Saturday, 30 April 2011

Song Of The Day 30/04/2011: The Besnard Lakes - Albatross

There are many, many bands who have released songs called 'Albatross', from Fleetwood Mac to Wild Beasts, but this one is definitely my favourite. The best track on their most recent album, it showcases everything I love about the band - the soaring dual vocals and the slow post-rocky builds that manage not to feel out of place in a 5 minute pop song. I saw them live just after the release of this record and it was brilliant - I can't wait for them to either release a new album or do another tour of the UK.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Song Of The Day 29/04/2011: Dirty Projectors - Police Story

In honour of events in Whitehall, today's post was originally going to be anti-establishment classic Police Story by Black Flag, until I decided that the blog isn't quite ready for me to be posting Black Flag as the song of the day. So here's the Dirty Projectors version of the song instead.
The Dirty Projectors' album Rise Above apparently came about after songwriter/arranger Dave Longstreth was thinking about the Black Flag album Damaged, and hit upon the idea of recording his own tribute to the album. It's an interesting listen, bearing almost no resemblance to the original, so it's more of a reimagining than a cover album.
The original of this is one of the greatest hardcore songs there is, but I think this version's interesting too. The bizarre vocal gymnastics put a strangely surreal new spin on the Black Flag story.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Song Of The Day 28/04/2011: Belle & Sebastian - Another Sunny Day

Belle & Sebastian's 2005 album 'The Life Pursuit' isn't vintage B&S. A lot of the songs are fairly throwaway pop, and some (particularly on the second half of the album) are genuinely bad. There is one song on there, however, that is among the best things the band has ever done, that is 'Another Sunny Day'. Here it is, coupled with a pretty good animation I found on YouTube - it fits the song perfectly.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Song Of The Day 27/04/2011: Ace Bushy Striptease - Let Us Sit Quietly and Listen to Pop Punk

Today's song of the day comes from the great Ace Bushy Striptease. To be honest they're one of the bands I've first checked out in the wake of them being announced for Indietracks, but I've really enjoyed what I've heard.
They aren't really a typical Indietracks band, if such a thing exists, as they don't really fit any of the stereotypes that might suggest. They do play with elements of the indiepop sound (in the naive-sounding boy-girl vocals especially) but they also touch upon noisy pop-punk and occasionally twinkly-sounding guitars + shouting that isn't (whisper it) too far from something Kinsella-y. Their songs are really hyperactive; as soon as they get settled into a verse they're done with it and move onto something else.
This is one of the best songs I've heard of theirs, the title presumably playing on CSS' "Let's Make Love and Listen to Death From Above". This is much better though, and says far infinitely more to me about my life than that does. And if there's one thing that indiepop and pop-punk share in their ethos then it's surely that. It's nicely tongue-in-cheek too (I love the vocal breakdown in the middle).

I'm looking forward to seeing them tear the roof off the church (I guess that's probably where they're playing) come July.

It's not on YouTube or whatever, but download all their stuff (including this song) at their website (cheers guys)!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Song Of The Day 26/04/2011: Magic Shoppe - Something's Wrong

Magic Shoppe are a Boston band that play classic psychedelia tinged Nuggets-y garage rock. They include bands like the Brian Jonestown Massacre and BRMC among their influences, but I think their record is, on the whole, much more tuneful than anything by either of those bands.

Last year's 'Reverb EP' was one of my favourite completely out-of-the-blue unknown records of last year, and they've just expanded it to a full album, their debut, which was released last week. The whole thing is streamable on their record company's SoundCloud, and I have embedded my favourite track below.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Song Of The Day 25/04/2011: The Hidden Cameras - Mississauga Goddamn

Another short blog today. Blame both the Bank Holiday and the weather - I don't really want to stay on the computer too long, so I can get back to lazing in the sun with this record.

This is the title track on my favourite Hidden Cameras album. I had barely heard anything by them until they were announced as headliners for this year's Indietracks, but now I have them on heavy rotation and can't wait for their set, which could well be as perfect for Indietracks as their album is for today's spectacular weather.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Song Of The Day 24/04/2011: The Lovely Eggs - Have You Even Heard A Digital Accordion?

Happy Easter! What more apt band could there be for today that the Lovely Eggs?

This is a ludicrous song. That's all I can really say about it - you're going to have to listen yourself.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Song Of The Day 23/04/2011: Life Without Buildings - Sorrow

Not much time to do a blog today, so I'll just post one of the best tracks from one of the best albums of the last decade. Sue Tompkins has one of the most distinctive voices I've ever heard, and it's a massive shame the band only released one studio album before she retired from the music business and returned to her previous life as an acclaimed artist.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Song Of The Day 22/04/2011: Best Coast - When I'm With You

Best Coast are a fairly divisive band. Some people though their debut was one of the best releases of last year, some thought they had nothing going for them at all. I'm firmly in the former camp - I have listened to 'Crazy For You' a frankly ludicrous number of times in the last year, and still find it pretty much perfect at what it tries to do. This is the bonus track on some UK editions of the album, their earlier single 'When I'm With You'. It may be cliched, and may have been massively overplayed on TV programs and even adverts over the last year, but I love it.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Song Of The Day 21/04/2011: Yo la Tengo - Little Honda

It's a lovely day outside, and while I was walking home earlier down Camden High Street I just couldn't get this out of my head. It's a brilliant summer song, a cover of the Beach Boys but sounding more like a Jesus & Mary Chain B-side. But it's probably more tuneful than anything the Mary Chain ever put out. Also, dig that one-note solo and the amazing fuzz guitar tone. But you can't say that much about this kind of song really. Three chords and exhilaration.

Yo la Tengo - Little Honda

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Song Of The Day 20/04/2011: The Rain Parade - You Are My Friend

Todays SotD is some premium psych revival from LA's The Rain Parade. Part of the Paisley Underground scene that spawned the excellent Dream Syndicate (the Steve Wynn version, not the John Cale/La Monte Young drone band), Mazzy Star and the Bangles (on whom see this, right now, assuming you like indiepop), the Rain Parade put out a couple of proper albums as well as various live/outtakes collections. This song's about my favourite by them and appears on their Explosions in the Glass Palace EP: it was also a single. The EP was tacked onto the end of their first album when it was reissued so you can get it there.

Anyway, I think this is really good. Jangly psychedelia with some nice guitar playing too. I often think the Paisley Underground scene doesn't get enough credit for the influence it had on later US indie, probably because it didn't really have the whole concept of "independent" labels (it all happened before independents were much of a going concern). Anyway, it's not too far from this kind of thing to something like Green on Red.

The Rain Parade - You Are My Friend

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Song Of The Day 19/04/2011: Wive - Lazarvs And Dives

Wive's brilliant debut album 'Pvll' made number 3 in my 'Best Albums of 2010' countdown, and in retrospect I wish I'd put it higher - it is a forward-thinking, original album that remains absolutely beautiful. This song is the centrepiece, using sampled vinyl cracks and pops as percussion on which piano and a plaintive violin play hypnotically. 'Hypnotic' is actually probably as good a word as any to use for the track, although 'haunting' and even 'empowering' would also work. None of these really get to the root of what makes it great, though. Have a listen below (although not on laptop speakers or whatever - this record is the absolute definition of a 'headphones album').

Monday, 18 April 2011

Song Of The Day 18/04/2011: Daniel Johnston - Some Things Last A Long Time

A couple of days ago I watched The Devil & Daniel Johnston again. I'm still not sure about the word 'genius' being applied to him, but he definitely has a rawness and a power that few other songwriters can hope to match. The song that closes the film, 'Some Things Last A Long Time', is a great example. The quivering of Johnston's voice and the straightforwardness of the lyrics heighten the sheer emotion of the song to levels that make it impossible for your heart not to bleed for him.

If you haven't seen it, definitely give 'The Devil & Daniel Johnston" a watch. Even if you don't like his music, it's an incredibly revealing and respectful look at someone who has never quite managed to overcome whatever mental problems he has, but has still managed to create a global cult following. Check out the Beach House cover version of this song, too (on "Devotion") - I think it's my favourite of the many interpretations of Johnston's songs that have been recorded in the last 30 years.

Daniel Johnston - Some Things Last A Long Time

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Song Of The Day 17/04/2011: Another Sunny Day - I'm In Love With A Girl Who Doesn't Know I Exist

Here's another indiepop classic for you. Harvey Williams played with various bands in the late 80s and early 90s including the Field Mice and the Hit Parade, as well as releasing solo recordings under the name 'Another Sunny Day'. These bands were part of the Sarah roster, like Friday's Song Of The Day artist St. Christopher, and have a similar style. In my opinion Another Sunny Day's stuff has aged far better than many of his contemporaries. His complete recordings are available on 'London Weekend', a very hard-to-find album that contains some of the best singles ever released on Sarah. 'Anorak City' and 'You Shall All Be Murdered' are more famous, but my favourite is definitely this one, 'I'm In Love With A Girl Who Doesn't Know I Exist'. It's short length and the quintessentially Sarah sentiments don't detract at all from what is possibly the pinnacle of the Sarah era.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Song Of The Day 16/04/2011: Help Stamp Out Loneliness - Record Shop

Today is Record Store Day. Thousands of people (including me) are descending on independent record shops around the world, with many bands releasing exclusive 7"s and EPs to mark the occasion. There's a lot of talk on Twitter about how many of the shops that struggle for business for much of the year have queues around the block - this yearly event is clearly a very good thing for underground music of all types.

In the words of this excellent HSOL song, 'stroll on down to the record shop, come on'.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Song Of The Day 15/04/2011: St. Christopher - You Deserve More Than A Maybe

St. Christopher were a very stereotypical Sarah Records band. Hailing from York, they first surfaced in the late 80s and went on to release a surprising number of records, initially on Sarah and later on a variety of other indie labels. This song was the biggest 'hit' they ever had, perfectly encapsulating the jangly sense of frustration that so many bands around that time tried to get across. It never really settles properly - there is something about it that makes it sound almost eerie, and that sets it apart from the rest of the stuff Sarah put out, which can get a bit samey if you listen to too much of it in one go.

St. Christopher - You Deserve More Than A Maybe

Album Review: Low - C'mon

[Sub Pop, 2011]

Low have been around for a very long time. One of the first bands to break out from the slowcore subgenre in the early 1990s, they have since made 8 albums that have followed roughly the same blueprint - beautiful downtempo hymn-like backing instrumentation covered in layers of some of the best vocal harmonies I've ever heard. Their music incorporates and almost post-rock feel and lays it over conventional song structures. Despite the fact that they have essentially remained the same for 20 years, with only brief flirtations with faster stuff or with electronica on more recent albums, they have managed to completely avoid sounding tired or bereft of ideas in any way, mainly in my opinion because so few other bands are able to do what they do with anywhere near the same levels of success. There are a good few albums by them I'd class as genuinely brilliant, with the pick of the bunch being 2001's 'Things We Lost In The Fire', one of the best records of the last decade. They've only released one album since 2005, however, and even that was a bit of a mis-step for them. From the opening bars of 'Try To Sleep' it is obvious they've re-evaluated what made them good in the first place, and are fully back on song - husband-and-wife vocalists Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker soar together over a lovely twinkly glockenspiel backing with an intimacy that Low have rarely achieved since the release of 'Dinosaur Act' a decade ago.

The first half of the album is slightly quicker, slightly more rocky, than I expected from Low. It contains all the more radio-friendly songs, like 'Try To Sleep' and 'Witches', about Sparhawk's childhood fear of witches and, bizarrely, people who act like Al Green. The lyrics are harrowing, even without the stark instrumentation;

"One night I got up and told my father there were witches in my room
He gave me a baseball bat and said here's what you do
When you have finally submitted to embarrassing capture
Take out that baseball bat and show those witches some pasture"

The second side is what really makes the record. '$20' pushes the emotions slightly over-the-top, milking everything it possibly can from the vocals, but it still works well, and then Majesty/Magic and Nightingale push the builds and dynamics more to the fore, with the album finally reaching a climax in the second half of the epic 'Nothing But Heart' before a gradual build-down into the final track, the almost poppy (compared to the rest of Low's stuff, anyway) 'Something's Turning Over'.

The album feels incredibly inviting, despite the desperate feel, with everything from the title right through to the last track feeling like it is directly addressing the listener. Sparhawk described the album as a kind of tool for companionship in desperate circumstances - "I'm looking in your eyes right now, and we need to figure out how to get through the next moment, together, as human beings". To me, this feels like 'Things We Lost In The Fire' has matured, growing old gracefully. There is a lot less of the straight despair of that record, with it converted into a vague sense of unease that is occasionally dwarfed by overwhelming sadness (the height of this definitely coming in '$20'). I'd say this is my favourite Low album of the last decade, and my favourite downtempo album to be released by anyone in the last couple of years. It might even be the record that tips them from being a cult band to something approaching mainstream success.

Teaser for new Bon Iver album

Bon Iver's 2008 debut, "For Emma, Forever Ago" was an absolutely brilliant record - just ask pretty much anyone. For his new album, to be released in June, Justin Vernon has hired some additional musicians to flesh out his sound, continuing the pattern from the good-but-slightly-underwhelming Blood Bank EP. Apparently, every song on the album is written about a location, and every song has a different style - the song 'Perth' is going to be a "civil war-sounding heavy metal song", 'Minnesota Wisconsin' will feature "finger-picking guitars, double bass drums and distorted bass saxophone" and 'Beth/Rest' will be "horn heavy". That all said, the 51-second snippet posted on his website shows that he still has his signature sound, so we don't need to worry to much.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Song Of The Day 14/04/2011: Damon & Naomi - Eulogy To Lenny Bruce

In 2000, Damon & Naomi (ex-Galaxie 500, one of the best of the first wave of Slowcore bands in the late 80s) released a joint album with the Japanese psychedelic band Ghost, on which this was the last track. This version of the song, originally by Tim Hardin, is clearly modelled on Nico's version, which was used as a brilliant closer to her debut album, 'Chelsea Girl'. The song was apparently chosen as a cover by Ghost rather than the band themselves, along with Alex Chilton's harrowing 'Blue Moon', but works extremely well when put through the filter of their distinctive sound. 

The rest of the album, and indeed everything I've heard by D&N, is really good, carrying on the spirit of their previous band across more releases than they probably ever thought possible.

(note - I'm going to stop doing Spotify links and start doing more mp3s/Soundclouds/Bandcamps due to the fact that, as of May 1st, Spotify will be putting heavy limits on what they let people listen to for free. To be honest I don't blame them, I've got an awful lot of use out of their free accounts over the years, but it'll just make some songs slightly more awkward to link to. Oh well)

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Song Of The Day 13/04/2011: Smith Westerns - Dance Away

I saw the Smith Westerns live at Cargo on Monday night. It was a really good gig, reinforcing my opinion of their second album, 'Dye It Blonde' - it really has got some absolutely amazing songs on, although I'm not sure how long-lasting it will be. For the moment, though, it's in heavy rotation on my stereo. This song was actually one of the few songs on the album not to be played, but is probably my favourite, with a barnstorming slightly syncopated chorus and joyful, driving guitar part. It's a good marker of what the band are currently capable of, and is a great introduction to what they're about.

The gig was slightly odd - there was very little actual music played. Only one support band (perennial support act to American indie bands in London, the fine-but-distinctly-unexciting Spectrals) and a short set with no encore - the gig was done and dusted well before 10pm, with no real explanation. The crowd was incredibly vocal and enthusiastic between songs, but barely moved a muscle during the actual music - surprising for a band that, on record, have as much energy as Titus Andronicus, who give some of the most physical gigs I've ever been to.

Smith Westerns - Dance Away

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Song Of The Day 12/04/2011: Paper Moon - Your Thesaurus Won't Help You Now

Here's some fairly upbeat indiepop to get us back on track after a very atypical couple of choices in the last couple of days. Paper Moon are a band from Winnipeg who have been active for about 10 years now. This song was on their debut album, 2001's 'One Thousand Reasons To Stay, One Reason To Leave', but I found it as one of the tracks released on Low Transit Industries' excellent 7" Club compilation. Very twee yet also pretty rocking at the same time, it really is excellent. They've got one complete album on Spotify (the other one under the name Paper Moon doesn't seem to be by) that is well worth a listen.

Paper Moon – Your Thesaurus Won't Help You Now

Monday, 11 April 2011

Song Of The Day 11/04/2011: Hop Along - Sally

Following on from yesterday's p.s. eliot post: a few days ago I was checking out some of the other stuff on Salinas, and I stumbled upon the band Hop Along. Apparently Frances, the singer and songwriter, used to play solo as "Hop Along, Queen Ansleis", but now she works in a full-band setup with a drummer and second guitarist.

Anyway so Hop Along as full band have only released one 10" EP (three tracks in twenty minutes) but it's really good. The kind of idiosyncratic vocal delivery that I really love, mixed with vaguely twinkly guitars that sparkle and build in fantastic ways. I guess p.s. eliot is not a bad reference point, but with some amazing vocal gymnastics and less of a punk feel to the music. Good lyrics too.

This is my favourite song from the EP, although the ten-minute closer "Second Name" is great too. The way this one builds towards the end is just brilliant.

This is a very odd video, but it was the only place online that I could find it. Anyway, it's quite funny. The song doesn't start until about 30 seconds in, and fades out towards the end. Oh well.


Sunday, 10 April 2011

Song Of The Day 10/04/2011: p.s. eliot - Cross Eyed

A couple of days ago p.s. eliot played a launch party show for their second album, Sadie. They're one of my favourite bands around at the moment so although I couldn't make it to Brooklyn for the show I was obviously super excited when the record appeared on the internet for download at ifyoumakeit.

I've only had a chance to listen all the way through once so far, but on first go it sounds like it sticks with all of the things I love about the band (the fantastic lyrics and impassioned vocal delivery, combined with their slightly fuzzy guitars and the odd bit of harmony vocals). I'm definitely looking forward to getting to know it better.

The whole album's up for free download at the link above: if you like it then please either donate some money to the band or buy it on vinyl from Salinas as I'm going to (actually, if anyone wants to share an order with me to save on postage then that would be ace!) If you like this then be sure to check out their first album and last year's EP, as pretty much everything they've done is fantastic.

p.s. eliot - Cross Eyed

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Song Of The Day 09/04/2011: Of Montreal - Famine Affair

Of Montreal were one of the second wave of Elephant 6 bands back in the late 1990s, but since then they've kind of strayed from the Apples In Stereo-esque indiepop of their early records. They have long had more of an electronic influence than many of their contemporaries, although their last album ('False Priest'), from which this song is taken, marked a return to live instrumentation and a more standard indiepop sound. They still have a marked dance vibe, though. There are some pretty strange lyrics in this song - I'm not really sure whether that is 'strange in a good way' or not. Judge for yourself.

Thought she was my Annie Hall
Or at least Ali MacGraw,
Now I feel so wilted.
It's a famine affair,
The whole attempt was shoddy
Just put trash in my body.

According to the band's frontman, Kevin Barnes, "It's the story of a man living in a feminine empire. As a male, he is considered lower class. He is expected to abstain from any social interaction with members of the ruling class, and provide sperm for breeding rituals. Each household is provided by the State with one male, the housemale is not permitted to leave the grounds. The housemale must live in the estate he is assigned to until death or sexual impotence."

Right. I'm pretty sure it was just an excuse to make one of the raunchier videos of 2010. Although it does explain the little plastic cup that makes an appearance at the end of the video.

Of Montreal – Famine Affair

Friday, 8 April 2011

Song Of The Day 08/04/2011: Crystal Stilts - Through the Floor

Yeah, I posted Crystal Stilts as the song of the day a few weeks ago, but since then I've had the chance to listen to their new record quite a lot (although it's not out until the 11th, they were selling it after the gig at Cargo a couple of weeks ago). A couple of other bands I love (Pains and Okkervil River) have had new albums out/leaked recently that I've been a little disappointed by, but this one really delivers the goods.
It takes the gothic-y, moody lo-fi pop formula of the first album, but everything sounds a bit bigger and more elaborate, without losing the simplistic kind of charm which made the first so catchy. They've had some fun with the added possibilities of the studio, and the arrangements are a bit busier and more fleshed out (I'm pretty sure there's even some harpsichord on a couple of the songs). Every song is as full of classic pop hooks as you'd expect from them, although they're maybe buried slightly deeper than on the first and take a few more listens to get really embedded. On this song, the most immediately resonant on the album, they're using a classic four-chord progression, but it still feels somehow fresh, which I think is mainly due to the vocals (I love the ooh-oohs on the chorus especially).
Anyway, buy the record when it comes out. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

(youtube link as this isn't on Spotify yet):
Crystal Stilts - Through the Floor

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Song Of The Day 07/04/2011: Tullycraft - Mental Obsession

The French Pop week is over, and it's time to kick this blog back into what it was designed for - proper indiepop. One of the quintessential American indie bands of the mid-90s, Tullycraft are one of the most famous twee bands ever, and are a kind of standard bearer for the scene as a whole. This is obviously mostly to do with the fact that the quality of their songs can stand up to literally any band in the scene at the moment, but is also because they write songs that effortlessly sum up the scene as a whole. 'Twee' and 'Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend's Too Stupid To Know About' are their two most well-known songs, and are both essentially lists of bands the singer likes interspersed with barbs at any genre made by people who don't regard cardigans as normal. They're both great, but to be honest I think Tullycraft are capable of much more interesting fare, and my choice for today's song shows that they shouldn't be dismissed as a bit of a novelty.

They're a band I think might play at Indietracks in the Summer (incidentally, more bands are being announced at the Indietracks website at 7pm tonight - I'm definitely going to be at my computer, frantically pushing the refresh button) and I think they would go down absolutely brilliantly. Everyone would be much more excited about them than they are about the current headliners, that much is certain - a sizeable proportion of the people who will be at the festival probably appeared on last year's excellent tribute album - but they haven't played live for a couple of years now. We can but hope.

This song is from their debut album, 2007's 'Old Traditions, New Standards', and is ludicrously twee in every good way. Apparently it's a cover - there's a brilliant podcast here that runs down a lot of the indiepop songs Tullycraft have covered over the years. If you don't know much about them (what have you been doing for the last two decades???), and you like this, there's a hell of a lot more to work through, most of which is on Spotify.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Song Of The Day 06/04/2011: Serge Gainsbourg - Qui Est "In", Qui Est "Out"

The last song of the French Pop Week that has taken over the blog in the last week (and that has, according to the traffic figures, spectacularly failed to capture the public's imagination), this is a song by France's most famous rock star, Serge Gainsbourg. Notorious in this country for his sex-centred view on music, his biggest hit here was banned from radio play for being overly sexual - even nearly 50 years later, it is still pretty edgy. He threw himself into an astonishing number of genres, from his beginnings as a crooner, through bubblegum pop and even (misguidedly) into reggae, and has now long been regarded as one of the most influential artists in the world. A biopic of his life came out last year, and it's well worth a watch.

Serge Gainsbourg – Qui Est "In" Qui Est "Out"

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Song Of The Day 05/04/2011: The Dø - Smash Them All (Night Visitor)

To continue the week of French pop, I'm going to pick something right up-to-the-minute. Just as all over the rest of the world, the last few years has seen a resurgence in indiepop in France. There, however, it has got quite a lot bigger than in the rest of the world. The Dø (pronounced 'dough') are probably foremost among their contemporaries, and have achieved mainstream success in their own country - their first album was the first by a French band ever to go to #1 there with lyrics sung in English.

Their new album was released last month, and is definitely an improvement on their debut - it has a bit less of the wild veering between genres (only a bit less, mind - it is still clearly there) and a few more great songs. My favourite is probably this one, 'Smash Them All (Night Visitor). - it really is astonishing how much the first half this song sounds like a Standard Fare single, with both the girl's voice and the vocal melody sounding like it came straight off the Noyelle Beat.

The Dø - Smash Them All (Night Visitor)

Monday, 4 April 2011

Song Of The Day 04/04/2011: Indochine – L'Aventurier

We're now more than half way through our week of French pop songs, and I think it's time for some classic 80s electro.

Indochine were a band that were part of the New Wave in the early 1980s, with a sound similar to many British groups from around the same time. Since then, they have gone on to become one of most successful groups in the history of French music, selling over 10,000,000 records and remaining it the top echelon of French pop to this day. This song, 'L'Aventurier', was their first big-selling single, shifting 700,000 copies in France, but is virtually unknown elsewhere. It's a slice of bright synths, and pulsing rhythms, and if it was sung in English would surely have been a major international hit. Apparently it's about Bob Morane, a comic book character, but I don't think that really matters.

Indochine – L'Aventurier

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Song Of The Day 03/04/2011: Stereo Total - À l'Amour Comme à la Guerre

In the mid-90s a new group of French indie bands started breaking out into the international scene. Foremost among them were definitely Stereolab and Daft Punk, two bands who have gone on to have widespread international success over the last 15 years, but the lesser-known Stereo Total have also been working non-stop since then, releasing 9 albums and a few EPs of their slightly shambolic lo-fi.

This song translates as 'Love as War', and features some amazing lines ('It's love as war, and I am neither the Red Cross nor your mother'). It's just a fun track, and I think it shows the state of French pop in the mid-90s quite well.

Stereo Total – À l'Amour Comme à la Guerre

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Song Of The Day 02/04/2011: Charlotte Leslie – Les Filles C'est Fait Pour Faire L'amour

The French weren't completely in a bubble. Gradually through the 60s, as in the rest of the world, pop music became more psychedelic and garage-rocky. This song is the lead track on the excellent compilation Wizzz Psychorama Francais, and is a reworking of the Capitols' international hit 'We Got A Thing That's In The Groove'. Charlotte had originally been more of a straight-up pop singer, like yesterday's France Gall, having been signed to a major label after a talent contest and been given songs that were written to fit in with the style of the day (sound at all familiar?). However, she did not make much of an impression, and when the label dropped her, she took a very new direction with her music, so much so that this song would not be out of place on a compilation like 'Nuggets'. Unfortunately, the song's beyond-risqué title (which translates to 'Girls Were Made To Make Love' was a bit too controversial for radio play, and she had been left behind by the end of the 1960s.

This song, however, is brilliant - make sure you listen to the rest of the album too.

Charlotte Leslie – Les Filles C'est Fait Pour Faire L'amour

Friday, 1 April 2011

Song Of The Day 01/04/2011: France Gall - Poupee De Cire, Poupee De Son

Continuing the week of French pop from yesterday...

Serge Gainsbourg was the absolute king of French pop in the 1960s. As well as putting out a lot of his own stuff, he discovered and wrote songs for a variety of young, female pop acts. They were part of the yé-yé scene, which grew to cover much of Europe during the 1960s and has had a lot of influence on much of the indiepop and more mainstream stuff of today. It was named after the cries of 'Yeah! Yeah!' that are a feature of many of the songs of this style. The scene was definitely fuelled by-and-large by the attractiveness of the singers - there is a reason why today is the first time I've featured a picture of the artist for a SOTD - but there was enough appeal in the music (almost always written by older male masterminds, such as Gainsbourg, although Francoise Hardy was a notable exception) for the songs to appeal as well. The scene was very big in Quebec as well, leading to this song being covered by the Arcade Fire. This is probably the most famous song from the yé-yé scene, as it won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1965 - I think it's probably safe to say that this will be the only ever Eurovision winner on this blog. Despite her long career, Gall no longer performs or even acknowledges this, her most famous track, due to a disagreement with Gainsbourg. His attitude towards her is evident here, as the title, 'puppet of wax, puppet of song', clearly refers to her - look up the lyrics to 'Les Sucettes' if you want an even more obvious example of what he was trying to turn her into.

It wasn't going to last forever, obviously, but yé-yé was definitely fun while it lasted.

France Gall – Poupee De Cire, Poupee De Son