Wednesday, July 26, 2017

40 From 40: 1981

Our survey of four decades of alt-pop (like alt-right, but even more white and middle-class) lands on one of the big years - indeed, to Lord Bob Stanley it's the best pop year of them all. Synthpop, paranoia, post-punk and pop weirdness lead the way, MTV, Kerrang! and Stars On 45 begin their varying career parabolas, Bucks Fizz take Eurovision, home taping starts killing music and Ozzy Osbourne bites the head off a dove - to a PR woman as sole audience before a Columbia Records executive meeting, which is surely stretching too far. Good times, these, for a year we could easily have made a second playlist for, but rules are rules so...

Laurie Anderson - O Superman (For Massenet)
Dinosaur L - Go Bang
ESG - Moody
Heaven 17 - (We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang
D.A.F. - Der Mussolini
Our Daughter's Wedding - Lawnchairs
Depeche Mode - New Life
The Human League - Love Action (I Believe in Love)
Soft Cell - Bedsitter
Pete Shelley - Homosapien
Squeeze - Is That Love?
R.E.M. - Radio Free Europe (original Hib-Tone single)
Minor Threat - Minor Threat
Black Flag - Rise Above
The Birthday Party - Release The Bats
Department S - Is Vic There?
Josef K - Sorry For Laughing
Au Pairs - Come Again
Gang Of Four - To Hell With Poverty
The Higsons - I Don't Want To Live With Monkeys
Pigbag - Papa's Got A Brand New Pigbag
The Specials - Ghost Town
Madness - Grey Day
Black Uhuru - Youth Of Eglington
Grace Jones - Feel Up
Freeez - Southern Freeez
Linx - Intuition
ABC - Tears Are Not Enough
Brian Eno & David Byrne - The Jezebel Spirit
Prince - Controversy
Lovebug Starski - Positive Life
Gil Scott-Heron - 'B' Movie (Intro, Poem, Song)
ABBA - The Day Before You Came
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Souvenir
Fun Boy Three - The Lunatics (Have Taken Over The Asylum)
Siouxsie and the Banshees - Spellbound
The Fall - Leave The Capitol
The Undertones - Julie Ocean
Scritti Politti - The “Sweetest Girl”
Japan - Ghosts

Previously amongst the 40: 1970, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

40 From 40: 1993

Reading back contemporary overviews of music from the end of 1993 it's striking how US rock was grouped together as one intransigent whole, which means that Nirvana, in the year of In Utero and the recording of Unplugged In New York, are usually mentioned in the same (usually negative) list and tone as the Spin Doctors and Counting Crows, because they're all American guitar bands coming over here selling their records with their hair and moaning, aren't they? Of course this had long since essayed its own music press backlash, put into true being by April's Select magazine Yanks Go Home! cover, as Stuart Maconie coining the term Lion Pop first in a Cud album review a year earlier - having already put in his notice at the NME, the final straw being Superchunk appearing on the cover - lit the touchpaper for much to follow. We didn't know it yet, but a band signed by Alan McGee that May would come to lead that line. 1993 was a curious year all round, the charts full of second gear reggae revival and one hit wonders - 4 Non Blondes, Snow, Culture Beat - while a lot of big names ended up in litigation of various kinds, whether Michael Jackson and Jordy Chandler, George Michael and Sony or what was now The Artist Formerly Known As Prince and Warner Brothers. Meanwhile all this happened...

The Breeders - Cannonball
PJ Harvey - 50ft Queenie
Unrest - Make Out Club
The Fall - Why Are People Grudgeful
The Boo Radleys - Lazarus
The Afghan Whigs - Debonair
Sugar - Tilted
Elastica - Stutter
Nirvana - Scentless Apprentice
Huggy Bear - Her Jazz
Bikini Kill - Rebel Girl
Leftfield feat. John Lydon - Open Up
Sub Sub feat. Melanie Williams - Ain't No Love (Ain't No Use)
Saint Etienne - You're In A Bad Way
Stereolab - French Disko
Seefeel - Plainsong
Björk - Human Behaviour
KRS-One - Sound Of Da Police
Wu-Tang Clan - Da Mystery Of Chessboxin'
Pet Shop Boys - Can You Forgive Her?
Frank Black - I Heard Ramona Sing
Squeeze - Some Fantastic Place
The Lemonheads - It's About Time
Madder Rose - Swim
The Auteurs - American Guitars
Eggs - The Government Administrator
Animals That Swim - Roy
James - Laid
Gigolo Aunts - Where I Find My Heaven
Pulp - Lipgloss
Blur - Coping
Suede - Animal Lover
David Bowie - Jump They Say
New Order - Regret
The Smashing Pumpkins - Cherub Rock
Radiohead - Anyone Can Play Guitar
Tindersticks - City Sickness
Liz Phair - Stratford-On-Guy
Red House Painters - Katy Song
Mazzy Star - Fade Into You

Previously amongst the 40: 1970, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009

Friday, July 14, 2017

40 From 40: 1973

Clearing up another pre-Year Zero year as we continue through four decades of pop, one which features a lot of big important albums and international starmaking turns. Ziggy retired, Led Zeppelin got their private plane, CBGBs opens, we lost Gram Parsons, we nearly lost Stevie Wonder right at the peak of his powers - he spent four days in a coma as a result of a car accident - and the oil crisis meant a shortage of vinyl manufacturing ability to levels not seen again until Record Store Day began. The last track here is there because it felt right.

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - Next
Tony Christie - Avenues And Alleyways
Wings - Jet
Mott The Hoople - All The Way From Memphis
John Cale - Child's Christmas In Wales
Lou Reed - How Do You Think It Feels
David Bowie - Cracked Actor
Pink Floyd - Money
Steely Dan - Show Biz Kids
War - Me And Baby Brother
The Doobie Brothers - Long Train Runnin'
The Chi-Lites - Stoned Out Of My Mind
Stevie Wonder - Higher Ground
Ike & Tina Turner - Nutbush City Limits
James Brown - The Payback
Kool & The Gang - Jungle Boogie
Incredible Bongo Band - Apache
Can - Spray
Funkadelic - Nappy Dugout
The Isley Brothers - Summer Breeze
Marvin Gaye - Let's Get It On
The Wailers - Stir It Up
I-Roy - Black Man Time
Dennis Alcapone - Cassius Clay
The Maytals - Loving Spirit
Joe Gibbs & The Professionals - African Dub
10cc - Rubber Bullets
Golden Earring - Radar Love
Hawkwind - Born To Go
The Stooges - Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell
New York Dolls - Trash
Roxy Music - Do The Strand
NEU! - Fuer Immer (forever)
Faust - Krautrock
David Essex - Rock On
John Martyn - Solid Air
Gram Parsons - A Song For You
Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Tom Waits - I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You
Mike Oldfield - Sailor's Hornpipe

Previously amongst the 40: 1970, 1972, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009

Monday, July 10, 2017

STN recommends: 10/7/17

As every year, the Indietracks Festival compilation features plenty of pop thrills, and at £4 for 45 tracks and all proceeds to the Midland Railway Trust you'd be a fool not to take on its delights. For one, there's The Office Worker from the new Mammoth Penguins album John Doe, a concept record featuring Sophie from Haiku Salut, presumably on the electronics. We know little about the record thus far but more should be revealed when they play our night at Leicester Firebug on Wednesday 26th July supporting Chorusgirl, with awkward noisepoppers Jesuscarfish opening. Also sneaking back with their swooning jangle present and correct, if slightly beefier and feedback-y, come fellow STN Presents alumni The Understudies with the lovelorn Is There Gonna Be Dancing? Oh, while we're on Emma Kupa, her immediate release concern is The Heyman Kupa Band's long promised album out on the 21st, Over's Now Overdue bittersweet summer pop finding its meter in this weather.

It's six years since we've heard from Emil Svanängen's awkward pop noir as Loney Dear, his self-titled seventh album released via Peter Gabriel's Real World Records on 22nd September and previewed by Sum, built on bruised confessionals and apreggiating synths like a low budget Bon Iver. Similarly melancholic in an expansive field of modernity is Lost Horizons, newly signed to Bella Union for album Ojalá out November 3rd, which is reasonable given it's Simon Raymonde's own project with Cocteaus-associated 4AD band Dif Juz's Richie Thomas and a selection of guest singers, here the Innocence Mission's Karen Peris swooning in widescreen and making the album a fascinating prospect. The unexpected about-face of Wolf Alice continues - breathy, hazy, built on layers of synths and shoegaze dynamics that devolve into open road dreaminess and sounding nothing like Yuk Foo, it bodes fascinatingly for Visions Of A Life, out 29th September. Ghostpoet's Dark Days & Canapés... well, it has a terrible title, but the album out August 18th promises to be uneasily brooding in an adjacent way to his previous work, very reminiscent of Massive Attack's incoporation of darkly menacing post-punk into their dynamic on Mezzanine.

Hey, time for white indie boy to write about grime, and Dizzee Rascal's back amongst us! No superstar producer, no big name guest slots and definitely no shouting James Corden, Wot U Gonna Do? is self-critical dark drama, Boy In Da Corner grown up and paranoid for what he did with all those years. Skepta, two years Dizzee's senior but who took the long way round to a comparable level of fame, goes in - and not just on the traditional HATERZ - on surprise new track Hypocrisy.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

40 From 40: 1982

Does anyone read these spiels? Maybe we should just save them for the book version that'll never happen. Here's forty top songs (39 of which are on Spotify, Prefab Sprout the surprising omission) from the magnificent pop year of 1982, and no, Dollar's inclusion is not a mistake. Trevor Horn, good man. By the way, yes, we know Shipbuilding came out in 1982 but was included in our 1983 list. It happens. At least it's represented.

The Passage - XOYO
New Order - Temptation
Yazoo - Don't Go
Visage - Night Train
The Human League - Mirror Man
Prefab Sprout - Lions In My Own Garden (Exit Someone)
The Associates - Party Fears Two
Scritti Politti - Jacques Derrida
Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force - Planet Rock
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - The Message
Kurtis Blow - Tough
Soft Cell - Torch
Bucks Fizz - My Camera Never Lies
Dollar - Videotheque
Weekend - Drumbeat For Baby
Dexys Midnight Runners - Let's Make This Precious
Orange Juice - I Can't Help Myself
Michael Jackson - Billie Jean
Blancmange - Living On The Ceiling
Nick Nicely - Hilly Fields (1892)
Kate Bush - Suspended In Gaffa
XTC - Senses Working Overtime
The Jam - A Town Called Malice
Echo & The Bunnymen - The Back Of Love
Siouxsie & The Banshees - Fireworks
The Pretenders - Back On The Chain Gang
R.E.M. - Carnival Of Sorts (Boxcars)
The Monochrome Set - Jet Set Junta
Mission Of Burma - That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate
Descendents - Myage
The Fall - The Classical
Cocteau Twins - Wax And Wane
Joe Jackson - Steppin' Out
ESG - Dance
Kid Creole & The Coconuts - Stool Pigeon
Gang Of Four - We Live As We Dream, Alone
Fun Boy Three - The Telephone Always Rings
The Clash - Straight To Hell
Elvis Costello & The Attractions - Beyond Belief
Bruce Springsteen - Highway Patrolman

Previously amongst the 40: 1970, 1972, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009

Monday, July 03, 2017

The story so far: STN's top 40 albums of the first half of 2017

So now we've covered the best tracks of the year so far on a month by month basis, let's move on to the longform stuff. Feel free to remind us of these come the end of the year when something else from these six months overtakes the lot.

Algiers - The Underside Of Power
At The Drive-In - in•ter a•li•a
Big Thief - Capacity
Celebration - Wounded Healer
Christian Fitness - slap bass hunks
Cloud Nothings - Life Without Sound
Craig Finn - We All Want The Same
Fazerdaze - Morningside
Fleet Foxes - Crack-Up
Gallops - Bronze Mystic
Grandaddy - Last Place
H. Grimace - Self-Architect
H Hawkline - I Romanticize
Hurray For The Riff Raff - The Navigator
Idles - Brutalism
Jane Weaver - Modern Kosmology
Jens Lekman - Life Will See You Now
Laura Marling - Semper Femina
Los Campesinos! - Sick Scenes
Meursault - I Will Kill Again
Milo's Planes - Individual Development Plan
The Mountain Goats - Goths
Napoleon IIIrd - The Great Lake
Novella - Change Of State
Perfume Genius - No Shape
Piano Magic - Closure
Post War Glamour Girls - Swan Songs
Priests - Nothing Feels Natural
Ralegh Long - Upwards Of Summer
Rose Elinor Dougall - Stellular
Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 3
Saint Etienne - Home Counties
Sean Rowe - In Darkened Rooms
Spiral Stairs - Doris and the Daggers
Spoon - Hot Thoughts
Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, James McAlister - Planetarium
Storm The Palace - Snow, Stars And Public Transport
Sweet Baboo - Wild Imagination
Why? - Moh Lhean
Wire - Silver/Lead

Sunday, July 02, 2017

STN recommends... June 2017

Sorry about the lack of recent posts, but everything we've really liked in the last fortnight or so that's on Spotify is included regardless in the sixth monthly roundup of what we've loved lately:

Things that aren't on Spotify that we've liked since the last post: Warm Digits' electrifying glam-kosmiche stomp promising ever more for album Wireless World out 4th August;the bewitching twisted psych-indie of The Graphites; Parenthetical Girls' Zac Pennington going solo with left of centre string-soaked bruised romance as Comedienne; longserving Birmingham scene noisepopniks Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam; the effervescent harmonic jangle of Charmpit; charmingly offhand lo-fi pop from Jetstream Pony (featuring sometime members of the Wedding Present, Trembling Blue Stars and the Fireworks); the (supposedly) unaffected sunshine pop of Baby!; Floreana's MJ-recorded charging punk-pop shapes (self-titled debut out now); and the return of The Indelicates, and the only logical response to finding that Simon and Julia have written a glam racket about Jimmy Savile is "what took them so long?" The album Juniverbrecher (usual array of magnificent crowdfunding options therein) also features a track called The Bins.