It's Been A Long Time Coming

Le Jardin de Heavenly album coverC Is The Heavenly Option Heavenly Sarah Records Released: Jul 1992 Highest UK Chart Position: Album Track Available on: Le Jardin de Heavenly The word ‘twee’ sprang fully-formed into the world in 1905, possibly as a result of Einstein forming the Theory of Relativity. However, the new word decided that the world was far too big and scary, so it hid in the fields of Britain for eighty years, until a passing group of bands caught it in their hairgrips in those halcyon days of 1986. The first musical incarnation of the genre that would be known as ‘twee’ can be traced back to C86, a cassette given away by the NME as an example of the new fey and shambling direction of British music. The NME, true to form, spent the rest of the year taking the piss out of the contributors. The C86 generation did the only thing it could; they took their toys home. Some went off and learnt how to play their instruments, returning to embrace dance culture (e.g. Primal Scream), others like The Wedding Present carved out a successful niche for themselves, while some poor unfortunates remained The Soup Dragons. Well, someone had to. But the seeds were sown, and ten years later, twee would return with a vengeance (or at least a pout) with Belle & Sebastian, clutching a hand-printed fanzine and a Hello Kitty bag.

Before the Scots took over, twee lived on in Sarah Records. This record company was gloriously twee; cute record covers, strictly limited pressings, plus an apparent remit for signing jangly bands with confessional lyrics.

Wait! Come back! Because while Heavenly were on Sarah, and yes, their lyrics did sometimes border on "why does the world hate me so?", they were ace. Take this song; there's an overly-precious conceit behind the lyrics, based around the multiple-choice questionnaires often found in Cosmopolitan or Smash Hits. And it's just wonderful, beginning with this perfect opening between a female and male singer:

My boyfriends says he will leave me
Should I a)
Get down on your knees
Should I b)
Tell him where to go
Or should I c)
Kiss him until it shows

It continues in this vein, swapping female and make vocals from questions to answers and back again. It has a catchy chorus, and yes! Even a beat that you can dance along with. Yes, it is as cute and sugary as it sounds, but with a pop sensibility; Heavenly have looked up to see that the sun is shining, so they're going to have some fun. This culminates in the breakdown at the end; "C/C/C/C is the Heavenly option" going back and forth (and yes, it may be a overly-knowing lyric, but as it feels so right, I can forgive them), harmonies going off into the distance, and, seemingly out of nowhere, a Casio keyboard comes in to create a Fisher-Price Wall of Sound. It ends, and you have a smile on your face. You've just heard one of the lost pop gems of the decade. You put the needle on the record, and listen again.

Don’t just take my word for it. If you have an Amazon account, go to the this page and download an MP3 of the song for free. Then, decide if you’re an a), b), or c). This weblog endorses c) with all its heart.


A new year. How exciting!

currently playing: Marcel King – Reach For Love

Finishing Up

And, in case you were wondering, my top five films of 2004:

  1. Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind
  2. Before Sunset
  3. The Incredibles
  4. Main Hoon Na
  5. Collateral

(There are a few films, like Sideways, Finding Neverland, and so on, that I never got around to seeing, unfortunately)

(an honourable mention for The Motorcycle Diaries, if only because I’ll always remember watching it!)

And! Music-related things I’m interested in that are coming next year!

  • The Johnny Boy album. I know it can’t be as good as You Are The Generation…, but I have to believe.
  • The Magic Numbers. Supposedly building up a following from spectacular live performances, they currently only have a 7” single out, Hymn For Her (it’s very good), but a full album is coming next year
  • New albums from Saint Etienne, New Order, The Flaming Lips, and whisper Oasis. Yes, yes, I know, but I still hold out hope they’ll come good. Despite all the evidence to the contrary.

currently playing: Life Without Buildings — Envoys

Public Announcement #2

For those of you going to this concert on New Year’s Eve:


(my rage is equal opportunity, you see…)

currently playing: The Flaming Lips — Race for the Prize

A Public Announcement

Everybody who is going to this concert on New Year’s Eve:


That is all.

currently playing: ABC — Tears Are Not Enough

Day 24: "Sleek Mystique Reverse"

Johnny BoyYou Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve

Come on, did you really think it was going to be anything else? The best song of the year by a distance of approximately here from halfway to Promixa Centauri. This is a song that comes dressed up in heavy mascara and eyeshadow; that gives you a wink from across the dancefloor, and then rips your heart out. The work of Phil Spector is updated and shoved into the 853rd century, not just a Wall of Sound, but a whole World; fireworks and church bells ringing in a New Order.

And those lyrics. Bitterly cynical and British, blaming a generation of apathy and consumerism for the state of the world today, and yet. And yet. This is the song of romantics, of people who want to remake the world anew. They despair at the current state of affairs, and present Hearts of Ice to the world, but their real thoughts are given away in the first line:

“I just can’t help believing, though believing sees me cursed”

I could talk about it all day. But it’s Christmas Eve, so I’ll spare you. Go to their website, watch the video, and get ready to buy the album when it comes out next year.

currently playing: Stars — Set Yourself On Fire

Day 23: C'mon Baby, You're My Greatest Hit

AnnieChewing Gum

Annie is from Norway.

Annie is the reason why Pop in 2004 is better than 2003, and why 2005 is looking good already.

Annie knows that Kylie is just chewing gum.

Annie wanted to be on Top of The Pops, just like all pop stars.

Annie is a fool for love.

Annie’s Anniemal is the Lexicon of Love of the decade.

Annie begins her album with the words
In the Jungle It was true Where all the anniemals could be sssshhhhhhh! lets start the record!

Annie ends her album with the heartbreaking My Best Friend. Steal a copy from HMV.

Annie is A.N.N.I.E. — Artificial Networked Neohuman Intended for Exploration.

Annie Needs No Irritating Explanations.

currently playing: Art Of Noise — Moments in love (beaten)

Day 22: I Heard It From The Valleys

ElectrelaneThe Valleys

Considering their first album was an instrumental, it was something of a surprise to hear Electrelane bursting with language on The Power Out. The album features songs in French, German and Spanish, but the most powerful track is The Valleys, a hymn delivered by the band with what sounds like a Welsh gospel choir.

It really sounds like a valley. You can envision the small coal mining towns and the vast green spaces, sounds echoing to infinity and back. It’s been cropping up on my playlist since I got hold of the prerelease late last year, so it has had some pretty impressive staying power.

Tomorrow’s update might be a bit late, as I’m heading to London for a taping of an E4 TV show…

currently playing: Young Heart Attack – Starlite

Day 21: Just Know, Thieves Get Caught


Because no rap song this year comes close to having a lyric like:

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard,
And they’re like
It’s better than yours,
Damn right it’s better than yours,
I can teach you,
But I have to charge

(and hurrah for The Neptunes, masters of the beat. as well)

currently playing: Tanya Donelly — Fallout

Day 20: Boxpops at 11:10am, anyone?

The Go! TeamThe Power Is On

A glorious mess, combining half-remembered Sundays dreading the start of Ski Sunday on BBC2 with the style and sass of a New York playground. I’ve read interviews with the founder member of The Go! Team; he’s apparently unhappy with how American Thunder, Lightning, Strike sounds. To which I say: bobbins. Part of what makes this record so great is the unexpected mix of different sounds. Unlike, say, Lemon Jelly, who are quite content to stay noodling in their little Oliver Postgate world, The Go! Team rise above simple nostalgia, creating something new and exciting from battered old C90 cassettes.

currently playing: Zwan — Baby Let’s Rock