Carter USM – The Only Living Boy in New Cross



If ever there was a band who have improved in hindsight, this is it. As memory serves, Carter were deemed naff at the time.

Basing your lyrics entirely on puns and having the sort of ‘Techno’ backing track that would make Jeff Mills roll in his grave if he were dead certainly didn’t help.

Fast forward to 2014 and Carter prove themselves to have been actually just 20 years ahead of their time. Every cunt now has an undercut, wears ironic jumpers, plays awful synth music, goes to pseudo-raves and eulogises about living in da ghetto.

They even went so far as to be into New Cross before it was cool. Hipsters.



Monaco – What Do You Want From Me?

Oh Christ. This was one of those insipid ear-worm songs that plagued commercial radio in the 90s. I really, really wish I hadn’t just heard that, as it will no doubt haunt my dreams forever.

Just like that Edwyn Collins song that everyone claimed to like, just because it was by Edwyn Collins. And Natalie Imbruglia, The Cardigans and that song about Pearly Spencer.

Gay Dad – Joy!

Remember Gay Dad? No – me neither. I think my flatmate had their album.
Anyways, they came to my attention recently whilst perusing this wonderful website:
It turns out that Gay Dad were no less than the actual cover stars of Select magazine in July 1999, with the caption “Gay Dad Resurrect British Pop”, a claim which, of course, turned out to be entirely false. Unless, of course Adele and Amy Winehouse had secret Gay Dad box set anthologies which they avidly listened to of an evening looking for pointers in how to revive UK music.
…Listening now…
Eeeek. It’s like someone took The Hives and coated them in candy floss. This is quite possibly the most unnecessarily overproduced song I’ve ever heard. There’s the nugget of a decent Rolling Stones – or at least Primal Scream – tune hidden deep beneath that sheen of daytime radio blandness.

Totally ruined.

I can just see the producer in the studio now “can you just sing it with a bit less gusto, please?” “That guitar part is nice, but wouldn’t it sound better with three different synths playing violin sounds over the top?”

All of which makes me think that it’s a good thing that the music industry is going bankrupt.  They hopefully can’t afford to spend so much money turning edgy rock into fluffy brain slop any more.

No doubt all the journalists were listening to Mogwai and Drexciya at home whilst suffering the indignity of having to put Limp Bizkit and Stereophonics on their magazine cover and claiming that Gay Dad were going to magically resurrect British Pop.

Female-fronted Britpop Bands

Ah yes – the female-fronted Britpop bands…  Sleeper, Echobelly, Elastica.  They don’t seem to be remembered as readily as the boys, do they?  Is this because the male hegemony has rewritten history to exclude the feminine narrative from our contemporary discourse?  Or is it possibly because they were a bit rubbish?

Let’s see….

Ah – I now see why they called it Britpop.  It’s a rather catchy little number, isn’t it?  And they all look like surprisingly normal suburban British types.  I can picture them eating Millies Cookies down the Bluewater shopping centre on a Saturday afternoon or tutting quietly when someone jumps the queue at Tesco’s.   Perhaps stopping by at the travel agents to book a fortnight in the Algarve en route.

Vocals sound a bit like a 12 year old with a 50-a-day Craven ‘A’ habit, but there’s something quite enticing about that breathy depth versus saccharine sweetness.

I’m getting an awful feeling that this blog is going to crush all my teenage memories of Britpop as being in any way rebellious.  Maybe Elastica will be more edgy.

Boom!  Two and a half minutes of Punk Pop perfection.  And, boy, do they look HOT.

Next up:  Sleeper

Another cute, elfin-faced, breathy vocalist fronting another group of anonymous men who look like they’d rather be down Old Trafford supping a pint of mild.

…and when my Mum told me not to wear those v-necked tops cos they were too masculine, she was so right.

The Frank and Walters – Fashion Crisis Hits New York

It’s weird.  I remember this band as being kind of cutesy in a faux naive, butter wouldn’t melt, I’m just going to play a ukelele and watch Pokemon or something way.  The sort of band who would make Belle and Sebastian seem like Slipknot.  But they’re not like that, really.  There’s something quite… ambitious – dare I say, quietly confident – to it.  I hear hints of Bob Mould and Robyn Hitchcock in the mix of soaring guitars and eccentric lyrics.

OK, the lyrics are a bit rubbish.

Overall, though, a solid tune.

There was a time in the 90s when it seemed like every boy I fancied had shoulder length hair, cut off shorts and a Senseless Things T-Shirt.  I don’t think I ever listened to them at the time.  After all, in those days, the only way to hear new music was The Chart Show (which had an Indie Chart every three weeks – oh yeah!) or take a punt on buying a cassette single because you liked the look of it.   If you were allowed to stay up that late, there was John Peel.

So, let’s have a listen…

Gosh.  This is pretty poor.

How is it possible that a song can have such repetitive lyrics, yet be instantly forgettable at the same time?  Quite an achievement. It’s like all the elements are there – chugging guitars, powerful vocals, verses, choruses, middle eights, decent production.  But someone forgot to have an actual song.

Perfunctory at best.

Kingmaker – Ten Years Asleep

Goodness me.  This is unexpectedly rather good.

I didn’t have much hope for this band.  It might be because they were from Hull, or that their tunes were a little too catchy, but there was always an air of naffness about Kingmaker.  Even at the time, they seemed so…  also-ran-ish.  You might have listened to them at home, but you wouldn’t write their name on your school bag, let’s face it.

So it turns out to be a pretty solid, Indie-Pop-Punk track with perhaps a slight nod towards Folk.  It’s the sort of track you might expect to find on a Libertines album.  Which is a good thing in my book.   And that geek chic look is pretty ahead of its time in 1993, too.

A quick delve into Wikipedia tells me they went Rockabilly in their later phase before splitting up.  That sounds pretty interesting.

So they weren’t so bad after all.

Who knew?