Sunday, May 17, 2015

Hits, Cult Classics & Obscurities: 1990

In the three previous editions of our latest series of posts, we've traveled back to 1980, 1985 and 1995 to remind you of some key tracks from these years that can be classified as hits, cult classics or obscurities based on their level of commercial success. Regardless of their popularity though, there is no doubt in my mind that the most appropriate label for all the song trios we've presented so far is Killer Tracks. Here's another killer trio, this time from 1990:

The early '90s was certainly a great era for the UK alternative music scene. Among the numerous new bands taking their first steps in that period were The Charlatans from the West Midlands, a band whose sound was quickly associated with the Madchester scene, and Ride from Oxford who soon became one of the pivotal bands of the shoegazing sound. 

"The Only One I Know" was just the second single of The Charlatans, released on May 14th, 1990, and it instantly became a big hit, landing at number 9 on the UK Singles Chart and also breaking into the Top 10 of the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks in the US. Here's our choice for hit single of 1990:

It would take Ride a little longer to have a similar hit in the UK (that would be 1992's "Leave Them All Behind", which also peaked at number 9), but there is no doubt in the mind of shoegaze fans everywhere that the string of EPs that launched the band's career in 1990 include some of their best and most influential songs. One of them is our choice for this year's cult classic: here's "Chelsea Girl", track 1, side A of their debut, self-titled EP released on January 15th, 1990 on Creation Records, the song that was my introduction to Ride:

Danielle Dax has created throughout the '80s some truly unique, inspiring experimental pop records, all released on small, independent labels. In 1990 she made her major label debut with the fine "Blast The Human Flower", produced by Stephen Street. Despite a more accessible sound and a very good cover of The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows" which she released as a single, the record didn't find the success it deserved and after one more independent release in 1995, Dax retired from music to focus on other artistic endeavors including interior design. 

Have a listen to her cover of "Tomorrow Never Knows" below and make sure to check out her original compositions as well, not only on "Blast The Human Flower" but also on records like "Inky Bloaters", "Jesus Egg That Wept" or "Pop-Eyes".

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Listening Habits 2015 03-04

Every month we present the latest new releases that have piqued our interest, but what were those albums and songs that we've listened to the most and have rightly earned a place in C.M.C.'s record collection? This is the question we answer every other month in our Listening Habits posts and the time has come for the second one of the year, which is actually the first consisting entirely of 2015 releases.

The top of our March - April album list belongs to the excellent debut by Melbourne singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett, whose killer single "Pedestrian At Best" was also number one in our previous Top 20 Tracks list. The compilation "The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas" introduced us to her unique songwriting talents a couple of years ago and now her proper full-length debut "Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit" provides further proof that Barnett is able to transform her influences in witty, infectious songs that describe in a captivating manner intriguing characters and personal thoughts and insecurities.

"Untethered Moon", the eighth album by Built To Spill and their first since 2009, finds the Boise, Idaho, rockers in fine form, rocking out with the same passion as in their best records from the '90s and early '00s. They say that change is essential to survival, but sometimes it makes a lot of sense to stick to your winning ways and play to your strengths, and this is exactly what's going on here from the very first guitar riff to the last.

Other excellent records we've enjoyed in the last couple of months include "Escape From Evil", the third and best album so far by Lower Dens, "Ivy Tripp", also the third full-length by Waxahatchee who I'm looking forward to seeing live in the upcoming Plisskën Festival in Athens, "Foil Deer" by the increasingly wonderful Speedy Ortiz and the notable return to action by longtime favorites The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Modest Mouse and Blur with their first work in twelve years.

Here's the complete Top 20 list of highly recommended albums:

Top 20 Albums

1.  Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit - COURTNEY BARNETT
2.  Untethered Moon - BUILT TO SPILL
3.  Escape From Evil - LOWER DENS
4.  Ivy Tripp - WAXAHATCHEE
5.  Foil Deer - SPEEDY ORTIZ
6.  "Freedom Tower" No Wave Dance Party 2015 - THE JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION
7.  The Magic Whip - BLUR
8.  Strangers To Ourselves - MODEST MOUSE
9.  Hinterland - LONELADY
10. Another Eternity - PURITY RING
11. Short Movie - LAURA MARLING
12. Fast Food - NADINE SHAH
14. I Want To Grow Up - COLLEEN GREEN
15. Kintsugi - DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE
16. Shadow Of The Sun - MOON DUO
17. To Pimp A Butterfly - KENDRICK LAMAR
18. Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper - PANDA BEAR
19. Transfixiation - A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS
20. Edge Of The Sun - CALEXICO

Top 20 Tracks

1.  Lampshades On Fire - MODEST MOUSE
2.  Nobody Really Cares If You Don't Go To The Party - COURTNEY BARNETT
3.  Raising The Skate - SPEEDY ORTIZ
4.  Fool - NADINE SHAH
5.  False Hope - LAURA MARLING
6.  Under A Rock - WAXAHATCHEE
7.  To Die in L.A. - LOWER DENS
9.  Living Zoo - BUILT TO SPILL
11. Groove It Out - LONELADY
13. Push Pull - PURITY RING
14. Lonesome Street - BLUR
16. Deeper Than Love - COLLEEN GREEN
17. Slow Down Low - MOON DUO
18. Boys Latin - PANDA BEAR
19. Cumbia de Donde - CALEXICO
20. Winter (Warpaint Remix) - DAUGHTER

Modest Mouse - Lampshades On Fire

You can listen to our Top 20 Tracks on Spotify here: