Indie Pop
May 21, 2011 7:15 PM   Subscribe

Overlooked '90s Indie Pop: The Cat's Miaow, whose single sentence wiki describes them as... "an indie pop band formed in Melbourne, Australia, in 1992." And Madison Electric, a band from Ann Arbor that played one show in a church basement before going their separate ways.
posted by puny human (26 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
scroll down in "Madison" link for mp3s
posted by puny human at 7:19 PM on May 21, 2011

It's probably not a coincidence that one of the major electrical contractors in Ann Arbor is called Madison Electrical.

Other than that, I got nothing. I will, however, check with my kid who was into the AA music scene back in '92 and see if he remembers these folks.
posted by tomswift at 7:27 PM on May 21, 2011

Yes tom, add them to the long list of acts from the '80s and '90s that didn't anticipate their ungoogleable band names.
posted by puny human at 7:38 PM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Cat's Miaow story via an interview with Bart Cummings.

Two of the OoP CDs:

"Songs for Girls to Sing"
"A Kiss and a Cuddle"

There was a buzz about Cat's Miaow among people into Sarah Records / A Turntable Friend / Bus Stop-type pop ca. '94-95, but the records were hard to find in the US then. Until the CD reissues, the only one I ever came across was the "I Kept All Your Letters" 7".
posted by ryanshepard at 7:48 PM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

This post reminds me of the kind of great, kind of forgotten The Multiple Cat, out of the Quad Cities of Iowa/Illinois. The only song of theirs YouTube knows is "Stitched Up." Not exactly indie pop in the Sarah records mode -- a little too dissonant? but related to it at a distance.
posted by escabeche at 8:04 PM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Huh. In the late eighties there was an awesome band in North West London called 'Two Dead Pigeons', featuring Richard Naiff on keys, but they never released anything, and I can't find the tape I used to have of them any more, and even if I did, I'd be scared to try and play it in anything in case it broke.

They were amazing though.
posted by motty at 9:45 PM on May 21, 2011

My favorite 90s Aussie indie pop band is The Hummingbirds. A friend put 'Alimony' on a mix and later i discovered LoveBUZZ at a thrift store and just fell in love. They reunited for Big Day Out this year and I'm so glad I had the chance to see them.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 2:53 AM on May 22, 2011

"Indie pop" is a funny phrase. The idea that Any of it is "forgotten" or "lost" is even funnier.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:57 AM on May 22, 2011

It's nice to know some bands are still hard to find. In the 90s I tried very hard to find records by Sugar Gliders, another Melbourne indie band, whose Will We Ever Learn washed up on my shores. It was impossible to find back then for an indiekid on a rock in the middle of the North Atlantic. Of course, now can watch live video of them playing that song which is kinda amazing (yay internet).
posted by Kattullus at 5:59 AM on May 22, 2011

A few more Madison Electric songs here.
Minor detail correction: They played one show in band member Kathleen's basement on a street called Church Street. I don't know why they say it "was *the* place to be seen" and I'd love to hear more about that. Maybe Ann Arborites from that era can enlighten us.
posted by bobobox at 7:15 AM on May 22, 2011

Church Street starts at on end of the University of Michigan main campus Diag and extends south through the student ghetto. I can't say whether it's *the* place to be seen, but kids have been hosting shows in basements there for decades before the current crop of undergrads were born. If you're a U-M undergrad with even the most minimal of social lives you'll inevitably be in the neighborhood for at least a couple nights out of your four years before graduation.
posted by ardgedee at 8:36 AM on May 22, 2011

Could they have played in a church on Church St.? I remember lots of cool parties there in the 90s.
posted by xenophile at 10:11 AM on May 22, 2011

I used to cover Ann Arbor music, but that started in earnest in 2000; in '92 I was still in middle school.

I know some guys that used to play in Ann Arbor and might know more. I'll see if I can track down anything, but I think at that point the only Ann Arbor bands I knew were The Stooges and Big Chief.
posted by klangklangston at 10:48 AM on May 22, 2011

One gig? Meh. My indie band was so awesome, we never played in public.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 11:05 AM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

My favorite 90s Aussie indie pop band is The Hummingbirds. A friend put 'Alimony' on a mix and later i discovered LoveBUZZ at a thrift store and just fell in love. They reunited for Big Day Out this year and I'm so glad I had the chance to see them.

I was at that show too.

I havebeen into the Hummingbirds since finding the best-of compilation at PolyEster around 2000. When I moved to Europe, the distance only increased my fondness for them; I remember lying in a bunk on a sleeper train across Europe, listening to LoveBUZZ on my MP3 player, and thinking that Alannah's voice was 100 kinds of sublime. Some years later, I was visiting a friend in Sydney; we went to the record shop Simon was running. There was an autographed copy of LoveBUZZ on vinyl there, which I bought. Simon demonstrated on a piece of paper that his signature matched one of the autographs on the sleeve; he seemed very modest and self-deprecating for someone with such a pivotal role in indiepop history.

A few years ago, when Ratcat (another Australian alt-pop band, albeit a more skronky, skate-punky one) reunited, I said to myself, "now if this was The Hummingbirds, I'd be on the next flight over to see them". Fast-forward to late 2010, when a one-off Hummingbirds reunion is announced, and all of a sudden I have to keep my promise. Thankfully I was changing jobs, and was able to get some slack between the end and start dates to make a lightning visit to Australia. And it was well worth it.
posted by acb at 11:14 AM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


My favorite indie pop band out of Oz is Turnstyle. I'd love to find more resources to get a hold of their music.
posted by hubs at 2:21 PM on May 22, 2011

Reminds me of when Dead Monkeys split up.
posted by hangashore at 2:48 PM on May 22, 2011

"Indie pop" is a funny phrase. The idea that Any of it is "forgotten" or "lost" is even funnier.

How so? It's a great description, and part of the fun is finding really obscure bands.
It's sad that Candle Records closed.
acb, that's an awesome story. This year's BDO was so good.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:29 PM on May 22, 2011

OMG, jj is one of my bestest friends. Forwarding this to her...
posted by Stewriffic at 5:37 PM on May 22, 2011

Dont' forget the experimental, dare I say ethereal side of the Cat's Miaow, Hydroplane, who also released a small army of wonderful 7" records and a couple albums in the 90s. Especially gorgeous is the lead-off track from their first album, Wurlitzer Jukebox.

There's also Bart and Friends, which is Bart Cummings from the Cat's Miaow recording with... yes, friends. They recently released an EP as Bart and Friends called "Make You Blush" which is pretty great, if you like that sort of thing (and I clearly do). This recent release reunites Bart with Pam Berry, whom he performed with in the 90s as the Shapiros, which is pretty interesting because of course Pam Berry was in the seminal Black Tambourine, to whom all fans of the Pains of Being Pure at Heart owe a great debt, and (wait for it) who released the 10" vinyl for Black Tambourine's "Complete Recordings" in 1999? That's right... Fantastic Records, a record label run by JJ from Madison Electric.

Finally, Kerrie Bolton, who did vocals for the Cat's Miaow/Hydroplane, is now an opera singer.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 8:35 PM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Thanks for these songs. They're great, especially this Madison Electric group, whoa.
posted by Corduroy at 11:31 PM on May 22, 2011

More 90's Indie Pop
posted by judson at 6:47 AM on May 23, 2011

According to The Cat's Miaow's wikipedia page, their drummer was called 'Cameron'. I wonder if it was Cameron Potts? He drummed for just about every Perth/Melbourne indie band in the 90s.
posted by hot soup girl at 8:38 AM on May 23, 2011

Ah; I just read ryanshepard's Mess and Noise link and it seems the drummer was Cameron Smith. Who I'm not familiar with.
posted by hot soup girl at 8:40 AM on May 23, 2011

lovecraft: were you one of the people up the front in the original, well-faded Hummingbirds T-shirts? I was the chap filming the gig with an iPhone. I've posted some of the video here.

Btw, there's a radio interview with Simon and Alannah of the Hummingbirds, made just before the BDO gig, here.
posted by acb at 10:46 AM on May 23, 2011

Bart Cummings actually came to Europe last year and did a few gigs; he played in London at the Betsey Trotwood in Clerkenwell, with Pam Berry (who now lives in London) joining in a duet, and then did a gig at the Indie Pop Days weekender in Berlin.
posted by acb at 10:48 AM on May 23, 2011

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