At the age of 18 or 19, one afternoon in 1996, I was sitting on the floor of my Vinal Avenue apartment in Allston, MA listening to records with a friend of mine. He had brought over a stack of records with which he was making, song by song, a mix tape for me before my very eyes, giving me the rundown of each track and band. My favorite bands at the time were Section 25, The Wake, etc. and while I was well versed in the gloomy post punk of Manchester, the pop of that era had, until that afternoon, escaped my ears entirely.
It was during this session that I was exposed to a few bands and labels that would make a huge impact on my life. From New Zealand: The Chills and Flying Nun Records, from the USA: Beat Happening and K Records, from the UK: The Wolfhounds and Midnight Music and Creation, and Subway Org Records and the myriad of jangly pop masters on the Take The Subway to Your Suburb compilation (Groove Farm, The Flatmates, The Razorcuts, and Pop Will Eat Itself).
Prior to that afternoon I had of course heard newer pop, and been exposed to twee and the dozens of indie bands that were current and popular, but the bold sound of “C86″ (the genre label given to bands of this era, named after a 1986 cassette compilation called C-86, a take off on blank cassettes labeled with “C-30, C-60, C-90 minutes”) came smashing down on me as I watched my friend dance in the middle of the living room, smoking a cigarette with hilarious white sunglasses on, lip-synching to a song by the band in this next video…
From Essex, UK, mid-’80s pop legends: The Wolfhounds’ “Cruelty”