LANDFILL INDIE? – A FRESH SERIES FOR MONDAYS (Issue 3)

Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment/respond/react to the first two issues in this latest series.  As I anticipated, while some of the TVV community have been happy to see a particular track sent to landfill, others have offered a fairly stout defence.  I hope that this proves to be the case as it goes on….or will we ever see a week when the song gets a unanimous thumbs-down.

Issue 3 sees us heading back to June 2006

mp3: The Automatic – Monster

As with so many acts of the era, I didn’t really pay too much attention to things… I was in my early 40s for goodness’ sake and felt it was a tad undignified to tray and keep up religiously with all the bands who were keeping the teens and students happy.  As such, what follows is from t’internet.

“Electro-punk quartet The Automatic formed in Cardiff, Wales, in the fall of 2003. The founding line-up comprised singer/bassist Robin Hawkins, guitarist James Frost, keyboardist Alex Pennie, and drummer Iwan Griffiths. and they band cut a demo that earned the attention of Probation Management, a subsidiary of Cardiff label FF Vinyl.

Probation in turn mailed the demo to the London-based B-Unique label, which immediately signed the band to a reputed £500,000 publishing deal. By year’s end the Automatic was a major favourite of the famously excitable British press, with the single Raoul penetrating the U.K. Top 40 in the spring of 2006.

The follow-up, Monster, not only cracked the Top Five weeks later, but entered the chart solely on the strength of pre-retail downloads. The debut LP, Not Accepted Anywhere, reached number three following its June 2006 release. The album was re-released the following year in the U.S., under the name The Automatic Automatic.

The band released their second album This Is A Fix accompanied by only one single, Steve McQueen in 2008, which due to a dispute between the band’s labels – B-Unique and Polydor – was plagued with distributional and promotional problems. The dispute led to the band withdrawing from their 5-album deal with the labels and instead formed their own label, Armoured Records, distributed through EMI.

After independently releasing their third album Tear the Signs Down in 2010 and three singles – Interstate, Run & Hide and Cannot Be Saved, the band took what was described as a temporary break, but it seems to have become permanent.

The band were quick to point out that many of the lyrics used in Monster are metaphors for drug and drink intoxication; “brain fried tonight through misuse” and “without these pills you’re let loose”, with the chorus ‘monster’ lyric being a metaphor for the ogre that comes out when people are intoxicated.

The single received fairly mixed reviews:-

“daft, irresponsible and unforgettably irritating”
“Monster is an electrifying 3 minutes and 44 seconds of pop music at its finest”
“it’s the catchiest indie hit of the summer, boasting a hook that could disembowel a whale”
“The Automatic’s releases are getting progressively worse each time. Are they running out of good songs?

I genuinely don’t know where I stand with this one. I’ve an admiration for the fact that The Automatic produced something as catchy as this while still maintaining, initially at least, a degree of credibility with the critical cognoscenti. And then, after I’ve heard it a couple of times in quick succession, I find it annoying to the point that I would gladly throw it into an impregnable cell and toss away the key….

I would imagine that nowadays, those who were aged under 10 at the time of its release will still recall it with much fondness as part of their growing up. Those who jumped around to it at gigs or at indie discos are probably a bit more sheepish about it. Love it or loath it, there’s no denying its catchiness.

But, bringing in additional evidence of the another single, which was released on two separate occasions (March 2006 and January 2007), I’m coming off the fence to say that The Automatic are another whose efforts should be part of the landfill indie mass.  Especially when you take into account the cover version they put on the flip side of the January 2007 release:-

mp3: The Automatic – Raoul
mp3: The Automatic – Gold Digger

No wonder Kanye West got angry with the world in recent years…..

And I better say a huge ‘SORRY’ to Mini SWC, who is, as I’m sure you’ll recall, a huge fan of Monster…..

JC

11 thoughts on “LANDFILL INDIE? – A FRESH SERIES FOR MONDAYS (Issue 3)

  1. I think you are being unfair to ‘Monster’ , I wouldn’t describe it as indie landfill but as a great pop single, it went top 5 and if my memory is correct it was the family’s highlight of the Christmas Day TOTP that year and even now if we hear it on the radio or i-pod shuffle it brings on a massive smile and a singalong. I’ve never heard anything else by the band but this single is far too good to be ‘Indie landfill’

  2. OK this is the kind of debate I queue up for. I put The Automatic squarely in the Landfill Indie Box even though I saw them and had a good time at their shows. I also really like one of their other tracks over Monster. Recovery is (I maintain with a half cup of resolve) a bit of a banger.

    I think it needs saving because since Feed My Frankenstein there hasn’t been any additions to the Halloween Party Playlist genre since Thriller

  3. I can vouch for the under-10s assertion. My sons were 8 and 6 at the time of release and I have fond memories and maybe even some video footage of them yelling out some vague approximation of the lyrics armed with a toy guitar and microphone. Their musical tastes did move on, but I think this still features on their playlists.

  4. I think if you put The Automatic band into landfill I would be OK with that but maybe one of the band could have his arm up to hold this single out of the quagmire as I quite like Monster

  5. The best football chant ever: “What’s that coming over the hill? It’s Akinfenwa, Akinfefnwa”. Heard at Cardiff City.

  6. To my mind, archetypal landfill indie along with the Fratellis and the Pigeon Detectives. But y’ know, hoses for courses and all that.

  7. This post has boosted my listening experience of The Automatic by 300%…but maybe that says it all. Monster is a great pop song and Mini SWC’s ICA was brilliant so, for those reasons alone, save them from the indie landfill, I say!

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