| ** fierce panda records turns 20 years old…
…and releases saddest album in the world to ‘celebrate’ **
The fierce panda record company turns 20 years old on February 24th 2014. To mark this somewhat surprising event the label is ‘releasing’ a free 18 track digital compilation comprised of some of the weepiest tunes it has had the tragic pleasure to put out over the past ten years. The album is called ‘endangered: fierce panda 2004 – 2014’ and will be given away to anyone and everyone who buys a record from the online shop at www.fiercepanda.co.uk/shop.php from February 24th onwards. You buy the record, we send you the link, you get that link and download the album, which looks something very much like this…
‘endangered: fierce panda 2004 – 2014’ - the tracklisting:
WOODPIGEON The Saddest Music In The World
MILO GREENE Son My Son
GOLDHEART ASSEMBLY Last Decade
THE WALKMEN In The New Year
THE HOSTS Would You Be Blue
THE CROOKES Howl
ACRES OF LIONS Collections
DINGUS KHAN Made A List
ART BRUT Rusted Guns Of Milan
THE RAVEONETTES Last Dance
HATCHAM SOCIAL Sidewalk
DEPARTMENT M J-Hop
HEY SHOLAY The Bears The Bees The Clocks
THE SPINTO BAND They All Laughed
MELANIE PAIN How Bad Can It Be
TOM HICKOX Let Me Be Your Lover
I LIKE TRAINS A Rook House For Bobby
In 1994 fierce panda records was invented by three NME journalists in The Blue Posts on Tottenham Court Road. Their intentions were clear: to release the ‘Shagging In The Streets’ EP, the double-vinyl six-track tribute to the magnesium flare which was The New Wave Of New Wave, and then call it a day – you don’t call yourself something as trite as fierce panda if you intend to make it to Christmas. That day was February 24th 1994. Nothing would ever be the same again.
Time, as tends to be the case, has moved on: The Blue Posts is now a Boots chemist and The New Wave Of New Wave is now a footnote in the NME scene-inventing filing cabinet. Unbelievably however fierce panda has survived against several odds, flourishing throughout the end of the previous century with a cavalcade of cheery one-off singles and cripplingly cheekily-titled compilation EPs like ‘Mortal Wombat’ and ‘Otter Than July’. And ‘Songs About Plucking’. And ‘Screecher Comforts’.
Indeed, in 2004 fierce panda records released ‘decade: ten years of fierce panda’, a compilation album which hauled together a savvy selection of those pivotal singles and early nuggets from the likes of Placebo, Ash, The Bluetones, Idlewild, Coldplay, Keane, Death Cab For Cutie and – but of course – Winnebago Deal.
Time, as still tends to be the case, has moved on again: having retired from the world of one-off singles in 2006 fierce panda has been attempting to make some kind of sense in a music industry gone mad. There is fierce panda songs for publishing, there is fierce panda management for managing, there is even fierce panda books for, umm, booking. And there have been fierce panda albums. Lots and lots of lovely great big grown up albums.
Which bring us rather too neatly to ‘endangered: fierce panda 2004 – 2014’, a compilation album which starts with ‘The Saddest Music In The World’ by Woodpigeon and ends with one of the saddest songs in the world in ‘Sovereign’ by Ultrasound. In between is a gentle, genteel and occasionally very grumpy emotional rollercoaster ride through the past ten years of slow-moving independent chaos. The artwork is cribbed from ‘The Hurting’ by Tears For Fears. The vibe is taken from a deserted old man’s pub in the middle of a long, lost afternoon. All 18 songs are culled from the multitude of fierce panda albums and mini-albums released since 2004.
Perversely, for a record which pertains to be a ‘Best Of…’ collection, several of the tracks on ‘endangered:’ were never released as singles because they were too long, too languid or just too damn lovely. Even more perversely, some of these languid, lovely, too-long tracks WERE actually released as singles. Want we do know is that, far from those early snotty New Wave Of New Wave-raving days in The Blue Posts, two of these bands have recently been playlisted on the comfy airwaves of Radio 2, and another six of them should have been.
Terrible sacrifices have been made: because all the tracks are off albums we’ve had to leave behind classic fierce panda one-off singles from Battle, The Maccabees, Boy Kill Boy and Dead Disco. Because all of the ‘endangered:’ tracks are endeavouring to capture a sense of slow-moving sadness we have had leave out the heavy heavy monster sounds of Hawk Eyes, The Blackout and The Computers. And how ‘How Come You Don’t Hold Me No More’ by Welsh Wonders The Hot Puppies – who put the ABBA into Aberystwyth – isn’t on here only the traumatized compiler knows.
‘endangered: fierce panda 2004 – 2014’ then: from ‘Shagging In The Streets’ to sobbing under the sheets. It’s been one heck of a journey…