Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

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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Geek Freak Stadium – Ban Jyang [#513]

51bsuZeDOoLWay back in the early days of internet and Windows Millenium, I obtained a compilation CD from an innovative music website known as Peoplesound. The idea behind Peoplesound was years ahead of its time, crowd funded/supported bands could sell their EPs, demos and albums via the site and hipsters everywhere could potentially discover artists years before anyone else. I claim that privilege with Mull Historical Society and Sugarplum Fairies. Another band I had hoped would blossom into something else was Ban Jyang.

Loud, brash and similar sounding to Rage Against the Machine, Ban Jyang had three albums to buy. Of course £10 an album was a lot of money to fritter away on music, so I bided my time until I could afford to buy them.

Unfortunately during this time, the band imploded. Folding in on itself, they vanished from Peoplesound. Previous searches had revealed a website but this had been hacked and warning messages appeared whenever it was visited. Eventually that too disappeared and along with it the “free to download” back catalogue of the band.

So more than “they were an artist who sound like Rage Against the Machine”, I am unable to tell you but remnants of their work remain on the internet. For instance you can still buy this album via Amazon and their MySpace page is still live (https://myspace.com/banjyang/music/albums).

Geek Freak Stadium is a live compilation of “hits” from their other albums Weirdo Side Effects and Religious Love Hater, possibly recorded at a gig they probably did sometime somewhere. It sounds like it’s really popular but then I suspect they just added a cheering audience backing track in the studio.

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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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Binbags – D’Ave (#190)

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 18.36.20Binbags – D’Ave 

D’Ave is an artist I’ve found very little information about. I first came across D’Ave on a compilation I was sent by the now defunct music label Peoplesound. I liked his work so much I sent off for his album and this is that album.

Peoplesound will feature quite a few times through the duration of this project. Years ahead of its time, the site encouraged unsigned bands to record demos and albums which the site would then promote to music listeners and allow them to download samples or buy whole albums. The site lasted for several years and kept me in new music for just as long.

Of course few bands from the Peoplesound label actually made it big. Which is a shame as many were bloody good. Maybe some have changed their name and gone on to big things or maybe they’ve given up and got sensible jobs now. There is no way to find out really.

Anyway, as I said, D’Ave was a Peoplesound artist. I liked him. I bought his album. I can’t find anything about him other than the information I put on Last.fm.

Good tunes.

 

 

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A Little Different – Barry Louis Polisar [#32]

A Little Different by Barry Louis Polisar

During the dawn of the Internet, before Black September, there existed a website called Peoplesound. Peoplesound empowered unsigned musicians to produce an album and sell it through the site. So of course, it was inevitable that other unsigned artists would be keen to promote their wares through the platform.

As a fan of the underdog, I have always been keen to hear artists “raw” and unoverproduced so you will see lots of bands from Peoplesound in the process of this project. One such artist was Barry Louis Polisar. Polisar had already made a name for himself on Sesame Street writing songs for children and had chucked out a fair few albums to a small audience. One of which was this. Of course, when the film Juno came out with a Polisar tune in the soundtrack, people started saying to me “Hey have you heard this guy he’s so cool” and I was like “Yeah, I heard of him years ago. I’m so cool” and they were like “No. We’re cool because we heard of him after you heard of him so we are cooler because you’re not really cool you’re more lukewarm”

Anyway, as my ownership of this album since 2000 holds testament, I am far ahead of all the Coolkids and hipsters, musical taste-wise. Regardless.

So. Polisar is a bit like an American Rolf Harris/Jay Foreman hybrid. Here is a sample:

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