The usual Covermount housekeeping to start, and you'll see that all the live downloads are now linked on the sidebar. As for the double Christmas spectacular, that'll be reupped towards the end of the month along with, yes, a third selection.
For this tenth official Covermount we had all sorts of themes in mind, but given the popularity of the last one we put out, C97, not to mention the entertainment we had putting it together, and with the new year increasing in speck size on the timeline horizon, we thought we'd jump forward a year and do a similar short-termist Nuggetish job on 1998. In the wider world dance was taking advantage of the rock interregnum caused by 1997's conflagrance of Be Here Now's scene ending and OK Computer's barrier pushing as many people and their bands sold their guitars and bought turntables. CD:UK started, and with it a real push for the pre-packaged pure popists - B*Witched, Billie, Steps - in the wake of the Spice Girls' success, even as Geri left. All Saints made the leap from R&B popstrels to fully fledged celebrities. The Met Bar started attracting a better clientele than Annie from Elastica. Five appeared as Boyzone hit their sales peak and Robbie had his best selling album. There was Brimful Of Asha and It's Like That for the remix community to be proud of, while album racks were joined by The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill, Ray Of Light, Urban Hymns, This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, This Is Hardcore, Moon Safari, In The Aeroplane Over The Sea and Gomez' Mercury winner Bring It On.
None of this is reflected below, obviously. The only rule - no artist repetition from C97. We think we've managed it well enough.
Lilys - A Nanny in Manhattan
Partly because of the number of bands who'd be perfect for C98 had we not featured often inferior songs in C97, we've had to take a few chances with this one. These 60s-referencing popstrels from Philly had a number twelve single off the back of a Levis advert, even though they evidently couldn't finish it without falling apart.
Hefner - Pull Yourself Together
Darren Hayman says he can't listen to Breaking God's Heart because of its unrealised potential, but this was the album that adorned many a Britpop-weary bedsit indie kid's portable Sanyo, a new lovelorn Richman or Gano for the lo-fi set. He still ends shows with this. This, well, isn't on it, although it was the preceding single and is on odds and sods collection Boxing Hefner.
Ten Benson - The Claw
Despite Radcliffe interest they never looked like becoming big, but the curiously minded powerchord-friendly possibly ironic filthmeisters pricked many an alternative ear in emerging with this... this... thing. Eventually they called an album Satan Kidney Pie, and supposedly they're still going.
Snow Patrol - Starfighter Pilot
Yeah, yeah, we know, but hear us out. This (we think this is the same version, ripped from 1999's now-available-in-Tesco Songs For Polar Bears) was their debut single, when they sounded like Lou Barlow gone new wave and a big Jacknife Lee-aided recording budget was a pipe dream. When this passed by nearly un-noticed, who'd have known the screams it'd get when played on last December's arena tour.
Cinerama - Kerry Kerry
In 1997 David Gedge decided that the Wedding Present jangle was all very well and good but he was feeling quite chipper at the moment, thanks for asking, so put them on ice and with girlfriend Sally Murrell formed Cinerama, a device through which he grew older slightly more gracefully. Strings, even. Then the pair split and the old identity resumed in 2004.
Garageland - Beelines To Heaven
The reason why we've been able to do all this is because around 1997-98 we bought a lot of CD singles, often from car boot sales. This New Zealand outfit approximating Pavement doing Teenage Fanclub released the album Last Exit To Garageland in 1996, but this crept out as a single at the start of '98.
Marine Research - Queen B
When Heavenly's Matthew Fletcher committed suicide in 1996 the remaining four members reformatted with a new drummer as Marine Research, putting out this slightly more textured but mostly business as usual single and album Sounds From The Gulf Stream a year later before all properly going seperate ways.
The Delgados - The Arcane Model
Now the dust is settling, we can probably agree that Peloton just outranks The Great Eastern as the Delgados' finest hour, a merging of their early fuzzy charges and later grandiose weird pop that sounds less like transition and more like something crystallising of itself.
Derrero - Radar Intruder
Substantially less well remembered but tipped for big things for a few years, the Cardiff-based arty types - singer Andy Fung is now a well respected experimental painter - would later work with John Cale and tour with Catatonia and near stylistic neighbours the Super Furrys.
Solex - Solex All Licketysplit
It's highly pleasing to see Amsterdam's Elisabeth Esselink cameo on the Go! Team's I Never Needed It Now So Much, as we'd lost contact with her Deerhoof-preceding dayglo oddness long ago, creating eclectic popscapes from loops, samples and her, erm, untutored vocals.
Clint Boon Experience - Only One Way I Can Go
Between Inspiral Carpets incarnations, the future writer and performer of the Enjie Benjy theme harked back to the Joe Meek-inspired "space age pop" that initially inspired him to take up the Farfisa. This sampleadelica followed, featuring Alfie Boe, currently being plugged as the future of Russell Watsonesque pop-opera.
Cornelius - Free Fall
In the early part of the year the underground was agog of tales of how Tokyo's Keigo Oyamada's multi-layered, MBV/Beach Boys/Beck-referencing indietronica, as it would later be pigeonholed, was going to take over. It didn't, but Fantasma remains a far more than sterling work.
Prolapse - Deanshanger
Bit of a cheat, this, as it was a 1998 single from 1997's The Italian Flag album, but we neglected them last time out so here's a better late than never nod to the Leicester-based noisemeisters who sounded like a shoegazing McLusky, if you added two singers, one girlish, one a shouting Glaswegian who now works as an archaeologist in Hungary.
Gel - Catching Ants
Near enough impossible to find much about them now, but they were five Reading teenagers doing Midgetish punk-pop, briefly signed to Sire at Seymour Stein's recommendation. Their album was even called Sparkly Things. Two are, conversely, now in proggers Pure Reason Revolution with, even more unlikely, one of Period Pains.
Cay - Better Than Myself
We can't do a where Are They Now? on charismatic Dutch ball of impotent fury Anet Mook because apparently not even her former label and bandmates know where she is. Often lazily compared to Hole, this was their debut single heralding the old, old story of quality releases and Next Big Thing puffery that led nowhere.
Chicks - Let Me Go
As Kenickie grew up and drifted apart, most eyes turned to the similarly glitter-friendly Dublin trio to carry the girls in indie-pop-punk torch forward. Again they never made the commercial breakthrough, and with Royal Trux producing their to date unreleased album it's doubtful they really disliked that state of affairs.
Magoo - Swiss Border Escape
Before Norwich brought us Bearsuit they brought us Magoo, who released two albums on Chemikal Underground (this is from Vote The Pacifist Ticket Today) of American-scented power indiepop, nowadays self-released. Chris T-T is a former member. There's every chance you don't know who Chris T-T is, so that's just spacefillingly pointless.
Spearmint - A Trip Into Space
A little after giving lazy bloggers a title, the Northern Soul-quaffing London pop dreamers led by a bloke called Shirley found a hooky sample and turned it into piano-pounding soul-pop with a regretful undertow. David Morales coincidentally found the same sample, put it in Needin' U and had a top ten hit a couple of months later.
Sodastream - Turnstyle
Peel-favoured Australian duo often compared to Belle & Sebastian, as a lot of Antipodean bands seem to be. Must be something in the water. We went mad for this at the time, and still can given half a chance. They split in February, it says here. Not much else to say about it, really.
Badly Drawn Boy - Road Movie
But plenty to say about this, not least that the CD of EP3 doesn't now go for half as much as we'd have liked it to. Back before he was permanently one step away from being mere high end AOR here was a shambolic, sarky, stylistically awry talent of the sort we couldn't imagine the north of England could produce.
Cat Power - Cross Bones Style
Chan's now a Lagerfeld feted style icon and pre-Feist cultured solo female scion of the Fifty Quid Man set. How different these days of turbulently fragile living, recording an album in Melbourne with two thirds of the Dirty Three half of which was written in one disturbed night.
Ooberman - Shorley Wall
And if that tears at the emotions, wait until Sophia Churney gets to read Danny Popplewell's poem at the end. The Liverpudlians Ooberman really were the nearly men (and woman) of the period, encouraged to re-release this on the promise of Radio 1 playlistings that never came, at which the label dropped them. They've recently reformed, as everyone will.