College Countdown: 90FM’s Top 90 of 1989, 30 and 29

30. Close Lobsters, Headache Rhetoric

Sometimes a band’s back-story has an element so wildly perfect that anyone would be forgiven for suspecting that it’s made up. No one disputed that the Close Lobsters were formed in their homeland in Scotland, but could it actually be that this band with tendencies towards gloomy, luscious psychedelic riffs actually first picked up their instruments together in a city called Paisley? Unable to decide between naming the band The Close or The Lobsters, the members compromised on a moniker that efficient combined both options. They proceeded to make smart, winning music that won converts immediately. 1989 brought the release of their second full-length effort, Headache Rhetoric. Awash in dense, lovely sonic textures, the album delivers a heady dose of cynicism befitting the group that once famously asked “What is there to smile about?” Maybe the answer to that dour question is simply “Music as good as this.”

29. The Proclaimers, Sunshine on Leith

The Scottish twins Charlie and Craig Reid always held strong political views, the natural side effect of growing up in a proud land economically devastated by the policies of Margaret Thatcher‘s ruling party. But despite the shorthand view of what their dual membership in the National Socialist Party represented, the lads insisted they also possessed some of the fiscal drive usually associated with capitalism. As Charlie explained, “If we made a million pounds next year, I’d be delighted. A lot of people have the impression that if you’re a socialist, everything has to be done at exactly the same pace. Intelligent socialists don’t think that. There’s got to be an element of competition in whatever you do.” Their second album as The Proclaimers, Sunshine of Leith, went a long way towards fulfilling their aspirations to succeed in that competition, quickly landing them hit songs on college radio and an appearance on David Letterman’s program that left the host mildly baffled by the answers they provided in their thick Scottish burrs. It represented an admirable progression for the guys who got their big break just a few years earlier when an unpolished demo landed them a gig opening for the Housemartins.

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