'm subbed to it now. I watched a lot of videos and live performances by a lot of new or newish bands. Everything I saw was recorded in the last couple of years, most by people in their teens or twenties,some by people a little older. 

Almost every last one of them sounded like something from another time. Usually a quite specific time at that. Here's just about the only one that didn't.

Emley lights us moor (feat. Iceboy Violet) - aya

Pretty much everything about that, from the typography to the title to the performance to the soundscape at least seems like it would have to come from this milennium. I don't think I could say that with much conviction about any of what's about to follow.

Here are some songs, all of them recorded over the last two or three years. I like them all. Some of them I like a lot. I'm very happy to have found them. I hope to hear more by all the artists and bands involved.

I'm going to put them up in chronological order by when they sound like they could have been made.

Stop Following Me 'Round - Mimi and the Miseries  

Early-mid '60s. They kind of get a pass because a) this is consciously retro and b) they aren't kids. Even so, this sound was already old when I was in my teens and I'd bet I'm the best part of twenty years older than any of the band. When punk boomed in the late '70s a bunch of sixties bands that did stuff like this had an unexpected career bump, playing what we called "fast R&B" in dive clubs to pogoing teenage punks. Best of them by far were The Downliners Sect, who I saw a couple of times. You could pass out from dehydration dancing to the Sect. Unbelievably, they were still at it as recently as five years ago and they still sound fresh.

Rainy Days In June - Barbara

Late '60s. Sounds kind of like The Turtles covering a Cowsills B-side. The gorgeous color-drained home video really sells it. Barbara are two brothers, who look like they'd be in their late '20s or early '30s. There was a weird Britpop sideshow in the '90s, when this sort of thing came briefly into fashion with people like the Mike Flowers Pops. I guess that could have something to do with it although I really hope not.

She's Not Yours - AlterModerns

Mid-70s. A little bit CBGBs, a little bit Canvey Island. The art-punk artifice of Richard Hell layered over the tight r&b strut of Wilko Johnson. They're Brazilian. Probably best not to think of them as "the Brazilian White Stripes". Oh, sorry. Now I put the idea in your head. My bad.

Trevor Philippe - Johnny Mafia

Late '70s. Actually a bit harder to place than that. There's a whole lot of punk/new wave guitar in there but there's a weird post-Exile on Main Street vibe going on, too, not to mention a spiritual kinship with the boho outsider chic of Nikki Sudden and his eighties ragtaggle. I think the band it most reminds me of is probably Scott and Charlene's Wedding when they're not channeling the Velvet Underground, mostly for the flannel and the downhome working class pride. They're French, by the way. Oh, you guessed.

Shattered Faith - Vlure

Early '80s. Starts out like Killing Joke doing Wild Boys but a lot better than that makes it sound, then brings in New Order, the Smiths, you name it. It's really a compendium of good ideas from the period, thoughtfully and effectively integrated into a very fine whole. Powerful stuff. A much better representation of the period than the average post-punk trot-out, that's for sure.

Mold - Lunar Vacation

Late '80s, although ironically the band this sounds most like is the wonderful Camera Obscura, who were mining the same time node around the end of the noughties. I think it's becoming apparent that, as predicted, pop has eaten itself.

Crystal Glass - Mad Foxes

Early '90s. Mark E Smith, The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers, they're all in there somewhere. The drumbeat sounds worryingly like Hey, Mickey played at not quite the wrong speed. This lot are French as well. The French turned out to be pretty good at this pop music thing in the end, didn't they?

Runaway Strays - Spud Cannon

Mid '90s. Although it could be mid-noughties. Or late eighties. This far on, everything becomes a blur. This is a sound that's been around. Reminds me of Tiger Trap and that scene most of all, though, and that's a solid nineties vibe. There's a really lovely video for this one, too, that made me certain they were from somewhere in the north of England, just because that's where it was filmed. They are in fact from New York State so it shows how easy to fool I am.

Bourgeois De Ville - Mary Shelley

Noughties. I think this about brings us as far as we can go without admitting to being genuinely contemporary. As I keep repeating, everything is everything else but also, the farther you go, the more of everything there is. It really starts to pile up after a while. This is James Chance eighties No Wave filtered through Art Brut and The Young Knives and who really cares because it rocks.

Phew! That went on a bit, didn't it? And I didn't even use everything I had prepared. If you watched all the insets, give yourself a pat on the back (I hate pats!) If you clicked through all the links and watched all those too, congratulations! You're a rock star! Or possibly a rock journalist.

Now there's an idea for another post...


  1. Well, I was going to pull out David Byrne's version of Once in a Lifetime that he performed on Saturday Night Live a year or two ago, but it looks like NBC has been putting a lot of SNL stuff on their new Peacock channel. Bummer.

  2. Actually, your post here reminded me of an article from Esquire that I'd read recently, despite it coming out in 2019. It's about the so-called Forgotten Music of (roughly) 2003-2012, and how those iPod years are now lost to a lot of people who don't have access to their iPods anymore. I'd be curious about your take on the matter, given you likely have a different opinion than the author.

    1. What in the name of god is the writer of that article on? As I was reading it, I was thinking "This is just stright up wrong" but I thought I'd better fact-check so I cut and pasted half a dozen of his examples of "lost" artists from the period into Amazon. I started with peopel I'd heard of - Jem, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Duffy (Duffy ffs!) - and of course they were all there. You can buy CDs of all of them and not just used ones, new ones!

      Then I tried a few I didn't know - SheDaisy, Blue Merle, The Click Five - and guess what? You can buy CDs by all of them too! And of course you can watch and listen to them on YouTube or Spotify or Amazon or ITunes or wherever.

      I literally have no idea what point he's trying to make unless it's that if you bought music by download at that particular point in time and failed to keep copies, now you don't have the downloads any more. That's like saying if you bought all your Rolling Stones singles on 45s in the 1960s and then left them in the loft when you moved house, you don't have those singles any more. Whose fault is that?!

      I suggest if he's that bothered he goes online and buys the CDs - or indeed the MP3 downloads, which are also still fricken' there! I really wish Blogger allowed bold and italics in comments because I would have bolded and italicized just about every third word in this one!

    2. I suspected as much.

      For me, I was kind of out of the popular music loop at the time, and since I didn't use an iPod but rather CDs (that I would rip MP3s from) I didn't get it either. Nice to see I'm not the only one, but I suspect that his audience is significantly older than you and me who know how to take care of their music collection.

      Or, ya know, just look it up on YouTube...

    3. Significantly "YOUNGER", alas. Not older. I can't brain today; I haz the dumb.


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