In my bizarro USA, Hefner are up there with Belle & Sebastian and the Magnetic Fields as 90s indie heroes. Maybe the hardest thing to do is write songs with a truly distinctive voice, and Darren Hayman's songs had that in spades. Hefner's infinitely relatable, realistically debauched tales of one-night stands and waiting lovelorn by the mailbox, set to their Jonathan Richman/Violent Femmes-like indie-folk shamble, are due some long listens from all the Yanks who ingnored them the first time around.
Darren's forging on with his solo career now, playing gigs in the UK (of course), but Hefner's likely swan song is Catfight, a massive slab of unreleased tracks that surely must clear out the closet. The 43 songs are arranged over two discs in reverse chronological order of their recording. Things get a bit dodgy on the second disc, but the first is more than worth the price of admission; plenty of cuts had me singing along by the second chorus. iff recommends you pick this up posthaste. For a taste: "The Pines", from a Peel Session, is something to do with love among outlaw Pagans loose in the deep south; "Country Song For Simon" is for all the folks "with Travis CDs coming up to their knees, but they don't even know what the lyrics mean".
Buy Catfight here.