I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that some of my favourite bands don’t make this list but a few of them did take some time to get going. The Chap, for instance; love them to bits and they’re probably the artist I’ve listened to the most over the last 10 years or so but their debut, ‘The Horse’ wasn’t really all that great. Some top tunes for sure, but subsequent release ‘Ham’ was all-conquering. Same goes for Faith No More, the band of my early-mid teens… didn’t really properly kick off until Angel Dust, despite releasing their debut 7 years prior. And Girls Against Boys. Here’s the top list (in no particular order) anyway, and let’s not worry about the fact that I forgot about Weezer.
Shellac – At Action Park
Following on from Big Black and Rapeman, Steve Albini teams up with Bob Weston and Todd Trainer for the first time and delivers 10 crushingly powerful songs. ‘My Black Ass’ is the best introduction that a band could possibly make. It doesn’t matter that they only make a record ever 4 or 5 years, they are forgiven.
Aloha – That’s Your Fire
The best ‘take a chance’ album I’ve ever bought and quite possibly *the* best album I’ve ever bought. Purchased on a whim thanks to a snippet I heard in the early days of the internet, this record still gets regular plays. It’s one of the few times that indie mixes successfully with jazz and will make you fall in love with the vibraphone.
The Fall – Live At The Witch Trials
Released just in time for mam and dad to buy it for me for my first birthday*, the first of The Fall’s 823 albums is one of their best and an amazing debut from a band who were still in their teens at the time. Mark E Smith’s sneering and wordplay on this album is a lot clearer than the toothless, crumpled mess that fronts the band these days. (*That obviously didn’t happen)
Number One Cup – Possum Trot Plan
This was a borderline inclusion as there is a fair bit of filler on this 20-songer, but the ‘proper’ songs are some of the most finely crafted indie-rock songs you’ve probably not heard. The one standout (i.e. the one which sounds like it’s not been recorded in a bedroom) is ‘Divebomb’ which gained some college radio play. The subsequent 2 albums were even better, but this was a great way to start.
R.E.M. – Murmur
‘Murmur’ came out in 1983, but it wasn’t until 10 years later that I found it at Hitman Records in Newport (on tape). I had no idea at the time that R.E.M. even existed in 1983, or that they sounded so much more interesting than they did for much of ‘Automatic…’ and ‘Out Of Time’. It’s the best sounding record they’ve come up with; I can never put my finger on why, but the production just does something to me. It’s kind of haunting. Yes, that does sound silly.
Six By Seven – The Things We Make
The stunningly-beautiful-wall-of-sound-feedbackness of the outro to ‘Spy Song’. That automatically means it makes the list.
Cable – Down-Lift The Up-Trodden
Very cleverly re-creating the album cover to John Mayall’s ‘Bluesbreakers’, Cable’s debut is all about being loud and shouty and all the things that we loved in 1995. Cable were *way* ahead of their time and this record is just as relevant today as it was almost 20 years ago on its release. Wish I’d gone to one of their comeback shows, but they were supporting Hundred Reasons.
Modest Mouse – This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About
My word there are some fine songs on this debut. The killer duo of ‘Lounge’ and ‘Beach Side Property’ is probably Isaac Brock & Co’s finest hour (or 13 mins at least) and there is no way that anyone can deny themselves a little pogo when ‘Tundra/Desert’ kicks off. Jeremiah Green on drums is the star of the show.
Pavement – Slanted & Enchanted
Any of you that know me personally will roll their eyes at the obviousness of this album’s inclusion. I’ve probably waxed lyrical about it somewhere before – maybe even here. It’s got everything, and has basically influenced my musical preference since I first heard it in the early nineties. Lo-fi slacker heaven; each song a classic. Even the last one, which is saved by Gary Young’s drum outro.
Super Furry Animals – Fuzzy Logic
By 1996, the Manics were already on a downward spiral post ‘Everything Must Go’**, Seattle had sent Newport to Coventry and I was spending my evenings hijacking the PA system at Pontypool Tesco by tying a rubber band around the switch, popping this in the CD player and entertaining my fellow evening shifters with this 40 mins of joy. It did take a while to get to the second half of the album which is hardly surprising when you look at the track listing for the first. It was probably the first time I’d heard a band sing in a properly Welsh accent too. Intrigued, I was.
(** I am well aware that ‘Futurology’ is actually really quite good, I’ll be reviewing that soon. I’m so on the ball).