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ideas of an eLven being in Canada

Friday, November 04, 2005

Vol. 3: Our Life Would Be the Death of You

... ... Most of the bands comprising volume three of the personally compiled a dozen & a haLf favorites originate, again, from the unassuming "New Wave" spectrum of the Alternative-music soundscape of the '90s.

Volume 3: Our Life Would Be the Death of You

Camera Obscura – Eighties Fan
Camera Obscura – I Don't Do Crowds
Camper van Beethoven – Picture of Matchstick Men
Camper van Beethoven – Tania
Gene – Fighting Fit
Gene – Haunted by You
Halves, the – Brother's Pen
Halves, the – Butterflies
Jesse Spencer – Molly Smiles
Jesse Spencer – Sheets of Egyptian Cotton
Popsicle – Good with Us
Popsicle – Undulate [In case you downloaded the file, kindly correct the tag for this song. I tagged the MP3 file as "Hey, Princess," when in fact the song was "Undulate"; sorry for the blunder.]
Smoking Popes – Mrs. You and Me
Smoking Popes – Rubella
Suede – Animal Nitrate
Suede – My Insatiable One
Teenage Fanclub – Metal Baby
Teenage Fanclub – What You Do to Me

I got to know the Scottish band Camera Obscura only last year, from a certain blog site I stumbled upon. After hearing one track from this band, I knew right away that I'd be hooked with the rest of their discography. And correct was I: all their albums offer brilliant songs which remind me of the sound of the '80s. The two Camera Obscura songs that I included in this volume, I'm sure, are the best for your taste test.

I first heard Camper van Beethoven back in 1990, courtesy of my former bandmate/violinist Ambet Taylo who had a cassette-tape copy of Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart (1988), the fifth album of this American Alternative Rock band. I was blown away particularly by the song "Tania," which showcases the prowess of Camper van Beethoven's violinist, Jonathan Segel. My band ended up covering "Tania" at our gigs in the '90s. "Tania" was, perhaps, one of the songs most requested by our audience during those gig heydays.

Gene was among those bands which filled the void left by The Smiths. Its music—from the vocals to the jangly guitars—is undoubtedly a deadringer of The Smiths. According to references, Gene vocalist Martin Rossiter is a well-known and die-hard fan of Morrissey. Well, I don't wonder now.

The Halves is my former band's alter ego. Among our few recorded and commercially released songs, in the '90s, "Butterflies" and "Brother's Pen" remain to be the favorites of not only us but also of people who happened to know us.

I stumbled upon Jesse Spencer's songs in the movie Uptown Girls (2003), in which Spencer, I found out, was actually the actor who played Neal, the rockstar / love interest of Brittany Murphy's character in the film. When the song "Sheets of Egyptian Cotton" began to play in a particular scene in the movie, it immediately sent signals to my New Wave radar.

The Swedish Popsicle was among the most prolific yet obscure bands to emerge in the '90s. To this day I can still listen in nonskip, repeat mode to their albums Lacquer (1992), Abstinence (1994), and Popsicle (1996). The song "Hey, Princess," in particular, holds a soft spot in my memory. It will always remind me of our 1996 gig with After Image at Central Luzon State University in Nueva Ecija, Philippines. That gig was the first and last time that we ever covered that Popsicle song.

When I first heard a particular song, entitled "Need You Around," on NU 107 back in the mid-'90s, I thought I was listening to a new single by Morrissey, so you can imagine my surprise and delight when the deejay finally announced that the song was by a band called Smoking Popes. As soon as budget permitted me, I immediately went to a record bar and bought the Smoking Popes debut album, Born to Quit (1995). And yes, all throughout the album, vocalist Josh Caterer reminded me of Morrissey. The Smoking Popes songs I included in this compilation are my second and third favorites. "Need You Around," which is also included in the original soundtrack of the Alicia Silverstone movie Clueless (1995), remains my most favorite Smoking Popes song.

Suede was one of the first and leading instigators of Britpop music of the '90s. Many music critics had compared the tandem of Suede's vocalist Brett Anderson and guitarist Bernard Butler to that of The Smiths' Morrissey and Johnny Marr. And, as if following the footsteps of their predecessors, Anderson and Butler had a falling out without even finishing their second album, Dog Man Star (1994). Many critics had put a pressure on Anderson, whom they said could not go on without Butler by his side. In fairness, I still found post-Butler Suede releases at par with the debut album. I'm sure most of you also got hooked with "Beautiful Ones," which comes from the third album, Coming Up (1996). Regardless, everything murky between Anderson and Butler seems to be now water under the bridge, for the duo has recently reformed, in 2004, albeit with a new band, The Tears, and with a new debut album, aptly titled Here Come The Tears (2005), two songs from which I will be including in the next volume of this compilation series.

I would have to thank The Youth's bassist, Robert Javier, an old friend of mine, for introducing me to a roster of obscure "New Wave"sounding bands in the midst of the Grunge explosion in the '90s. I remember, back in that decade, I was an avid fan of the Philippine music magazine Rock n' Rhythm, in which Javier was a column writer / music reviewer. And from his column where I first read about the Scottish band Teenage Fanclub. And the band's second album, Bandwagonesque (1991), was my first taste of Teenage Fanclub's catchy music. And what I included here are my two most favorite Teenage Fanclub songs.

You may download the compilation here.

Disclaimer: My intention is to give you a taste test of some of my favorite bands. If you happened to like their music, support them by purchasing original copies of their albums.


Wikipedia—one of, if not the most reliable reference on the Internet today.


  • At Tuesday, November 15, 2005 5:08:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sir elf, im going over your blog site and found this post about your passion for the sweddish band "Popsicle." I admire this band also starting from my High School Days. Too bad though na ung naabutan ko na lang ung self-titled album nilang "Popsicle." Asa kin pa ung casette tape nun. Personally my favorite there is the song "Please Don't Ask" w/c incidentally became no. 1 and longest staying in the charts of a radio station in Dagupan City. I tried asking the record bars dito sa Pinas pero wala nakong mahanap pang CD nila. Pati sa internet I tried searching for MP3s pero to no avail. Hope you could share me some of your mp3s of Popsicle.

    Thanks po.


  • At Thursday, November 17, 2005 11:18:00 AM, Blogger eLf ideas said…

    Send me your postal address so I can just mail you a CD-R of all the Popsicle songs I have, plus some more MP3s. Don't worry, this is much easier than uploading entire albums on the Internet. Besides, mailing a CD-R there will cost me only C$2.

  • At Friday, November 25, 2005 3:41:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Sir Elf,

    I just read your reply. Wow, I think that would be great! How generous of you to do that big favor for me. Here's my mailing address:

    Kristoffer Evangelista
    2F Globe Telecom Plaza 1
    Pioneer cor. Madison Sts. Mandaluyong City 1552 Philippines

    Please kindly advise me of the cost so I could reimburse it back to you via Western Union. Im glad to have met someone as passionate with Popsicle like I do. Thanks for the generosity man! You're such a blessing! Astig! \m/


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