AOTW: The Trash Can Sinatras – A Happy Pocket

Two confessions:

1: I don’t really do albums. Don’t get me wrong, I have hundreds (thousands?) of ’em, but I tend to latch onto two or three tracks and play them to death. And the rest of the album slips away unnoticed and unloved…

2: Dunno why really but I love Scottish pop. From Edwyn and Roddy to Belle & Sebastian, Altered Images to Camera Obscura, the Mary Chain to the Delgados, if you’re Scottish you can do (almost) no musical wrong in my book, so I may be biased…

… BUT, those two caveats aside, I have unreservedly adored this album, in its entirety, since its release 14 years ago. “Why?”, I hear you ask. Good question. Thanks. And the answer is, I don’t really know. It’s not the most innovative music ever, or the most well produced, or the most clever. I think it’s because it feels like it’s mine. You know those bands you find for yourself, at an unfortunate age (to quote the band), and clutch fiercely to your heart? The TCSs are that band for me. Come to think of it, you lot are bloody lucky I’m sharing…

The band’s third album (of five so far), “A Happy Pocket” positively bursts with melody, joy, warmth, compassion, heart… Their debut, “Cake”, saw me through a tough first year at uni. In that terribly late-adolescent way, I genuinely would listen to it thinking, “At least someone understands…” By the time of their second, “I’ve Seen Everything”, life felt less terrifying and I didn’t need them so much. But when “A Happy Pocket” came out, I was ready for them again. From the exuberant instrumental opener, through “Twisted & Bent’s” perfect pop, the sublime (and surprisingly faithful) “To Sir, With Love” cover, right up to the swoonsome double-whammy of “The Safecracker” and “The Therapist”, it all just feels… alive. I even love the terrible wordplay (“the pirate in me turned a blind eye…”); it makes me smile.

I’m embedding the video for “To Sir, With Love” here (how much can you see that singer Frank is Eddi Reader’s brother in this vid?) and I’ll box the whole album. I hope you enjoy. I somehow doubt you will as much as I do, because I know this is one album I just can’t be objective about. It is part of my life.

17 thoughts on “AOTW: The Trash Can Sinatras – A Happy Pocket

  1. Bish – thanks for taking the plunge! I have no idea who the TCS are or what their music is like! I look forward to listening and will be back later to comment. I also appreciate your sharing something that means so much to you on a personal level. I love it when ‘spillers go out on a limb and put something they care about up for general scrutiny. It demonstrates the level of trust we have in each other.

    • Just listened to this and enjoyed it a lot. It’s way outside my normal range but it will definitely get more listens. I can see some songs getting rotation on future playlists. Thanks for adding another artist to my list of ‘spill discoveries, bish!

  2. Thanks maki. Did kind of think I ought to have opted for spotlighting an ‘important’ album (and dithered over a couple), but hey, that’s what Q magazine is for. So a personal fave won out. Will absolutely understand if it doesn’t really resonate much with anyone else! These things often come down to personal context/history, don’t they?

  3. I’m with you all the way on Scottish indie, and I loved this.

    Knew The Pop Place from a free Select tape way back when, and enjoyed I’ll Get Them In when you ‘boxed it a while back. The fact that those two stood out on a first listen bodes well for repeated listens.

    Weightlifting was on a free Guardian CD a few years ago, and I’ve been meaning to buy that album ever since. May now go ahead and do so.

    Big (if predictable) thumbs up from me then – thanks.

    • Yep, if I’d been asked to put money on which Spillers might like them, I’d have gone you, barbryn! (And nowt wrong with that.) I wouldn’t bet against ToffeeBoy enjoying too, but I could be wrong…

      Oh and never mind the human rights abuser connection before – v droll!

      • ‘Never mind’? Dunno what I was trying to say there. ‘Never noticed’ perhaps! “Weightlifting” is lovely too. A bit more AOR, but a proper grower…

  4. Also, for what it’s worth, since some wag pointed it out in The Fiver, I’m unable to think of the Trashcan Sinatras without thinking of former Thai premiere, Man City owner and human rights abuser Thaksin Shinawatra – and vice versa.

  5. I’ve heard of these guys but never heard them, listened to your clip and it sounds lovely. I have a long day on Photoshop here, so i’ll make it my starter playlist. Then I’ll give a try to Maki’s.

  6. Which is ruder – to not bother at all or to be perfunctory? I have so much to listen to and see and read piled up that I didn’t give this much of a listen. Quick click through and a google read and I think I can see why people might like them and I’m sure I’d appreciate them after a few listens …. but I didn’t hear enough to move ’em up the list.

    Thanks though bish, and good on you making a risky pick. Guess you are secure in your own self. Huh? No, I haven’t a spare Ann Summers handcuffs key, why do you ask?

    • I know what you mean, tinny. Embarrassment of riches round t’Spill parts sometimes. I have so much ‘boxed stuff to work my way through, it’s untrue…

  7. Got thru the first few till i had to go out. Nice stuff, Unfortunate Age with the piano reminded me of Bowie’s Hunky Dory. I like their version of To Sir With Love too.

  8. From Edwyn and Roddy to Belle & Sebastian, Altered Images to Camera Obscura, the Mary Chain to the Delgados

    Oi, bishbosh!!

    Have you been poking your nose around in my record collection again????

    I’m far more familiar with Cake than with this album but I naturally love anything by TCS. Gorgeous.

  9. Thanks amy! Will have to have a listen to Unfortunate Age with Bowie in mind – hadn’t noticed a similarity before (but then, I’m hopeless for such things).

    *Tiptoes away from ToffeeBoy’s CDs, half a dozen squirrelled away in duffel-coat pockets…*

  10. nice one bishbosh, I put this on my iPod for the last couple of days and have finally got 5 minutes to sit down and write a comment

    I knew the name of course, but for some reason had them down as a My Life Story (please forgive the obscure Britpop reference) style outfit, not sure why, maybe because of the slightly wacky name.

    Anyway, I LIKED the album, I didn’t instantly love it and it didn’t grab me by the scruff of the neck, but it’s a nice sound which i’m sure i’ll dip into from time to time and enjoy….

    …cheers BB!!

  11. Gorgeous BB – I had hardly paid them any attention before, but a proper listen on a train trip revealed a delicious intricacy, rather than a ‘grab you first time’, with some some great lyrical turns of phrase (‘from crayons to perfume’, ‘We’re like the carpet-burned knees of desire’, etc etc). Up there with Prefab Sprout **awaits thwack from TB**

  12. Belated responses:

    GHE, so glad you enjoyed. And you too, maki – very touched you took the time to give it a listen.


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