Every music fan has one; a song by a band everyone loves that for some reason just strikes a particular chord with you. When everyone is whooping and hollering for the single, or the big emotional finale, you’re just wishing they’d played that long forgotten album track from their second record.
For us there are many fine examples. Blue As Your Blood, track four on The Walkmen’s sixth album Lisbon; building around a rapidly pulsating, repeated two note guitar line, we had it down as the song to stop everyone just talking about The Rat, but it wasn’t meant to be. Then there’s We Are Unhappy, track nine on Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s not quite a masterpiece, Wolfroy Goes to Town, where with barely a noise beyond his own resonating vocal, Will turned us into emotional wrecks. There’s Precious Plans, the energetically bristling acoustic number buried on midway through Disc 2 of Field Music’s masterful double album Measure, perhaps lost among the other twenty tracks that accompanied it, but still resonating now. All, in our eyes at least, masterpieces that nobody else seemed to appreciate anything like as much as they should have.
So here’s to the underrated gems, they might never have turned the crowd into a screeching ball of excitement, but to us they were perfect.
Somehow is the brain-child of Paris-based, DIY instrumentalist, Erwan Pépiot. Following last year’s self-release of his debut album, The Desert Of Wasted Time, Erwan recently teamed up with Toolong Records to put out the follow-up to that record, Hidden Memories.
Hidden Memories was the definition of DIY; Erwan wrote, recorded and mixed the entire record in his own home-studio, with one noteworthy exception, the presence on every track of vocalist Aurélie Tremblay. A fitting collaborator, as it’s perhaps the vocals that are the most striking thing about the music of Somehow; Erwan’s unique, booming timbre and intriguing phrasing, perfectly countered by Aurélie’s lighter, more ethereal backing. We’re instantly put in mind of the likes of Fanfarlo or Belle & Sebastian if they were as French as their names suggests.
Musically, Hidden Memories is a record in many ways out of touch with current trends. While music seems to be heading away from the world of rich orchestral indie-pop, Somehow are fighting against the tide. There songs have the drive of classic 1980’s indie acts like The Cure or New Order, but they’re contrasted by the lightness of touch that comes from acoustic guitars, Casio-like keyboards, a melodica and seemingly whatever else Erwan could lay his hands on. The result is a record that ten years ago would have seen them making their name alongside the likes of Architecture In Helsinki or The Spinto Band, but now makes them stand out from the crowd as a band operating entirely on their own terms, and sounding all the more exciting for doing so.
Today, Somehow are sharing a mixtape featuring the most underrated songs by some of their favourite bands, featuring the likes of Fanfarlo, Pulp and Kings Of Convenience.
1 – Fanfarlo – You Are One of the Few Outsiders Who Really Understands Us
To me, Fanfarlo’s first album “Reservoir” is a real monument of pop. Before they released it, they already had a few brilliant and underestimated singles. I hesitated a lot between this one, “Talking Backwards” and “We Live by the Lake”.
2 – Broken Social Scene – hHallmark
I love this instrumental B-side. I think the spirit here is really close to what I’m trying to achieve with Somehow.
3 – The Fall – Don’t call Me Darling
From their great and underrated album “Cerebral Caustic” (1995).
4 – Electrelane – Smalltown Boy
I discovered their version when I saw them live in Paris a few years ago. It was unbelievable. Even better than the original one!
5 – Oasis – Talk Tonight
I was a big Oasis fan when I was a kid. This B-side from the single “Some Might Say” was one of my favorite songs.
6 – Kings of Convenience – Envoy
KoC is one of these bands that you can listen to over and over again and never get bored. I love this simplistic but moving B-side. Erlend Oye’s vocals on this track somehow remind me of Thom Yorke.
7 – Dominique A – Sous La Neige
Dominique A is a French singer/songwriter. He’s very renowned in France and is now making mainstream (though really good) pop. I’m not sure it is well known on the other side of the channel. Anyway, his first lo-fi album “La Fossette” in one of my top 5 albums of all time.
8 – Depeche Mode – New Life
Depeche Mode’s first album is awesome. I could have chosen other songs such as “New Disco” or “Photographic”.
9 – Radiohead – Gagging Order
A modest but beautiful B-side from their “Hail to the Thief” period.
10 – Pulp – I Spy
I saw a live version of this song on a French TV show when I was like 7 or 8. It was a real shock to me. I still think it is Pulp’s greatest song.
11 – Kraftwerk – Hall of Mirrors
A masterpiece with a cold and truly unique ambiance. Listened to it a lot as a young teenager. My favorite Kraftwerk’s song, along with “Radioactivity”.
12 – Husker Dü – Amusement
I’ve always been fascinated by this track. One of my favorite songs of all time. Full of fury, despair and melancholy. It’s a B-Side from their first single “Statues”, released in 1981.
Hidden Memories is out now via Toolong Records. Click HERE for more information on Somehow.