Another Scottish Saturday. My favourite day of the week in my favourite country/adopted homeland. Why not share some more thoughts with the general public about scottish indie?!
Is there something peculiarly scottish about indie music? There seems to be a sort of idea that pinpoints to things perhaps having a certain sort of aesthetic ‘Heartfelt/shambolic/twee/quiet-loud-quiet-VERYBLOODYLOUDLYYARADGE-(nowquitesoftlyeractually)’…and there are so many bands who might come into this category. There have been as many debates about what actually constitutes ‘indie’ as to where and when, exactly punk rock started (I think we really might just have to accept that it was about 1965 in the US and 1975 in the UK. It’s like discussing Big Star’s Third/Sister Lovers album; there is never going to be a definitive answer).
I’ve mentioned many bands before on these pages – Sons and Daughters, Arab Strap, Franz Ferdinand have had mentions on this page, and I should get round to covering so many, many more (I don’t know whether I’m teaching people to suck eggs when I write this stuff, but if there’s someone else who hasn’t heard it, and 99 who have, I guess I may have added something to someone’s life. I like to think so, anyway).
Anyway, today’s Scottish band of choice are Teenage Fanclub. I could tell their story – but it’s actually done pretty well here at their own website.
I first heard them in 1992, when I bought Bandwagonesque (still my favourite fanclub) album. There was just something so cool about them, I didn’t understand ‘slacker’ in those days (Rutland was in a time warp, it was lucky the album slipped through), and I hadn’t heard many of the references points. But when an album starts off with feedback and by the second verse they’re singing ‘She don;t do drugs but she does the pill…’ Well. Another parent-worrying line that hadn’t been heard since, ooh, my Mum bought me Nevermind The Bollocks a year or so previously. I hadn’t heard Dinosaur Jr or even heard of Big Star, but they helped lead me to them. They were loved by Kurt Cobain, who also loved many of the Scottish inide scene’s finest, and Oasis and Travis must have been taking note too (Check Travis’ ‘All I Wanna Do Is Rock’ single from 1997. Pure fanclub). As the years went by, and the band issued more albums, they were compared more to Neil Young, but they still remain just as west-coast as ever (Scotland as much as US). Everytime I hear Grand Prix (my second favourite fanclub album), I remember the year I left school, 1995, when the singles Mellow Doubt and Sparky’s Dream made it into the Top 40. I remember singing along in my friend Duncan’s car as we headed off to Leicester to buy hair dye for the Leavers’ event (Duncan was still being called pink hair at Gastonbury a month later), and the world felt full of possibilities. It still does, but like most 29 year olds, I’m wiser and mellower than was at 18, but slightly more cynical and realistic. It’s always a risk taking bands for granted, but I’m glad they’re still here. Last year I saw them twice, headlining at Edinburgh’s Liquid Rooms and then on a bill with Idlewild and the Pixies. They made SO much sense there, and I hope they always will.
May I suggest you try this for starters, if you have never heard the band:
Teenage Fanclub -‘What You Do To Me.’ mp3 from 1991’s Bandwagonesque
Teenage Fanclub -‘It’s All In My Mind.’mp3 from last year’s Man Made
Also on their website, they have also put up some mp3s of work they have done – not necessarily hits -but cool stuff none the less.
Go here to buy Teenage Fanclub