A.R. Kane, "Green Hazed Daze," from Love-Sick (Rough Trade, 1988)
I woke up at 2:30am and couldn't sleep, then stumbled across a tweet mentioning that British duo A.R. Kane is credited for coming up with the phrase "dream pop." So, of course I headed straight to YouTube and clicked on "Green Hazed Daze," which is an absolutely perfect song title for this niche of sound. Musically, this is just what you'd expect from that classic late-'80s era, too: swirling, brilliantly atmospheric dreariness with repetitious, half-spoken vocals. I'm thinking this is probably not the band's finest composition, but it does get me curious to explore more.
To my shock, after many, many failed attempts as of late, the increasingly ineffective YouTube algorithm magically decided to present me with a few other videos that seemed promising, so I decided to give this thing a go...
Dif Juz, "No Motion," from Lonely is an Eyesore (4AD, 1987)
The name Dif Juz—which apparently means "different jazz"—is vaguely familiar, but barely, and I'm not sure I've ever heard them before. Also '80s, and also from the U.K. Instrumental, I guess, though? Certain aspects of this piece remind me of The Smiths, though it appears Dif Juz predated them. I can hear a little U2 in there as well. However, I'm an idiot about this stuff and hated all of it when I was growing up, so there are probably a lot of other super legendary acts that could be mentioned in the same breath, I'm just oblivious. This is cool, though. Like A.R. Kane, the atmosphere is just wonderful. It's not the most active listen—I could not-insultingly view it as "background music," to some degree—but this is nice. Off to an interesting start here.
I'm starting to be presented with a lot more stuff that I'm familiar with now, such as Killing Joke and Cocteau Twins—as well as about 100 other Dif Juz clips, which is where YouTube's algorithm has really started to eat shit—but let's see where we can take it from here...
The Wolfgang Press, "Cut the Tree," from Lonely is an Eyesore (4AD, 1987)
Well, shit, I wouldn't have clicked on this had I known it was from the exact same compilation as the Dif Juz tune! Oh well. I don't love the band name, but I don't think I've ever heard of 'em. Another U.K./'80s outfit. I'm already on the fence, though, 'cause the keyboards aren't really my thing. The Joy Division-esque bassline had me intrigued, but the overall vibe is a little over-dramatic and kinda cheesy. A little gothy with the vocals, but not so bad—the vocals are actually stronger than the music. There's some promise here, but I'm thinking this band just might not be for me. This is also why I only really dig the first Dead Can Dance album—as soon as they started going much more sparse and keyboard-driven, I couldn't hang.
Three bands in a row associated with 4AD to varying degrees! I'm trying not to get stuck in that rut, but it might be unavoidable. It's tough, 'cause if I click on a band that's too new, YouTube's gonna find a way to steer me into nothing but shitty contemporary "indie-"pop quicksand.
Warpaint, "Love is to Die," from Warpaint (Rough Trade, 2014)
This L.A. group is generically referred to as "alternative rock" by some sources, but that's nowhere near accurate enough. This is way too dark and post-punk-ish to simply be tagged "alternative." There's a different edge to it, too. I don't know how I'd classify that. I suppose it's got something to do with the fact that there's a certain warm cleanliness to the sound, and a pop quality to the vocals? At least on this track, vocals and bass are running the show. The energy of the drumming is also quite noticeable. It's curious that guitars are super secondary and background here. Interesting track. Some catchy moments, I dig the recording, etc.
I'm scared now. I'm seeing lots of garbage—the aforementioned "indie-"pop quicksand—in the recommendations. There's at least one Pixies video in there, so maybe there's hope?
The Stone Roses, "I Wanna be Adored," from The Stone Roses (Silvertone, 1989)
Back to the U.K. in the '80s, it is! Of course I've heard of—and heard—The Stone Roses before, but I don't own any of their music and they've never clicked for me, so I've only really heard or sampled them in passing. This is the opening track from their 1989 debut, and a little different than what I recall in the past, but that's probably just my terrible memory. Great plunky bass tone. This is perhaps a little more crisp and "polished" than some of this stuff that I'm more familiar with, but the fact that the bass is so prominent—and often dominant—changes the vibe. Good repetition, too, there's a certain hypnotic quality here. I bet this is gonna be stuck in my head all day, isn't it? Huh, maybe I'll finally check out some more now!?
Unsurprisingly, my options are loaded with Oasis videos at this point. You know what, I'm gonna keep this one short 'n' sweet and call it a day before things fall apart!