What is it?
A cassette compilation issued by British music mag NME celebrating the UK's burgeoning independent scene. Journalists and main players at the time considered C86 to be the birth of indie music. Now the term is most often used to describe sincere, jangly indie pop.
Why is it called that?
The name is an amalgamation of the cassette format's labeling (i.e. C90), and the year of its release, 1986.
Who's doing it?
The most notable C86 acts were the Pastels, Shop Assistants, the Servants (pictured above), Talulah Gosh, Half Man Half Biscuit, McCarthy, the Wedding Present and an early incarnation of Primal Scream. Today the spirit lives on in the Pains of Being Pure At Heart, Alvvays, Love Is All, Fear Of Men, Joanna Gruesome and Beach Fossils, among others. In 2012, Japanese label Gay Vegan Vinyl Cassette released a tribute compilation called Ç86.
Where should I start?
The recent C86: The Deluxe Edition, a three-CD reissue of the comp by Cherry Red. To dig even deeper, try Cherry Red's even more extensive Scared To Get Happy box set. From there, pick up the Pastels' Sittin' Pretty, Shop Assistants' Will Anything Happen and anything jangly on Slumberland and Captured Tracks.
This summer saw the release of debut albums by both Toronto's Alvvays and Philadelphia's Literature. Cardiff's Joanna Gruesome will release a split seven-inch with Perfect Pussy later this year.