Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Firestation Fans Jangle-Pop Flames

Long time, no hear, eh? I have an excuse. Worst week ever. At least one person was sick in my household for eight straight days. This culminated with my wife and I both being sick at the same time for a couple of days... and I don't mean with colds either. I'm not going to mince words. I was scared. I don't ever recall a time when we have both been out of commission like that. We have two children. For the first time, I realized how important it is for all families to have a strong support network. We just don't have that. I was a middle-aged man that wanted his mommy, but she was 2.000 miles away. It might be time to let some people into our little bubble.

So, how was your week?

Just before last week's dark cloud, I had a couple of rewarding excursions to favorite record shops. When I was in the stacks, I picked up four new releases from the folks at Firestation Records. They mine the golden age of indie pop as well as any label out there. When I see their logo on a record, I'll take the risk and buy it without ever listening to a note, and that's exactly what I did with "A Lovely Scar," a nice bit of jangle from Hipflasks. Highly recommended.

The first of my two big finds, however, was the 12" of "Wonderful Lie" from the Hardy Boys. It's one of those coveted pieces of plastic that has been impossible to find since it was released in 1989. Through the years, the single has gone for crazy amounts of money on online auction sites. A copy I had my eye on sold for more than $200 a few years back. Firestation has done a wonderful job with this reissue. It's a spitting image of the original 1989 release, right down to the Stella Five logo in the corner, a label that came and went in the blink of an eye.

If you don't know the Hardy Boys, here are a few facts. They formed in Greenock, a town in the west central Lowlands of Scotland, in the middle '80s. The name refers to writer Thomas Hardy. There were lots of lineup changes early on, and I don't think there were any singles until they recorded "Wonderful Lie" in Edinburgh. Several years ago the band put out a compilation called "Play Songs from the Lenin and McCarthy Songbook" that is a good get but, of course, another tough find. What you'll hear there is that they had more going for them than "Wonderful Lie." In fact, "Let the World Smother You" is arguably the one that should have brought fortune and fame. Their sound changed a bit when they added Kate Baker on violin in the early part of 1990. It was all for not, as the Hardy Boys ended up disbanding by the end of that year. Some of the lads regrouped not long after and with a different style as Flame Up, but they flamed out without so much as a flicker.

I found a few video clips in the usual places of a reunited Hardy Boys in Glasgow around 2010. Bully for them! Firestation only pressed 200 copies of "Wonderful Lie." So, you had better hurry. This one has been out since last fall. I would say this song sounds a lot like my beloved Lucksmiths, but the timeline betrays that theory. I can't find a clip of the song from Firestation, and I don't want to just give this one away when there is so little money to be made for the band. So, here's the only stream I could find:

This one was impossible to pass up. Actually, Firestation released Nivens' compilation 'From A Northumbrian Mining Village Comes The Sound Of Summer' on CD back in 2006, but the label just put it out for the first time on vinyl in February. It's another one limited to 200 hand-numbered copies. (I got No. 4, which is kind of cool.) It's not 100 percent like the CD, but all of the songs from their Whoosh singles are here, and that's the important thing. To be honest, there are a few other songs that are completely new to me. Their origins are a mystery.

I really liked these guys. If you remember them, it's probably for their first single, "Yesterday," a top 10 indie hit, or because you saw them open for the La's, My Bloody Valentine, Brilliant Corners, Primal Scream or some other band you were into. They came and went in a heartbeat, partly because a dance band from Norwich called themselves the Nivens too. The Nivens I liked dropped the article "The", but it wasn't enough to end the confusion. To hell with it. The lads weren't getting along anyway. "Yesterday" charted in early '89, and they were yesterday's news by '90. NME cheered. You got this one wrong, Mr. True. Remember that 'C87' box I featured a couple of weeks ago? Nivens' early song "Room Without a View" is supposed to be part of that hootenanny. It's on this record too.


C said...

Oh dear, you've had an awful time, horrible from the sound of it - I do hope all of you are feeling much better now. I also know what you mean about a support network and it's something that Mr SDS and I are missing too really, but at least we don't have dependents.

The jangly pop is not so much my thing at the moment but I do think that 'Let Loose of My Knee' is a great title! Also sounds like a kind of speeded up Smiths (with a dash of Orange Juice?)

C said...

PS Where did I get 'Let Loose of My Knee' from? It just flashed up on listening to the first Nivens track. I may be confused?

Dirk said...

Glad to hear you feel better now, mate! And you're right about this back-up just in case it is the case ... always worth having!

drew said...

Hope you are all ok now Brian.

Never heard of this mob before. That is very good.

Charity Chic said...

Some jingly jangly music - just the thing to get you on the mend
Sounds horrific - glad you are all better now

The Swede said...

Sounds awful Brian. I'm glad to hear that you are all on the mend now. Today I've been pretty much obsessed with the Hipflasks tune - bloody wonderful!

Brian said...

All is well, everyone. Glad you liked the pop!

kevinpat said...

This is nice but it only makes me wanna dig out Louder Than Bombs and get Back To the Old House...