Posts Tagged ‘C86’

The Hangmans Beautiful Daughters

I’m always game for a retrospective that picks at corners of a scene I’ve overlooked. While pawing through plenty of the C86-era janglers, I must admit that I’ve largely missed out on the works of The Hangmans Beautiful Daughters. Maybe its that the name implies something less rooted in the fuzz-draped pop vein and instead dredges up English Folk overtones. Honestly that should have made me dig in more, not less. While bearing no relationship to or similarities with The Invisible String Band, the group instead takes another divergence from the bulk of the pack that surrounded them. Mentored and produced by The Television Personalities’ Dan Treacy, the group would release their early singles on his own Dreamworld Records and the TVP affiliated Constrictor label. Treacy wrote several songs himself and the band took them from the spare, jangles of his own oeuvre and added layers of thick fuzz, a garage grit, and the kind of lived in cool that radiated off of bands like The Seeds and Velvets before them.

They’d pick at the ‘60s garage canon as well, adding a cover of Shadows of Knights’ “Dark Side” to their pack of Treacy tunes before crafting their own voice. Once rolling the band’s Gordon Dawson and Emily Brown begin to anchor the group with a sound that splits between the jangling ends of The Byrds and the kind of culture that was being dug up by TVPs, Biff Bang Pow!, and early Primal Scream. Aside from the grinding leads, it’s Emily Brown’s vocals that give the band staying power. Her delivery is simultaneously engaging and bored. She’s a beacon that hardly has time for you, but the draw is there all the same. There are some standout female fronters from the period and place, but C86 tends to be a boys club in typical reminiscence about its prowess. The Hangmans Beautiful Daughters round out that narrative a bit. The new collection from Optic Nerve brings together a much needed overview of the band that hasn’t really been explored in detail since a singles comp from ’89 on Voxx. The set is fleshed out with great liner notes from Jowe Head of TVP and Gordon from the band. If, like me, you’ve missed out on the band prior, then this is an essential listen.



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The Motorcycle Boy – Scarlet

Yet another UK release that I barely heard about here, but one well deserving of second life in the physical format. The Motorcycle Boy are most notable for their connection to The Shop Assistants, having been the band that Alex Taylor fronted following the dissolution of the Shops. The band grew out of the rather terribly/brilliantly named Meat Whiplash, which featured the same lineup minus Taylor. Meat Whiplash put out one single on Creation and one would have assumed that this would have led to an easy in for the band’s ascension. The answer is yes and no. With the addition of Taylor the band recorded “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” released on Rough Trade, which rose the ranks of the independent charts at the time. The band was scheduled to release a Flood-produced follow-up, but it was set aside in favor of focus on an album. That album was set to be Scarlet. The record was scheduled to be released on Chrysalis, but as usual setbacks and bad luck struck down another band in their prime.

Promo cassettes of the slated version of Scarlet exist, but finished copies were never produced. The band had issues with live shows prior to the album and eventually the discord broke them apart. Chrysalis issued singles of “Trying To Be Kind” and “You And Me Against The World” but without the band’s involvement the rest kinda fell apart. Thankfully this year, Forgotten Astronaut brings the full spectrum of Scarlet to pass and it just make the pain of having to wait this long harder. The album is packed with great songs and should have given the band a good foothold. Such is life and loss in music. The reissue is lovely and contains that aforementioned Flood single along with another bonus track. Definitely in need of a listen.


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Jeanines – “Either Way”

Brooklyn do Jeanines have announced their debut LP for Slumberland today and the first cut wafts in on memories of classic Slumberland, Sarah, and Cloudberry singles gone by. Lead by Alicia Jeanine and aided and abetted by My Teeanage Sride’s Jed Smith on drums and bass, the band picks at a whole host of favorites from Marine Girls, The Pastels and Talulah Gosh to further outliers like Tiger Trap and Cub. Its sweet and simple and decidedly breezy, just the kind of jangle pop that brightens a day. There have been a lot of heirs to the jangle-pop throne, but the true secret is not to overthink it. So many of the originals shone brightly because they weren’t trying to overcomplicate the sound, and instead just got together with friends to knock out sparkling singles dipped in simple syrup and sunshine. Jeanines seem to capture the haphazard brilliance of the original set. Get this one on your list for 2019.



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NRP: Razorcuts – The World Keeps Turning

Its been a while since I’ve gotten to dig into a Necessary Repress, but the list is long and heavy. For a refresher, the series aims to look at releases that have been left out of the vinyl boom and the constant savaging for every conceivable pop artifact to put back into circulation. This usually comes to a head around Record Store Day when labels look at rosters for any item they can cannibalize back into the market, without thinking about how necessary represses of best of compilations and unloved singles truly are. That’s not to say that there aren’t deserving corners of the market still left out of the spotlight, though. Its just never the ones you love, is it? In that regard, I submit the catalog of C86 / Creation alums Razorcuts, and more specifically, their excellent sophomore album The World Keeps Turning.

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The Wolfhounds – Hands In The Till

As with many, I might imagine, my introduction to The Wolfhounds came at the hand of the C86 compilation. Though the comp is rather cohesive in its rounding up of the UK janglepop picture at the time there are a few outliers that stick out simply because they’re not as gentle as the majority of the fodder on the fabled collection. Chief among these aberrations are Half Man Half Biscuit, The Shrubs and The Wolfhounds. The latter actually lands close to the scope of many of the band’s but there’s a danger present in their sound that begs closer inspection. The band followed their excellent ’86 material with the biting “Anti-Midas Touch” EP starting off a noise-pop journey that’s still going.

As could only be expected of a quality UK band, they were participants in John Peel Sessions, leaving behind four sessions worth of incredible performances that sound surprisingly smooth all lined up. Given that the band was torn apart and reformed a few times over the span of the sessions, that’s no small feat. The comp covers a lot of ground and is notable for stringing together quite a bit of non-album singles material, touching on cuts from the Me, Cruelty, and Happy Shopper 7″s. The band have always remained admirable for swaying from the easy road, they’d captured their jangly beginnings in Unseen Ripples from a Pebble and the subsequent singles but turned around and drove the noise to the forefront with Blown Away, which likely dropped a few fair weather fans. This comp, sitting in the context of their excellent catalog proves that, like their peers in The Fall, McCarthy and The Wedding Present, they were an essential band carving out their own unique take on England’s rose. This is an excellent primer for the unfamiliar and an essential pickup for the ardent fan.



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Flowers

There are plenty who have embraced 80’s jangle as if it were the dominant paradigm of popular rock, with a zest that’s bordered on mission statement in some corners of Brooklyn and London. Flying Nun is held high. C86 is a bible. But to do it well, it can’t all just sound like a retread of greatest hits, and London’s Flowers have found that sweet spot between sounding like they could have lived alongside their influences and pushing the sounds of those legends a bit further. The band’s certainly versed, setup with the prerequisite totems of their 80’s education, but they’ve taken swooning pop, light ‘n sweet jangles and the fuzz-bitten layers of guitar and stacked them into the shape of a future classic.

I wrote about a Flowers lathe way back in 2012 and its hard to believe this could be the same band. They hit all the right marks to make a record that feels like its been sitting, just waiting to be found all along. Everybody’s Dying To Meet You sounds like its soundtracked a thousand heartaches before it ever reached my ears and now its here to wrap a comforting arm around the speakers and nod comfortingly. There’s an art to making a timeless record, and after finding myself playing this almost unconsciously day after day, it really feels like its got the hallmarks. Something about Rachel Kennedy’s vocals just hit home like a pang of nostalgia cramped into the pit of the stomach that aches sweetly, like having a crush on the past. They put the extra scoop of authenticity on the record by enlisting Brian O’Shaughnessey (The Clientele, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine) on production duties. He’s pushed the band into the mold they seemed destined to inhabit all these years. This one is topping out my list of 2016 obsessions.





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Burnt Palms

San Francisco’s Burnt Palms power through fuzz blasted bits of summer fun and surf-freckled fizz on their third album. Embracing the full scope of indie pop via the C86 meets Elephant 6 model, the band take it one step further by enlisting actual Elephant 6 member Gary Olson of Ladybug Transistor on mastering duties. That’s what I call commitment to concept and a pretty good endorsement of the band’s breakneck fuzzpop prowess. They’re not wrong to call out All Girl Summer Fun Band as a touchstone for where they were aiming. They hit pretty square on that target. The record is a candied blast of energy in every minute, bouncing with the vigor of a hopped up 10-year old through sunny songs that often have a sour heart, crafting that sweet n’ sad brew that’s never an unwelcome formula. In general this is just a top down bit of fun that’s easy on the ears and meant to be loud on the speakers; girl group veneer over a flame of punk coals.




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