Sunday, September 25, 2016

This is where I walk out the door...

Q:  Can a band's studio outtakes vastly exceed the quality of their officially released product?

A: Yes!   Here are sixteen power poppin' examples.

Here

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Game Theory - Berkeley Square, 10-02-86

To follow up my Game Theory post from the other night, here's a live soundboard performance from a now defunct Berkeley, CA club.  Thought this might be a relevant show considering it's from the same era as Big Shot Chronicles, however not much from that album is represented here.  Another snag is that "Rayon Drive" cuts out early.  Otherwise, don't let that stop you from enjoying the rest of it (yes, even "Kung Fu Fighting").

Note:  I'm making this available only as an MP3 download tonight, but will try to get a FLAC version up tomorrow.  Please check back!

01. Carrie Anne
02. Rayon Drive
03. 24
04. Waltz the Halls Always
05. Girl with a Guitar
06. Look Away
07. Where You Going Northern
08. Shark Pretty
09. I've Tried Subtlety
10. Friend of the Family
11. King-Fu Fighting
12. Curse of the Frontierland

MP3  or  FLAC pt 1 & pt 2

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Game Theory - The Big Shot Chronicles (1986/2016, Omnivore) - A brief overview.

Before delving into my critique, for the uninitiated, Game Theory were a Davis, CA export who belonged to a loosely allied vanguard of forward thinking combos included Let's Active, REM and the dBs.  In essence they were "new music" without the baggage and often goofy proclivities of "new wave" - a rare find even back in the early '80s.  Their winsome 1986 long-player, The Big Shot Chronicles is the latest in a series of expanded and remastered reissues courtesy of Omnivore Music

If there was ever an anthemic, clarion call to commence a Game Theory record "Here it Is Tomorrow," the opening salvo of the band's third proper album, The Big Shot Chronicles, clearly takes the cake.  With Gil Ray's pounding thunderclap drums and the late Scott Miller's rapid fire spoken/sung cadence leading the propulsive, punky charge, "Here It Is..." asserts it's presence like nothing else the band had committed to tape prior.  From what I've been able to gauge from a pretty wide swath of Game Theory aficionados, the albums sandwiching Big Shot (1985's Real Nighttime and '87s double magnum opus Lolita Nation) are the most revered.  So much so with Lolita... in fact, it was reissued in reverse chronological order to this one, almost as if to prioritize it.  Personally, I can't be impartial to Big Shot, if only because it represented my first exposure to Game Theory, eventually leading me into Miller's unfolding universe, up to and including his subsequent foray, The Loud Family.

Beyond my slightly indulgent testimonial, the band's not-so-difficult third album found Game Theory settling not merely on a more assured sound, but a signature one at that.  In the process, they ironed out some of the nascent wrinkles that charmingly evidenced themselves on their debut, Blaze of Glory, three years prior - an album which for better or worse wasn't cut under the most professional of circumstances.  The Big Shot Chronicles is all about honing a new kind of charm - one forged from the lessons of fifteen years of power pop spoils (from both sides of the Atlantic), not to mention the then fertile Paisley Underground hubbub due south in their native California.  Modest dollops purloined from the Beatles and Big Star didn't hurt either.  Scott Miller and Co. stitched up all of this inspiration and appeal with a subtly indigenous thread.  The Game Theory "recipe," as it were.

And what of the songs composing the record in question?  By the time Big Shot... was tracked by Mitch Easter, G/T were finally in full swing, both in terms of songwriting and performance acumen.  The aforementioned "Here it is Tomorrow" is a flabbergastingly sharp opener, yet it's bested a little further in via a vivacious and visceral pop/rock trifecta - "I've Tried Subtlety," "Erika's Word," and "Crash Into June" all of which are worthy of college rock canonization.  Big Shot's brashness and carefully wielded horsepower wasn't rooted in arrogance so much as four years of practice, touring and toil that this band accumulated since their 1982 genesis. Conversely, Game Theory turn this record on it's head so to speak, in the guise of spare acoustic pieces as well, specifically "Regenisraen," and "Like a Girl Jesus," the latter of which resonated enormously with fans, and was even paid homage to a decade later by indie acts The Killjoys and Sleepyhead.  Now, everything that falls in between the cracks of the songs I mentioned aren't necessarily as riveting, but let it be known that Big Shot is phenomenally consistent was perhaps the most definitive record in the band's catalog, spanning the depth and breadth of their capabilities.  In fact, it's the ideal starting point for neophytes too, but above all else a sophisticated, cohesive, and artful pop record.

Omnivores reissue and expansion of Big Shot entails a thirteen song addendum, including some of the bonus songs from the original Alias Records 1993 overhaul of the album, live takes of "Friend of the Family" and the Velvets "Sweet Jane," rough mixes and demos, and a primo remake of Todd Rundgren's "Couldn't I Just Tell You."  It's available now direct from Omnivore, or Amazon and iTunes if you prefer.  The vinyl incarnation is pressed on immaculate looking transparent green wax.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Starbilly 7" (1994, Buzz)

Starbilly was the brainchild of one Peter Searcy, a Louisville, KY native who made a gnarly punk noise in the mid-80s via the seminal, teenaged Squirrel Bait.  In between these two acts Searcy fronted a decidedly less gnarly, and in fact relatively straight up rock crew, Big Wheel.  You could say Starbilly pulled more from the Big Wheel side of the Searcy spectrum, applying just enough polish to 'billy's loud, passionate modus operandi to keep "Unmistakable Tick" from careening onto the third rail.  As to exactly what kind of "tick" they're refereeing to in the tune, that's got me scratching my noggin - a deer tick perhaps?  On the other side of this semi-transparent maroon coin we have none other than a cover of Husker Du's "Diane."  Starbilly's conveyance of the Grant Hart-penned, macabre classic is faithful, but strikes me as a bit stiff by song's end.  Contemporary to this single was an eight-song album, Master Vibrator, which apparently included both of these tracks.   

While Starbilly have reunited as recently as this year, things have been quiet on the Squirrel Bait front for eons.  Peter, if you're reading this, please consider a S/B reunion.  Start out with Coachella or Riot Fest next year if you have to, and preferably expand from there, but for chrissakes just throw us a bone.  We've been starved for a good thirty years now.

A. Unmistakable Tick
B. Diane

http://www32.zippyshare.com/v/Z2vDaPNf/file.html

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

It Figures - 12 (1987, Perspective)

Yes, this album jacket is irrefutably daft - the music enclosed, not so much (thankfully).  You're not getting The Joshua Tree here folks, but little did this Portsmouth, NH trio realize some thirty years ago that they were creating a record that was nearly a custom fit for these hallowed pages.  Pulling (albeit never plundering) from Minneapolis indie-punk not to mention a trove of their left-of-the-dial contemporaries, It Figures weren't innovators, but they need not be so long as they possessed the tunes.  With a few exceptions, 12 is conveniently divied up into a relatively rough-hewn, slightly rambunctious yin (side one), nicely balanced with a more introspective and occasionally melancholy yang via the flip.  12's first half is the more convincing of the two, though I'm hardly one to quibble with the remainder.  If you're so inclined, kindly proceed to this page to explore earlier It Figures compositions. 

01. Hookline
02. Crash and Burn
03. (It's a) Madhouse
04. Now They're the Slaves
05. Close to Home
06. Erika
07. Sorry Starts With 'S'
08. The Hypnotist
09. Pull the Wool
10. Visions
11. Superman
12. Mechanical Me

http://www91.zippyshare.com/v/DEp2A6XE/file.html

Sunday, September 18, 2016

She's playin' my very most favorite Sweet record.

From 1994.  I know a lot of you already have this, but for money this is the most satisfying thing they did.

Here

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Boo Radleys - Learning to Walk (1991)

Since I didn't have time to transfer any vinyl this week it's another selection from my dwindling pile of shareable CDs.  Don't think I've brought these guys up before.  Learning to Walk isn't a proper Boo Radley's album, rather a compilation of early ep tracks, which came in handy back in the twentieth century when import cd singles were $10-$12 a pop.  Uggh.  Anyway, the Rads didn't really come into their own until their blissful third album, Giant Steps arrived in 1993.  Nevertheless, I was fascinated with their nascent dream pop fixation, which played out quite well in the early '90s.  If you've ever wanted to investigate their lazy, hazy shoegazer era, Learning... and their second LP, Everything's Alright Forever, would be a good place to start (and for that matter end I suppose).  You'll find some sublime tunes here - "Kaleidoscope," "Sometime Soon She Said," and even a distortion-savvy rendition of Love's "Alone Again Or."

01. Kaleidoscope
02. How I Feel
03. Aldous
04. Swansong
05. The Finest Kiss
06. Tortoiseshell
07. Bluebird
08. Naomi
09. Alone Again Or
10. Everybird
11. Sometime Soon She Said
12. Foster's Van
13. Song For Up!
14. Boo! Faith

http://www119.zippyshare.com/v/VlqaZMK7/file.html

Sunday, September 11, 2016

We all stare at vacant ceilings wishing we could just let go.

Four eps from four extremely disparate artists.

Here

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Flys - Waikiki Beach Refugees (1978, Captain Oi)

From a cosmetic standpoint, it might be easy to mistake this vintage, Conventry, UK crew as just another punk aggregation (suppose it doesn't help when you're album is reissued on a label dubbed Captain Oi) but that would be more or less inaccurate.  The Flys skewed considerably towards the "proto-punk" environs of Richard Hell, and to a lesser extent the New York Dolls.  Coming up in the glut of similar minded bands in the UK punk free for all spanning 1976-78, few were paying attention to this band, and I'm sure to their dismay they're less spoken of now than they were back then.  Waikiki Beach Refugees is far from a desert island classic, so to speak, but it's nervier moments - "Fun City," "Saturday Sunrise" and "We Don't Mind the Rave," really deliver.  The Fly's second outing Flys Own is more impressive, and I'll attend to it in another post

The 2001 reissue of Waikiki tacks on eight bonus selections, mostly culled from singles.

01. We Don't Mind the Rave
02. Beverley
03. Looking for New Hearts
04. She's the One
05. Monsoon Sky
06. Fun City
07. Don't Moonlight Me
08. Some Kind of Girl
09. I Don't Know
10. Waikiki Beach Refugees
11. Saturday Sunrise
12. Dark Nights

bonus
13. Love and a Molotov Cocktail
14. Can I Crash Here?
15. Civilisation
16. Fun City (single vers)
17. EC4
18. Beverley (single vers)
19. Name Dropping
20. Fly v. Fly

http://www18.zippyshare.com/v/3xx4reCG/file.html

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Trotsky Icepick/Vena Cava - Saints tribute split 7" (1992, Happy Squid)

Not much time for a write-up tonight, but luckily this one's pretty straightforward.  Two LA bands cover two bona fide classics from Aussie punk legends The Saints.  One act is relatively renown (Trotsky Icepick) and the other not so much (Vena Cava).  I should note that both bands feature John-Talley Jones on vocals.  Jones has a connection to the Urinals which you can read about here.  Both renditions are pretty faithful to the originals, but as you might expect not as robust.  If you have yet to make your acquaintance with the Saints head straight for their first two LPs, I'm Stranded and Eternally Yours, arriving in 1977 & 1978 respectfully.

Trotsky Icepick - I'm Stranded
Vena Cava - This Perfect Day

http://www64.zippyshare.com/v/aCeCNHF1/file.html

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

V/A - Dirt Compilation Vol. 1 (1982, Dirt)

The album's called Dirt, and so is the label it appears on.  Fittingly, the record revolves around bands who played a venue called Dirt (in Bloomfield, NJ), however there's exclusively studio material to be had here.  Pretty amazing concept huh?  Believe it or not the album's seedy title belies quite a few selections that are worthy of vinyl enshrinement, starting off with a knockout ditty by The Numbers that's worth it's weight in turn-of-the-decade, power pop gold - heck, platinum even.  "Smash Hit" quite frankly wasn't, but would have been well served as one.  Should be a total dig-it for you Teen Line types in the audience.  In a similar realm we have The Modulators, who have penned a paean to the Dirt nightclub itself, "Down at the Dirt."  BTW, their Tomorrow's Coming reissue isn't to be missed.  The Shakes and The Bounce are responsible for mildly saucey stabs at co-ed synth pop, the Transformers steer things in a slightly more AOR direction, while the Whyos peddle a dose of full tilt rockabilly.  Shrapnel, featuring a pre-Monster Magnet Dave Wyndorf deal us a surprisingly danceable card, "Come Back to Me," evidently penned by an outside songwriter, and let's not overlook white boy, wanna be rastas Zap & the Wires.  Finally, there's a considerable Garden State heavy hitter on here, but I'm not going to disclose who it is.  You'll have to download Dirt to reveal it for yourself.  I'll give you a hint, their name starts with an "s." My apologies in advance for the rather intense amount of surface noise on some of these tracks.

01. The Numbers - Smash Hit
02. The Shakes - On the Blink
03. The Bounce - Jenny's Doin' Fine
04. The Groceries - Hire High School Girls
05. (mystery track - download to reveal!)
06. Modulators - Down at the Dirt
07. The Colors - Growing Up American
08. Transformer - Tonight
09. Shrapnel - Come Back to Me
10. Abstracts - It's Me
11. The Whyos - 1-2-3-4
12. Zap & the Wires - Tramps of Days

http://www88.zippyshare.com/v/P0j0P1Lu/file.html

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Earthmen - College Heart (2016, Popboomerang) - a brief review

If you live in the States (or neighboring countries) and have never encountered The Earthmen you're more than forgiven.  For one, they hailed from Melbourne, Australia.  Secondly, only one Earthmen full length saw the light of day in North America, namely '93s Teen Sensations.   Initially released as an ep in Oz, The US incarnation of Teen Sensations was fleshed out with songs taken from several 1992 singles, including "Flyby" which I featured last year.  The album had an even greater distinction when it took root in the western hemisphere - the backing of a major label.  As a signee to Seed Records in the States, the Earthmen had the marketing muscle of WEA behind them, or so they had hoped.  Like dozens and dozens of commercially viable "indie" acts scooped up by the "big five" in the wake of Nirvana's viral success, the public gave the quintet short shrift, yet those who were fortunate to make their acquaintance with Teen Sensations invariably craved more.  Fortunately there was more, albeit the vast majority of it was confined well south of the Equator.  Cherry-picking liberally from the Earthmen's subsequent The Fall and Rise of My Favorite Sixties Girl ep in 1994, and their 1997 swan song, Love Walked In, the recently minted compilation College Heart largely picks up where Sensations left off.

Two cuts deep into this retrospective is one of the band's signature pieces, the title track from the aforementioned Fall and Rise ep. Imagine if you will three densely packed minutes of
dizzying guitar squalls coupled with a pulverizing hook, all tucked inside a frantic delivery system – and you still won’t get half the idea of what I’m extolling until you experience it firsthand.  Yes, that good.  "The Fall and Rise..." was so effective I'm not sure if the guys were able to top it, though the driving "First Single" and "Figure 8" weren't far off.  

The Earthmen subscribed to the '90s alt-rock trend du jour as much as anyone, but you wouldn't find any grunge tread on their collective tires.  In fact, they weren't an eccentric bunch in the least, nor were their records particularly challenging.  They went the long way around the block and actually hunkered down and wrote songs with no discernible flash or frivolity.  For every assertive rocker (e.g. "The Fall and Rise...") there was at least one ballad to counter it, and they weren't afraid to bring in a string section when suitable.  Sometimes hushed and introspective ("Tell the Women We're Going"), sometimes polished ("Arms Reach"), and even haunting ("Kathleen"), the Earthmen's slower forays were invariably sincere and bittersweet.

Two years after the well received Love Walked In, the Earthmen bid adieu in front of a hometown Melbourne crowd in December 1999.  Some seventeen years later however, the band's epilogue was about to be rewritten.  To put the icing on College Heart's cake, the group reconvened to record four new songs for the compilation and are slated for select live dates later this year.  The spry, power-pop tinged "Personal History" and "Find Your Own Way" (a la recent Posies) make a strong case for the Earthmen to have a whole 'nother go at it.

You can draw your own conclusions by taking College Heart for a spin (and hopefully a purchase) over at Popboomerang's Bandcamp page.  Amazon and CD Baby have you covered as well.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Takes ten pounds of bullshit for ten ounces of glory.

The 1990 & '91 rip-roaring, sardonic salvos from one of greater Illinois' greatest.  Octane, baby.

Here

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Re-ups.

Here's all the requests that have accumulated in the past month.  Sorry I didn't get to some of the FLAC requests.  As for the Jellyfish box set, so much of it was reissued by Omnivore that I don't feel comfortable sharing it - that is until it's out of print again.

Corduroy - Dead End Memory Lane
Grey Parade - The Reason
Small 23 - Cakes ep, singles & rare
Superchunk - "Precision Auto Pts. 2 & 3" 7"
Wrens - Overnight Success tape & single 
Todd Newman - Temporary Setback & Too Sad for Words
Expando Brain - Mother of God...
Blue Movie - Hearts in Clubs
V/A - An Appreciation of Brian Eno's "Needle's in the Camels Eye"
V/A - An Appreciation of A Flock of Seagulls "Space Age Love Song"
V/A - An Appreciation of Eddie and the Hot Rods "Do Anything You Wanna Do"
V/A - Brouhaha 7"
V/A - Lonely Planet Boy (Big Star fanzine comp) 
V/A - Pipeline! - WMBR live comp - disk 1 & disk 2
Young Caucasians - The Shroud of Elvis
Screaming Broccoli - s/t LP
Screaming Believers - Communist Mutants From Space
Ludicrous Lollipops - two eps
Local Rabbits - This is it, Here We Go 
Gem - Hexed 
Motocaster - Stay Loaded
Eight or Nine Feet - Resolution
The Fan Club - 15:20 ep
The Killing Field - Courage tape
Frontier Theory - Atlantic & No Waltz in the Meadow
Attention - What Have We Done? ep
Ripe - Filterfeed
Idiot Savant - The Rest on Down ep
Trilobites - I Can't Wait for Summer to End ep & Turn it Around
Medicine - Her Highness - Brad Laner mix
Summercamp - Tonight ep
Phantom Planet - rarities
Mad Turks (From Istanbul) - Toast & Cafe Istanbul

Friday, September 2, 2016

Woodpecker - No Factory Town ep (1989)

This is following up the first Woodpecker ep I shared a couple weeks back.  I wasn't exactly sure what to make of that first record, and even less so with this one, but I had a request for it.  Four unusual "pop" songs, often with elaborate ambitions and odd juxtapositions that incorporate bass trombone and violin.  Still think the singer sounds a bit like Grant Hart.  The closest No Factory Town comes to linear indie rock is "Twenty Five Years Old," and would have been that much more appealing without the goddamn trombone!  Thought the buoyant "Very Pretty Girl" was a cover, but for better or worse it's a 'peckers original.  Enjoy (or not)

01. No Factory Town
02. Twenty Five Years Old
03. Very Pretty Girl
04. Parade Songs

http://www13.zippyshare.com/v/Sic4wIuz/file.html

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Metal Flake Mother - Beyond the Java Sea (1991, Moist)

Metal Flake Mother were one of the more modest spokes comprising the mega wheel that was the North Carolina indie scene circa the early '90s.  Never heard of 'em?  Well, for better or worse, not all Tar Heel combos could rise to the stature of Superchunk and The Connells.  As for what they were all about, Carrboro's MFM were practitioners of the lopsided pop thing, and when they set sail for the Java Sea in 1991, they failed to dock for a subsequent album.  I'm hearing intermittent traces of the Pixies throughout this record - not so much the dynamics, or for that matter even the intensity, but rhythmically.  Hmmm.  Violent Femmes might be a looser reference point, and if bands like the Sugarplastic ring your bell Metal Flake are worth investigating.  Boasting seventeen songs, not everything occupying ...Java Sea exactly sticks to the wall, but you'd do well to begin with the out-and-out catchy "Wingtip Lizards" and "Mean to Me," and proceed from there. 

01. Tongue Long
02. Wingtip Lizards
03. Wiggle Like a Wild One
04. Ballroom
05. Mean toMe
06. Open a Vase
07. The Inquisition
08. Fine Lady
09. Satpen
10. Squash Beetle
11. Dance for Nails
12. Got a Lot of Blood
13. Mr Flower
14. Our Love for the Bone
15. Moss Howl
16. Matador
17. Safer

http://www109.zippyshare.com/v/XW94ivo1/file.html

Sunday, August 28, 2016

You wanted the Best, you got the Best!

A debut from 1987 that was nothing short of stellar.

Here

Saturday, August 27, 2016

V/A - Hear No Evil - A Compilation (1991, Galt)

Set the Wayback Machine to 1991.  During those heady pre-web days around the turn of the alt-rawk decade, I was downright reliant on fanzines and more legit music rags to inform me of burgeoning ear candy that would otherwise miss my radar.  It was that year when I saw an ad in Option or Alternative Press from a small indie imprint dubbed Galt Records in downstate New York that was offering up a free cassette compilation of bands I was entirely foreign to simply by writing to the addy and requesting a copy.  I took the bait. Shortly thereafter, in the mail came a high-bias tape with a colored j-card.  Hear No Evil was the name of the reel in question, and on it were fifteen or so acts I never encountered, even on college radio.  Bear in mind I was up to my knees in outfits like Nirvana, Superchunk, Ministry and the Replacements at the time.  My cup truly did runneth over in this fertile era.  So how could a gaggle of relatively straightlaced pop/rock vendors like Imaginary Steps and Love Among Ruins have possibly stacked up against some, if not all of my aforementioned icons?  The answer was quite simple - they didn't.  Not that I had any animosity towards the HNE comp roster, rather I just wasn't moved when there far more visceral options at my disposal.  Into a shoebox the tape went and I rarely gave it a second thought.  Well, what a difference a couple decades can make. 

Back in the early '90s, if a band wasn't decked out in flannel or failed to have a minimum of five distortion pedals at their feet I usually passed.  With maturity comes the acceptance and ultimately embrace of music that was more nuanced, lucid, and tuneful.  I really only got into the "pop" thing by 1997, and was relived there was an underground swelling with rewarding but often unheralded acts.  I began my excavation, and eventually (and continuously) burrowed deep.  It turns out that records by some of Hear No Evil's finest participants like Enemies in the Grass, Falling Stairs and The Bandables made their way into my collection (not to mention this site) in the intervening years.  I didn't realize it back in '91, but that once unappreciated freebie cassette foreshadowed where I was headed.

Those three aforementioned acts (with the Bandables credited here as Jerry Kitzrow & the Bandables) became major league favorites of mine, easily persuading me with scrumptious hooks and jangly propulsion.  Like I said, it took about twenty years for me to come around, but there's a wealth of other standout "left-off-the-dial" participants that I really wish I could hear more of - The Hasbros, Third Eye Butterfly, Hair Corpse, The Next Move, Nate Ouderkirk, the Bandables-related Mystery Date and more.  Best of all, HNE doesn't cater to any extreme.  A significant amount of the groups here are operating under similar parameters as say, the Smithereens, but it's not all power pop mind you.  The version of the comp I'm presenting today is from the CD incarnation, not the tape.  A full tracklist is available on the scan of the tray card to your right.  BTW, a sequel to Hear No Evil was released shortly after, however I have yet to locate it.  Enjoy.

http://www59.zippyshare.com/v/PQqH03x4/file.html

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Underachievers - Underfoot (1986, Throbbing Lobster)

How could I resist any record bearing the Throbbing Lobster logo (at a buck no less)?  Let's see.  This co-ed Boston clique had X written all over 'em (think More Fun in the New World), and as their casually fashioned attire on the front cover might suggest, the Underachievers hardly took themselves too seriously.  Fear not, there's plenty of substance to go with that style on Underfoot's ten concise numbers.  You might even catch a sprinkle of the B52s and the Gun Club amidst the aforementioned John Doe and Exene hero worship.  Heck, "Let's Not Dance" even meanders its way down Pylon's alley, to terrific effect I might add.  Original copies may still be available here.

01. Underfoot
02. Alamo
03. Short Wave
04. I Don't Care
05. I'm So Tall
06. You're Not for Me
07. Underground Again
08. Dead Plants
09. Let's Not Dance
10. Friend o' Mine

http://www112.zippyshare.com/v/RLh1oTLc/file.html

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Friday, August 19, 2016

Big Barn Burning - Acres and Acres ep (1988, Pine Marten)

Their homebase may have been in Boston (or thereabouts), but with such pronounced Americana leanings you'd easily mistake Big Barn Burning as denizens of the Midwest.  Not aggro enough to be deemed cowpunk, but ever so slightly deficient in the twang department, BBB found a niche on college radio, eventually signing to national indie imprint Resonance for a 1990 full length, Topping the Orchard.  A music scribe for the Albany based Metroland entertainment sheet summed these fellows up as follow.

Somebody once said that Big Barn Burning were what it'd sound like if Uncle Tupelo grew up in New England; and that's not wholly off the mark. But where Tupelo drew from the folk and native blues of the agrarian South and Midwest, Big Barn Burning seemed inspired and imbued, not with the dread of endless toil and suffering, but with the explosive, joyful color of Northeast autumn and a "harvest's in" intoxication. Their live shows easily, sweatily, chaotically, ecstatically earned the band's moniker.

I'm partial to Acres more linear rock salvos "Coulter of the Moon" and "Coureurs du Bois," both cutting a ballsy, spirited swath in league with some of their contemporaries who put Minneapolis on the map.  The record concludes with guitarsy, indie rock renderings of two old-timey rural standards, "Boll Weevil" and "Sourwood Mountain," performed live on WERS.

01. The Ploughshare & the Snare Drum
02. Brand New Day
03. Coulter Moon
04. Coureurs du Bois
05. Boll Weevil
06. Sourwood Mountain

http://www105.zippyshare.com/v/cHv9cM6o/file.html

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Woodpecker - Bowl of Water ep (1988, Paris, New York, Milan)

Woodpecker is/was the province of one Anthony Overtoom, whose larynx amounts to a vague medley of Bob Dylan and Grant Hart, however this three-cut 12" is way more Basement Tapes than Zen Arcade.  The title cut is a driving, bass-trombone enhanced rocker (for lack of a better word) that bears no shortage of rootsy sway and character for miles.  The flip-sides "Pieces" and "O Marie" steer things in a less fevered direction, revealing the other side of Overtoom's proverbial coin.  If anyone is interested, I have a subsequent Woodpecker ep to share as well.  Thanks to Discogs for the pic, substituting for my copy's somewhat blemished visage.

A. Bowl of Water
B1. Pieces
B2. O Marie

http://www88.zippyshare.com/v/k5lC1nwL/file.html

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wire Train - live San Francisco, Oct. 1982

It looks like I won't be posting any new music until tomorrow, but to tide you over I thought I'd share this.  A couple days ago I was tipped off to a vintage Wire Train live show that recently surfaced.  It's from 1982 San Fran gig, and if it's not one of the earliest Wire Train performances, it's the first WT show ever.  A few notes:

Its a soundboard tape, and its good quality; 8 tracks, 4 you'll recognise and 4 where I've guessed the titles. This is *possibly* their first ever live show - after the 3rd track Kevin says "This is the first time we've played in front of people, if you could clap that'd make us happy". The songs aren't as polished as they became by 1983/84.

Track list and FLAC/MP3 links are as follows.  Just FYI I'm not hosting the files, but the links should work indefinitely.

01. We Could Call It
02. Over and Over
03. Return to Me
04. I Gotta Go
05. In a Plane
06. Life
07. Everything Is Turning Up Down Again
08. Chamber of Hellos

MP3   FLAC 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Things are gonna change in our favor.

A 1995 album that was unfortunately released under the worst of circumstances.

Here

The Heaters - American Dream: The Portastudio Recirdings (2016, Omnivore) - A brief review

From the standpoint of major labels, say CBS, the trend du jour in the early '80s was relatively staid and formulaic, despite the burgeoning advances being carved out in the realm of new romantic pop.  So where did The Heaters slot into the era?  Well, they just so managed to nail down a deal for their second album, Energy Transfer, in 1980 with CBS (presently Sony).  Though they hardly bore a penchant for anything radical, the album found the Heaters nuclei of Mercy Bermudez, Melissa Connell, and sister Maggie Connell gracefully deviating between contemporary pop-rock and girl group panache, resulting in an inadvertent update from two decades prior.  Safe as milk for the Top-40 set, and a reasonable good bet for the suits, the Heaters failed to catch the public's attention in the era of Blondie, the Knack and the Cars.  Essentially, Energy Transfer failed to transfer into mega sales on accounting ledgers, quite simply because the Heaters opted to be themselves in an increasingly fickle and superficial world.

The Heaters disbanded shortly after Energy Transfer failed to catch fire, but it wasn't long before the trio regrouped, determined to outdo the results of those initial records - without the auspices of a cutthroat, corporate music industry.  Going DIY is fraught with obvious perils, however by the early-80s the trio didn't intend to work with big name production crews, nor did they have the immediate interest of smaller indie labels.  Still performing in clubs and honing an already solid reputation for soaring harmonies, the band was encouraged to continue recording.

With a staunch intention of not returning to the rigamarole of fancy recording studios and their attendant, expensive trappings, The Heaters did a 180 and opted for a TEAC Portastudio four-track recorder.  The fruit of their home grown studio endeavors is being made available for the first time on American Dream.  Not to be confused with another archival Heaters collection, The Great Lost Heaters Album, American Dream showcases the trio indulging in the girl group jones that was merely hinted at on Energy Transfer, and their 1978 studio debut.  Channeling their inner Ronnettes...and their inner Crystals...and perhaps inner Shangri-Las as well, The Heaters finesse and uncanny aptitude for the genre and sound they're reaching for is as sheik and convincing as any acolyte of the vintage aforementioned combos could hope for.  Sure, the four-track medium is what the Heaters employed in their post-major label iteration, but they were hardly defined or stymied by it.  In fact, melodious, retro-fitted beauties "Just Around the Corner," "I Want to Love Again," and the sensuous title track gracefully transcend any supposed lo-fi limitations.  The liner notes, penned by Bermudez and the Connell sisters outline in forensic, albeit engaging detail how these 1983 recordings were committed to tape.  American Dream is available later this week through Omnivore Records and Amazon.