As I said last week, filing away our CDs was quite the trip down memory lane. Another half-forgotten, much-loved CD I came across was Follow the Sound, the debut album by Mascott which came out in 2000. I bought it while on my honeymoon in New York so, besides being a terrific album, it has all sorts of happy associations.
Mascott was a rotating group of musicians led by Indie songstress Kendall Jane Meade whose lovely voice and beautifully tender songs make for a gorgeous, intimate Indiepop record that should be better known. For years I’ve thought of it as something of a lost classic, a secret that I shared only with my wife.
Do yourself a favour and get a copy, it’s available on vinyl now too.
With so much new music competing for your attention on the internet you have to have some filters to narrow down what you decide to listen to. Being a superficial designer type my choices are often based on visuals so I checked out the new album Plaza by the Boston band Quilt purely because I liked the the sleeve. I thought it looked vaguely like something George Hardie would have drawn for a Hipgnosis album cover in the 70s.
I’m really glad I did too because it’s great album (their third), a terrific blend of trippy Psych-Folk and jangly Indie. Not sure what the sleeve image has to do with it though.
Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn have been the First Couple of Indie for as long as there has been such a thing as Indie, and a lot of us have become adults along with them. The thing I like about these two photos is that you don’t have to have had a successful music career (or still be with your college girlfriend/boyfriend) to relate to the story they tell.
I was a student just a couple of years later than they were and looked the same as they do on the left: the second-hand clothes, the cheap haircut, the white socks. Living in cold rooms and eating tinned food, drinking litre bottles of cheap cider at parties, evenings in the pub putting the world to rights while sinking pints and filling ashtrays. You’re awkward and unsure of yourself, but the freedom of living away from home for the first time widens your horizons and you start to become the person you’re going to be when you grow up.
Then you leave college and take those first steps into the big wide world. If you’re lucky you get a job and have some money in the bank (or an overdraft and credit card bills if you’re me). Your clothes and haircuts get better, you appreciate good food and stop looking like you live on a diet of cold baked beans and roll-ups. Increasing experience and responsibility over the years means you’re no longer a callow amateur but a professional and an adult.
The photos are also a good illustration of the musical trip Ben and Tracey have taken, from fragile acoustic Indiepop to sophisticated electronic club music — the clothes got better there too.
If you’re wondering why presenter David Hepworth found The Pale Fountains’ taste in music so surprising, in those post-punk years it was considered quite a radical act for a young band to be into John Barry and Simon & Garfunkel — they called it the “quiet pop” movement.
Clips of The Fountains (I’ve never called them The Paleys) are quite rare so I’m well chuffed to have found this.
I say this a lot about my old singles but this time I’m pretty sure I am the only one who bought this.
Skat were better known by their previous name The Chefs (and for their lead singer Helen McCookerybook), a short-lived but influential indie band very popular with John Peel. I don’t know why they changed their name to Skat, but they only ever released this one single under that name in 1982 and then split up soon afterwards which probably wasn’t the desired effect.
It’s a fairly straight cover of the Velvet Underground song but it has a nice jangly “indie” sound, a style that The Chefs helped to invent.
Orange Juice’s early Postcard records are rightly held in reverence but their later work gets a little overlooked as a result. Personally my favourite album of theirs is Texas Fever and I remember there being a bit of Dylan-going-electric purist snobbery about them signing to a big label and sounding more polished — like they could keep doing that kind of amateurish jangly indie forever. “Polished” is a relative term of course, their records always sounded a bit off-kilter no matter how many new chords and grooves they learned.
One time I saw them live Edwyn Collins jokingly introduced “Rip It Up” as “our one-hit wonder” and their final single “Lean Period” from 1984 wasn’t a hit either like 99% of their others, but it’s a bouncy and catchy number that should have done better even if it maybe isn’t one of their greatest. I still like it a lot though, a typically snarky Collins love song (and maybe even a sly commentary on his own critical reputation) here given a nice dubby remix by Dennis Bovell in this 12″ version which isn’t easily available anywhere far as I can tell.