What influences do you come from?
June 6, 2008 12:38 AM   Subscribe

"What Institution Are You From" by Helium is probably my favorite song ever. Please tell me what other songs have that melodic pre-postpunk-revival modal-indie-disco horror movie feel, because I certainly can't find them on my own.

It's the first track here. (apologies for the sucky but necessary semi-self link.)

It's something of an outlier for the band. The only critical comparison I've come across for it is The Fall, and I don't really hear much of a similarity between WIAUF and their catalog (although I've only listened to four of their approximately eleventeen hundred albums.) Can anyone out in the askmeverse help make my ears happy?
posted by bunnytricks to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I'm having a hard time thinking of any suggestions simply because that song and your description of it ("melodic pre-postpunk-revival modal-indie-disco horror movie") don't connect at all in my mind. Can you be a bit more specific about what you like about the song?

When I hear that song I think of bands like the Breeders, but I don't think of them as "melodic pre-postpunk-revival modal-indie-disco horror movie" so I think maybe I'm on the wrong tip.
posted by loiseau at 1:47 AM on June 6, 2008

But I wanna help, is my point.
posted by loiseau at 1:48 AM on June 6, 2008

I can't say precisely what makes it so great for me, but a basic breakdown would be:

1) steady, dancable, almost disco drums
2) that off-kilter but flowing bassline
3) the ethereal and dirty everything else.

The Breeders comparison is apt, but they're poppier while this is proggier.
posted by bunnytricks at 2:56 AM on June 6, 2008

I can't hear your sample (my fault, not yours), but wanted to recommend Tarmvred, a Swedish group. Your description specifically reminded me of their cover of Sma Grodona, which has that dirty-bass-electronic-etc behind a high voice singing one of Sweden's best-known children's songs. The internet's has everything, but if you can't find anything, memail me and I can at least share Sma Grodona with you.
posted by whatzit at 4:32 AM on June 6, 2008

I haven't heard that Helium song in ages but I loved it when it came out. Off the top of my head you could try Metric, who aren't scared of a disco drum but might be sometimes be more tuneful than you're looking for. Or the Knife, who are much more over into the electronic side but have a similar dirty aesthetic.

(I don't think critics were comparing that particular Helium song to the Fall, btw...it's more likely they were talking about Mary Timony's almost arbitrary genre hopping and attitude towards production values in general. But I could be crazy.)
posted by bcwinters at 5:13 AM on June 6, 2008

Blonde Redhead sounds similar to that song. Try Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons or 23.
posted by rabbitsnake at 5:15 AM on June 6, 2008

Have you listened to the Pirate Prude EP from Helium? I listened to it so much and so steadily for the two years after it came out that I never fully listened to anything else by Helium (although I've loved Timony since the Autoclave days). Anyway, many of the songs on that EP share a lot of elements with "What Institution," at least to my ears.
posted by OmieWise at 5:22 AM on June 6, 2008

Cosign on the Blonde Redhead album. That might be the closest thing I can think of.. I love that Helium song too!

I wonder if you might like The Knife, esp Deep Cuts.. maybe some of Ladytron Witching Hour.. the first album by The Rapture.. maybe some Siouxsie and the Banshees? Also.. Swell Maps Jane from Occupied Europe? Halo Benders (I don't like them but.. YMMV)? Q and Not U Power.. Yeah Yeah Yeahs Fever to Tell parts of it..

as for The Fall, they change up a lot.. try Extricate.
posted by citron at 8:29 AM on June 6, 2008

A lot of the music on the Disco Not Disco compilation has this very slinky underpinning. Yes, the music's of a certain vintage, but that shouldn't prevent you from digging it.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 8:44 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

the first thing I thought of upon listening to the song you mention is My Bloody Valentine
posted by namewithoutwords at 9:02 AM on June 6, 2008

This suggestion might be a bit left field, but if namewithoutwords' My Bloody Valentine reference sounds right to you, along with the "disco horror movie" thing, you might try some early Curve. The main reason why it might not fit your parameters is it's not so much indie as it is shoegazer-meets-old-school-goth. But then Helium was kinda goth in their early days, and actually Toni Halliday sounds a bit like a more emotive Mary Timony... try Horror Head and see if it hits the sweet spot.
posted by chrominance at 9:30 AM on June 6, 2008

The best current band doing this is the Long Blondes, whose current album sounds more like that song (more italo influenced disco), but their first album is better (more spiky guitars). Also look to The Chromatics last couple of albums (they were No Wave-ish noise first), and the rest of that crew, like Glass Candy. The "After Dark" soundtrack would be a good one to pick up.
posted by klangklangston at 11:53 AM on June 6, 2008

It's totally Stereolab.
posted by meech at 7:02 PM on June 6, 2008

<3 <3 <3 Chromatics and Glass Candy.. "Candy Castle" especially.
posted by citron at 11:50 PM on June 6, 2008

Thanks for all the recommendations! I think recent Blonde Redhead comes the closest to what I'm looking for. I listened to them a bit years and years ago but they didn't leave too much of an impression at the time, most likely because I kept confusing them with Concrete Blonde. I've been listening to The Long Blondes for a couple of months since hearing them on one of the only two local radio shows worth listening to because of the WIAUF similarities. I've liked just about everything I've been able to track down that you've recommended, and I'm sure once I find the rest I'll dig that too.
posted by bunnytricks at 4:58 PM on June 7, 2008

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