Monday, June 14, 2010

Kenickie - In Your Car (Live Video and MP3)

I stole the video from some guy on YouTube. I should apologize but I've got my reasons.

See, the last time that this gem made it to YouTube, the song got yanked by someone -- copyright holders, I'm guessing?

Anyway, as this blog still doesn't get more than 100 or so page views per day, I'll take my chances.

This is Kenickie doing "In Your Car" at the Scottish festival, T In The Park, in 1997.

This is the last new band I felt enthusiastic about.

This is exactly everything I want out of my Brit pop-stars, done smashingly loud, full of life and happiness and wit.

The three gals -- Lauren Laverne, Marie DuSantiago, and Emmy-Kate Montrose -- seem caught somewhere between riot grrl and The Primitives. But clearly this is a functioning rock band and not another set of fringed janglepoppers out to resuscitate the twee corpse of C-86 (itself a resuscitation of the 1960s). It's not the hard edges of Elastica, nor the Hole-isms of any number of American female-fronted bands of the era (The Muffs, for instance), either.

Somehow, the gals -- and Johnny X on drums -- managed to make a uniquely British -- uniquely Northern English -- kind of pop that teetered on the line between indie and mainstream rock. Morrissey and Marr may have spawned a multitude of miserable copyists all set on hearing just the mope in those Smiths tracks -- talking to you, Martin Rossiter and Gene -- but those two Mancs were really writing pop music for the masses (provided you got Morrissey's references and could groove to Marr's Byrds-ian chords).

Kenickie, similarly, were too good for the indie ghetto of the time -- Yastura anyone? -- and too smart by far for the OK Computer-loving mainstream of 1997 where intelligence somehow ended up equaling the bleeps-and-blops of Radiohead's good-but-overrated album.

"I'm too young to feel so old" sounds almost sad when taken out of context but, sung by a young Lauren Laverne here, it sounds precocious and self-aware.

A tale of being chatted up -- stalked? -- by an older man with a nice car becomes a pop masterpiece with lyrics revealing that the younger girl is far more savvy than her predator.

A string of great singles-and-flipsides, one nearly perfect album, and one sadder 2nd one, and it was all over.

At least they had the good grace to break up before it went to hell.

Marie and Emmy-Kate briefly tried their hands in a band called Rosita before leaving the music business.

Johnny X recorded under a lot of different monikers and now rocks it out in Frankie and The Heartstrings (search this blog for more on that).

Lauren Laverne -- the same witty LL, only a tiny bit older -- gasp! an adult now! -- is a DJ, author, TV host, and all-around delightful media gadfly in the UK (search this blog for more on her).

I write about stuff like this in the hopes of pinning down the pop promise that captivated me in 1997. But, it's 2010.

In 1997, I had been listening to C-86 bands, the Cocteau Twins, and Elastica for a few years each. My mind was in a different place.

The Primitives were great but they were never 100% forward-looking. While they weren't quite as indie insular as their peers in 1988 or so, they retained something retro that was impossible to shake.

Kenickie seemed to be some weird mix of Shirley Bassey and The Shop Assistants.

It's like The Manic Street Preachers; on Generation Terorists (1992), they have clearly been listening to The Clash and Guns and Roses, but, by The Holy Bible (1994) those influences have been bashed into submission in the service of an entirely unique sound.

By the time this song was over on my first listen of At The Club (1997), I somehow felt that I had raved far, far too much about the Wire-ripping-off Elastica.

Download a live 1997 version of "In Your Car" here.

Kenickie "In Your Car", T in The Park, 1997