Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Rat Fancy's Mix Tape Recalls Be-Kind-Rewind Era

Without question, "You Stole My Xmas Sweater," from L.A.-based Rat Fancy, was the best of last season's holiday tunes. I described it then as "all hand claps, head bobs and betrayal. In other words, indie pop at its best." You couldn't have asked for a better introduction to the newly formed trio of ex-Sweater Girl Diana Barraza (vocals/guitar), Gregory Johnson (guitar/keyboard) and Gavin Glidewell (drums), and the recently released "Suck a Lemon" EP (HHBTM Records) has more than lived up to the lofty expectations set by that first single. On the surface, this new set is sunshine and lollipops, but as you begin to sing along (and you will sing along!), you'll realize the world isn't quite as perfect as the catchy melodies....

The B-side to that holiday single was a cover from Ramones. That's when I knew we would be in good hands. As you regulars know, '80s indie pop is the cornerstone of this operation, and I asked Rat Fancy what songs from that era tickled their, ahem, fancy. As you're about to see and hear, despite being young whippersnappers, this band knows its stuff. Click on the graphic below to get to the video mix, and then enjoy reading why these songs mean so much to them. Thanks to Rat Fancy and the folks at HHBTM for making this happen. What a blast!

1. Orange Juice - "Blue Boy"
Greg and Gavin: When I first think "'80s indiepop," I immediately think of Scottish pop. My love of Scottish bands actually influenced my decision to move to Edinburgh for grad school. Scotland is an amazing place on this planet and Orange Juice is my favorite band on Postcard Records. The only time I woke up early for Record Store Day was when they did the Orange Juice reissues. I got everything I wanted to add to my collection of singles.

2. Altered Images - "I Could Be Happy"
Diana: Like Orange Juice, Altered Images isn't really "indiepop" per se, but they wrote some killer pop tracks. This is my favorite Altered Images track and it's wonderful that this video exists. From the art direction, to dancing lion and sing-a-long moment, it's everything I want in a music video. Also, I love how Talulah Gosh got its namesake from Altered Image's Clare Grogan. That's a serious indiepop influencer!

3. Strawberry Switchblade - "Let Her Go"
Greg: Strawberry Switchblade are such legends. We were listening to them heavily while we were writing "Suck A Lemon." Not only did they write such beautiful pop songs, but they have such appeal to the punk/"goth" crowd. I love that versatility -- especially with Rose's later collaborations. I wonder if they still have those looks. Can we raid their closet?

4. The Vaselines - "You Think You're a Man"
Diana: It's amazing when a band introduces you to something equally amazing. Originally, I learned about the Vaselines via Nirvana. I admit, I'm a child of the '90s and thankfully I paid attention to references and found 53rd & 3rd and K Records pretty early on. Thanks to The Vaselines, I found Divine. This is an amazing cover and hopefully we can do a drag cover ourselves... maybe of Alaska Thunderfuck for our next Christmas single. We are huge fans of drag at Rat Fancy headquarters. I think it's important for bands to do things that are a little unexpected.

5. The Primitives - "Thru the Flowers"
Gavin: There is this episode of "Eerie, Indiana" that has haunted me since childhood. On the show, these twins were able to stay young by preserving themselves in giant Tupperware. That's what comes to mind when I think of Tracy Tracy from the Primitives because she looks like she hasn't aged! In fact, the band sounds as fresh as ever today. We have a tendency to relate everything to '90s TV shows.

6. Beat Happening - "Other Side"
Diana: Beat Happening is everything. I was never able to see Beat Happening live, but I saw Calvin live a few times. I have a poster somewhere of a black and white Beat Happening cat that I colored in myself. Calvin signed it with crayon.

7. The Wake - "Crush the Flowers"
Greg: We're back to Scottish pop! Also related to Altered Images, the Wake sounds so impossibly cool. I love this single so much. Sadly, I don't have the original Sarah Records version, but a friend was able to find the reissue in the Bay Area and sent it to me. I love when pop friends do nice pop things for each other.

8. Shop Assistants - "All Day Long"
Diana: I have a bunch of Shop Assistants releases I was able to snag in Scotland. Their sound is absolutely what I look for in a pop band: fast with a little noise. I actually tried covering this one at a solo show at Monorail Music in Glasgow to a group of friends who were a captive audience.

9. Chin Chin - "Why Am I So Lonely?"
Diana: When we were writing "Suck A Lemon," the idea of doing a slow and fast version of a song came from Chin Chin. Their slow version of "Why Am I So Lonely?" sounds so melancholy, yet the fast version seems so fierce -- almost questioning why they would let someone make them feel that way.

10. The Dead Milkmen - "Punk Rock Girl"
Greg: So this is an atypical pop playlist, because we're including the Dead Milkmen. I hate when bands take themselves so seriously. I grew up in Philly playing in the punk/emo scene and these guys were legends! Punk rock girl just reminds me of being in my late teens and doing stupid shit around town with my friends/girlfriends. I don’t see how you could be in a bad mood when the dead milkmen are on. Plus joe jack’s voice is so unique and endearing. If only I was old enough in the 80s to go to a show.


drew said...

As you say Brian, they know their shit. Loved this post

Charity Chic said...

Now that's what I call a mixtape!

JC said...

That's one of the best things I've ever seen at your place....and that's saying something!!

These guys sound like a lot of fun. Congrats on getting such a fantastic contribution from them.

Brian said...

Thanks for that, JC. I really enjoyed it too.