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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