Music Recommendation: The Chameleons

11 01 2011

The 80's were a great decade for ugly sweaters

[Quick Warning: My music posts never really focus entirely on the band in the title, but there will be youtube videos of that band after the jump for your enjoyment. So enjoy.]

When it comes to indie music, nothing gets a hipster’s heart fluttering more than the bands that were indie before words like “indie”, “grunge”, or “alternative” were common language in the world of music. Nothing is more satisfying for indie kings than to say something like, “If the Pixies didn’t exist, then Nirvana never would have happened!” or, “Quit blabbing about your stupid Coldplay! If it wasn’t for Joy Division (or Radiohead) then you wouldn’t even have a Coldplay to blab about!”

… Or something like that. I think that’s what people are into these days.

Anyways, I too am a big fan of the so called precursors to the altern-rock movement, and if I had to make a quick list of my five favorites, it would look something like this…

5. Television

4. The Smiths

3. Pixies

2. The Chameleons

1. The Stone Roses

More pondering and Chameleons love (Plus video) after the jump

So after posting that list, let’s pretend that my imaginary hipster friend has a few questions for me. For sake of realism, let’s call him Xavier. So, Xavier has some questions…

“Where the fuck is Joy Division?!”

“Television isn’t indie-alternative, they’re indie-punk!”

“Why is your post about The Chameleons when your number one is The Stone Roses?!”

Great questions, Xavier! Allow me to answer them in a totally white manner.

1. Joy Division is a great band to listen to if your depressed and in middle school. I think a few of their songs are decent, but the whole bulk of their work (which isn’t big) doesn’t get me that excited. There’s no question about how important their influence is, but I’m really not a big fan of JD as a band.

2. Not a question. Nice try, Xavier.

3. Maybe I’ll do a post praising The Stone Roses some time in the future, but right now I feel like writing about The Chameleons. Don’t question my methods.

With Xavier out of the way (I warded him off with a bar of soap), now I can focus on The Chameleons, kind of.

There isn’t anything truly groundbreaking about The Chameleons, outside of the fact that they were a part of the group of New Wave/ indie artists such as The Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen that would influence of a bunch of equally broody and dark British bands. So why do I like them so much?

[Number one reason good indie bands don’t get huge? Duh, because they’re fuck ugly half of the time.]

If the above video helps make this clear, I care about the sound of a band far more than things like lyrics or emotion. In example, I really should hate a band like Arcade Fire. All of their songs are pussy little songs about being a kid, and the singer looks like a serial killer. But Arcade Fire is one of my favorite contemporary bands because the music they make is like sweet love to my ear holes.

What’s more is that I am a huge, huge, huge sucker for arpeggio chords. For those of you that never went through a guitar playing phase, that’s when you make a chord and play the notes of the chord individually and let them ring out so it sounds pretty and… ah hell, I know you’ve all had a guitar phase. Anyways, The Chameleons love to use those arpeggio chords along with a basic-yet-loud rhythm section and a fuzzy rhythm guitar all come together to make a sound that is catchy, pretty, and perfect for a guy with musical tastes similar to mine. Essentially, if a band (a) incorporates arpeggios into their music and (b) makes the music slightly unique, then I will probably like it.

Now you may remember when I said Joy Division is way too depressing for my liking, but that’s hardly a worthy argument on my part when I consider how many bands I listen to could be tagged as “depressing”. Hell, The Chameleons are a little depressing, I will admit it. That said, at least the lead singer of The Chameleons didn’t hang himself, hey oh! What, too soon? Anyways, I’m officially changing my statement to the fact that I was never a fan of Joy Division’s music in general. So blow me… unless you’re  dude.

In short, The Chameleons really are just a band pretty damn similar to the likes of The Cure, The Smiths, and the contemporary acts that they influenced (Interpol, Editors, ect.) except they really never got popular. Uh oh, my hipster-ness is showing. Kill it with fire!

But really, if you haven’t heard them before (and hopefully you haven’t, since my goal of these posts is to introduce new groups to you, the reader) then grab some of their stuff on Itunes or Amazon. If there is a crutch for this band, it’s that they aren’t in that many stores. In fact, the first video from above, I can’t find that song on Itunes, and I can’t find the CD that has that song anywhere either. It’s killing me because I love that f*cking song. If you can help me find it and get it on my Ipod, please help.

So that’s The Chameleons (sometimes called The Chameleons UK). You need to listen to them right now. Here are some more videos to give you a primer.

If you have any recommendations for me, feel free and leave a comment! I may just write a post about it or something.





2 responses

6 03 2011

[…] Music Recommendation: The Chameleons ( […]

31 03 2011

Mate, the song accompanying the first video is called ‘Inside Out’, and is available on iTunes (and elsewhere I guess). On iTunes, its listed against The Chameleons UK as ‘Inside Out (Bonus Disc Version)’ and is on the bonus CD that came with a re-release of the Strange Times album. If I remember right, the song was originally on the B-side of the 12″ single of Tears (1986).

Brilliant band, and tremendous live. Shame they split again.


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