Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Wishniaks - Catch 33 (1990, Bloodmoney)

I was a profound Johnny come lately when it came to this bunch of Philly wunderkinds, whose 1988 Nauseous and Cranky ep I posted a couple years ago.  And voila, here's The Wishniak's follow-up Catch 33, a continuation of this quartet's melange of Stonesy grit and the more progressive elements of their era of powerpop (think, Mitch Easter, Don Dixon productions).  Honing memorable, deftly crafted tunes were at the apex of their priorities, and even though the Wishniaks weren't ones to delve into any particular extreme, their earnestness, just-right hooks and an innate mastery of succinct and forward thinking songs like "Marcy's Gone," "New Zealand" and "Day to End All Days" exuded a warmth and charisma most current acts would trade a collective left nut for.  And believe it or not, their rendition of the Scientists "Frantic Romantic" here is one of the comparative low-lights in this gratifying baker's dozen.

01. Day to End All Days
02. One Eye Open
03. Monterey
04. Chestnut Hill
05. Marcy's Gone
06. By the Lights
07. She's the One
08. Summertime
09. Catch 33
10. Tumbling Diwn
11. Terry's Next
12. New Zealand
13. Frantic Romantic

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Senses Bureau ‎- Love And Industry ep (1986, Euroamerican) & Edge of the Wedge - Chime ep (1984, EW)

Ok, decided to fulfill a couple of requests...for records I don't actually own.  Was able to track down digital files of them however, and pretty clean and discernible ones at that.  While I can't offer much in the way of a history of either the Senses Bureau or Edge of the Wedge, I'll be happy to reveal a few precious shreds of personal insight.

The Senses Bureau seemed intent on bifurcating their Love and Industry ep, ostensibly as a means to illustrate their conflicting sonic motifs.  The first two songs, "Dress for Success" and the title track are firmly cut from pedestrian post-punk cloth (think, The Fixx, maybe C.S. Angels).  Fairly convincing at that I might add, but the remainder of this record mines a less encumbered, singer/songwriter bent, one that's rote and sometimes too nondescript for the Bureau's own good.   Quite frankly, Love and Industry often resembles the work of two distinct artists - but I can think of far worse ways to kill twenty minutes.

Edge of the Wedge however had something more consistent going for them, at least on what appears to be their lone EP.   Five decent, if not halfway to that point, slices of low-key wave-pop is what these Louisiana residents bequeathed to listeners almost 35 years ago in the guise of Chime.  There were some cheeky undertones for sure baked into a couple of their tunes (see "Animated Lover"), but never overpowering enough to mar an otherwise benign listening experience.  A create reinterpretation of the Kink's "You Really Got Me" caps off this nifty five-songer.  Enjoy (or not).

The Senses Bureau - Love and Industry ep
01. Dress for Sex
02. Love and Industry
03. Big Brother
04. Push & Pull
05. Bellie du Jour
06. Lost for Words

Edge of the Wedge - Chime ep
01. She Loves by #s
02. You're the One
03. Tu Dois
04. Animated Lover
05  You Really Got Me

Senses Bureau:
Edge of the Wedge:

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Eurogliders - Pink Suit Blue Day (1982)

So...these folks down under never had much of a Stateside following.  My intro to the Eurogliders?  None other than a cameo appearance in an Aussie b-movie called Fast Talking.  Sort of an Oz variation on the classic Matt Dillon flick, Over the Edge, albeit with a significantly lower budget.  As Fast Talking grew on me, so did the tune the Eurogliders were performing, specifically "Another Big Day in the Big World."  However when I got around to hearing the album version of that song (on the band's 1984 This Island LP) I was dismayed by it's far glossier and brighter arrangement.  Still, I was game to investigate any of the band's earlier offerings, which perhaps promised to be a bit less slick. 

I was in luck upon learning of the existence of a previous album, Pink Suit Blue Day, which I'm offering up for public consumption.  Helmed by Grace Knight, the 'gliders vibe was on the new wave tip for certain, but as far as this platter goes decidedly non-formulaic at that.  Occasionally lacking in focus, and sometimes regrettably in song quality, Pink Suit... would have been better pared down to a more consistent ep -  yet it's the most intriguing feather in the band's collective cap by a long shot.  Amidst some of the misfires (the bulk of which are at least listenable) there are a gaggle of promising melodic pieces in the guise of "Touching Me," "No Laughing Matter" and "Magneto."  I'd be remiss if I failed to mention the opening track, "Jeepney Talk" is a primo merger of guitars and snyths, though I could do without some of the robotic affectations on Knight's vocals.  The band achieved a significantly more lucrative payout with the aforementioned This Island and '85s Absolutely! 

Incidentally, I previously featured a record by a combo dubbed The Stockings, who contained future Eurogliders guitarist Bernie Lynch.

01. Jeepney Talk
02. Without You
03. Through Your Window
04. Laughing Matter
05. Darkest Hours
06. Get Me Out of Here
07. Touching Me
08. On the Nightline
09. Time
10. Magneto
11. Americans

Sunday, June 10, 2018

You'll get hurt if you play with crooks.

One of the finest career summations ever.


Friday, June 8, 2018

The Cripples - What's in a Name ep (1985, Tabb)

Maybe you can't judge a book by it's cover...but records are an entirely different matter.  I'm not sure if the fellow on the album sleeve is Cripples mouthpiece Shawn O'Brien, but whomever is striking that rather pointed pose would probably suggest to the potential listener they might be in for a cheeky listen, to say the least. O'Brien, as they say, is a character, more specifically one that possesses a timbre that sounds like a sardonic amalgam of Buster Poindexter and Huey Lewis.  His bandmates however aren't quite on the same page, conjuring up the feel of the Plimsouls and to a lesser degree the Flamin' Groovies on the winsome and melodic title piece.  Elsewhere, these players are patently '80s.  Without a doubt, O'Brien is the heart, soul and crutches of the Cripples, so if you ain't down with his none-too-serious m.o. What's in a Name might grate on your nerves a tad.  I'd still give this a whirl, if only because I appreciate where these chaps are coming from musically.

By the way, the Cripples made an appearance on the soundtrack to the 1980 flick, Cruising.

01. What's in a Name
02. Easy Access
03. Heart Like a Boxer (For Lisa)
04. Real to Real

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Woodies - Train Wreck ep (1989, Pop)

Here's another dose of "lost" '80s pop, this time hailing from Tampa, FL.  Train Wreck was the co-ed Woodies second record and if anything else, it's pretty much impossible not to tout the album's duo of driving, propulsive rockers that bookend this six song affair, "Part of My Act" and "Penelope Says."  Two primo numbers that would've sounded perfectly at home on any left-of-the-dial outlet of the era, not to mention the kind of splendid tuneage Wilfully Obscure has staked it's reputation on.  The four remaining songs plucked from the Woodie's Wreckage vary, with pleasing flourishes like some well-placed mandolin in "My Muslim Wife," while the bouncy, simpleton tact of "Pretty Brown Eyes" flirts with, you guessed it, power pop.

01. Part of My Act
02. My Muslim Wife
03. The Doctor
04. Stuck in Purgatory
05. Pretty Brown Eyes
06. Penelope Says
07. untitled instrumental

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Life full of chemicals...

This week it's 24 blasts of Weezer-esque punk pop goodness.


Friday, June 1, 2018

Chris Richards and the Subtractions - Peaks and Valleys (2018, Furtureman) - A brief review.

It ain't exactly all river deep, mountain high on the latest from Detroit-area denizens, Chris Richard and the Subtractions on Peaks and ValleysAs you might expect, their latest pitches a few variables, including a serene ballad or two, but writ large Peaks finds the quartet elevating themselves to a different plateau than where they were stationed on 2012's Get Yer La La's Out.

Specializing in power pop with a refined and classicist touch, Richard's and Co. don't exactly exude an aptitude in the manner of Shoes and Smithereens, so much as the more nuanced mannerisms of the Gin Blossoms, Dillon Fence and Velvet Crush.  In fact, Peaks and Valleys showcases the band at a similar vantage point to where Teenage Fanclub were situated around the era of Songs From Northern Britain.  With this kind of maturity and seasoning comes attendant savvy and sophistication, which you'll find in spades on "Just Another Season" and "The Coast is Clear." Even with a more lucid vision and tact than ever, these guys manage to sidestep anything approaching stodgy or ostentatious.  Aggression, however, is in much more minimal supply on Peaks.  But despite the lack of power chord melees, there are some heightened tempos infiltrating the likes of "Half Asleep," and a little further in the tense and relatively angsty "Call Me Out."  "In a Sense" piles on some serious harmonies, while the album's penultimate track is none other than a faithful remake of Big Star's "Thirteen," decked out in piano just as much guitars.

Listening to Peaks, even at a cursory level, you can't escape the notion that you've been here before, if only for the fact this quartet aren't attempting to invent, recreate or even outdo much of...anything.  The Subtractions premise is pretty elementary - expertly structured and carefully measured pop that's succulent and ripe for the picking, which is precisely what you'll get on this tight but gracefully lived-in outing.

Peaks and Valleys is available physically and otherwise straight from the band, their Bandcamp site, Amazon and digitally on iTunes.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Röövel Ööbik ‎- History Of The U.S.S.R. ep (1989, Stupido)

And we have our first Estonian entry.  For reals yo.  Röövel Ööbik wafted their way onto my radar a couple years ago, most likely through a genre search on Ebay, but I can't recall for certain.  Their moniker translates to "Robber Nightingale."  Going by the sleeve art and brief liner notes, it appears Röövel fancied their ethos as punk, yet from the sound of it they seemed to take a shine to American indie rock, angling towards the lo-fi and to a lesser extent, emo variations thereof.  Delivering their lines in an apparent merger of Estonian and English automatically lends some mystique to this quartet, however this chip off the 'ol Soviet bloc has a unique sonic aesthetic to boot, often rich in sweet ringing guitar lines and fuzzy distortion.

To get an idea of where Röövel Ööbik's heads were at in terms of a social conscience at the time of this recording, check out this blurb from the record insert:

Estonia has been for over 50 years a part of the Sovjet Union, thanks to Hitler-Stalin pact.  It is only now that they have started to claim their lost independence back.  And one good weapon is always music.

Was this little 'ol record part of that collective "weapon" that helped bring down the Berlin Wall in 1989?  Probably not, but it's pretty inviting nonetheless, particularly the second cut in, "The Dead Ones."  Things unravel on History's caterwaul of a closer “Handguide to Happiness,” but I wouldn't let that dissuade you from passing this ep up.  Believe it or not, there's more to be had from Röövel on Amazon downloads.

My apologies for the fairly discernible skip in the midst of the title track.  I was unable to adequately remedy it.

01. History Of The U.S.S.R.
02. The Dead Ones
03. C'mon Cheri
04. God Morning
05. Handguide to Happiness

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Cry - s/t (1980, RCA)

I'm not sure if the then-ascendant Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson made a genuine impression on this Canuck five-some, or if these guys mined a little bit of their collective panache to hop onto the bandwagon.  In any event, The Cry certainly sound sincere, wielding a blue collar penchant with something resembling a poignant romantic aptitude.  The band these fellows most immediately remind me of are the tragically obscure A's, a Philly combo who were in existence simultaneously to The Cry.  The Elvis comparison is all the more obvious when Robo MacPherson gets the frequent urge to pound on some very organ-y sounding keys.  Another wrinkle is frontman Kimball Fox, whose timbre occasionally recalls Tom Petty, but that could well be a coincidence.   While not a front-to-back embarrassment of riches, The Cry by and large make their debut count, and it just might compel you to investigate the rest of their catalog, which from what I can tell entails two more LPs.

PS: Track three is a Kinks tune.

01. Crackdown
02. Something Like That
03. I'm Not Like Everybody Else
04. Last Laugh
05. Guitar
06. Can't Get Close
07. You
08. Razor's Edge
09. Little Sister
10. Who Cares

Sunday, May 27, 2018

We all got balls and brains, but some's got balls and chains.

The zaniest and perhaps greatest covers album ever. 


Saturday, May 26, 2018

Tinted Windows - The Bat Bar, Austin 3/21/09, SXSW

Two members of the short lived and briefly hallowed Tinted Windows had legit power pop bona fides to their credit - Bun E. Carlos from Cheap Trick, and Adam Schlesinger, courtesy of Fountains of Wayne.  Yet the other half of this supergroup equation, James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins) and frontman Taylor Hanson (from you know where) came from backgrounds that weren't terribly off the mark, and they jumped into their respective rolls of guitarist and lead vocalist seamlessly.  Tinted Windows power pop premise was a simple but sturdy and effective one, and the quartet bashed out indelible three-chord salvos aplenty on what was to be their only album in 2009, which was something of a godsend coming on the heels of a decade of bad nu-metal and ostentatiously 'serious' indie rock.

This set was tracked from the band's March 2009 appearance at Austin's SXSW, just one month prior to the release of the Windows record.  The band resisted what must have been at least a moderate urge to backtrack and dole out material from their more renown endeavors, but instead, they stuck strictly to originals, and good on them for that.  All the hits are here - "Can't Get a Read on You," "Cha Cha," and of course "Kind of a Girl."  Boogie til you puke ya'll. 

01. Take Me back
02. Can't Get a Read on You
03. Without Love
04. Dead Serious
05. Messing With My Head
06. Back With You
07. Cha Cha
08. We Got Something
09. Nothing to Me
10. Kind of a Girl
11. The Dirt (aka Sensitive Information)
+ a bonus studio cut

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Basic English - Images of Love 7" (1988)

Dare I say this band's collective hairdos preceded them (not to mention the music)?  Truth be told, this bygone Canadian export weren't nearly as edgy or enthused as their appearance.  Looking like a glammed-up hybrid of U2 and the Replacements, Basic English's equation tallied out to be loosely akin to what the Rolling Stones were responsible for around the same era, albeit with less charm and an even greater deficiency of effectiveness.  The ballad-esque "Images of Love" could pass for a weak Tattoo You or Undercover outtake, while it's bluesier and snappier flip-side "Outside the Law" incorporates a reasonable amount of rhythm and sway, even going to the trouble of throwing in a little harmonica.  Two years after this single dropped, Basic English were scooped up by a major label, and an LP, Sweet Panic ensued.  I wouldn't mind hearing it, but paying for it is another matter. 

A. Images of Love
B. Outside the Law

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Ten Ten - Ordinary Thinking (1984)

I encountered Ten Ten's sophomore album, Walk On, very briefly several years back, and could have sworn they were on something of a power pop tip.  Maybe I had them confused with another band, because their debut, Ordinary Thinking found the combo on a slightly different wavelength, vaguely channeling U2.  There are some post-punk inklings at play on this one, but not nearly radical enough to dissuade or out-cool the more pedestrian audience Ten Ten seemed to be angling for.  Frontman Mark Lewis is a dead ringer for Cactus World News mouthpiece, Eoin McEvoy, but likely a coincidence as Cactus was barely in their infancy at the time.  Sonically, T/T weren't far removed from their Irish contemporaries, evidenced by the tingly guitar splay exuded on some of Ordinary's livelier numbers, like "Giving In" and "Four Pieces."  If you enjoyed the Epic Rumors record I put up a few years back, this is thoroughly along the same lines, and is sure to be a welcome addition on your hard drive. 

01. Tell the World
02. All You Want
03. Look In My Eyes
04. Your Word
05. Ordinary Thinking
06. Four Pieces
07. Giving In
08. Doesn't it Seem Strange
09. In the End

Sunday, May 20, 2018

No clue.

One of 2011's best debuts. 


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Antenna - Sleep ep (1992) & For Now ep (1993)

Antenna *sigh*.  Essentially the Blake Babies sans their most effective ingredient, ex-frontwoman Juliana Hatfield.  John Strohm and Freda (Boner) Love just weren't enough of a selling point.  Antenna lasted for two albums (Sway and Hideout), and a pair of eps, the latter of which you're getting here.  In an era of aggro, flanneled machismo and sheik/brash Brit exports, Antenna, with their relatively linear guitar pop m.o. hardly stood a chance.  Along the same lines as contemporaries Best Kissers in the World, the band placed integrity on the front burner - and sorta got burned themselves.  Antenna's tunes deserved a better fate, and to your good fortune you can hear eight of them here (actually, more like seven since "Wall Paper" appears on both eps in slightly altered incarnations...but who's counting.  The Sleep ep concludes with a fairly straightforward reading of Wire's "Outdoor Miner."  Enjoy (or not).

Sleep ep
01. Sleep
02. All I Need
03. Wall Paper
04. Outdoor Miner

For Now ep
01. For Now
02. Wall Paper
03. Swoon
04. Given Way

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Harvey Street - What About George? ep (1995, Spinning)

Yet another cold case, this one ostensibly originating from Massachusetts.  Harvey Street were a rough hewn riff-savvy quartet whose m.o. wasn't particularly innovative, yet they possessed an amateurish bent and an all-important quotient of potential.  If combos like the Figgs and Big Drill Car do the trick for you, H/S have that sorta angle going for them, but those vague likenesses are likely more coincidental than not.  Per Discogs, What About George? was their only wax. Unfortunate that, because subsequent and perhaps more developed albums might have been exponentially better than this already fine start.

01. Screwed
02. Tables Gonna Turn
03. Things Have Changed
04. Things Have Changed (version)

Sunday, May 13, 2018

I'm not a fruit machine, a nineteen sixties dream...

Here's one song you've heard...and about twenty you haven't.


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians - 11/22/85 Atlanta, GA

I'm a little pressed for time, so this write-up is going to be on the short side.  Then again, one doesn't have to extrapolate much when selling a Robyn Hitchcock live set.  And this one really is a peach, featuring the man in question not long after his stint with the Soft Boys wrapped up.  There are a handful of SB tunes in the show, but the bulk of the set consists of material from Robyn's especially grand early solo outings like I Often Dream of Trains and Black Snake Diamond Role.  Some truly cult classics here as well, like "My Wife and My Dead Wife," "Uncorrected Personality Traits," and "Bells of Rhymney."  Sounds like this was culled from a board tape or a well above-average audience recording.  Enjoy.

01. Kingdom of Love
02. America
03. Cars She Used to Drive
04. My Wife and My Dead Wife
05. Only the Stones Remain/Queen of Eyes
06. Man With the Light bulb Head
07. Strawberry Mind
08. I'm Only You
09. Acid Bird
10. Where are the Prawns?
11. President
12. Brenda's Iron Sledge
13. Heaven
14. I Often Dream of Trains
15. Uncorrected Personality Traits
16. Listening to the Higsons
17. Bells of Rhymney

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Too Much Education - s/t (1988)

This synth-enhanced DIY effort would rank as pretty miscellaneous if it weren't for Abe Glazer's spoke/sung tact and dry sardonic wit.  Too Much Education's puts his premise front and center, one that is sure to illicit cheers or jeers...and not a whole lot in between.  Side one concludes with the winsome, "Nuclear Days," featuring guest vocalist, Laurie Stapinski.  This relatively satisfactory number makes me wish she had been on the mic for the entirety of the record, but Education's flip side fares better than the first, with Glazer embracing sweeter guitar tones on "You're Not Too Old" and the genteel post-punk finale "Knobs."  If you dig stuff along the lines of Agitpop, TME just might be your bag.

01. Not Ready
02. Don't Fall in Love
03. Honesty
04. Nuclear Days
05. You're Not Too Old
06. Bungee Girl
07. Modem Head
08. Knobs

Sunday, May 6, 2018

I was raised here and I'll die, underneath this Georgia sky.

The third and final album from this beloved deep south trio. 


Monday, April 30, 2018

Mollusk sabbatical.

Taking the rest of the week off.  Sue ya next Monday.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Urinals where bedrooms ought to be...

One man provided the lyrics while another developed them into eleven impeccably great songs. 

Yung Wu - Shore Leave (1987, Coyote & 2018 Bar/None) - A brief review.

First and foremost, Yung Wu is/was a band, not an individual.  With that sorted out, in my opinion this New Jersey five-piece may as well have dubbed themselves "That Feelies spinoff band." Not only does that denote there lineage, it invariably trails any mention of Yung Wu anywhere, be it online, The Trouser Press Record Guide, or even the occasional '80s fanzine that was thoughtful enough to offer them some press three decades back.

In a nutshell, the story goes like this.  After the very belated release of the Feelies not-so-difficult sophomore LP, 1986's The Good Earth, yet another hiatus was in order.  This sabbatical would entail the revival of Yung Wu, a band that had it's roots in The Trypes.  Dating back to 1982, the Trypes were local indie scenesters who included a guy named Glenn Mercer in their ranks, who just happened to be the Feelies prime mover.  In the ranks of this arcane indie curiosity sat Glenn on drums, a 180 from his role in the Feelies.  In fact, there was a lot of musical chairs at play in the Trypes fluid ranks, but eventually, the Feelies full-time percussionist, Dave Weckerman, found himself at the head of the class, and with his acquisition of the microphone a fresh modus operandi was set into motion - and the birth of a new entity altogether, Yung Wu.

Essentially a slightly modified configuration of The Feelies, Yung Wu's lineup consisted of Weckerman on vocals, Stan Demeski filling in Dave's stead on drums, Glenn was relegated to guitars (as was Bill Million per his usual role), Brenda Sauter handled bass and John Baumgartner played keys.  Intentionally or not, the Feelies settled on a highly effective formula of brisk, strummy chords, plaintive songwriting, and an indigenous angle of tension (loosely interpreted from the Velvets), all the way back to their 1980 debut, Crazy Rhythms.  With YW's reshuffled lineup, largely consisting of the same members, the proceedings were logically a bit more creative, while still fitting quite solidly in the mold of their main gig.  Shore Leave's opener (and title track) doesn't stray far from the Feelies ranch, at least not sonically, but Weckerman brings a welcome narrative touch to the table.  "Aspiration" exudes soft, rustic overtones with glints of everyone from Chris Knox to Television, and is mightily catchy to boot.  Shore Leave's master stroke arrives relatively early in the guise of "Spinning," bearing a juicy, opulent chorus hook that arguably ranks within the top-ten songs in the entire Feelies orbit, period.  And if you're desperately hankering for something in the Feelies vein proper, "Modern Farmer" could sit comfortably on their first two records.

Per Weckerman's liner notes. Yung Wu weren't offered the opportunity to cut an album until 1986 or so, but even with their moderately lengthy tenure they only had eight original songs to lay down.  To flesh out an entire LP, some supplemental covers were in order - and boy, did Yung Wu pick some splendidly suitable tunes.  We're treated to a fairly straight but effective reading of Neil Young's "Powderfinger," and ditto for an old Stone's b-side, "Child of the Moon."

Shore Leave isn't a start-to-finish classic, but try telling that to a die-hard Feelies acolyte and see how far that gets you.  It is however a cut well above most spinoff "projects," in the respect that Yung Wu treat the record in the same thoughtful, par excellence mold of Crazy Rhythms and Good Earth.  Equally striking is the fact that going into Shore Leave doesn't require any level of Feelies fandom for optimal appreciation...but it doesn't hurt to have a foot in the door.  Shore Leave is available physically and digitily straight from Bar/None, Amazon and iTunes, however the vinyl version was a strictly limited Record Store Day title.  I understand a few copies remain through, but otherwise your local mom and pop may have a stray copy in stock.  As a bonus, the LP version contains a bonus flexi-disc of an early Dave Weckerman single.