Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Not C86

Exploring Bandcamp again, as I have been a fair bit lately, I stumbled upon a collection entitled Strum & Thrum: The American Jangle Underground 1983 - 1987, which apparently "aims to shed light on this forgotten era of jangly, melodic rock music that emerged from the ashes of post punk and helped kick start the indie rock boom of the early ‘90s that continues to this day." Not only that, the compilers "guarantee it’s an essential listen for any fan of classic ‘80s indie bands like the Go-Betweens, Felt, the Church, the Bats, Shop Assistants, and the like."

An American C86, basically.

What this means in practice is that it features a lot of college-rock bands trying to plough the same furrow as early REM and others, with results that can mostly be described as ... well, neither under- nor overwhelming. Just whelming. Here's a couple of the better efforts.

All fine, but I can't help but return to the subject of margins: those fine differences that elevate some to greatness and condemn others to obscurity. We all know who REM were, and they and their music will be listened to and talked about for years to come. I would challenge you to know any of the 28 bands on Strum and Thrum. Yes, these margins are fine. but you can hear them, can't you?

That said, there's enough to enjoy about this compilation, should you be a Bandcamp tourist like me. Enjoy.


  1. I haven't heard of any of the bands but, even without knowing of this compilation's subtitle, I would have been pretty confident that no British band would have named themselves Windbreakers... Like you, I was merely whelmed by a brief sample of each of the tracks.

    1. Ha, yes, Windbreakers is...not such a good name!