1. Soccer Team – Best Employed New Beau (2017) (Time: 00.00)
Soccer Team are one of the increasingly few bands who have managed to persuade the Dishcord Records label to part with the cash that they so readily splashed about in the 80’s and 90’s, and it is easy to see why with tracks like this one from the 2015 release Real Lessons in Cynicism.
As a side project of Ryan Nelson (Beauty Pill, The Most Secret Method, Minutes etc, none of which are particularly jangle-pop oriented) the band are somewhat unprolific with just two albums and an EP since 2006. However, when Nelson and Melissa Quinley do come together there is always jangle fireworks among the coolest of indie-pop sounds.
2. Tennis Club – Birthday (2017) (Time: 01.39)
From the Spirit Goth released Sept 2017 self titled debut. This Joplin, Missouri three piece have been receiving much of my ‘listening love’ recently with this track and the equally sublime Chinese Slippers seemingly having a direct magnetic effect on my cursor !
With a sound that elicits images of a prettier surf rock version of Jetstream Pony, they have somehow managed to add a much needed difference to the bag load of typical surf rock that is currently available.
3. Young Scum – Blue Schlurpee (2015) (Time: 4.07)
A band of contradictions. Really with a name like Young Scum the tendency might be to dismiss them as 4 fellas from Richmond, Virginia who might feel the need to ink 10 zillion tattoos all over there arms, whilst inflicting pain of kittens between rehab sessions.
For all I know they might well be like that? However if this track from their debut studio EP Autumn August and their subsequent two albums are at all indicative, then they would be true ‘meet the parents fodder’ with their sublime dream-like jangle pop that may be considered a tad child-like if there sound was not dripping in glorious crystalline jangle.
This track from 2015 still remains among the best in an increasingly impressive catalogue.
4. Jetstream Pony – Charms Around Your Wrist (2017)(Time: 07:28)
As a 20 / 30 something I was in love in with Another Sunny Day, Trembling Blue Stars’ (etc etc) Beth Arzy.
Not in the sort of way that I was in love with the physical wiles of a Katie Holmes type (although Beth is undeniably a bit of a thinking man’s hottie), but in the sort of way that I want to sit her on my couch and bring her ice cream and other presents as a reward for just being so incredibly cool over the years, as she casually wins debates with me about politics whilst she simultaneously watches Coronation Street.
I may well have grown out of these mild stalker tendencies now, but Beth has remained consistently cool, as this latest single from her latest band displays.
5. Cinema Red and Blue – Come Back to The City, Babyface (2017) (Time: 10:38)
Pale Lights are constant features on my regular musical sojourns. However the fickle finger does not point to them on this playlist preferring here to look at one of Phil Sutton‘s (PL front man ) other bands, that has at certain times contained various members of the brilliant Comet Gain (another band Sutton was in).
This single, one of the last out of the Fortuna Pop! label, is their first release in almost six years and despite the elongated hiatus has proven to be their best.
6. Holm – Dappled (2018) (Time: 14:48)
This was an e-mailed recommendation from one the @janglepophub Twitter followers that is deserving of the Fickle Finger’s attention. The track is initiated with the sort of crazy introduction that consists of the sort of weird distorted feedback that Devo or the Meat Puppets at their most unstructured would have been proud of.
However indulge them for thirty seconds and the track suddenly breaks into the sort of nervous spiky guitar work of The Feelies married to warm melodic vocals that are completely alien to the background riffs. It is a truly original sound and the title track from a superb debut EP.
7. BMX Bandits – E102 (1986) (Time: 18:35)
First of a three tracks from the 1980’s and who better to kick start a bit of homage to the good ‘ol days of 80’s indie-pop from a band who have been releasing their own inimitable band of jangled up guitar and indie pop for nearly 35 years.
‘The Bandits’ are always the band that I turn to when I just need something to cheer me up. It is just fun knowing all the words and trying desperately to mimic Duglas T Stewart wonderfully subtle and laconic voice.
This track is their 1986 debut single and still ranks among their best.
8. Terry Malts – Gentle Eyes (2016) (Time: 22:16)
A couple of months ago this blog ran a ‘Best of the Magic Bullets‘ article as part of our intermittent Fake Compilation Series. The Magic Bullets disbanded way back in 2011 and I probably would not be over it if three of their band members (Corey Cunningham, Phil Benson and Nathan Sweatt) had not formed Terry Malts.
A far less sweet venture than the indie-pop janglings of their previous band with a sound more grounded in fuzz pop, Terry Malts still manage to add at least a couple of truly inspired jangle-pop tracks to each album, with this one being the best from their latest Lost at the Party (2016) album out of the Slumberland Records label.
9. The Electric Pop Group – Into Thin Air (2010) (Time: 25:52)
If you like your jangle-pop on the twee side of the spectrum The Electric Pop Group may well be just for you. Similarly if, like me you are finding the pure clarity of the guitar work from Scandinavian jangle-pop bands more and more appealing as it leads the fight against the new wave of jangle-gaze bands, then this short lived band may well be something for you to check out.
This track, from the 2010 album Seconds (Matinee Recordings) is typical of their wafer thin vocals, subtle jangle and almost apologetic rhythm section that gives it a sort of Another Sunny Day or The Field Mice vibe.
10. The Groove Farm – It Always Rains Sunday (1986) (Time: 29:47)
The 2nd of our 80’s tracks and coincidentally another from 1986. The Fickle Finger pointed towards this band after my memory was stirred by reviewing the brilliant new album from the latest band that some of The Groove Farm‘s old members are in (Arrest! Charlie Tipper).
This track is from the superb Sore Head and Happy Hearts EP out of the Raving Pop Blast! Records and is truly indicative of their ‘plinky’ jangle-pop sound, that remains as original today as it was 30+ years ago
11. The Luxembourg Signal – Laura Palmer (2017) (Time: 32.04)
Another current Beth Arzy band / Kleine Untergrund Schallplatten label mix (see track 4 from Jetstream Pony) that provides just the same amount of ‘Arzy cool’ but with a more ethereal beauty to the jangle-pop proceedings.
This swirling epic 5.5 minutes track (also the lead single from the album) is my favourite from their excellent 2017 Blue Field album, that topped so many end of year lists from a whole litany of other blogs I trust.
12. The Cat’s Miaow – Not Like I was Doing Anything (1993) (Time: 37.59)
The Fickle Finger dragged a cursor over this freshly ripped The Cat’s Miaow mp3 after finally getting hold of (and paying far too much for) the cassette copy of the 1993 How Did Everything Get So Fucked album out of Aussie label Golf Records. As such please forgive the quality of the mp3 as all the pop removal, equalizing and other knob twiddling effects I have applied are not making it that much better.
However, it is still a truly great track from a much under-rated Aussie band who did not quite fit with the whole Triple J vibe and did Aussie jangle-pop their way instead…thank goodness !
13. Stephen’s Shore – Ocean Blue (2016) (Time: 39.43)
Everyone including myself were eagerly awaiting the release of the 2018 Stephen’s Shore debut album, September Love out of Meritorio Records and although it took a little bit longer to grow on me as it was not quite what I expected, I have now grown to love the crystalline guitar work that most Swedish jangle-pop bands provide (also see #9, The Electric Pop Group above).
However, as much as their latest has become the ultimate ‘grower’ release for me over the last few months, none of it’s tracks match the sheer brilliance of this, the opening and title track from the 2016 Ocean Blue EP…sheer class.
14. Say Sue Me – One Question (2017) (Time: 42.35)
South Koreans, Say Sue Me have been backed heavily by the Damnably label with this Where Were We Together album, pressing an initial 1000 vinyl run which was sold out within a few days on the back of tour to the UK at the end of the British winter. This cemented the popularity of the band beyond that of just South Korea and their growing, ever faithful Bandcamp following.
This album displays Say Sue Me’s tendency to throw a few tracks of 60s inflected surf rock into the mix. However what makes this track stand out is the malevolent lyrics sung by the sweetest of Asian voices, promising mass murder of the relatives of a love rival. Great stuff!
15. Real Numbers – Only Two Can Play (2013) (Time: 45.32)
Out of all the tracks on this first episode of Fickle Finger, this title track from the Minnesota based Real Numbers’ 2013 EP is the one that has been given the most attention from me.
With the repeated ‘plinky’ riff that dominates reminding me of the better parts of The Groove Farm they have no qualms about wearing their 80’s influences proudly on their sleeve.
An absolute ear worm out of the Three Dimensional Records label
16. This Poison! – Poised Over the Pause Button (1987) (Time: 47.35)
Just a handful of bands were signed to the David Gedge / Wedding Present Reception label however Perth based, Scottish band This Poison!, certainly held their own in the company of label mates such as Wedding Present and CUD and despite only releasing two EP’s are certainly remembered with affection among mid to late 80’s gig goers.
This tracks represents the best of their limited 8 tracks studio output and the ,last of the three 80’s tracks on Fickle Finger #0001
17. Acid House Kings – Say Yes If You Love Me (2002) (Time: 50.08)
The 2000’s are the least represented decade for jangle-pop (with the exception of the silly 70’s decade which I nearly discard from a jangle-pop perspective). However jangle-pop was not totally dead in the decade that was swallowed by Britpop and Postcard Records label revivalism thanks to indie-pop bands such as Acid House Kings who kept the indie-pop / jangle fusion alive and well with a couple of albums and three EP’s in the decade.
This track is from the Mondays are Like Tuesdays and Tuesdays are Like Wednesday album (2002) out of the Hidden Agenda Records label, which has remained dear to me despite the passing years.
18. Naive Set – So Far So Gone (2018) (Time: 53.14)
The Fickle Finger pointed at this Dutch band when researching for the interview I recently conducted with the brilliant guitarist / vocalist Arie Van Vliet of fellow Dutch band (Rotterdam) Lewsberg …only to find that he plays in both bands.
He does not disappoint in either with Naive Set providing moments of lyrical brilliance in their portrayal of 30 something angst and tedium, whilst backing it up with a mixture of skewed guitar-pop where a next jangled riff is always ‘next’.
This track is the lead single from their 2018 self titled third album out of Subroutine Records and is typical of their superb aesthetic.
19. FLOWERTRUCK – Sunshower (2016) (Time: 56.52)
I should not like this. I cannot understand a word that the lead singer is warbling, such is his propensity to portray Clap Your Hands Say Yeah‘s Alec Oundsworth as almost ‘Queen’s English’ in comparison to his own vocal ambiguity and for him to bark out accentuated words and syllables like a demented Tourettes Syndrome patient suffering an adverse to reaction to the affront of the indie rock style jangled riffs that surround him.
But as you can see on this track off the 2016 Dirt debut EP out of Spunk Records, somehow it all comes together superbly well, despite its defiance towards any semblance of aural convention,
20. Thousand Yard Stare – Thisness (1992) (Time: 59.52)
One of my favourite bands from the days in the 1990’s when I was young, unmarried, had no fatherly responsibilities and could live from one pay packet to the next spending a significant proportion of my wages watching bands of this ilk up and down the UK.
nyone who ever saw Thousand Yard Stare live in those days will know that this track off the 1992 Hands On album was their live magna opus and under the unlimited production capabilities of Stephen Street a similar live energy is captured in the studio.