Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Introspective Raincoat Student Music – Sugarplum Fairies [#641]

The second album from Sugarplum Fairies, a band I discovered on Peoplesound back in the nineties. Following Flake was never going to be easy but Introspective Raincoat Student Music works so so well.

The usual mix of lovesick, cheated and disgruntled arts/English Literature/Philosophy student lyrics with a very distinctive low cost lo-fi sound before lo-fi was a thing. This is the kind of music that laughs at today’s hipster music because it was hipster before it was trendy not to be trendy before people knew it was trendy to be a trendy not be trendy hipster with vaping irony and a beard.

Of course, when you’re in love with something for a long time, like for example I was with their first album Flake, and something new comes along, the temptation to sneer and be tentative about the newcomer is natural. Eventually you get over this initial hostility and learn to love what comes next. IRSM became a favourite for me slowly. I think it was how I connected with the lyrics and the situations described within that did it for me. Life changes as must a bands music. Sometimes quickly, sometimes subtly.

Indeed, IRSM left me wanting more and it wasn’t as long to wait three years for the next Sugarplum Fairies album Country International Records   .

 

 

Available via:

And probably on Spotify if you’re desparate

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The Images We Get – Sugarplum Fairies [#613]

Unknown-2.jpegThis is the Sugarplum Fairies’ fifth album following Chinese Leftovers and preceding Godspeed & Silver Linings and was the first crowdsourced/funded album I ever contributed to. It features the usual corduroy wearing English Literature teacher allusions and lyrical references as well as the haunting tones of Sylvia Ryder’s vocals.

Every time I listen to SPF I imagine the life of a female English Literature student besotted with and embroiled in a steamy Truffautesque relationship with their older corduroy jacket with leather patches wearing teacher. Lying post-coitally semi-naked on a bed in a smoke-filled wooden panelled windowed room. Copies of classic literature strewn hither and thither. Perhaps, as the album title suggests, that’s the imagery the band want us to get…

 

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Godspeed and Silver Linings – Sugarplum Fairies [#531]

Godspeed & Silver Linings - Sugarplum Fairies This is the penultimate album from Benny and Sylvia’s Sugarplum Fairies (SPF).

I’ve been a fan of SPF since buying their first album Flake through the late lamented Peoplesound website in 1999 and since then I’ve bought all but one of their albums, even to the point of being one of the first to pay towards the crowd funding of Images We Get.

Late last year I learnt of the band splitting and the release of their (to date) final album Sunday, Suddenly which is the only album of theirs I cannot bring myself to buy. I used to wonder why some people got hung up when their favourite band broke up. I’d seen Yes split more times than a gold medal winning gymnast, The Tubes went their own way too as did Dead Can Dance but I didn’t really feel anything about them splitting. But something about SPF splitting just made me feel like a close friend had died. Sad.

Godspeed has a distinctly different sound to Flake, Chinese Leftovers and Country International MusicMore mature and professionally produced, the last sweet drips of juice from a perfectly ripened musical fruit.

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Flake – Sugarplum Fairies [#479]

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 11.45.41Right back in the days of Windows Millennium, I was given a CD with a stack of music on it in a new exciting format; MP3. The music was from new and exciting bands, most of which were unsigned and were using the new technology of the Internet to get themselves known. They did this by using a publisher known as Peoplesound. One of the artists appearing on this compilation was Sugarplum Fairies. I immediately fell for their low-fi sound which, at the time, was new, innovative and yet to be copied by the likes of The White Stripes.

Flake is Sugarplum Fairies first album, and was released in 1999.

I love this album. It makes me feel warm, lazy and wrapped in brown corduroy while supping coffee on a lazy Sunday afternoon, pretty much what the lyrics refer to.  Lyrically, the songs on the album refer to troubled lovers, shoe gazing and wistful yearnings and Silvia Ryder’s distinctive vocals bring a layer of pining and toned down introductory elements of Amanda Palmer without the anger.

Sugarplum Fairies were hipsters before hipsters were invented and continue to show them how to do it right.

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Country International Music – Sugarplum Fairies [#314]

Country International Music - Sugarplum FairiesBenny Bohm and Sylvia Ryder from sunny Los Angeles do their stuff again. We’ve met Sugarplum Fairies before on the music project so I don’t need to go into the reasons why they’re in my music collection.

What you get with Country International Music is the third album by the band. The rule of thumb is often that the third album is the breakthrough one. The album following the difficult second album.  Sugarplum Fairies have produced consistently good music but even Country International Music didn’t push them into the success they deserve. It’s a shit business is the music business and a cruel master.

I really don’t get it. Country International Music is a really bloody good album. Why it didn’t launch the guys onto the world stage with a bigger fanfare is a mystery to me. A bit like why so many people voted Conservative at the UK general election in 2015 or the disappearance of MH370. However, a number of songs from this album have appeared in popular American TV shows as incidental music. So I guess that’s a start.

Seriously, if you want some quality new music and you’re fond of shoegazery, husky voiced songs about corduroy wearing English teachers littered with clever references to Jules et Jim, get yourself onto iTunes or whatever you use and get some Sugarplum Fairies in your life.

I did.

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Chinese Leftovers – Sugarplum Fairies (#267)

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 09.15.06Chinese Leftovers – Sugarplum Fairies

Way back in the early days of the internet there existed a website devoted to the promotion of unsigned bands. It was called Peoplesound and I have mentioned it before. Peoplesound was an excellent place to find new music. Bands I’ve never heard of since or before would allow you to download samples of their music for free in the hope that you’d spend a tenner on their “LP” or “EP”.

I regularly paid for EPs and LPs so I like to think that there are bands around the world that were able to carry on producing good music beyond the confines of their local community centres and parent’s garages .

One such band was Sugarplum Fairies. I was introduced to them through Peoplesound and went and bought their first album Flake, their second album  Introspective Raincoat Student Music, their third album Country International Records and their subsequent albums Chinese Leftovers and The Images We Get. But more of those later.

Sugarplum Fairies consist of Benny Bohm and Sylvia Ryder from sunny Los Angeles. Deliciously balanced mix of low-fi guitar and drums with flourishes of other instruments all draped lovingly with a silky smooth blanket of  husky whispers.

Chinese Leftovers shows how Sugarplum Fairies continue to produce excellent music with a very unique sound. Think Françoise Hardy meets Mazzy Star. This album, like the others, has me making mental music videos for their songs featuring moody poetry reading emo teens falling for their corduroy wearing English teacher.

See! I was into Emo before Emo existed. That makes me a hipster. Before hipsters existed. Nernernerner…Ppphthhhhh

Yes, a fully fledged corduroy English teaching poetry writing hipster.

With a beard.

And a beret.

Fortunately I don’t have teenage emo kids hanging round being all shoegazery and hipstery.

However, listening to this album always brings me feelings of lazy hazy Saturday mornings eating bacon sandwiches, reading the Guardian and ordering next week’s Ocado delivery. It’s difficult to say which of their albums are my favourite and it’s just as difficult to suggest which album would be a good intro to their music. I can’t suggest one, just get the whole lot.

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