The Minders: Cul-De-Sacs And Dead Ends (1999)

When thinking about the Elephant 6 collective of indie pop bands that arose in the mid-'90s, the focus is usually on the big three (Apples in Stereo, Neutral Milk Hotel, Olivia Tremor Control). But there are some great acts beyond those, with the Minders being a personal favorite, offering skewed pop that fits somewhere between the eclecticism of XTC and pure late-'60s-styled bubblegum.

Cul-De-Sacs collects a bunch of singles and b-sides released from '96-'98 (their 1998 full-length debut Hooray for Tuesday is also terrific). It's pretty lo-fi, free of the studio fussiness and experimentation of, say, OTC, and thus has a ragged immediacy that keeps things light and fun.

My favorite tune here is the opener, "Build," an impossibly infectious ditty with a buoyant bassline serving as counterpoint to the Beatlesque guitar riff, a fuzzy garage pop winner with shades of Revolver, loaded up with some sweet harmonies in the chorus. (It's produced by the Apples' Robert Schneider, so a bit of a ringer here.) "Almost Arms" is simple and stripped down yet still catchy, like something ripped from an XTC demo tape; "Better Things" is a perfect slab of bubblegum, an earwig you'll be humming all day; "Hand Me Downs" is a cool British Invasion throwback; "Rocket 58" is psychedelic garage band buzz, like Guided by Voices circa 1967.

While the album is dominated by singer/guitarist Martyn Leaper, drummer Rebecca Cole offers some sweet backing vocals, and occasionally grabs the mic ("Step Right Up").

Plenty here to love, and a great introduction to a fine and oft-overlooked indie pop band.

Here's an audio rip of "Build":
...and an audio rip of "Better Things":


  1. Love the Minders, and your post has inspired me to think about venturing into my dark, cold garage and break out my Minders CDs. I really like the debut Hooray For Tuesday as well -- full of instantly likeable songs. Thinking I should probably grab my Apples in Stereo CDs while I'm back there...oh, and that Olivia Tremor Control record -- and isn't that the High Water Marks CD next to that spider web?


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