The Return of the Box (4)…….Or Britpop – so much to answer for
Back in the mid nineties, Britpop ruled the waves, British music was cool again, guitar bands were everywhere, Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Radiohead, Elastica, even Shed Seven were getting success. Britpop even had its own television programme on BBC2. Suddenly everyone wanted a part of it, record labels started taking their pop stars and adding a guitar and rocky edge in an attempt to reinvent them. Seriously Sean Maguire released an indie pop record in 1997. It sucked.
The bands kept coming for every Radiohead there was a Subcircus (remember them?), for every Oasis there was a Northern Uproar. For Shed Seven there was a Jocasta and for every Blur there was a Menswear (more of them later).
Jocasta were basically the brainchild of a man called Tim Arnold. They formed in 1994, and by 1995 they were signed to Sony and were releasing records. Their debut single is this weeks first offering Go.
mp3 : Jocasta – Go
Originally released in 1995, it bombed and then in 1997 saw it remixed and rereleased, it became Jo Whiley’s single of the Week on Radio One and slowly trudged in to the Top 75, eventually peaking at Number 50. The day their debut album No Coincidence was released the band were dropped by Sony. The band split soon afterwards.
Singer Tim Arnold reemerged some years later as a solo singer, and I think he is still releasing records on his own. I think he went to Thailand or something to recover from drug addiction and kind of reinvented himself, I think he now helps to send other addicts to the centre in Thailand to help them recover, which seems like a decent thing to do, send drug addicts to one of the most corrupt drug addled countries on earth (I’m being cynical). Oh and the most interesting thing you will EVER need to know about him is that his godmother is June Brown, or Dot Cotton from Eastenders. For that reason alone you should listen to ‘Go’ and ruddy well enjoy it. ‘Go’ is kind of alright, catchy enough to keep your attention and to stay on any iPod. His solo stuff is quite good as well, more info can be found on his website www.timarnold.net.
Now Menswear…Where should I start. Menswear were the darlings of the Britpop scene. They appeared on the front cover of the Melody Maker before they had recorded a single note.
It gets worse….
They were being hyped by the Britpop scensters before they even existed. Then they appeared, dressed sharply in Mod suits and clearly influenced by the second Blur album Modern Life is Rubbish. When Menswear formed they had one song – it was called Daydreamer; it was their only song, then they added a new member who had a song called I’ll Manage Somehow and they had two songs. They played a gig in London – which comprised of those two songs and the NME called them ‘Brilliant’. Meanwhile other better bands, toured the UK’s toilets, getting nowhere.
The relentless hype continued, appearing on Top of The Pops before they had released a record and signing a deal worth roughly £500,000, roughly £70,000 per song that they had (now seven). The second single (the afore-mentioned Daydreamer) went Top Twenty but it sounded so much like Wire, people considered it to be a joke. A bad one at that. Then they released the album Nuisance to mixed reviews (it’s a six out ten album).
About six months later they returned with new music – this single We Love You (and its b-side entitled Crash) marked a slight change in direction, perhaps suggesting that they knew the Britpop bubble was about to burst, or perhaps because Kula Shaker had arrived and they were even more preposterous.
mp3 : Menswear – We Love You
mp3 : Menswear – Crash
The second album never saw the light of day in the UK. Apparently it had a country tinge to it, so its probably lucky that they never released it. What happened next –well they split, and went on to do other projects, rumours that one of the worked in a mobile phone shop are false. Although I wish it were true.
A new version of Menswear reformed in 2013 and 2014 performed a sold out gig in London. Their first single is called ‘Crash’…..it can’t be the same record can it….
Amd now to a record I half expected to see in JC’s Scottish single series. This something completely different to the Britpop above, a dance track that bangs.
mp3 : Finitribe – Brand New (tip-top edit)
Finitribe hail from Edinburgh, and were originally a punk band – who changed direction after a long tour of the UK toilet venues to become a dance band. Also their singer left to join Ministry I think.
Brand New was the first single I ever reviewed and got paid for, I remember complaining that it was basically 38 minutes of the same song all be it remixed to buggery. By the time I got to the third remix I was bored of the record. Having revisited it recently, I can say now some twenty years later that, it is a really good dance track, and I would say that if you are fans of Andy Weatherall or perhaps 808 State then you will probably enjoy this.