I had the pleasure of watching Teenage Fanclub play San Francisco’s Fillmore last night. While I’m sure the band members themselves would say that Gerard Love is irreplaceable, keyboardist Euros Childs and bassist Dave McGowan did a wonderful job (harmonizing beautifully, might I add)! Norman Blake beamed with palpable delight throughout, and his stage banter made my heart smile. (I guarantee that no other rock star has been thrilled to qualify for the discounted meal at Denny’s, nor bragged about it onstage.) Have a peek!
(I could do a dissertation on the brilliance of “Everything Flows” as a song, but that’s another post altogether. Let me know if you’re interested…)
I am aware that this shimmering gem of Scottish pop is not about hockey. However, for years I was unable to hear “Save” without imagining the Sharks’ Evgeni Nabokov catching broken hearts in his glove…
Some of you may recall last year’s post detailing my complex relationship with Record Store Day. This year, I decided to arrive somewhat later than usual (okay, 10:30 a.m.) to see if the line was less DMV-ish that way. (It was, but I also missed a lot of the usual free swag as a result. Go ahead and tell me about it.) I had two items in mind when I entered the store. One was gone, and the other was pretty much a repackaging only. I was about to walk out of Record Store Day empty-handed for the first time ever. Equally proud and chastened, I decided there’d be no harm to flip through the rest of the releases.
Then I saw one lone copy of the Cherry Red re-release of NME’s C86 compilation (two discs, gatefold sleeve). Not what I came to get (mainly because I didn’t realize it was coming out for RSD), not exactly cheap, but tempting nonetheless. I started to debate…
Teenage Fanclub‘s “Metal Baby” started blasting through the Streetlight Records speakers *the very second* I started to put the album back. The store followed up with The La’s a few minutes later.
I bought the record, and learned one of two things.
Either I was destined to have that C86 reissue, or I’m much more susceptible to subliminal advertising than I thought.
Jonny features Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake and Euros Childs from Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. The songs on the band’s 2011 debut tend to discuss witches or food. “Candyfloss” seems to be about a witch AND food, and is therefore the perfect Halloween tune. Check out the brilliantly foreboding synth riff, and the entertainingly low-budget video!
So, December has arrived, and I’m not exactly in the proper frame of mind yet. Part of the problem has to do with the often-maudlin holiday music that assaults my senses every time I go into a store. (Don’t get me wrong, the classics are wonderful when done well. It’s the schmaltzy or overwrought versions that get to me.) So, as a public service, when the mood hits me, I will post a link to a lesser-known holiday gem.
I’m kicking off the proceedings with “A Very Sorry Christmas” by The New Mendicants. (I mentioned the band in this post last month.) This may be the most low-key supergroup in rock history, featuring Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake, Joe Pernice of the Pernice Brothers, and Sadies drummer Mike Belitsky (a veritable legend in Canadian rock circles). The band first released the Australia 2013 EP, featuring a harmony-laden cover of INXS’ “This Time” and several acoustic performances. “A Very Sorry Christmas” comes from the 2014 Ashmont Records full-length debut Into The Lime. It’s an unpretentious yet elegant record that, while evoking the best of all three bands, feels new.
But, as the great Marty di Bergi once said, enough of my yakkin’! Here it is:
On November 4, 1991, Creation Records released Bandwagonesque by the Glasgow band Teenage Fanclub. Bandwagonesque was chosen as “Album of the Year” in the SPIN magazine year-end poll, ahead of such releases as Nirvana’s Nevermind. Naturally, this has caused controversy in the 23 years that have elapsed since then, and I won’t get into that here. What I will say is that, of all the releases of 1991, I listen to Bandwagonesque most often. It is a shimmering and timeless beauty, balancing glorious harmonies, alternately chiming and grinding guitars, and clever songcraft.
Ah, but you want proof, discerning blog readers that you are. Sometimes I prefer its upbeat pop classics, such as “Metal Baby”:
I included an appreciation of the sweet “Sidewinder” in my essay “Dextrose Rides Again,” featured in the anthology Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, so I should play that, too:
Then there’s “Alcoholiday,” which reduces me to swooning or tears, depending on my mood. Legend has it that late, lamented Big Star frontman Alex Chilton also wept when he first heard it…it’s that gorgeous, folks:
Here is the major advantage that Teenage Fanclub has over Nirvana: the Fanclub exists to this day, with a long and varied song catalog, fun side projects (try the New Mendicants!), and occasional concert tours. You have to love that!