Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Animals That Swim, Pullover, Abuse fanzine, and the spirit of 90s indie

Thoroughly enjoying creased up old issues of Abuse indie fanzine from the mid 90s lately - tatty old, black and white Xeroxed pages, heavy on typed cut and paste text and messily pasted backgrounds, only one staple in the top left-hand corner - nostalgia!

I remembered Animals That Swim again, and put them on as I read the fanzines, excited as a kid at Christmas. I bought one single at the time. But I do have one album that I came across in more recent years, the one that has the brilliant Faded Glamour on it, a classic indie song.

Their album Workshy sounds fantastic too. Particularly enjoy Pink Carnations (maybe ignoring the lyric about the big white turkey) and Smooth Steps. I miss that sophisticated, lyrical, wistful kind of indie that the 1990s produced a lot of. Whipping Boy and Jack were other bands of that ilk, also sadly missed by me.

I also marvelled at a Pullover interview in Abuse fanzine, as few shards of this sublime pop band survive. I have written about Pullover in the paper 'zine of this blog, they are a sadly lost, forever-to-be-treasured, indie-pop band of the mid 90s. I am still besotted with their pop songs, and I cherish the 7" singles of theirs that I have. I felt a bit of a pang to see the band's home address (a flat in Camden - but they're back in Manchester now, I think) 18 years too late. And the fanzine editor had a demo tape of their album - never released, to this day - which I really do not wish to exit the world without ever hearing!

Reading about the 90s indie gig scene again feels strange. It seems like such a small world now. And the spirit so different - the unabashed enthusiasm and rallying for little bands and challenging the music press status quo. Also the power that fanzines had to make new bands - they were useful and focal outlets and bands took the writers seriously as such forces for the good. The internet and digital music and all that goes with it - plus the lack of power/centrality to any kind of music press now - make things so much bigger, more out-there, less defined; not to mention how carefully corporate and hegemonic things have become in that dilution process. Even just reading about it now, in those battered, photocopied pages, it gives a real sense of how it felt like a community, one big exuberant party, involving a small number of specific little scrappy venues, that we'll never see the like of again.

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