12 Days of Mixmas: Day 1 – Dean from the Secret Unicorns Forum

Okay guys, I’m doing something a little special for the Christmas season. I’ve asked twelve people I respect musically to compile small mixes of five songs max. The catch is that all the tracks have to be united by some theme of their chosing. Some of these are people who I think have great taste in music (such is the case with the first subject), but the vast majority are musicians that you most likely enjoy. It’s been interesting to me to get results back both as a blogger, but also as a fan. Some of these bands have really come up with some great themes and wonderful mixes. Hopefully you guys will enjoy reading these as much as I’ve enjoyed putting it together.

Our first mix comes from a man I met through the Secret Unicorns Forum. Not only is he its webmaster, but he’s also a world-class expert in twee music. So it should be no surpise that he picked the twee sound to be the first theme for our Twelve days of Mixmas.

Mix 1: ‘Twee Mix’ by Dean of the SUF
After being asked to submit a twee mix for YANP, I was haunted by the memory of Pitchfork’s “Twee as F*ck” article, which systematically dismissed any band from North America or the United Kingdom. The rebellious side of me wanted to throw together some bands from Spain, Sweden, Japan and these other largely ignored nations, and in turn give my own two finger salute to those know-it-alls at Pitchfork.

Unfortunately, when it comes to choosing five songs, there were simply too many that couldn’t be disregarded, and should be staple to any such twee compilation.

MP3: Heavenly – Hearts & Crosses
After the break-up of Talulah Gosh, Amelia and the boys formed Heavenly, promptly signed to Sarah Records, and went on to be yet another criminally ignored band of the genre. This track was on the amazing P.U.N.K. girl / Atta girl CD (Sarah 82), and is a nice introduction to the band. After Heavenly came, Marine Research, and Amelia (and Rob) are now both still together in Tender Trap whose album entitled “Talking Backwards” is due for release in 2006.

MP3: Sambassadeur – Between the Lines
A mini rebellion starts here! These Swedes have produced one of the finest releases this year, with their self titled debut album. Signed to the excellent Labrador label, they are one of the many bright hopes for the future of the sweet side of twee.

MP3: The Frank and Walters – After All
A long since forgotten band that continues the mini rebellion by coming from Cork, Ireland. The Frank and Walters were deemed to be a bit of a joke band, having been around the indie scene at the same time as the likes of the Sultans of Ping, and touring with the likes of Carter Unstoppable Sex Machine. That being said, these quirky Irishmen released some happy uplifting songs in the early 90s, only to vanish for years and never reaching their early promise.

MP3: Beat Happening – Cast a Shadow
Is this the most covered twee song? Cub, and BMX Bandits have both recorded this, and so it would be wrong to leave this track out (although admittedly I also feel guilty for leaving out Tullycraft’s “Twee”). Calvin Johnson has a unique voice which will either be loved or loathed, as there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground with this guy. The fact that Calvin owns K Records is rather fortunate, as it would have been criminal if some of the most inspirational and influential music wasn’t heard. Although they haven’t released anything new for years, the band haven’t officially split up.

MP3: The Field Mice – Sensitive
Not only one of the most criminally underrated bands of all time, but also one of my favourite songs. The band split, and became Northern Picture Library, and then Trembling Blue Stars. They announced that they have played their last ever gig in the latter part of this year, although they will still record, they will not be on stage again. The following are the last lines in a review in the now defunct Melody Maker, about their first incarnation as “The Field Mice”, and their final show at The Dome in London, 21st November 1991, they put it better than I ever could.

“The final encore of “End Of The Affair” seems particularly apt, wrapping things up with mumbled plea and a long drawn out sigh, and, shuffling sadly offstage, The Field Mice crumble into dust. Something special died tonight and most of you couldn’t give a sh*t. I hope you choke on your ignorance.”

9 thoughts on “12 Days of Mixmas: Day 1 – Dean from the Secret Unicorns Forum”

  1. That’s a damn fine mix. But the Frank and Walters just got back together properly, and they’re still great. If blogging had been around back then they’d be kings.

  2. Did you really think that Pitchfork article was dismissive? I thought it was surprisingly positive for them. This mix even shares a couple of songs/bands with their suggested mix. These are wonderful songs, but the sentiment seems a little misguided. Also, I would think that Beat Happening’s “Indian Summer” is probably the most covered twee song. Good work, though.

  3. Hey, like I said in the post, there were some bands that you just couldn’t miss out. For myself, any twee mix *has* to have Heavenly and The Field Mice on, as they are two of my favourites from the genre. I thought it would be unfair to not put on a track from North America, so opted for that one. Then I decided to try and steer clear of the US/UK markets, and so went for Eire and Sweden to fill the last two spots. The Pitchfork article was okay…..but it totally disregarded any band that wasn’t from North America or the UK. There wasn’t one single band on that list that wasn’t from those areas. I was caught in two minds whether to stick to brand new bands, stick to non-US/British bands, or just go for a mix of old and new. I opted for the latter :)

  4. I am glad somebody else found that pitchfork article frustrating. There was a time I viewed what they wrote like Scripture. But, lately, I have been questioning quite a bit of what they have written.

    Have I grown or has pitchfork changed.
    I think Bowie might have the answer…

  5. Uhm, not trying to be a smartass or anything but the Swedish band is actually called Sambassadeur.

  6. Oops. That spelling error was my bad. However, that doesn’t make it any better. I love them almost as much as Dean does ;)

    Also, I’m glad that not only do you guys seem to be enjoying this, but it’s stimulating some conversation. This might very well be the first feature that’s completely served its purpose! I love tomorrow’s band, so don’t forget to stick around, hehe.

  7. Normally, the last thing I would want to do is defend Pitchfork, but the article never seemed intended to be an exploration of the worldwide twee scene. It’s got one section on Great Britain and one on North America. No article that short could ever be a definitive encapsulation of an entire sub-genre, but there’s no need to get snobby about the lack of coverage of the late 80s Serbian indie-pop explosion or something.

  8. I don’t know about late 80s Serbian indie-pop, but The Wedding Presents offshoot, The Ukranians was good.

    Especially their Smiths covers…

    Batyar (Bigmouth Strikes Again)
    Koroleva Ne Polerma (Queen is Dead)
    M’yaso – Ubivstvo (Meat Is Murder)
    Spiyave Solovey (What Difference Does It Make)


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