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Indie Compilations & Label Samplers Indie Rock Music

Infecting The Galaxy One Planet At A Time (a Sub Pop Sampler, 2003)

As the result of one of my Song of the Day posts, I remembered this amazing compilation album which I used to love. Infecting The Galaxy One Planet At A Time is a 2003 label-sampler by the indie label Sub Pop (particularly famous for introducing the world to Niravna & infamous for losing Nirvana to major label Geffen).

Unfortunately, this isn’t available on Spotify etc. so I was forced to buy a new physical copy online. I ordered it a couple of days ago & it arrived today. It features a great selection of music which runs the whole gamut of early ’00’s indie rock music.

It begins with old-guard grunge-rock heavyweights Mudhoney with a song from what still feels to me like their new album (despite being 18 years old) SinceWe’ve Become Translucent, Sonic Infusion.

Ugly Casanova’s Things I Don’t Remember is synthy Indie rock with lyrics alledgedly taken from a stolen Modest Mouse notebook.

Fruit Bats’ Rainbow Sign is hippy dippy ’60’s-esque Psyche Pop par excellence.

Rosie Thomas and Iron & Wine are Lo-fi Indie Folksters, perfectly at home on Sup Pop.

The Shins Past And Pending, like Fruit Bats, owes a lot to ’60’s Psyche Pop.

Post-Punk Revivalists like Hot Hot Heat & The Rapture both contribute excellent tracks. The eminently danceable Get In Or Get Out by the former & the jagged, dancefloor smash Out Of The Races And On To The Tracks by the latter.

No Culture Icons by The Thermals was an early taste of the great things to come from the trashy Lo-Fi Indie Punks.

Michael Yonkers Band are like a ’60’s version of Johnathan Richman. The Murder City Devils & The Catheters deliver two tracks of noisy distorted Rock & Roll which celebrates how much the two artists love noisy distorted Rock & Roll.

Arlo deliver some Punky Power Pop with Runaraound.

Pleasure Forever come across like an American version of The Fall on Post-Punky jam, Axis Exalt.

Kinski’s epic Semaphore takes a heavily modulated guitar line & transphorms it into a Post-Rock soundscape with morse rhythms built into a swirling wall of sound.

We’re back into Indie Folk territory with Damon & Naomi’s pleasant squeeze box & acoustic guitar composition, Eye Of The Storm.

The Postal Service’s The District Sleeps Tonight is electronic, synthesised Indie Pop which is quite popular in 2020, but was fairly unique in 2003.

Sadcore Indie Rock closes the album with the melancholic near-psychedelia of Holopaw’s Cinders.

This album is a powerful artefact of the early ’00’s. Many of the bands on here are no longer around & somewhat forgotten, while others are well known & well respected now, considered classics & enjoyed by many in the Indie Rock community.

I really like the spacefaring aesthetic of the artwork & things like the baggy, hoody-like quality of the spacesuit the back cover astronaut is wearing.

If you can find a copy I highly recommend picking it up. If you cannot, then you can always make the tracks from it into a playlist on whatever streaming platform you use.

Until next time…

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Indie Rock Music Song of the Day

Song of the Day (A-Z): Jason Lytle – Matterhorn

Day 13 (M). Jason Lytle is almost certainly best known for his work as the frontman & main songwriter in the top-tier Indie rock band, Grandaddy. Away from Grandaddy, Lytle has also crafted a small solo career. Matterhorn is grand, widescreen elegiac pop music in a similar vein to another favourite of mine, British Sea Power, but with Jason Lytle’s signature falsetto vocals & analogue synths.

This version is a solo acoustic version which Lytle actually recorded on the mountainside of the Matterhorn itself, the titular mountain which straddles the Swiss/Italian border. The song itself wonders at the merits of braving dangerous situations, like climbing the Matterhorn, versus the merits of staying home where it’s “safe and warm”. This lends a humorous element to the choice of location.

10 o’clock and her life quit going
It wasn’t long till it started snowing
And the end saw the wind really blowing around

Lone bird on a perch nearby
Saw something in her come untied
And then shivered just a bit as she aimed toward the sky

Get down that Matterhorn
What’s wrong with the safe and warm?
What’s wrong with a book and tea at night?
Up high in a friendless wind
Tears frozen upon descent
Get down that matterhorn again

There’s a handwritten note he wrote
In the pocket of a cold down coat
On the body of the one who has left our world

And in the note there’s a love professed
And some apology about some mess
But she won’t be reading those words too soon

Get down that Matterhorn
What’s wrong with the safe and warm?
What’s wrong with a book and tea at night?
Up high in a friendless wind
Tears frozen upon descent
Get down that matterhorn again

Up high in a frightening sky
What’s wrong with a quiet night?
Get down that Matterhorn again.

Do you dig mountains as much as Jason Lytle?…
…Seriously, look at all those framed pictures of mountains in his studio.

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Indie Rock Music

No Age – Head Sport Full Face

Dream-Punk noiseniks No Age, who I’ve wrote about before on this blog, have dropped a fourth single from their upcoming album, Goons Be Gone, which is due on the 5th June.

Head Sport Full Face is a psychedelic, lo-fi punk thrasher with fuzzed up guitars, pounding percussion & analogue synth melodies. The vocals are understated & nonchalant, floating gently over the wall of sound production.

Like previous single, Feeler, No Age have released a video for Head Sport Full Face. The video couples live performance footage with psychedelic imagery in double exposure mode. The whole thing has a VHS or degraded digital quality to it which is perfect for a band like No Age.

Hype for the Goons Be Gone intensifies.

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Indie Rock Music Song of the Day

Song of the Day (A-Z): Pixies – Levitate Me

Day 12 (L) & we’re hearing some Pixies. The wonderful Levitate Me is taken from the Pixies debut EP Come On Pilgrim (now repackaged with their debut long-player, Surfer Rosa).

The eight songs on Come On Pilgrim were hand picked by 4AD label owner Ivo Watts-Russell from the seventeen tracks Pixies recorded for their early demo, the famous “Purple Tape”. The remaining nine tracks surfaced in the 2002 Pixies EP.

This version of Levitate Me is taken from their gig in 1988 at Londons Town & Country Club. Incredibly, Pixies were supporting 4AD label mates Throwing Muses. This gig was released on DVD in 2004, well worth tracking down. They’re selling quite cheap these days.

Give me help
Give me help
You can, levitate me

Then take off them rings
Off them hose
Levitate me

Higher place
Levitate me

Elevator lady [Repeat: x4]
Lady levitate me

If all in all is true [Repeat: x3]
If all is true
Won’t you please fawn over me [Repeat: x4]

Shaky shake, shakey
Levitate me

Come on pilgrim
You know he loves you
Levitate me

Higher place
Levitate me

He kicked a baby
Elevator lady [Repeat: x3]
Lady
Elevator lady
Lady, lady, levitate meIf all in all is true [Repeat: x3]
If all is true
Won’t you please run over me [Repeat: x5]
Me, me, me, me

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Indie Rock Music Song of the Day

Song of the Day (A-Z): The Jesus And Mary Chain – Just Like Honey

Day 10 (J) & we’re having a look at the feedback-drenched bubblegum pop of Psychocandy-era The Jesus And Mary Chain. Featuring a young Bobby Gillespie (Primal Scream) on drums, Just Like Honey riffs on the same drum beat as the Phil Spector produced Be My Baby by the Ronnettes. We might take the marriage of abrasive guitar noise with ’60’s influenced pop melodies a little for granted now, but when Just Like Honey (and earlier singles like Never Understand) came a long, it was a breath of fresh air which revitalised the Post-Punk landscape.

Listen to the girl
As she takes on half the world
Moving up and so alive
In her honey dripping beehive
Beehive
It’s good, so good, it’s so good
So good

Walking back to you
Is the hardest thing that
I can do
That I can do for you
For youI’ll be your plastic toy
I’ll be your plastic toy
For you

Eating up the scum
Is the hardest thing for
Me to do

Just like honey 
Just like honey 
Just like honey 
Just like honey 
Just like honey 
Just like honey 
Just like honey 
Just like honey 
Just like honey 
Just like honey 
Just like honey 
Just like honey 
Just like honey 
Just like honey 
Just like honey 
Just like honey
Just like honey

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Indie Rock Music

Manic Street Preachers – Gold Against The Soul

Welsh rock group Manic Street Preachers, London, 2nd June 1993. Left to right; drummer Sean Moore, bassist Nicky Wire, singer James Dean Bradfield and guitarist Richey James Edwards. (Photo by Kevin Cummins/Getty Images)

With the impending release of the deluxe edition of Manic Street Preachers sophomore long player, Gold Against The Soul on 12th June, now seems like a good time to have another look at this overlooked & under-loved album.

Sandwiched between the hugely ambitious flop of their debut album Generation Terrorists (“we wouldn’t be happy unless it sold sixteen million”) & the Post-Punk terror of their bleak masterpiece The Holy Bible, sits Manic Street Preachers first steps away from the upbeat anxiety of the former & towards the desolate internal strife which characterised the latter. Gold Against The Soul was produced by Dave Eringa (who had produced their Motown Junk single, three years previously) at Hook End Manor, an Elizabethan mansion formerly owned by Pink Floyd guitarist, Dave Gilmour.

With production levels more polished & commercially accessible than Generation Terrorists, Gold Against The Soul brings to mind The Clash’s sophomore album, the Sandy Pearlman produced Give ‘Em Enough Rope. A lot of the raw, punk edge seems to have been rolled off and replaced by shimmering concessions to radio friendliness. Also like Give ‘Em Enough Rope, Gold Against The Soul has, despite early indifference, grown in stature in the eyes of the bands fans.

The lyrics are definitely darker & more focused than Generation Terrorists. Lead single From Despair To Where is about the crushing realisation of the futility of adulthood. La Tristesse Durera (Scream To A Sigh) is named after a line from Vincent Van Gogh’s suicide note & describes the hypocrisy of how we treat veterans & parade them around at the Cenotaph every year. Symphony Of Tourette is a cross between an apology/explanation for some of the offensive statements the band members made around the time (“Let’s hope Michael Stipe goes the same way as Freddie Mercury”, “I hate Slowdive more than Hitler”) & a longing for the social freedom which the writer imagines Tourette’s syndrome affords a sufferer.

The album kicks off with some incredibly powerful riffing on the excellent Sleepflower, one of this writers favourite ever album openers. This ode to insomnia certainly carries a lot of weight & (I read in this article) uses the same guitar amp that was used on the bands independent single, Motown Junk, three years previously.

The singles from this album are beautifully produce & have gone on to be staples in the Manic Street Preachers live show over the years. From Despair To Where is a masterclass in rock radio production. La Tristesse is pure power pop. Roses In The Hospital has a loose limbed, almost Madchester feel to it, instantly dispelled by the profanity in the chorus: “We don’t want your fucking love” – or the cringeworthy radio edit which swaps that line for the songs title sung to the same vocal melody. Life Becoming A Landslide drifts effortlessly between elegaic pop verses, soaring, anthemic choruses & intense crunchy riffing.

On 12th June 2020, the deluxe edition of Gold Against The Soul will be released. The band have put together this trailer, featuring a number of clips of live performances of songs from the album.

Manic Street Preachers have confirmed the re-issue of a deluxe edition of their 1993 second album ‘Gold Against The Soul’ on 12th June 2020.

Available as a  120 page  A4 book featuring unseen images from the band’s  long time photographic collaborator Mitch Ikeda, many personally annotated by Nicky Wire and original typed and handwritten lyrics from the band’s own archive.  It will contain two CDs featuring the remastered album, previously unreleased demos, b-sides from the era, remixes and a live recording of The Clash song ‘What’s My Name’.  

Also available is a 180g vinyl version of the original album with download codes to the extra tracks on CD1 and a digital version featuring all the songs.

Pre Order signed copies of the book via the official Manics store: http://smarturl.it/MSPGATS/store

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Electronic Music Indie Rock Music Song of the Day

Song of the Day (A-Z): Radiohead – Idioteque

Day 9 (I) & we’ve finally hit a vein of pure Radiohead. After the success of OK Computer in the late ’90’s, the music industry had high hopes & expectations for Radiohead’s follow up. Radiohead however, made one of (if not the) most dramatic left turns in music history. During the touring & aftermath of OK Computer, Thom Yorke & the boys had been listening to a lot of the electronic music which was starting to really gain momentum at that point. We’re talking Aphex Twin, Autechre, Boards of Canada & Squarepusher to name a few.

Thom Yorke & Johnny Greenwood twiddling knobs & patching parameters, 2014

Radiohead took these new influences on board wholeheartedly, and emerged from the studio with Kid A, an album of experimental electronic music incorporating all of these influences. Despite the “moral panic” & hate from so-called “hardcore fans” over this change of direction, Kid A isn’t quite the departure it seems at first listen. Scratch the surface and you still find all the elements which made Radiohead great in the first place.

Idioteque, despite initial indifference, has in later years taken it’s place in the Radiohead catalogue as a firm favourite for me. This BBC performance (which serves as the “official” video) gives an excellent insight into how Radiohead would play these experimental songs live to the same high standard as their more rock-based material.

Who’s in a bunker?
Who’s in a bunker?
Women and children first
And the children first
And the children

I’ll laugh until my head comes off
I’ll swallow till I burst
Until I burst
Until I

Who’s in a bunker?
Who’s in a bunker?
I have seen too much
I haven’t seen enough
You haven’t seen it

I’ll laugh until my head comes off
Women and children first
And children first
And children

Here I’m alive
Everything all of the time
Here I’m alive
Everything all of the time

Ice age coming
Ice age coming
Let me hear both sides
Let me hear both sides
Let me hear both

Ice age coming
Ice age coming
Throw it in the fire
Throw it in the fire
Throw it on the

We’re not scaremongering
This is really happening
Happening
We’re not scaremongering
This is really happening
Happening

Mobiles squerking
Mobiles chirping
Take the money run
Take the money run
Take the money

Here I’m alive
Everything all of the time
Here I’m alive
Everything all of the time

Here I’m alive
Everything all of the time
Here I’m alive
Everything all of the time

The first of the children [Repeat until fade]

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Indie Rock Music Overlooked Classics

Overlooked Classics: The Drum – Diskin

When Pop-Punk goes bad.

I can’t begin to guess what a happened to Nottingham Pop-Punk band, China Drum, between their 1997 album Self Made Maniac & their 2000 album (after name change to The Drum) Diskin. Before the release of this gnarled & twisted album, they were probably best known for their excellent Pop-Punk cover of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights.

The influences on this record are much more diverse & interesting than the Pop-Punk by numbers of their previous albums. They seem to have been listening to a lot of Grunge & Alternative Rock music. This and more experimental music, perhaps Radiohead’s OK Computer.

The alien song structures, analogue synth warbling & delayed electronic textures rub up quite well against the neo-Grunge guitar riffing & Diskin seems to arrive at something completely new & original. Even now, 20 years on, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything quite like it. Highlights for me include downtempo tracks like Horns Front & The Beast (which seem to carry a fair Placebo influence), as well as the more abarsive noise jams of opener HK & Hold This Thought While I Lose My Head (apparently renamed as Head on Spotify?).


As I said above, Diskin is very unique & if you haven’t heard it before then you should definitely give it a listen.

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Indie Rock Music Punk Song of the Day

Song of the Day (A-Z): Minutemen – History Lesson Part 2

This blogpost is dedicated to the memory of D. Boon. RIP.

Day 8 (H) & it’s History Lesson (Part 2) by Minutemen. You almost certainly know a Minutemen song, even if you’ve never heard of them. Their song Corona was made world famous by it’s use as the theme music for Jackass. I find this amusing as, lyrically, it’s a very intelligent song about US foreign policy in central America. For it to be then used for a show like Jackass. Hilarious.

D. Boon, 1985

History Lesson (Part 2) is about the origins of the Minutemen (“Me & Mike Watt played for years”, “we drove up from Pedro”) and also engages in some mythmaking & world building for the Punk Rock community. “This is Bob Dylan to me” is intended to equate the acclaim Dylan enjoys with Punk Rock music, lending it a sense of legitimacy which we take for granted in 2020. There was a time when this music was viewed as obscene & talentless noise. In the here & now, it is the fountainhead of most of the music we listen to from Hip-Hop to Alternative Rock. The lyrics also take pains to point out the normality of the band members, D. Boon, Mike Watt & George Hurley. This is what is being addressed by the opening couplet “Our band could be your life, real names’d be proof”.

Our band could be your life
Real names’d be proof
Me and mike watt played for years
Punk rock changed our lives

We learned punk rock in Hollywood
Drove up from Pedro
We were fucking corn dogs
We’d go drink and pogo

Mr. Narrator
This is Bob Dylan to me
My story could be his songs
I’m his soldier child

Our band is scientist rock
But I was E. Bloom and Richard Hell
Joe Strummer, and John Doe
Me and Mike Watt, playing guitar

As a bonus, while searching for a decent video of History Lesson (Part 2) I found this lovely video, from 2009, of bassist Mike Watt reading the lyrics & explaining a little about what they were saying and how they were wrote. Notice how Watt’s eyes seem to tear up and he chokes slightly on his words when he mentions bandmate D. Boon. Boon was killed in a road vehicle accident in 1985, when Minutemen were at the peak of their power & facing a bright & successful career. I hope you enjoy.

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Sharon Van Etten & Josh Homme – (What’s so funny ’bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?

Despite my favourite version of this classic Nick Lowe tune being the wonderful version by the cast of the amazing Marvel TV show Legion, I have a lot of time for both Sharon Van Etten & Josh Homme. They don’t dissappoint here as they deliver an epic, melancholic pop version of the song, complete with orchestral percussion & reverb drenched piano chords. This is probably more in Van Etten’s wheelhouse than Homme’s, but he seems to adapt to it perfectly well.

I’m loving Josh Homme’s pink bunny onesie in the artwork. Tempted to end this sentence with a smiley.

And as bonus, because I mentioned it, here’s the Legion Cast recording. If you haven’t seen it, please watch. It’s so weird that I suspect the producers were trying to give David Lynch a run for his money.

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