Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Geek (Jenny Toomey, pre-Tsunami) - Herasure tape (1988, Simple Machines)

It's pretty safe to say that about 90% of Tsunami fans learned of Geek retroactively, and I stand guilty as anyone.   Tsunami were one of many indie propositions in the '90s that encouraged genuine fandom.  As if three albums (Deep End, The Hearts Tremolo, and Brilliant Mistake) and a copious number of singles and comp tracks weren't enough, some of us were compelled to investigate the back pages of it's architects, not the least of which chanteuse and prime mover Jenny Toomey.  There were no less than three Tsunami precursors that involved Ms. Toomey: Slack, Choke and Geek.  Of this monosyllabic trifecta, the last of that bunch was the most visible, having released a cassette album, Hammer, as part of the 1992 Simple Machine Records Tool series.  Recorded in 1990, that fifteen song tape was an ambitious, but not all-the-way-there endeavor, functioning if anything else as a springboard for Toomey's soaring and throaty timbre.

However, before Hammer came Herasure, yet another cassette-only release, this one dating from 1988.  Equally as DIY as it's follow-up, Herasure benefits from surprisingly better fidelity, creativity, and hook-savvy charm.  The short of it all is that Hammer sounds more like a debut, but all comparisons aside this six song artifact houses some really stunning tunes and bears a sophisticated prowess than it's nascent copyright date might otherwise suggest.  In fact, Toomey coveys some of the most affecting melodies of her career on "Anthem (of Sleeping Mama)" and the unsettling title cut.  Derek Denckla's chiming guitar fills are no slouch either.

A big thanks to J. for setting me up with everything.  Incidentally, I posted a cassette rip of Tsunami's '91 demo, Cow Arcade about three months ago, which is still available here.   

01. guy
02. angel
03. herasure
04. anthem (of sleeping mama)
05. polly breedlove
06. shoelaces

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New Noise - Saint Marie Records first quarter wrap-up: Spotlight Kid, Blackstone Rngrs and more.

In recent years, Fort Worth, TX indie imprint Saint Marie Records has etched out an intoxicating niche for themselves, purveying a bevy of promising dream-pop revisionists.  As it's come about, a spate of fresh releases have bowed in the past four months or so. Thought I'd enlighten you on a few of them.

Spotlight Kid's 2012, sophomore disk Disaster Tourist was a devastating TKO to my eardrums, looming latticeworks of My Bloody Valentine-informed magnificence.  Ten Thousand Hours bellys up to the same woozy watering hole as the aforementioned, but despite no lineup alterations, guitarist Rob McCleary is virtually mum on the mic for this go around, living the brunt of vocal duties up to Katty Heath.  Standout selections "A Minor Character" and "Can't Let Go" exact the same engulfing toll that Disaster Tourist's finest moments did, but SK toss us a curious curve-ball in the guise of "Budge Up," a rereading of Dinosaur Jr's "Budge" boasting partially improvised lyrics.

Next on the list is another co-ed conglomeration, "synthgaze" trio Blackstone Rngrs, who hereby give 'the scene that celebrates itself' one more reason to celebrate via their second ep, Descendant.  BSR garner significant mileage by means of layering their heady sonic quilt, not merely with dizzying washes of tremolo, but beats and chimey guitar hooks.  Aficionados of  such disparate acts as The Drums and Slowdive will find plenty to latch onto amidst Descendant's six alluring grooves.

On the more ambient tip, Children of the Stones is the product of Mark Van Hoen (formally of Seefeel and Locust among others) and Martin Maeers.  Lacing just about every nook and cranny of The Stars and the Silence in a sedate digital glaze, CotS mix things up with glitchy maneuvers and a loose pop subtext that intermittently brings to mind Ultra Vivid Scene, and even more so Steve Kilbey's extracurricular activities outside The Church.  The effect is that of an Rx-strength sedative without the groggy contraindications.  Nice.

By any chance, do any of you remember an early 90's 4AD Records combo by the name of Swallow?  Whether you do or not, that Brit dream pop duo of Mike Mason and Louise Trehy stuck around for only one LP, 1992's ethereal and acclaimed, Cocteau Twins-inspired Blow.  As luck would have it, some two decades on Trehy returns with a fresh-faced band, Strata Florida, who not only pick up where Swallow stalled, but up the ante considerably by doubling down on the guitars and venturing into louder, amped-out vistas.  As if the oodles of gauzy tremolo and feedback swells weren't enough, Strata pitch in some electronic trickery to the robust proceedings.  "By the Way," "Sleeper" and the title track are worth their weight in shoegazing gold.  Many happy returns!

All four of these disks are available direct from Saint Marie, not to mention your physical/digital retailer of choice.  I've provided a few Bandcamp links below so you can try before you buy.

Spotlight Kid
Blackstone Rngrs
Children of the Stones
Strata Florida

Monday, April 14, 2014

The city has no real need to be nervous...

I have a real slammer to share with you this week.  A beguilingly ambitious and sophisticated indie rock platter from 1996 boasting intense, multi-tracked harmonies and arrangements so dense you'd swear at times you were listening to two albums simultaneously.  Incidentally, the title of which is the name of a city I recently drove through, but anyway....

Saturday, April 12, 2014

1-800-BAND - Diver Blue ep (2014, Almost Ready) - a brief overview

Even those hipster holdouts regarding themselves as too cool for traditional power pop would have to be bananas for resting this Brooklyn quartet.  In fact, how could anyone resist the 1-800-BAND's crisp re-synthesis of the Cars, Cheap Trick and Pointed Sticks, couched in a streamlined, 21st century delivery mechanism?  Not me anywayLots of whirring keyboards all over this one, but the center stage on Diver Blue is occupied by a damn near-addictive stash of hooks.  The title track all but sells itself, and can be experienced on the 1-800's Soundcloud page.  Diver Blue can be had on wax direct from Almost Ready and in ones and zeroes via iTunes, Emusic and Amazon.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sister Ray - No Way to Express (1989, Resonance)

Despite their namesake, Youngtown, OH's Sister Ray fail to draw any clear parallels with the Velvet Underground, and for that matter they don't particularly strive to.  Siphoning off fragments from just about every era of punk (and it's affiliated sub-genres) SR ultimately dole out their schtick with a garage rock ladle.

The overall effect isn’t too dissimilar from psyched-up contemporaries Love Battery and Lime Spiders, and when things really get cooking Sister Ray approach a similar sonic aesthetic to the Wipers, though that's probably a sheer coincidence.  Their oft rudimentary, low-brow prose was redeemed by considerably rich performances and arrangements.   Perfect case in points would be the melodic guitar lines that vividly fill out “I Don’t Want Your Sex,” and “No Escape.”

The first seventeen tracks comprise the No Way to Express album proper, with the remaining selections being plucked from 1987’s Random Violence LP.  A big thanks to my friend's FB post from earlier today that inspired this post.

01. Youngstown Blues
02. Fire
03. Beef Pud
04. I Don't Want Your Sex
05. Just One Night
06. Virgil Red
07. Hey Hey Hey
08. Progression
09. Sick of Skulls
10. God + Me
11. Still Born
12. Mommy's Gone
13. Sex
14. Miss America
15. No Escape
16. Funky Dung II
17. A Day in the Life
18. Release
19. Feelings
20. Random Violence
21. Way to Go
22. I've Just Seen Your Face
23. The Face
24. Hate
25. There is Sound

Friday, April 4, 2014

All this momentum is doing me in...

It's vacation time folks.  Which means no Mystery Monday next week or any more re-ups until I get return.  Dig into what's available in the archives and check out some of the sites on my blogroll.  Should be back towards the middle of the week.  Ciao. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Gentleman Jesse & His Men ‎– Singles & Rarities (2010, Burger)

I've resisted dedicating space to Gentleman Jesse on these pages, considering most of his handiwork (and that of his requisite "men") is commercially available...except for this.  As it's title implies. Singles & Rarities is a compilation album, that regrettably, has been offered as an exceedingly limited cassette-only release of 250 copies (mine is #29).  Concocting a whip-smart amalgam of boys-next-door power pop, garage, and three chord punk, GJ was/is part of a relatively recent vanguard that also features in it's ranks the likes of the Marked Men, Jay Reatard (RIP), and King Tuff.  It's music to shred PA's by for sure, but unremittingly melodic at that, conveyed with a steamrolling surge that stays lodged in your cranium long after the music's concluded.

The 45s this collection is partially derived from are noticeably more lo-fi than the band's two proper albums, 2008's Introducing... and '12s Leaving Atlanta.  As such, the rawer context makes for a more visceral experience, even if the formula gets a little samey after awhile.  It would behoove fans of the Exploding Hearts, (and even stretching back to halcyon era Buzzcocks and Undertones) to immerse themselves in this gleeful half-hour-of-power.  With any luck, Singles... will earn the vinyl/digital reissue it should have received in the first place. 

01. I Don't Wanna Know (Where You Been Tonight)
02. Going Outta My Mind
03. No Rest (For The Wicked)
04. If I Can See You (You're Too Close To Me)
05. X-Mas Hangover
06. Rest of My Days (live)
07. Connection
08. Romford Girls
09. Going Into Town
10. Can't Hardly Take It
11. I Want What's Mine (And You're Mine)
12. Sidewalks

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

X-Teens - s/t (1983, Dolphin)

Tarheel denizens the X-Teens weren't one of the most recognizable names on the Don Dixon/Mitch Easter production roster, but sonically they were one of the most indigenous.  The simple jangle and strum formula wouldn't quite suffice for this co-ed quartet, who instead opted for a kitschy spin on conventional new wave, substituting white-bread synths with a Wurlitzer organ (or at the very least a convincing imitation thereof).  The band further filled out their charm offensive with a neurotic vocal approach, sardonically bordering on the maudlin when they saw fit.  From there it's all threaded together with a string of nimble, challenging arrangements, reconfiguring tidbits of XTC, B-52s, and occasionally even incorporating some of Devo's more wonky maneuvers along the way.  Side one predominately sticks to a relatively traditional pop premise, housing such jewels as "In Droves" and "Heaven in Your Eyes," while the Teens play it faster and much looser on side two of this affair.  More from the X-Teens to follow...

01. Nobody
02. In Droves
03. Tonight Tonight
04. Anyone Can
05. Baby John
06. Heaven in Your Eyes
07. Romper Rheumatism
08. Penny
09. Hard is a Love Departing
10. Nothing Left to Say
11. Emotion
12. Happy Again
13. Shift and Rotate
14. Cold War

Monday, March 31, 2014

We're gonna show you a thing or two about love...

Today it's a collection of twenty demos and under-released songs, some of which were later rerecorded for an album that's getting the twentieth-anniversary deluxe edition treatment this week.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Acid Drops 7" (1988, Fungus)

Given their moniker, not to mention the swirly flower-thingys adorning the sleeve, it would be hard not to get the impression that The Acid Drops weren't steeped in Nuggets-esque psychedelia.  Granted that's largely the case, this British troupe were also attuned to what their Rickenbacker-friendly contemporaries were up to, particularly the Soup Dragons and Mighty Lemon Drops.  "She Laughed Out Loud" sports no shortage of fuzzy, garage-induced moxie, but it's flip "Deep Sea Dream" would have been a shoo-in for the fabled C86 compilation (about to see reissue btw), had the Drops been invited two years prior.  Capping things off is "Rush," a surfy but unremarkable instrumental.

A. She Laughed Out Loud
B1. Deep Sea Dream
B2. Rush

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Netkups, we have a problem.

I just wanted to acknowledge what some of you have pointed out in the last day or two.  Presently, none of the files I have stored via Netkups are available.  If you're experience is anything like mine, you've been greeted with "Please try again layer" immediately after selecting the file.  As annoying as this is, it's even more egregious in light of a spate of ongoing issues I've had with them all year.  To give you a little bit of background, my original file-hoster of choice for almost six years (Rapidshare) gave my entire account the boot in January of 2013, without any warning or explanation.  Netkups seemed like a reliable option, and they have accommodated me ever since, but in addition to a myriad of technical glitches, they have aggressively been deleting any content that hasn't been accessed in over 30 days.  Not the most unreasonable stance on their end perhaps, but I've shared no less than 1500 files since Wilfully Obscure came online in 2007.  This has translated into the ceaseless and Sisyphean task of restoring dozens of files every week, based mostly on your thoughtful requests which I have done my best to keep pace with.

In a nutshell, I believe Netkups' current malady will be rectified, but I clearly need a more reliable file hoster.  Zippyshare seems tolerant of "sharity" sites like mine, but they don't offer anything better than Netkup's 30-day window of file access, which means I'll continue to be rolling "the rock" uphill as I have been in recent months.  Mediafire was an option until 2013 when they deleted the content of several music blogs that I had regarded as being on the up and up.  I don't really care for DivShare, Mega requires passwords for everything, and I'm not about to try my luck with Rapidshare again.  Will probably give Zippyshare a whirl, but if you have some better suggestions (even if it means paying a modest monthly fee for file hosting) I'm all ears.  Thanks for sticking around.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Various - E-sides - The Letter "E" folder mix

Well, it looks like I'm overdue for one of my famous "letter mixes," considering the last one made it on here a good nine months ago.  Adhering to the same theme as my preceding "D" "H" "O" "P" "B" and "G" folder mixes, this 20 song garbage plate of disparate artists have only one thing in common - the first letter of their respective names.  In fact, no consideration has been given to genre.  For almost every complete album I have by an artist on my hard drive, I store just as many random one-off songs by artists I don't have a dedicated folder to.  These random one-offs have been corralled into "letter folders" A through Z.  As was the case with the previous entries I'm not going to publish the track list, but I'm about to drop several hints to give you an idea of what's about to gobble up 78 megs or so of your hard precious drive space.

As the nature of these letter mixes go, there is an abundance of covers.  Some of the interpreters this around include Emm Gryner, Electric Frankenstein, Ensign, Everready and Elf Power (please note that two of these hitmakers cover none other than Husker Du!).  The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa do one of my favorite dream-pop songs ever, Eric Bachmann of Archers of Loaf goes acoustic on us, there's garage rock from upstate New York, circa 1966, from the Ex-Cels, EESCH bop us over the head with a pop-punk slammer, there's emo from obscuros Eat People, as well as my Eurogliders song of choice.  Okay, enough hints - get downloading already!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Purple Ivy Shadows - White Electric (1999, Krave)

I can't profess to having much knowledge about Purple Ivy Shadows, but I'll be damned if this isn't a great disk for the hammock.  Groomed on Grandaddy?  Wound-up on Wilco?  Tangled up in Tengo?  If you answered "yes" to any of the above you'll probably savor White Electric, a rich, resonating amalgam of electric and acoustic persuasions.  This was PIS's second album, which found them hovering closer to the Americana side of the fence than their debut, No Less the Trees Than the Stars, suggested.  Contemplative text and abundant texture is what this one's about, and aside from it's overarching, easy-does-it tenor, White Electric does offer a few heady sonic swells in the guise of "Along" and "City."

01. Along
02. Favorite
03. Steal
04. Water
05. City
06. Garden
07. Providence
08. Heart
09. Borrow
10. Secrets
11. Chalk
12. Whitelectric

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Connections and WV White (Anyway, 2013/14) A brief overview.

You have to feel hella sorry for any band who's been consistently hung with the albatross of sounding like dead ringers for another, and frankly, more renown group.  Invariably, in the case of Connections, that spot-on comparison is Guided By Voices, who this new Columbus aggregation strike me as being utterly besotted with.  Lucky for them, they harken back to a time when Dayton's finest were truly...well, fine.  For those of us who climbed aboard the S.S. Pollard circa Bee Thousand we were able to bear witness to a GBV that was both cult and classic, whereas these days it often feels like we're just being pummeled by the former (a half-dozen times a year no less). 

Connections frontman Kevin Elliott is a prodigious hybrid of Robert Pollard and Tobin Sprout, and his quintet bears the acumen to give due deference to both on their twin long-players, Private Airplane and Body Language, issued in 2012 and 2013 respectfully via Anyway Records.  Connections ramp up the "classic" GBV rosters' "lo-fidelity" to a negligibly more polished "mid" hue, doubling down on the feedback and clangy clamor while they're at it.  And unlike Pollard and Co, the band's set list acquiesces to songs exceeding past the two minute mark.  In fact, Airplanes' "Nightwatch" and "Total Carpool" spark just the visceral charge we should still be expecting from you know who, but Connections revivalist inclinations are buttressed with a noisepop spin of their own design as well.  Delish.

Year One is a CD and digital release that compiles Private Airplane, Body Language, and a four-song EP, Tough City, in their entirety.   Amounting to 32 songs in the span of seventy minutes, a straight-through listen will either prove daunting, or in my case, downright blissful.  Vinyl copies of both full lengths are available from Midheaven.  You can get your digital fix there as well, or if you prefer, Bandcamp and all the other usual suspects.

And if the Connections weren't enough of a find, there's even more fresh blood from the state that's HI in the middle and round at both ends.  If anything else, the co-ed WV White are a band of varying degrees.  In fact, whistling organ fills and buzzy bass lines are the only concomitant threads hemming the bulk of West Virginia White's ten selections together.  Tyler Travis's spoke/sung vocals are afflicted with a faint quiver, suggesting a more together Conor Oberst, and go that much further in defining WV's penchant. Additionally, the band sports a Pavement-esque level of enthusiasm, without completely relenting to the Malkmus/Kannberg slack attack.  And speaking of all things indie and iconic, West Virgina White's opening salvo "Allison Laper, Pregnant," commences with a bedrock of grainy, J Mascis-y guitar squall, only to be paired with said churning organs and Travis's golden throat in a matter of seconds.  

As I asserted, this four-piece is all about variance - a melodic and relatively muscular nugget like "Ford Mustang" is soon succeeded by a chilled-out piano ballad (see "Cockroaches").  There's an enormous amount that falls in between these two realms, and WV White navigate this not-so-deep divide artfully.  West Virginia White is available on wax from Midhaven, and can be streamed and purchased digitally here.

Monday, March 24, 2014


...the first various artists album to occupy the coveted Mystery Monday slot.  Yay.  I can see you're just as stoked as I am, but seriously, this features a whopping 40 acts/songs.  This mid-90s compilation plays out as a veritable who's who of indie-pop/cuddlecore/twee hopefuls circa the Clinton-era.  Just as a teaser, here are a few of the participants: Cub, Orange Cake Mix, Superdrag, Elf Power - and that's just on the first disk! Bon appetit.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

VA - Lessons From Little Hits, Part 4

I was going to cut my Little Hits retrospectives off at the third installment, posted back in November of last year, but the "series" (for lack of a better word) proved to be popular with you, plus there were a few more inches from that reel which I felt warranted further exposure.  If you're new to what I'm referring to, Little Hits was an unrelated music blog that preceded mine, largely dedicated to left-off-the-dial indie rock obscurities circa the 1980s.  It turned me onto to at least a dozen top-shelf acts from yesteryear, and left such a profound impression on me, I decided to throw my cap into the blogosphere ring with Wilfully Obscure.  Throughout the latter part of 2013 I began sharing self-curated compilations of some of the music I downloaded during Little Hits 2005-2009 reign.  Since I can't get to everything in depth on these pages, I'm at least able to pitch some Cliff's Notes your way.

This installment skews heavily to the power pop realm, with exemplary selections from such traditional practitioners as Clovis Roblaine, The Finders, Jacks, The Bobalouis and Spaghetti Western, all worth their weight in strummy, jangly gold.   There's also the swarmy "new south" sensibilities of Matthew Sweet's pre-solo endeavor Buzz of Delight, a single from a very early incarnation of the dB's, not to mention a memento from Sarah Records stablemates Action Painting!  On top of all that you get tunes by unheralded, college radio combos like Nixon's Head, Band of Outsiders, and The Passions.  The superlatives and accolades could go on forever, but I'll just let you get to the music.  The full menu is provided below, and make sure to check out the first three chapters of my Little Hits anthologies here, here, and over here.

Action Painting! - These Things Happen
Band Of Outsiders - Dutch Girl Concern
Buzz of Delight - I've Got Gold
Chris Stamey and the dBs - (I Thought) You Wanted To Know
Clovis Roblaine - Fall All Over Me
Fischer-Z - Marliese
Nixon's Head - I Like You
Passions - Strange Affair
Sister Ray - Yellow With Black Lace
Spaghetti Western - What Are Friends For
The Bobalouis - Not A Second Chance
The Finders - Which Way
The Jacks - It's Not True
The Modern Minds - Theresa's World
The Tours - Tourist Information