The Chalets. Ignore the fact that The Chalets’ two lead vocalists were called Pony and PeePee – beneath the twee as fuck stage names, The Chalets were badass. Veering between sassy art pop and tongue-in-cheek, call and response vocals, the Irish quartet were just the right mix of serious and silly with some brilliantly ‘fuck you’ lyrics thrown in.
Best song: ‘Nightrocker’
1990s. Born from the ashes of cult Scottish heroes The Yummy Fur, it’s a wonder 1990s ever became ‘popular’ at all. But, whilst their lyrical preoccupations were far from the populist anthems of Arctic Monkeys et al, Jackie Mckeown and co had enough of a way with an angular hook to ensure their place at indie discos across the land.
Best song: ‘You’re Supposed To Be My Friend’
Credit: Andy Fallon/NME
White Rose Movement
White Rose Movement. Before Dalston was ‘a thing’ and the sight of meggings (that’s men’s leggings) ball-crushingly commonplace, there was White Rose Movement. Fronted by Finn Vine, WRM were a hybrid of post-punk vitriol, electro-tinged club fillers and New Romantic flamboyance. You get the feeling they were about eight years too early.
Best song: ‘Girls In The Back’
Louis XIV. Louis XIV, on the other hand, were probably about 25 years too late. Fond of a provocative lyric (the group were banned from Alabama for, essentially, being too sexy), their blend of slutty indie and glam rock peaked in 2005 with second LP ‘The Best Little Secrets Are Kept’. Naturally, the cover art featured a naked woman.
Best song: ‘Finding Out True Love Is Blind’
Duels. Whilst fellow Leeds boys The Cribs and Kaiser Chiefs dug further into public consciousness, Duels never quite got there. Favouring a more brooding lilt, their niche was of the intelligently anthemic strain that could have been massive if they’d had that breakthrough hit. Sadly, they didn’t, although we’re told they’re working on LP#3…
Best song: ‘Brothers And Sisters’
The Blood Arm
The Blood Arm. “Yeah, I’ll lay down some fucking hits…” begins The Blood Arm’s 2006 opus ‘Lie Lover Lie’. This premonition may not have quite come true, but the quartet (still going) can take solace in the fact their wryly witty lyricisms and unashamedly massive guitar hooks are basically responsible for Spector (well, it sounds like it).
Best song: ‘Suspicious Character’
Credit: Andrew Kendall
Howling Bells. Australia’s Howling Bells may still be plugging away, but their peak came in 2006 with their eponymous debut. Full of sweeping, dusky atmospherics and gritty guitar growls and helmed by Juanita Stein – a genuinely worthy addition to the canon of truly inspiring frontwomen – it earned them a blistering 9/10 in these pages.
Best song: ‘Setting Sun’
XX Teens. When you’re forced to change your band name because a paper copying company is pissed at you, it’s never going to go well. XX Teens (formerly Xerox Teens) managed to release one record – ‘Welcome To Goon Island’, an oh-so-2008 slab of good-time party music, somewhere between Good Shoes and Klaxons – and then it was over. Fun while it lasted.
Best song: ‘Darlin”
The Grates. Another sad member of the “Successful Debut Album (only)” club were Aussie indie-poppers The Grates. Spitting short and sharp nuggets of lo-fi, slightly bubblegum indie like a way more sprightly Times New Viking, the likes of ’19-20-20′ and ‘Science Is Golden’ were massive earworms but never really stood the long-term test of time.
Best song: ‘Lies Are Much More Fun’