Monday, November 03, 2008

Sweeping The Nation Covermount 15: C99

A year and a bit ago we Covermounted C97, a collection of the songs time seems to have overlooked from what was then ten years ago. So popular did it prove that in haste we shoved out C98 a year ago, and so it follows that we should complete the decade set before this year is out, again using no artist that was on either of the previous sets. In the wider world 1999 was the year of Britney and Christina, of Westlife's reign of terror commencing, of trance and two-step, of Eminem's ascension to international pariah, of Shania Twain, Martine McCutcheon and Ricky Martin, of the Vengaboys, A1 and solo Spice Girls, of Blue (Da Ba Dee), Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen), Mambo Number 5 and the Millennium Prayer.

No, come back. Other intriguing stuff happened during the year, and if maybe it wasn't as strong all round it was certainly pre-millennially fascinating. Observe:


Looper - Ballad of Ray Suzuki
Belle & Sebastian have always liked a good side project, and first off the blocks was bassist Stuart David's beats, samples and spoken word, bringing the hitherto seperate worlds of lo-fi charm and breakbeat building together like they'd never been apart.
From Up A Tree

Ladytron - He Took Her To A Movie
Before Daniel and Reuben met Helen and Mira there was Lisa Eriksson, an electronic musician whose previous band had had Peel interest and was the original third hand. She only stopped for this debut single before the pan-European electro-temptresses to be joined and Eriksson moved to the unpromisingly named Techno Squirrels.
From 604

Appliance - Food Music
Mute signed Exeter trio Appliance at a time when it looked like motorik influences were about to rule all, album Manual adding levity and no little widescreen invention to the introspective Krautrock. Although they say they've started rehearsing again they've been dormant since 2003.
From Manual

Scott 4 - Catastrophe
Of course they weren't a four-piece. Their blend of country blues, indie introspection and synthy hip hop/funk/Krautrock influenced electro actually found a space nobody else had touched - Allmusic labelled them 'electronic cowpunks' - and leader Scott Blixen donned a big white stetson long before the Appleton sisters did.
From Works Project LP

Language Lab - Burning Disaster
Yorkshireman Robin Morley was (is?) Language Lab, a much darker variant on the electronic music that was making carefully Noel-approved waves at the time. And that's him rapping on it too. Don't panic. If you know it it's because it was used on Chris Morris' Jam, which is some backup to all that darkness stuff.

M.Organ - Miss Parker
Morgan Nicholls (who we know was Morgan on his album, but the CD single - with Jamie Hewlett drawn cover - says thus), formerly of Senseless Things, later of the Gorillaz live band, now Muse's touring keyboardist, here putting Hammond organ behind his fifteen year old brother's Dictaphone recorded anti-teacher freestyling.
From Organized

Delakota - 555
Nicholls and fellow Senseless Things/Gorillaz member Cass Browne formed two thirds of these post-baggy explorers, whose album came out in 1998 but this later single makes the cut. A lot of post-baggy around then; rest assured that Delakota were no Regular Fries, let alone Campag Velocet.
From One Love

Brassy - Good Times
Jon 'Blues Explosion' Spencer's sister Muffin spent her time living in Manchester forming this combination of fuzzy guitars and whiteboy hip-hop beats (their drummer did dual time as turntablist), "the sound of the Shangri La's produced by Schoolly D" said the label. One of their songs ended up advertising Motorola.
From Got It Made

Rosita - Live It Down
So Kenickie split in two in 1998, and Marie and Emmy-Kate emerged with their guitar tech and a former Swervedriver drummer to form the knife between the summery pop teeth Rosita. They lasted for two singles, but what singles they were. Ripped for us off the original 7", this.

Murry The Hump - Thrown Like A Stone
"They should have been huge" is a much overused phrase, but no, really, Aberystwyth trio Murry The Hump should have been huge. Maybe they were too angular, Matthew Evans too gawky and his lyrics too obscure for the mass market. We couldn't find the original version, so this is the 2001 album rerecording.
From Songs Of Ignorance

Ben Lee - Cigarettes Will Kill You
Not as obscure as most here - he's recorded with Kylie, Evan Dando and Ben Folds, is engaged to Ione Skye and his recent album featured one of Good Charlotte and Dave Matthews' producer - but he sells nothing in the UK, and we like it, and it's our compilation.
From Breathing Tornados

Venini - Mon Camion
Guitarist/violinist Russell Senior left Pulp in 1998 citing a disenchantment with everything they took up with Different Class and a year later returned with this vampish art-pop outfit who lasted two self-released singles before Senior opened an antiques shop instead.

Whistler - Don't Jump In Front Of My Train
EMF are, like everyone, back on the reunion trail at the moment, but in between times guitarist and songwriter Ian Dench formed what we suppose would be his own Lilac Time, a fragile, folkily acoustic trio who put out a couple of albums to declining acclaim.
From Whistler

Wheat - Don't I Hold You
When Mercury Rev kicked the door blocking chart action and the American psychedelic underground door wide open Massachusetts' Wheat, produced by Dave Fridmann as they were, were expected to be among the first through. Then they disappeared for a few years in record company limbo and lost their way, but what a way that originally was.
From Hope And Adams

Beulah - Score From Augusta
Not to be confused with the post-Dido briefly lauded by Radio 2 singer-songriter, Beulah were Elephant Six members whose upbeat horn and string-aided chamber maxi-pop briefly made them cult following major players. Still are for a lot of people.
From When Your Heartstrings Break

Mazarin - Wheats
Mazarin were (and we do mean that, as they're still together but under a new name - legalities, see) essentially Philadelphian singer-songwriter Quentin Stoltzfus, another of the Rev/Lips school with the intricate melodies recalling late Beatles that seemingly only Americans can now do.
From Watch It Happen

Ten In The Swear Jar - Sita Deth
From outside anything that even in those unknowing days would be deemed sellable to a mass audience, whacked out experimental fuzzy indie-rock from California. Most of them, and even some of their songs, went on to go even further adrift and awry as Xiu Xiu.
From My Very Private Map

The Make-Up - White Belts
Time for some righteousness, then. Ian Svenonius and co attempted to transplant communicative voodoo soul power into garage rock tropes, had well mapped out theories alternate to rock'n'roll, called their style 'Gospel Yeh-Yeh' and got some NME attention. Who knows, now Svenonius might have gone the same way Beth Ditto did.
From Save Yourself

Six By Seven - Ten Places To Die
Chris Olley would never, ever have done that. The doomy, droney slow burn intensity of this standalone single was pretty much what they were all about for their first two albums. In all honesty, though, "picking apples from a tree" is a fairly unlikely place to die, unless it's in a thunderstorm.
From The Closer You Get


Ben said...

Huge fan of that Six By Seven single but perhaps even more of its B-side, 'England And A Broken Radio'. The single package also contained their cover of Bowie's German version of 'Heroes', so all in all £4 very well spent (if I'd bought it and not got it free through the university magazine, that is). Really liked the Wheat album, and that song in particular, but never liked anything else they did, though, strangely.

BTW I've been trying to email you about the 5x5 at the STN address and my emails have been returned as undeliverable. Not sure what the problem is - do you have an alternative address? Can you drop me a line at the Silent Words email address? Cheers.

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