Monday, December 9, 2019

The Flys - Today Belongs to Me: The Complete Recordings 1977-1980 (Cherry Red, 2019) - A brief overview.

The liner notes to Cherry Red's thorough and well-assembled canonization of the late '70s not-so-chart-ascending punk-era rock act The Flys bemoans the myriad bands from their era (and otherwise) that had the chops and songs to grasp full fledged notoriety, only to have their collective fingers slapped away by the fickle and unpredictable hands of fate.  Despite two albums for EMI Records (Waikiki Beach Refugees in 1978, and Own a year later) and some startlingly smart and promising singles, the Coventry, UK act in question barely made any headway on their home turf, and weren't privileged enough to have their records released Stateside.  When the story is told however, chart positions and sales numbers are ultimately outweighed by what's left on studio reels and lacquer, and the Flys legacy is surprisingly robust.  The two disc Today Belongs to Me covers the band's entire recorded output, not only tacking on the singles found on the Captain Oi! Records reissues from 2001, but expands upon those with outtakes and demos from the band's personal archives, plus alternate single versions of several tracks.

Breaking out of the nest in 1974 under the guise of Midnight Circus, Flys frontman Neil O'Connor didn't have a "punk" ethos in mind for his fledgling four piece, rather the band's m.o. was inspired by the likes of the Pretty Things, or so it's been observed.  It wasn't until the initial wave of UK punk took hold, including O'Connor's first live encounter with the Damned in 1977, that Midnight Circus' trajectory shifted in a rather obvious direction - so much so that a new name was in order.  The Flys were born that year, and so was their debut EP, Bunch of Five, featuring the particularly incendiary blast, "Love and a Molotov Cocktail," a mid-tempo basher roughly on par with the Adverts "Looking Through Gary Gilmore Eyes" and the Buzzcocks "What Do I Get?"  No small feat that, and speaking of the Buzzcocks it was none other than Pete Shelley who invited the Flys to open for them - a move which the band would soon parlay into a record deal with EMI.

The misanthropically titled Waikiki Beach Refugees wasn't cut from hardcore or even three-chord punk cloth, rather the Flys maiden voyage was a casual and occasionally brash pastiche of pub rock, New York Dolls-y proto punk, not to mention some of the group's longtime inspirations like Bowie and the aforementioned Pretty Things.  The results were mixed, and unfortunately not wholly stimulating, but it delivered more than a few standouts - "We Don't Mind the Rave," "Looking for New Hearts" the spirited "Fun City" and the hedonistic title cut.  The single variation of that last one is even more stimulating the LP take, and the early EP ditty, "Just For Your Sex" beat a similarly themed George Michael song to the punch by a good ten years.  The bonus content portion of Waikiki also entails the previously unissued "Adrian (Don't Call Me Jimmy)" a nascent tune that was one of the band's fiercest punk volleys, just seeing the light of day now.  

Disc two of Today Belongs to Me, appropriately enough, contains the band's second long-player, Own, an improvement on all fronts stacked up against their debut.  Riding the crest of some serious creative momentum and a newfound raison d'être, Own found the Flys modernizing their forte without diminishing any of their initial charm.  Tauter, classier, and doubly more assured than just a year prior, the band actually sounded like a genuine product of their era here.  Bristling power pop stunners "16 Down" and "Energy Boy" deftly balance muscle and hooks, flirting with anthemic punk constructs.  There's plenty more where those came from, but Own impresses with a volley of relative anomalies to boot. "Fascinate Me" is a sleek, synth-laden new wave foray, the whimsical "Freezing" might have fit on one of the Kinks more theatrical indulgencies (say, Preservation Act), and "Night Creatures" offers a bouncy, mod-inflected gait so irresistible indie icons Superchunk went to the trouble of covering it for a 1990 single.  

Commercially, Own didn't garner the returns the band were hoping for, and it didn't help that EMI failed to issue a single upon it's '79 release, rather a quickee EP via a new label, Parlophone, a few months later, seemingly as an afterthought.  A new single, "What Will Mother Say?" arrived in early 1980, but not long after the Flys were grounded altogether - a crying shame given the strength of their sophomore album.  Today Belongs... winds down with more unreleased material, including the strikingly melodic "Come on Stupid" and "I Say."

Clocking in at roughly two and a half hours and featuring a generous 53 tracks, Today Belongs to Me is an essential investment not only for established customers, but fresh ears with a taste for late '70s punk and power-pop.  It's available now directly from Cherry Red or Amazon.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

You're unaware of how much earth you move.

From 1992.  More of a compilation of early eps than a proper debut album, but this disc made a convincing case for a UK trio who got caught up in the dream-pop zeitgeist of their era...whether they wanted to or not.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


The Princeton Reverbs Colonial - ring the pair-a-bells (2002, Dirigeable)

This bygone New Hampshire quartet were audacious enough to dub themselves after a vintage Fender amplifier.  Furthermore, The Princeton Reverbs Colonial also had the audacity to limit the release of certain full length albums to a mere one hundred copies.  Luckily, the one I'm presenting today is considerably more findable, and find it you must because the Reverbs were all about wrenching warm, analogue hues from just the kind of apparatus they purloined their moniker from.  It could quite easily be a coincidence, but perhaps their close proximity to the Canadian border informed them about bands from such locales as Nova Scotia, 'cos I'm hearing heaps of fuzzy, mid-fi guitar rock a la Eric's Trip and early Hardship Post populating some of ring the pair-a-bells finest endeavors like "He Interprets the Dream" and "Calliope."  Upon unfurling what little of the band's history I was able to glean, I learned the Reverbs had ties to the Elephant Six collective, including working with Bill Doss of that movement's preeminent outfit, the Olivia Tremor Control on this very record.  Any experimental/neo-psych affectations that crop up on ring are faint at best, but if you're familiar with the aesthetics of such aggregations as Apples in Stereo and Beulah you have some throwback feels in store for you, albeit intermittently. And I'll be damned if the illustration on the sleeve doesn't resemble that of an Of Montreal pictorial.  

01. Calliope
02. Four
03. Lamb's Workshop
04. Our Separate Way
05. When the Boat Goes Down
06. Row Away
07. The Problem
08. Trumpet Sounds
09. He Interprets the Dream
10. Turning the Tides
11. Waves Crash
12. Ring the Pair-A-Bells

Thursday, December 5, 2019

The Visigoths - I.B.B.Y. ep (1985, Rexco)

I wasn't able to uncover much relevant info on The Visigoths, so forgive me if this write-up seems a tad brief.  A trio with apparent roots in Massachusetts, this less-than-gothic combo had a penchant for ballsy, searing garage rock on I.B.B.Y's roiling opener "If It Wasn't For Me."  The following piece "Raga Rock" is cut from moderately dissimilar cloth, and possesses a juicier vocal hook that really did the trick for me.  "Third Speaker From the Left" plays out like Twin/Tone-era Soul Asylum, not to mention former labelmates Agitpop, while "Syphillitic Urge" evidently didn't require any lyrics, though I enjoyed the keyboards.  This disc was a radio station copy, which I was successful in Photoshopping the call letters from on the front sleeve, the back not so much (however I found the caricatures amusing).

01. If It Wasn't For Me
02. Raga Rock
03. Third Speaker From the Left
04. Syphillitic Urge

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Can you tell the difference between a quarter and twenty-five cents?

Sometimes a collection of b-sides, comp tracks and odds 'n ends can be just as useful introduction to a band as one of their proper albums, or even a best-of.  For better or worse (probably for better) this band didn't have hits, but I digress.  Anyway, this collection spans 1989-95.  Enjoy.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


Saturday, November 30, 2019

NoNames - End of the Beginning (1983, Vague)

This San Diego-area quartet may have existed during the cultural apex of the 1980s, but they hardly strove to be a product of it, not sonically anyway.  In fact, NoNames didn't blatantly emulate any of their contemporaries either, though you may pick up on trace elements of the Talking Heads and the Cars.  The band's approach wasn't slick and gaudy enough for the Top 40 set, and all the better as they bore a creative and organic modus operandi which ranged from the jazzy percolations of the sprite "10:00 (Life Goes On)" to the rapid, piano-driven rave-up "Ungrateful."  Side two of End of the Beginning is even more rewarding, leading off with "1 2 3 Go!!" a vivacious, two minute power-pop outburst with charm for miles, that wouldn't sound out of place on those homegrown Powerpearls and Teen Line compilations I'm so fond of.  Up next is the appropriately titled "SeeSaw," featuring vocals that pan alternately between the left and right channels, to near dizzying effect.  End... closes out with the thoughtful and strikingly melodic "What Am I," sublimely splitting the difference between guitars and whirring synths culminating in a big, plump hook to play us out.  A big round of applause goes to NoNames keyboard wrangler/mouthpiece Hannes for setting me up with a copy of this winsome record.

01. 10:00 (And Life Goes On)
02. The Masses
03. I Got a Call
04. Ungrateful
05. 1 2 3 Go!!
06. SeeSaw
07. Something in Common
08. What Am I?

Sunday, November 24, 2019

I shook the hands of mafia dons and presidents...

A 2012 reunion album that turned out to be nearly as satisfying as what they produced in their initial back in the '90s.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


Spiral Jetty - Begin Responsibilities 1981-97 (2000, Hedgehog)

Since it's been a food seven years since my last Spiral Jetty post it's fair to say this is a long belated follow-up.  In fact, this compilation disc features tunes that I shared previously on the trio's wonderful Art's Sandbar and Tour of Homes albums.  The Jetty's were of New Jersey stock, and unfortunately didn't make huge inroads out of the Garden State, leaving their legacy to remain, um...obscure.  Unjustly so, says me, because they were downright phenomenal at times.  Per Begin Responsibilities liner notes the band's goal was, "to write good songs that sounded nothing like anybody else."  In fairness, the Spiral Jetty recipe wasn't entirely assembled from whole cloth, but rather came across like a whip-smart melange of some of the mid-80s foremost subrosa figures, including (but not limited to) the Monochrome Set, Felt, Minutemen, and the Feelies.  In fact, the latter were locals to S/J, and the band was fortunate enough to be in cahoots with the Feelies to wrangle Bill Million and Glenn Mercer to produce their debut, Tour of Homes.  Tension, brittleness and instrumental dexterity were hallmarks of Jetty's formula, and ultimately they did succeed in conjuring up something original.  Not only does Begin Responsibilities span the band's entire career it brings many of their  early recordings into the digital age for the first time, minus the surface noise, naturally.  It's a great place to jump in, but hardly where you'd want to end. 

01. Tourists Send Postcards
02. Weasel in the Closet
03. Muskateers of Pig's Alley
04. Tour of Homes
05. All of This
06. Baltimore
07. Something Will Come
08. Big Down Hill Racing
09. Where the Sun
10. The Beat Goes On
11. Restless
12. Playboy of the Western World
13. Lonesome Catfish Heart
14. Bubba's Li'l Bub
15. Queen of Her House
16. Lucinda
17. Let it Fall
18. My Cat Geoffrey
19. Going to Marsailles
20. Emperor of Ice Cream (coda)

Friday, November 22, 2019

Velo-Deluxe - House of Sin Recordings (unreleased, 199?)

Despite featuring ex-Blake Baby/Antenna John Strohm as part of Velo-Deluxe's three piece lineup in the mid-90s, the band barely caught any traction despite a more than respectable 1994 debut album, Superelastic, and a bevy of surrounding singles.  I point an angry finger at myself as much as anyone regarding this dilemma, as I was a DJ at a college radio outlet around Velo-Deluxe's existence, and even I only managed one or two spins at best from that aforementioned disc.  Simply put, these guys couldn't compete with the Pavements and Green Days of the world, albeit they were still something of a treat.  Nothing too incendiary about this bunch, who stuck to a guitar-driven aesthetic that slid squarely between the alt/indie rock realms.  The House of Sin recordings were tracked at a facility of the same name, presumably near the band's stomping grounds of Bloomington, IN at some point after Superelastic.  We get nervy, distorto-ridden bashers like "Novocaine Novocaine" and "Bothering the Clown" that are countered by comparatively less tense "Dusted" and the heartfelt acoustic "The Ballad of Lobster Boy," which was apparently released as a single in '95, though I'm unaware of the version in this set is the one that made it to vinyl.  Enjoy.

01. Dusted
02. Novocaine Novocaine
03. Fork
04. Bothering the Clown
05. Shiver
06. Jesus Let Me In
07. The Ballad Of Lobster Boy

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Jags and riches, queens and witches.

From 2002.  Turns out there was life beyond the milky way - and it was good.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


Saturday, November 16, 2019

Mark Freeland's Electroman - American Googaloo (1982, Trelaine) & Come (1986, Beauty of Vinyl)

By request.  Mark Freeland didn't put Buffalo, NY on the map, but within the city and it's environs in the 1980s (and beyond) he ruled, and was the closest thing Western New York had to Frank Zappa or Prince.  Truth be told, Freeland rarely sounded specifically like either of those visionaries at any given moment, rather his dextrous,  DIY pastiche of trendy-ish '80s pop, funk and rap was intricate enough to entice more sophisticated ears, but also bore real accessibility as well.  In addition to his musical endeavors, Freeland was a renown local painter with colorful multimedia skills that spilled over into the two Electroman records I'm sharing today, not to mention the music he would produce thereafter until his untimely death from cancer in 2007.

1982's American Googaloo (perhaps a nod to American Graffiti) packs not only punch but ample groove, with party-down, R&B inflections colliding with less emphasized forays into synth pop.  "I Am Everybody," boldly sets the tone for the entire affair with a funk underbelly, pitch-shifting vocals and Sugarhill Gang-esque throwdowns.  "Beer Makes You Smart" is as jovial and anthemic as you might imagine, "Payday" is a horn-enhanced ode of sorts to being perpetually broke, while the disco-paced "All I Want to Do is Bang," makes for a fittingly frenzied basher to close things out.

Come followed four years later offering longer songs, and intermittently, the incorporation of muscular guitar tones.  A greater reliance of samples is evident, as well as an apparent affection for the likes of early Run-DMC.  In fact, there's a number of hip hop-centric pieces here - "Family Feud," "I Dig New York," and the altogether amusing "Macaroni and Cheese," a playful riff on the simple pleasures that inadvertently arose from the era of Reaganomics. "The Cathy Song" is a gaudy, but fun power ballad in the vein of Meat Loaf, and "True Love" boasted Freeland's increasing melodic chops with near-grandiose aplomb.

If you're intrigued by either of these platters, do check out Mark Freeland's Electrospective 1976-96, a handy twenty song summation of his recording career.

American Googaloo 
01. Cowboy's of Scotland
02. I Am Everybody
03. The Vegetarian Song
04. Beer Makes You Smart
05. Googaloo
06. Payday
07. All the Things I Would Do For You
08. My Baby Got a Thing For Me
09. All I Want to Do is Bang

01. Girl Power
02. The Cathy Song
03. Family Feud
04. The Day You Came Into My Life
05. Macaroni & Cheese
06. True Love
07. I Dig New York

American Googaloo:

Monday, November 11, 2019

Daddy don't hit me, I'm doing the best I can.

25th anniversary of this one.  A lot of you might find this to be a bit on the simplistic side, but it was and still one of my go-to albums of the '90s.  I also tacked on a gem from later in this band's career.  Enjoy.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


Sunday, November 10, 2019

Starpoint Electric - Bad Directions (1999, Plastique)

Rock from Chapel Hill, NC that doesn't necessarily sound like it could have come from the realm of Merge Records?   The now long-gone Starpoint Electric weren't entirely oblivious to the more strident forces in the indie realm of their era, yet they bore their own brand of pent-up crankiness, albeit with plentiful degrees of separation from say, Superchunk and Archers of Loaf.  This quartet had an angularity to 'em that landed somewhere between the first couple of Spoon albums, and Tommy Stinson's post Replacements endeavors Bash & Pop and Perfect.  Bad Directions is guitarsy as-all-get-out, with tinctures of chiming minor chords and self-described "dark pop beauty."  Earth shattering?  Not quite, but "December," "Reconnected" and pretty much anywhere else the laser lands make the case Starpoint should have stayed at the party a little longer.

01. Bad Directions
02. Reconnected
03. Let My Brother Lie
04. Bitter Happiness
05. December
06. Radio Wasterland
07. Write You Off

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Atrec Camera - Universal Amphitheatre, 9-18-83

I intend to get to transferring some more wax soon, but until then I thought I'd follow-up one of my more well received live entries from last year, a 1981 Aztec Camera show from Manchester.  Fast forward a couple years and Roddy Frame and Co. find themselves opening up for Elvis Costello on an amphitheater tour of the United States in support of their not-long-to-be classic debut High Land Hard Rain.  Submitted for your approval is a well recorded audience tape of a 1983 Aztec show at Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City, CA featuring the bulk of the songs from that very record.  As mentioned I realize I just fed you one of their vintage shows a year ago, so forgive me if this is overkill.  Cheers.

01. intro
02. Lost Outside The Tunnel
03. Walk Out To Winter 
04. Orchid Girl  
05. Back On Board  
06. The Bugle Sounds Again
07. The Boy Wonders 
08. Oblivious
09. Release 
10. We Could Send Letters 
11. Queen's Tattoos
12. Down The Dip

MP3  or   FLAC

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Winter winds and those summer suns aren't good for everyone...

From 1987.  This legendary British band's semi-conscious effort to make a 'nicer' fifth album.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


V/A - We Killed McKinley - Music From Buffalo, New York (1988, Maxwell)

The title of this 30+ year old compilation record reads something like an answer to the hypothetical question, "What exactly is Buffalo known for anyway?"  It's of course referencing the assassination of President William McKinely in 1901 at the Pan-American Expo in Buffalo.  A macabre and daring immortilization to say the least, but We Killed McKinley would become an endearing scene artifact, and a representative time capsule of Western New York's subrosa talent circa the late '80s.  Most local compilation discs (from this era and otherwise) seemed to place the emphasis on the "locality" quotient, seemingly tossing together a hodgepodge of bands from a few adjacent zip codes, with little regard to their merit as artists.  McKinley struck me as an exception, given it's relative quality and breadth.  The affair fittingly commences with the shoulda-been-huge Splatcats cutting a blitzkrieg punk rock rampage through the Temptation's "Get Ready," exemplifying their hometown's reputation for merging the traditional with the markedly unorthodox.  Nullstadt and the late, creative Svengali Mark Freeland attach a sardonic edge to the era's fading synth-rock frivolities.  The Ramrods, who I've brought up on these pages in years past, boogie down with "Heavy Shakin' Mamas," The Rain pours down with freewheeling abandon on the driving, riff-searing," and The Pinheads' (once championed by none other than Howard Stern) proto-grunge nugget "Get You Alone" imagines how Van Halen would've carried on had David Lee Roth not been put to pasture.  There's deftly crafted acousti-pop from The Moment, and 1969's modest psych flirtations make "All I Wanted" all the more desirable.  And perhaps the most significant act to ever emanate from the Queen City makes a pre-stardom appearance here too, though just to keep you guessing I'm not revealing them in the track list below.  Enjoy.

01. The Splatcats - Get Ready
02. The Rain - Rumble Down
03. The Ramrods - Heavy Shakin' Mamas
04. Nullstadt - Jimmy
05. The Pinheads - Get You Alone
06. 1969 - All I Wanted
07. Mark Freeland - Girl Lessons
08. David Kane's Decay Of Western Civilization - Tommy 78
09. The Moment - In the Sun
10. Bob Dye - Dirty Blonde Blues
11. Peachy L'amour - Lucille

Sunday, October 27, 2019

...and watch beneath the eyelids every passing dot.

Straight from the liner notes:  A semi-history of the NYC underground rock scene, represented by rare, out of print singles by mid-70s founding punk/wave bands. 

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


To Damascus - Another Place, Another Time 7" (1984, Ringent)

I really, really tried to get into To Damascus' 1987 platter Come to Your Senses ages ago, but it just wasn't meant to happen.  Thankfully, their preceding 45 was a different story.  This coed L.A. contingent was helmed by one Sylvia Juncosa, and per Wiki, her tenure with the band went something like this:

The band experienced numerous personnel changes over the next three years. They recorded a single at Radio Tokyo studio with producer Ethan James, where the majority of Juncosa's releases would later be recorded. For a very brief period in 1985, she was the guitar player in The Healing Dream, which soon afterward became The Nymphs. When David Winogrond and Tyra von Pagenhardt joined in 1985, To Damascus finally had a more stable line-up and began a busy, productive period that would exemplify Juncosa's high-activity work style during those years. The band completed and released its first album, Succumb, which Juncosa had started earlier with former Leaving Trains members Jason Kahn and Tom Hofer filling in on drums and bass, respectively. Shortly afterward, they recorded a second album, Come to Your Senses, distributed by Restless Records, and embarked on a shoestring-budget US tour. To Damascus broke up on friendly terms in 1988 when Winogrond and von Pagenhardt were unable to commit to the touring musician life that Juncosa intended to embark upon.  In 1986, Juncosa also joined the SST Records band SWA, which featured bassist Chuck Dukowski, former Black Flag member and co-founder of the SST record label.

An interesting SST connection  BTW, Winogrond and Pagenhardt weren't in the lineup yet for this single.  Instead we're treated to Bill Lee on bass and Troy Anthony on skins.  "Another Place, Another Time" is an edgy, urgent ass-kicker if there ever was one with smart, post-punk tendencies for miles, leading me to wonder if T/D had any other tunes in their arsenal of this caliber.  The flip, "On a Pier," isn't one of them I'm afraid, wielding a rhythm that's more in line with a Bavarian oompah band.

A. Another Place, Another Time
B. On a Pier

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Actuel - Monuments (1984, Actuel)

If only music like this was still being made.  Heck, it likely is and I'm probably just unaware of it, but I digress.  Actuel were a Nashville combo who if anything else boasted a mild Anglophile bent.  If they sounded like anything from the American south, a certain foursome who called Athens, GA home might be a vague comparison, but while Actuel's chimey instincts slotted them into the collegiate rock realm, it sounds like these chaps had more fun getting their post-punk jones on, as it were.  Even on Monument's livelier, more melodic traipses (the bookends "You and I" and "Until Another Time," not to mention the thoroughly visceral "Just Imagine") Actuel's agile prowess and textured nuances (including but not limited to subtle fretless bass lines) lend a certain mystique to their music that just about 99.99% of their contemporaries couldn't hold a candle to.  A slightly inconsistent platter, Monuments nonetheless bequeaths some invaluable moments of sheer charm and magic.  There's more available on the band's Soundcloud corner of the web.  Special thanks go to the now-defunct Feelin' Kinda Froggy blog for making these files available way back when. 

01. You and I
02. East to West
03. Things
04. Say You Will
05. No regrets
06. Monuments
07. Just Imagine
08. Until Another Time

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

50 (or so ) Re-ups.

Can't stop, won't stop.

Phantom Planet - Polaroid
Hollins Ferry - s/t LP 
Tommy Keene - demos
Aztec Camera - Live Manchester 1981
Book of Lies - Cryptic Memo ep
Psi-Com - Live 1985
Band 19 - Dictate ep
Doleful Lions - Song Cyclops outtakes
Pranks - Floobie
Map of the World - An Inch Equals.... ep 
Ear Candy - Self Defence ep
Gem - Hexed, I Am a Tree ep, singles, split single w/ Jenny Mae
Various - Pure Spun Sugar
Various - Hotel Massachusetts 
Various - Fish Hips and Turkey Lips
Various - The View From Here
Various - 415 Music
Various - Tantrum
Various - Propeller
Various - Evil I Do Not 7" comp 
Cavedogs - Joyrides for Shut-ins
For Squirrels - Baypath Rd, 1993 demos
Flag of Convenience (Steve Diggle) - War on the Wireless Set & Northwest Skyline
Metal Pitcher - A Careful Workman... 7"
Slushpuppies - Blacklisted ep
Small (23) - Cakes ep, singles, split single w/ J Church
Gluons - s/t ep
Woofing CookiesIn the City 7" & Horse Gum Tortilla Shoes
Wooden Soldiers - Hippies, Punks and Rubber Men ep
Dazzlers - Feeling Free
Speed the Plough - s/t
Lynyrd's Innards/Nation of Wenonah (Wynona Riders) - split ep
Imitation Life - Scoring Correctly at Home/Ice Cubes and Sugar
The Dugans - 7"
Popdefect - Playing for Time ep
Todd Newman - Too Sad For Words & Temporary Setback
Carl Rusk - Blue Period
The Popes - Hi, We're The Popes ep
The Drongos - s/t LPSmall Miracles
Cost of Living - Comic Book Page & Day of Some Lord
Fancipantz - 7"
Trilobites - I Can't Wait For Summer to End ep, Turn it Around
Dramarama - Live @ House of Blues 2008
Junk Monkeys/John Wesley Harding - split 7"
Mystery Girls - Bagged ep
The Contras - Ciphers in the Snow
The Elevators - Frontline
Rubber Bush - s/t LP
Tubetop - singles
Moth Macabre - s/t
Dump - That Skinny Mofo... tape
Wolves - s/t LP
Dirty FaceI Can Hurt Myself...
milf - everybody should stop doing everything 

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The wind of change has changed itself...

A relatively unexamined chapter in the annals of '80s British post-punk.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


DUSTdevils - Rhenyards Grin (1987, Rouska)

Sorry I didn't get much in the way of new music to you last week.  Hope this makes up for it.  The DUSTdevils were a stunning bygone act I don't think I've covered here before.  Formulated in the UK by a duo of Michael Duane and Jaqi Dulany, but later immigrating to New York, the 'devils were responsible for this austere slice of post-punk, three more albums and just as many eps.  From what I've absorbed so far by them Rhenyards Grin is what I appreciate the most.  It's a no-stumble, ten song concoction of noir, minor key aesthetics, droney albeit tuneful guitar runs, and Dulany's quasi-melodic parlance that's a perfect match for her noisome compatriots.  Think early Siouxsie meets Band of Susans.  Looking forward to excavating the remainder of their back catalog.

01. Encient
02. Life Guarder
03. The Lost Divide
04. Hardraugh Forces
05. Mouthful of Stars
06. Dirt of Days
07. In It's Own Light
08. Pressed
09. Another Hit
10. Real Hate Work

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Muffs - No Holiday (2019, Omnivore) - A brief review.

Two weeks and some change ago the world at large learned of the unexpected passing of Muffs front-woman, and latter-era Pandoras fixture Kim Shattuck, who succumbed to a private battle with ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - aka Lou Gehrig's disease).  Like a lot of performers I followed, I never bothered to keep tabs on her, and quite frankly took her for granted.  Still, the news was profoundly troubling to me, and in that first week of absorbing the full gravity of events there were more than a few occasions when I found myself blinking back tears.  How could such a firecracker of a vocalist/guitar slinger, and oft described "force of nature" be taken down by such a cruel, debilitating affliction?  Hereditary for starters, as the same disease claimed the life of her father previously.  Her diagnosis came in the spring of 2017 when she started having issues with her wrist, per a recent piece published in the LA Times penned by Kim's longtime bandmate, Muffs drummer Roy McDonald.  To date, no cure for ALS exists, and treatment is modest at best.  Upon learning her fate, I'm certain Kim had myriad goals in mind, but there's only two I can say for certain.  First and foremost to keep the news of her diagnosis within her inner-most circle, and secondly, to bring to fruition a seventh Muffs LP that had already been in the preliminary stages. 

The LA Times article I linked loosely delves into the mechanics of how No Holiday was recorded/produced.  Clocking in at eighteen songs and about 43 minutes (a record on both fronts for the band) much of Kim's basic vocal and guitar tracks were fortunately cut prior to her diagnosis.  This was crucial for several reasons, not the least of which her singing/speaking capabilities that were soon to diminish in light of her rapidly progressing ALS. 

While not a thing of the past, the Muffs raucous and bratty punk-pop fervor was gradually giving way to a subtler sonic palette and in fact, a good half of the songs here were notably based around Kim's original acoustic takes.  The title cut, "A Lovely Day Boo Hoo," and "Insane" take root from this spartan, unplugged framework, but she's soon joined by McDonald and bassist Ronnie Barnett who appropriately fill in the quiet space.  Add-on guitarist Adam Schary helps flesh Holiday out on no less than ten songs, and even Kim's sister Kristen contributes backing vocals to "Earth Below," a fuzzy pop nugget not far removed from the Breeders.  There are a handful of more traditional Muffs power-chord gut punches in the guise of "Pollyanna" and the Nirvana-y "Down Down Down," not to mention rich, hook-laden salvos like "Sick of This Old World" and "On My Own."  The record's unusual genesis and relatively diverse composite results in a mildly crooked patchwork of tunes.  And with a dozen and a half of them to be exact, there's plenty to chew on.  I'm apt to think of No Holiday as The Muffs New Adventures in Hi-Fi, yet you'll find a uniquely Muffs-ian thread emanating through every sweet and tarty morsel.

If all of this hardly sounds like business as usual for The Muffs, you're right on the money.  Yet even though the finished version of No Holiday may not have exactly been what they intended when circumstances were normal in early '17, the personal tumult Kim was enduring barely spilled into the record.  The very closest I can speculate where there's any overshadowing is within a line in "Late and Sorry" - I don't know what to do, I'm clearly ill.  Ironically the lyric (as well as the song outright) is not delivered with an iota of self-pity or despondency leading me to wonder if she's referring to her condition at all.  Holiday concludes with Kim's strikingly lo-fi acoustic soliloquy, "Sky," that perhaps wasn't intended to be a tearjerker, but could understandably be interpreted as such given recent events.  As a friend once reminded me when I was grieving a family member, sentiments that make you cry when you're mourning someone will eventually make you smile.

No Holiday is available now from Omnivore, iTunes, and Amazon.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

I went down to the talked to me about my life, it spoke with a voice of reason.

The roots of emo.  Not Rites of Spring, but you're getting pretty damn close. 

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Trilobites - American TV (1989, Citadel)

I really had fun with the two Trilobites offerings I've thrown your way previously, namely the live document Turn it Around and an even more enticing follow-up ep, I Can't Wait For Summer to End.  These thoroughly unsung melodic punkers may have never made it onto my radar were it not for late '80s college radio, and I'm forever grateful for that.  American TV isn't a proper album, but could pass for one.  Instead it gathers four crucial and indelibly effective singles that play to every strength the Trilobites could muster.  When I commented on them previously I no doubt raised comparisons to the Godfathers, which I really thought were warranted, especially on the heels of the ...Summer to End ep.  American TV, on the other hand broadcasts transmissions from an earlier phase of the group when they were brandishing a more straightforward ethos, one that yielded swift and steady slammers like "Venus in Leather," "Amphetamine Dream," and "Jenny's Wake."  Like Aussie brethren Hoodoo Gurus, the 'bites bore an uncanny sardonic edge, albeit with a beefier sonic wallop.  They never made inroads in the States, and I just hope they made a dent on their own home turf, because in their prime these lads absolutely smoked.

01. Night of the Many Deaths
02. Venus in Leather
03. I Can See
04. Legacy of Morons
05. Dress in Black (live)
06. American TV
07. Jenny's Wake
08. Amphetamine Dream
09. Living by a Different Yardstick
10. Piece of Shit (live)