The Soup Dragons, Hotwired

Do you remember The Soup Dragons? If you’re from the UK and / or of a certain age (the certain age that means you actually remember buying albums on cassette), you probably do. If not, this band probably passed you by completely. Which would be a shame because, while Hotwired isn’t necessarily one of the very best albums ever, it’s a classic of my 1990s and can definitely still stand up tall today.

Although I only really listened to Hotwired, a little research shows that The Soup Dragons were more than I realized – or, at least, here in the UK they were. Nevermind that they were already six years old by the time I heard of them, or that Hotwired was actually their third LP – they’d also had a pretty decent hit in the UK with “I’m Free” in 1990. The Wikipedia says that single charted higher on the U.S. Modern Rock chart, whatever that is, but I definitely don’t remember it being a presence. I do, however, know every note of it, though I couldn’t have even told you it existed before yesterday. Isn’t it weird how that happens sometimes, as if you just absorb songs somehow without ever consciously hearing them?

Anyway, it turns out that the band had had some indie-world success even earlier than that, and – enough to secure their place in indie music history alone – were included on the NME’s legendary C86 cassette compilation. If you don’t know about that cassette, check out this great post from Indie-MP3. (Also, you can still download the whole compilation from Stupid and Contagious, though I can’t promise for how long.) The track included on C86 is wildly different from how we came to know them on Hotwired in 1992 – very much a Buzzcocks-inspired messy-punky-poppy sound which is very pleasant but, honestly, not terribly unique. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great track, but I doubt I’d have remembered it if I didn’t already love them from their later work.

I don’t know exactly what caused the change in sound, other than just the change of times and trends, but when they hit upon the sound featured on Hotwired, they made a classic album. Personally, I had no idea The Soup Dragons existed before “Divine Thing” came along and rocked my MTV. I didn’t know from baggy, or rave culture, or C86. I had no concept of British music being cool or anything in particular; I’d never heard of The Stone Roses or the NME. But I do remember this album soundtracking the summer of 1992 (along with Stereo MCs’ Connected). And you know what? It’s actually still pretty great. The sound might be a little bit dated, but not nearly as much as I’d expect after nearly 20 years – and even if it is a little dated, it’s in a wonderfully nostalgic way (rather than a cringey embarrassing way). These guys deserve to remembered fondly.

The Soup Dragons – Divine Thing
The Soup Dragons – Running Wild

Cornershop and The Double ‘O’ Groove Of, featuring Bubbley Kaur

Cornershop

It’s no secret that I love Cornershop. Yeah, I say I’m a big fan of a lot of bands, and it’s always true, but this is special. Like on equal footing with how I feel about the Beatles. One of those rare, one-in-a-million bands whose music you love so much it almost makes you feel a little sick to your stomach.

Me and Cornershop go way back. In fact, I remember the day – like most people, I got into the band via “Brimful of Asha”, just as it was turning into a monster single, and it was my night out with my friends for my 18th birthday. A little silly on the bus ride home, my friends and I couldn’t stop singing the ‘on a 45’ bit of that song, it being the only part we really knew yet. It didn’t take long for me to get myself When I Was Born For The 7th Time and, as they say, I’ve never looked back. I would pledge my undying love to Cornershop’s music (erm, if I had to for some reason), so 8 pounds seems like nothing.

Cornershop is asking us, their listeners, to pledge as little as 8 pounds to get a minimum of a pre-order of the new album they’re working on with – my heart just stopped a little – Bubbley Kaur. She of the magical single “Topknot”, one of my most beloved songs of all time. In fact, this new album seems to be based around the amazing results of that recording, finally turning it into a full-length LP. For 8 pounds you’ll get yourself the album and the knowledge that you had a little part in making it happen. For more money, you’ll get more stuff, but the list of possibilities is pretty fun to look through so I’ll let you check it out yourself.

This pledging / investing-in-the-making-of-albums isn’t really brand spanking new; I’ve seen similar offers by other bands. It’s a really interesting thing going on, releasing bands from big labels who don’t seem to give much of a crap about the bands they represent nor the listeners who pay for the music. Wouldn’t you much rather give your money directly to a band you care about and have a wee hand in helping get an album made? Cornershop is the first band to do this that I do feel that strongly about, and I will definitely be making my pledge asap, – how about you? There’s only 27 days remaining so have a think about how great it will be to hear Cornershop and The Double ‘O’ Groove Of for the first time and get pledging.

Hear Tjinder and Ben tell you all about it themselves, and find out more about the pledge options over at PledgeMusic – and remind yourself how amazing this band has always been below.

Cornershop – Good Shit

2010: Artists of my year

I put the emphasis on my because these aren’t going to appear on anyone else’s run-down of 2010. Or two out of three anyway – the artists of my year actually have a lot in common, but release dates aren’t one of them.

Not that there wasn’t enough good music out in 2010. It’s been a long-ass time since I made one of those numbered lists – I used to love doing it, but I think I might have taken it a little too seriously and they would always end up taking me so long to compile, it wasn’t worth posting them anymore by the time I was finished. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to mention really great albums by Mark Ronson, Hot Chip, She & Him, Tunng, Son Of Dave, Frightened Rabbit (especially Frightened Rabbit – The Winter Of Mixed Drinks really stuck with me), and The Black Keys (always, always The Black Keys) – all of which got a lot of airplay on my iPod.

I’m thinking as I type this that a badass mix tape (the old school kind) could be made of some of my favorite singles of the year. If I did that, the tracklist would probably look a little something like this:

“The Arsonist”, Our Lost Infantry (thanks to Saam at Faded Glamour for letting us know about this one)
“Superfast Jellyfish”, Gorillaz
“Bang Bang Bang”, Mark Ronson (probably my single of the year, if I had to pick one)
“New York Is Killing Me”, Gil Scott-Heron
“Taos”, Menomena
“Best Friend”, The Drums
“The Opposite Of Adults”, Chiddy Bang
“The Cities That You Burn”, Adam Haworth Stephens
“King Of The Beach”, Wavves
“Kentucky Pill”, Johnny Flynn
“Ghost Train”, Summer Camp
“O.N.E.”, Yeasayer

Among others. Hmm, maybe I should make that mix.

Anyway, the point is that, although I loved all of this music dearly, they aren’t the artists I’m going to forever associate with 2010. It wasn’t really my best year ever and, I suppose I really latched on to the way Tom Petty, Langhorne Slim, and Mark Oliver Everett AKA Eels approach music.

Tom Petty?! Yeah, I know, I’m at least 20 years late and it’s not like I didn’t love Tom Petty before last year. But I got to see that amazing Peter Bogdanovich documentary earlier this year and then couldn’t get enough. Same with Langhorne Slim, whose eponymous 2008 album had been wasting away in my iTunes library until I finally remembered to check it out this summer. I snatched up everything else he’s recorded within weeks and at least one of his albums has been on my iPod ever since, no exaggeration. As for Eels – yeah, I listened to a lot of Eels last year too, but again – Mark Oliver Everett’s voice and songwriting just took hold me of me this year even more than before. I loved Tomorrow Morning but listened to everything I have as much as I could; Eels music is, for me, definitely something I love even more the more I listen.

All three play and sing from the bottom of their hearts, reaching deep, deep down for a level of true emotion (both happy and sad) that most other artists can’t dream of – but they all three also infuse their music and lyrics with the kind of hope that just refuses to give up. And I guess that’s just what spoke – or sang – to me in 2010.

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers – Even The Losers
Langhorne Slim – Worries
Eels – Oh So Lovely

It’s been a long time, how you been?

It’s been a while, eh? Sorry about that, there was some real-life stuff going on that couldn’t be avoided. So to get back into the swing of things, I’m just going to throw down some recent tunes that I’m currently into. There’s no theme here really*, just some good stuff I like that maybe you’ll like, too.

Chiddy Bang ft MGMT – Opposite Of Adults (myspace, Amazon.co.uk)

The Drums – Best Friend (official site, Amazon.co.uk)

Allo Darlin’ – Dreaming (official site, emusic)

Beach House – Zebra (official site, emusic)

* No theme, these songs are totally random – but I will say that three of them are songs I first heard and loved on BBC 6music. You’ll probably know by now that this station is under threat, something we’ll be talking about around here very soon, so I just wanted to give credit where it’s due and all.

Soundtrack Day: Ada Band, “Manusia Bodoh”

Soundtrack Day is an older 100b category that I had to bring back for this post, because this song is definitely a part of my personal soundtrack. Indonesia’s day of independance is celebrated on August 17th, but we will be celebrating the joyous freedom of my motherland this saturday. And by “celebrating”, I mean eat. I thought it’d be fun to introduce Indonesia’s flavours to my 100buddies with a grand feast … assuming I don’t burn the food and bring shame to my country. I always talk about how I would love to live in Spain for a year or some other exotic country, but never Indonesia. And yet when I haven’t been there for a while I get homesick for a country I’ve never even lived in. I miss absolutely everything about Indonesia; from the language, to the nature, to the heat, to the smells on the street. It even turns me all poetic and stuff. It’s been four years since I was there last and I miss it dearly. I may not live there or even consider it as a country of residence at the moment, but it’s never far from me.

This song, by the mega popular band Ada Band, was a huge hit four years ago. It is a bit of sentimental, pop rock, but it makes the memories of that vacation so vivid. The title literally means stupid person, it’s about a man who’s being played by the woman he loves. It’s not an especially remarkable song, it’s not a ground-breaking sound, you can’t dance to it, and most of you would probably forget it the moment it’s over, but it means the world to me. Oh yeah my people LOVE karaoke … if you wanna bypass all the amateurish introductory stuff, the song starts 44 seconds into it.

Soundtrack Day: It’s Close To Midnight …

Halloween is by far my favorite holiday – it’s the only one that’s all about fun and no work. No stressful shopping, no huge feast to prepare, no giving thanks. Carving a pumpkin? Awesome. Buying and eating candy? Mmmm. Wearing a costume? Always fun. And – the best part – watching crappy slasher flicks where a quiet and very focused masked man butchers a small town’s delinquent teenagers as a twisted form of revenge for a wrong done to him as a child? Excellent. Halloween is all about enjoying the cheesiest guilty pleasures and there’s nothing better. Happy Halloween, old friends!

   Michael Jackson – Thriller

Soundtrack Day: Invasion Of The Body Snatchers

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers

Is it common knowledge that Jerry Garcia plays Harry the homeless guy’s banjo bits in Philip Kaufman’s Invasion Of The Body Snatchers? I had no idea. I was watching the movie earlier today and I really liked Harry’s songs and his dog – NOT the alien doggy pod clone that wears Harry’s face … yuck. But I digress, I looked up the actor, because I thought he might have been a musician. It turns out that though the actor who plays the banjo man is called Joe Bellan, Jerry Garcia is the one who plays over Joe’s ass kicking faux-finger picking. I also learned that it is impossible to find a sample, a name, or even a clip of the banjo song played in the movie. So I’m calling on all you movie buffs and Deadheads out there, if anybody knows anything about it, please do share your awesome smarts.

Here’s a great song that shows off Jerry’s banjo skillz:

   Jerry Garcia – Catfish John

Next month another version of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers comes out starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, called The Invasion. I’m curious what it will be like, because the original movie from the fifties was influenced by the communist witch hunts at the time, and the first remake from the seventies was set against the background of the post-Vietnam, post-Watergate paranoia of (political) conspiracies. I wonder if the current political climate is also somehow represented in this new version. Other than what’s on the IMDB, I don’t know anything else about The Invasion, but they’re gonna have a really hard time trying to top the 1978 one.

   Nine Inch Nails – Survivalism