Yet another Google-devoid commodity, this time from a jangly El Cajon, CA export called The Ant Lions. Going on a first name basis only (that's Michael, John and Kurt) whomever was relegated to guitar in this trio was most likely an acolyte of Peter Buck, Johnny Marr, and perhaps even Marty Wilson Piper. In league with that very trifecta, the Ant Lions skewed more towards folk than power chords, and all the better IMO. Really impressed by the A-side here. If anyone has the dirt on these fellows please fill us in!
Seattle's Matinee Idol's strike me as too warm to be branded post-punk, but too straight-faced to lump into the power
pop/wave neighborhood, at least not outright. Possessing a proficient and often crafty acumen, this trio's knack for tuneful, modern rock unfortunately didn't earn them the reverence they deserved. A reading of The Kinks "Who'll Be the Next in Line" closes out side one, neither improving or detracting from the original. An online query on the Idols yields a reference to the band Pavlov's Dog, a member of whom performs on Leaving Limbo, if that means anything to you. For the record (no pun intended), this ep was mastered at K-Disc, in my old hometown of Saugus, California.
01. Video World
02. Touch Sense
03. Who'll Be the Next in Line
05. Big Bang
06. You Told Me
I was reintroduced to the Rhythm Corps (formally Rhythm Method) two years ago when I caught the original 1982 version of "Solidarity" on a college radio program. I quickly sought out the record it was derived from, Paquet de Cinq, and dedicated some space to it last year. It barely sounded like the work of the same band that founda modicum of mainstream success in the late '80s, who by that stage had undergone quite the sonic overhaul. Filling the gap between Paquet and the the Common Ground album cut for Columbia in 1988, came another ep, Esprit de Corps. I resisted Esprit... upon first blush, but despite Rhythm Corps deeper embrace of slick, Reagan-era studio finesse the songs comprising the ep eventually began to stick (although I'll probably always regard them as inferior to more poignant, solid-gold nuggets like "Broken Haloes"). I've given you the opportunity to make up your own mind below, and conveniently bundled with it is an alternate rip of Paquet de Cinq, taken from a cleaner vinyl copy. Click on the hyperlink above for my original spiel on that disk.
Esprit de Corps
02. Two By Two
03. Sweet Salvation
05. Night and Day
Paquet de Cinq (1982)
01. Broken Haloes
02. I'm Not the Man
03. Figure and Face
05. All in Vain
Just to get those of you who haven't been here in a week or so caught up, Rapidshare, my file hoster of choice for over five years has severed their alliance with me due to alleged "copyright" violations. In doing so they have permanently locked my account, and they cannot be persuaded to let me challenge their actions. In short, all Rapidshare links on Wilfully Obscure are officially kaput. When I announced these unfortunate developments early last week, I made clear my intentions to keep the music coming (with a new repository for my files of course) and revive what I can from the past five and a half years.
I'm happy to report that all files from September 2012 to today are once again active! I've even begun to crack the nut on some of the entries for August, and hope to have all 2012 links reactivated by the middle of February. Once that's accomplished, I need to evaluate exactly what I'll be reviving from years past. I don't want to speculate on anything at this point, but if there's something in particular you're hankering for I'm up for requests. Even if it's a title you've already downloaded that you think is fit to be preserved for future listeners, feel free to clue me in on those as well. Thanks for your patience and support. Here's hoping the rest of 2013 won't be a drag.
After a tumultuous week here at Wilfully Obscure, I thought I'd pull out a record that typifies the ol' left-off-the-dial aesthetic of these beleaguered pages. Second Childhood were native to Oshkosh (B'gosh!), WI, and coincidentally had their record minted on Boat Records, the same label that brought us the Spooner single I shared yesterday. Without any familiarity of this quartet, save for the sleeve and the Boat Records pedigree, I took a chance on Figure Skating and by and large got what I was expecting. Falling somewhere between the nuanced lilt of Orange Juice, and the more streamlined persuasion of 415 Records all-stars Wire Train and Red Rockers, Second Childhood should have been college radio fixtures during their era. Locally, perhaps they were, but outside of this brief online mention, zilch. A pity considering they had some excellent tunes, and a sharp, crisp recording to fortify them. Enjoy.
01. Make Me An Offer I Can't Refuse
02. Smashing Mirrors
04. Endure Me I Adore You
06. She Sleeps Around
07. Dark at the End of the Tunnel
Once upon a time there was a Wisconsinite named Butch who produced many hit records, including one called Nevermind from 1991 that a handful of you may be familiar with. Unfortunately, later that decade, Butch found it fit to mire himself in copious amounts of Garbage. While that left some of us wondering if he'd sacrificed his credibility, it would eventually be revealed to yours truly that prior to all the mega-bucks hoopla, Butch had festooned himself to a drum stool in the 1980's in two genuinely earnest, jangle-laden power-pop bands, Spooner, and shortly thereafter Fire Town. This single was preceded by two other ones, and more substantially a pair of full lengths, Every Corner Dance (1982) and Wildest Dreams (1985). The two tracks here sound nearly inseparable from the work of Fire Town, who Butch and Spooner frontman Doug Erikson graduated to immediately thereafter. The Spooner/FT formula was a simple but effective one, and I might add hardly evocative of the more bludgeoning grunge/punk/metal/alt productions their drummer would eventually help bring to fruition. Plenty more Spooner is available for the taking at Power Pop Criminals, while Fire Town's two LP catalog was reissued a few years ago (In the Heart of the Heart Country is essential)!
Heads up folks. I have some new details to pass along to you, and much of it is pretty woeful. To allay the fears of anyone concerned that Wilfully Obscure will be going offline, it wont. In fact, new posts are to follow, albeit less frequently. While the site is intact, every Rapidshare link was dismantled in one fell swoop this Sunday. I was not notified of this unprovoked "transition," and it wasn't until I logged onto the R/S homepage that I learned that something was terribly amiss. For the last five and a half years, I took advantage of the Swiss file sharing company's services, and for the bulk of that time was a paid "Pro-Rapids" member. Upon learning that my account was "locked" and that the rug had been pulled straight out from under me, I emailed them for an explanation. I received an utterly canned response this morning. Portions of it follow below:
to close accounts and delete all content.
Accounts which have been blocked for this reason will not be restored...
the locking of accounts, due to suspicion of
distributing copyrighted data through our service is handled manually.
In your own best interest, we strongly recommend that you make sure to
copyright infringements in the future.
I followed this up with both an email and a phone call to Switzerland. The customer service representative adamantly refused to let me speak to someone in the division that made this decision. As of now, I have no idea what files were in violation, who reported me, and worst of all I'm being denied any recourse. It is unclear if my files (over 1000 of them) have been deleted or not. I have not even been given private access to them, which is all the more frustrating.
I fear that any further email from my end will be met with blind eyes, but there is strength in numbers. If anyone would like to vouch for me (particularly folks in bands or those who own record labels that gave me permission to share any given piece of music) please email me and I will pass along details on how you can contact Rapidshare in my defense. Despite any amount of protest I know that I'm likely screwed. The obvious question is 'what next?' Over the years I have gone out of my way to ensure I wasn't sharing anything commercially available, physically or digitally, so who's to say this won't happen again if I opt to resume and rebuild? My policy has always been that if there's any possible instance I might be cheating an artist out of anything resembling earnings or royalties, it's not fit to be published or disseminated on this blog.
Rapidshare had provided such a reliable and consistent service for the entirety of Wilfully Obscure's run. Certainly, there are other options - Netkups (which I'm taking limited advantage of), Sendspace, Divshare, Zippyshare, and likely a dozen more, but I'm opening myself up to just as much vulnerability. All it takes is one complaint, one DMCA notification, or the ill-advised discretion of some trigger happy moderator at one of these file sharing joints.
Nonetheless, as long as I stay online, much of what was lost will be coming back, just not all of it. This will be a very long term project. If anything else, over the next week or two I'm going to attempt to restore what I've shared in the last couple of months. After that, I'm not promising anything. You're welcome to make a polite request, and I'll do my best to fulfill it. Above all else, I would appreciate your feedback on how you think it would be best for me to proceed. A hearty thanks to anyone that's contributed to and read these pages. Keep it lit.
Well, the whole Rapidshare mess remains thoroughly unresolved, so in the meantime all future entries will direct you to a d/l link with an alternate file hoster. In short, any link with a netkups addy should still work.
It's difficult to say who among the throngs of talented indie guitar-pop outfits that called Perth, Australia home in the mid-80s onward was "king" so to speak. Take your pick - DM3, Stems, Triffids, Early Hours, and Marigolds amongst the most preeminent of the bunch. As luck would have it, Dom Mariani who headed the first two of that lot I just rattled off, hooked up with Kim Williams (formally of the Holy Rollers) for what was to be a brief one-off recording session in '86 that ultimately yielded a new life force of it's own in the shape of the Summer Suns. Mariani, having had his day in the Sun, left the band not long after they had gestated, leaving Williams as CEO. Once referred to as a "revolving door for Western Australia's premiere pop musicians" due to ever shifting lineups, the Suns shined more resplendent jangle than garage-addled angst, and I wouldn't have done it the other way around. Right up until the mid-90s, Williams and Co. recorded for such iconic indie imprints as we Get Hip, Bus Stop, Parasol and Waterfront, leaving behind an album, two eps and roughly a half-dozen singles. Greatest, as it's title capably implies, is a creme de la creme compendium, entailing roughly 60-70% of the Summer Suns discography. Limited to a CD pressing of 1000 copies, it quickly sold out a few years ago, but fear not, it's available here and now, ready to regale you with such diamonds as "She Understands," "Brighter Than the Sun," and "Ash and Cinders."
01. Thank You Holly
02. Ash and Cinders
03. Why SayNo
04. She Understands
05. Another Carrie Anne
07. The Angel Angeline
08. Brighter Than the Sun
09. Why I Fell
10. Politics of Love
11. All for Her
12. Love in Stone
13. In Your Eyes
14. Waiting for My Love
17. Rachel Anne
18. Girl in a Mexican Restaurant
19. All Away
20. Hey Little Sister
22. Run Like Hell
It appears Rapidshare has put a "lock" on my account, and as of right now, no download links are active. Not sure what this means yet, but I hope to have this straightened out soon. Sit tight, and wish me luck.
Even with the rampant resurgence of vinyl, one particular species I never expected to see again was the compilation 7." They were around in plentiful supply back in the '80s and even more so in the Clinton-era, with scores of them packed like sardines into indie record store bins, and clogging up ad space in the pages of Maximum Rock n' Roll. This particular comp (evidently without an actual title) came out in late 2012 on the upstart Zoo & a Movie label, and being it's the only various artists 45 that I know of to date in this decade (heck, maybe even the last one too), it's something of an outlier. As for the artists and tracks comprising it, this record strikes me as a bit random, albeit loosely stitched together with a concomitant lo-fi thread. Bit of a regional bent here as well with the participants hailing from San Fran, Charleston, SC, and Louisville.
Gnome Wrecker/Dwarf Corpse (guess they couldn't settle on either monikers) commence "Still Asleep" with a spicy guitar lead before settling into something a bit more demure, complimenting their hushed vocal fixation. Frisco's co-ed Lucky Eyes, the only entity to appear twice on this record, are by default the most consistent contributors, with fervent power-chord rave-ups, and an overarching panache that vaguely resembles latter-era X. The Party Girls' "If 6 Was 6" tinkers with a dissonant minor-chord lick that stays lovingly etched in your noggin' for at least an hour or town after encountering it. The Mack (featuring Louisville's John and Jeff Shelton) take us on a lovelorn acoustic jaunt, sporting what sounds to be an upright bass. Saving the best for (almost) last Lawn Yachts (aka Douglas Robertson) dish out a scalding slice of feedbacky noise-pop, "Field of Poppies." that would do the likes of early Sebadoh more than proud. Hope there's more were this came from.
The record is available directly from Zoo & a Movie. I'm offering two songs from it below. If you like what you hear please support the bands!
You probably wouldn't guess it from either side of this wax, but Manifesto frontman Michael Hampton was bandmates with a pre-Black Flag Henry Rollins in State of Alert, and later in Void. A little later in the mid-80s he teamed with Ian MacKaye as the guitarist for seminal post-hardcore pioneers Embrace. As if that wasn't an impressive enough pedigree, after his stint in that reluctant emo set, Hampton promptly graduated to One Last Wish in 1986, joining Brendan Canty and Guy Picciotto, later of Fugazi. As for the band in question, Manifesto were an entirely different kettle of fish, trading in post-hardcore for a modus operandi that barely registered as post-punk. Impeccably tight and sonically bold, the trio vaguely delves into the loftiness of Night Time-era Killing Joke on "Burn," while "Long Time" strikes a more lucid tone and plays to Hampton's melodic strengths. Manifesto signed to Atlantic in the throes of Seattle-mania, and released an unremarkably colorless album in 1992 that I recall really, really detesting at the time. After enjoying this 45 to fairly large extent, I'm tempted to retrace my steps.
...but before posting anything new, I'd appreciate it if some of you could test out a random link to confirm everything has been resolved. If I don't receive any responses to this entry I'll take that as good news.
I'd like to thank all of you who contributed fixes and hints when I initially sounded the alarm last night. Turns out I had been uploading everything to the root directory of my R/S account, when all I needed to do was create a folder and stick all the files in there. Again, if there are any problems or concerns please follow up. Cheers.
It was just brought to my attention that my Rapidshare links have all been set to "Private" and are apparently inaccessible to everyone except myself. This is a Rapidshare-wide issue, and not limited to me.
I would appreciate it if some of you could "test" a random link or two, and report back the exact error you are receiving. Played around with the settings in R/S and have seen no obvious way to get around this issue. Could be a day or two (or perhaps longer) before everything is operational again. *Sigh.* Stay tuned.
While I unearthed nary a shred of info on this Jamaica Plains, Mass five-piece, the music occupying these grooves is plenty robust - if not a bit slick at times. In fact, as far as the opening salvo, "Dark Promises" goes, you'd perfectly be in your right mind to dismiss Ata-Tat as angling for the steeper echelons of the FM dial. Luckily, this crew possessed the substance to match the style, and I find that style generally manifesting itself in the mold of lower rung '80s Top-40 hopefuls like Hipsway and Level 42, albeit in a more tolerable package. Yeah, I'm going to lose a bunch of punk/hipster points with this joint...but give it a chance.
Something tells me I'm going to be all over the map this week, so why not start with something as alien as I've ever offered? I submit to you Breakfast in Bed, a Boston-area trio who were seemingly immune to anything resembling a power chord. As for power cords, now that's more like it, especially when one was connected to Dana Caus' invariably pinging synthesizer, which was the primary component of BIB's dissonant, no-wave bent. The proprietor of Waxidermy espouses the notion
that Breakfast in Bed purloined some of their cues from A Certain Ratio, an adventurous Factory Records post-punk outfit. While I concur, "Edge of a Cliff" and the title track, among others, feature Doug Klayman’s shifty, fretless bass poppin,’ recalling the funk-informed mannerisms of Gang of Four and APB as well. I'm feeling some Pere Ubu on this record too. Make no mistake, Australian Coffee is about as anti-mainstream as it gets, with a thick, avant glaze permeating every square inch. No pop tunes, but still rewarding. 01. Fortune Cookies 02. Feel Much Better 03. Aqua Vitae 04. Splash 05. Edge of a Cliff 06. Australian Coffee 07. Incident North 08. Skin
Here's a fairly young relic from a co-ed Seattle contingent I introduced ya'll to many moons ago, via a split release with them and Mars Accelerator. I mentioned in that entry I was impressed enough by Adding Machine's side of the affair to investigate this album. Suspicious Package isn't particularly suspect per se, but it's inconsistency is hard to overlook. The good: Adding Machine are crisp, adept players, allocating the precise dosage of clangy, strummy fretwork that often emanates the same stripe of synergy that the Sugarplastic made their calling card. The not so good: vocalist Jason Roos, whose nerdy aptitude falls shy of torpedoing the ship, but a bitch to get accustomed to nonetheless. Package's wry observations are best unwrapped when abetted by a healthy serving of melody, employed to it's fullest extent on "I Like It That Way" and "Will You Remember Me?"
01. Thank You, Arlys
04. Crime Scene
05. I Like It That Way
06. Chicken, Chicken
08. A Return to Quality
09. Will You Remember Me?
10. Little Sally Haircit
11. Jenny's Identity Crisis
12. What's Up Wanda L?
13. Excitement! http://netkups.com/?d=10d575475ffc4
Here's my second convenient segue in as many days. The mere mention of the Blake Babies in the last night's Mysteries of Life entry prompted me to delve into my trove of live shows. Out came this little gem - perhaps not a show for the ages, as they say, but still very good. Best of all, for you "lossless" types in the audience, I've decided to keep this one intact. Translation: these files are in FLAC, not MP3.
Recorded ten years to the day in advance of what was to be the most monumental tragedy on American soil, the Blake Babies performance at Stache's in Columbus was captured by an attendee, with the audio quality rivaling that of a soundboard tape. The band was touring in support of the Sunburn album, and it's subsequent ep, Rosy Jack World. Plenty of deep cuts make it into the set, and the trio saves covers of Wire's "Outdoor Miner" and Dino Jr.'s "Severed Lips" for dessert.
A very big thank you to whomever recorded this concert, assembled the artwork (wasn't me on either count) and for just plain making this available. I'm also sharing the Babies' Sunburn demos and Nicely, Nicely ep.
02. Take Me
03. Out There
04. I'm Not Your Mother
05. Lost & Saved
06. I'll Take Anything
07. Youre Way Or The Highway
10. Temptation Eyes
12. All I Need
14. Outdoor Miner
15. Severed Lips
16. Nirvana http://netkups.com/?d=57b3ea7864aee
Upon looking up Sardina the other night on the Indiana Music Archive, I was reminded of another band with ties to the Hoosier State, The Mysteries of Life. Anyone with a keen awareness of them is more likely to conjure up a connection to a seemingly more logical locale, Massachusetts, given that's where drummer/mouthpiece Freda (Boner) Love made a name for herself alongside Juliana Hatfield and John Strohm in the Blake Babies. Freda and John were actually indiginous to Indiana, and after the Babies fractured in the early '90s, the pair moved back to their homestate and regrouped as Antenna. Long story short, Freda eventually married Antenna bassist Jake Smith, and so the seeds of MoL were sewn. Here's a neat and tidy bio blurb presented verbatim:
Led by the husband-and-wife team of singer/guitarist Jake Smith and
drummer Freda Love (both formerly of Antenna), the Bloomington,
Indiana-based alternative pop band the Mysteries of Life also comprised
keyboardist Dale Lawrence, celloist Geraldine Haas, bassist Kenny
Childers and drummer LonPaul Ellrich. After debuting with the single
"Kira," the group signed to RCA to issue their 1996 LP Keep a Secret;
following a pair of indie label EPs, Focus on the Background and
Anonymous Tip, the Mysteries of Life resurfaced with the full-length
Come Clean in 1998. They later released the superb "Distant Relative" on
in-house record label No Nostalgia in 2001. Released "Beginning To
Move" in 2006 on Affirmitive/MFT. Currently Jake and Freda live in
Nottingham England and continue to play and record. A new album of
recordings is expected in 2008.
My familiarity with the band is largely limited to their respectable 1996 bow Keep a Secret. A friend recently lent me a pre-album promo 7" containing "Going Through the Motions" (which later appeared on the LP) backed with two exclusive tracks, "Catch My Fall" and "The Only Stars," the latter possibly being a cover as the songwriting credits don't coincide with anyone in the MoL roster. The single sounds particularly crackly, but I did my best to edit out the more egregious pops and snaps. "Going Through..." was actually taken from the CD to save me some trouble. I'm also tacking on their cover of the Volcano Suns chestnut, "White Elephant." Much more Mysteries audio, including live performances can be taken from their IMA page.
A. Going Through the Motions
B1. Catch My Fall
B2. The Only Stars plus: White Elephant
Another Zeppelin album cover parody? Guess it would be kind of hard to convince you it was a mere coincidence, huh? Been meaning to share this one for awhile though. Where do I start, let's see. I'll give away the conclusion before I get into any specifics. Were Sardina'sPresents to come bursting out of the starting gate today, donning a Merge or Sub Pop logo on the back sleeve, the indie cognoscenti would be revering them just as much as the Arcade Fire and Iron and Wine. Spearheaded by one Michelle Marchesseault with three capable gents in tow (all of whom pitch in with the songwriting), this unheralded Indianapolis quartet eschewed any of the requisite "chick-rock" connotations of their era, which is an accomplishment unto itself. In fact, Presents doesn't feel indigenous to the '90s in virtually any capacity, bearing a fresh, almost surreal sonic tapestry at times. The commencing "Ding Dong, the Liberty Horse" melds sing-songy verses with bendy, tremolo inflected guitar lines, infusing it's stunning three minutes with an addictive sway. On the same "pop" continuum, "Liberty Horse" is quickly followed up by the equally winsome "I'll Be Around," and elsewhere on Presents first half, Sardina tinker with Pixies-esque juxtapositions on "Cockadoodledoo" and "Pickled Frogs" to mixed effect. Marchesseault exudes her inner torchbearer on the strikingly lucid "Hey," proclaiming, "I'm all about your trouble, I'm all about your pain," with melodic, wrenching conviction. Following suit are a bevy of chilled-out numbers that occasionally suggest what Edie Brickell might have accomplished had she taken the alt-rock bull by the horns after that annoying one-hit-wonder of hers faded away. My words really don't do this disk justice, so you know what to do next. For a bit more text, which btw mentions the 2008 passing of drummer Lonpaul Ellrich, check out this piece from Balkans via Bohemia.
Sardina's biographical details are best outlined on their Indiana Music Archive site, and even more rewarding (that is if you take to this album), a robust selection of live shows and unreleased studio tracks can be enjoyed here.
01. Ding Dong, the Liberty Horse
02. I'll Be Around
03. Pickled Frogs
04. He's on Drugs Again
06. The Formula
08. Travel and Tourism
09. Big Man
11. Wagon Wheel
12. Messy Moe
It has been requested that I remove the link. Sorry.
Yep, that's a Led Zeppelin album parody you're looking at kid, only this record is a 45, and there's no rotating panorama thingy inside the cover. The Leslies were a fairly sublime guitar-pop combo that issued a handful of albums in the mid-to-late '90s. The purpose of this record was to introduce the band to an American audience, albeit at a micro level. Per the sleeve notes on the back, the four songs were taken from four different phases of the band's career. Featured are selections from their albums Totally Brilliant and Of Today - For Today, as well as a cover of Marshall Crenshaw's superlative "Favorite Waste of Time," which was only otherwise available on the Japanese version of Brilliant. The Leslies tended to skew more in the direction of American acts like Greenberry Woods and the Posies, than ones residing on their home turf. I think I recall reading somewhere that American Pop Project intended to put out some of their albums in the States, but that apparently didn't come to fruition. At any rate, enjoy this.
01. That's Me
02. Favorite Waste of Time
04. Cinema Song
From what I understand, Cries owned and/or operated the Water Music recording studio in Hoboken, NJ. A series of bands who recorded there in the '80s contributed songs to the Water Music Compilation Album (featuring among others the dB's, The Wind, and Let's Active's Faye Hunter), which I shared in it's entirety a few years ago. At the time this 1983 ep was tracked however, that recording studio must not have been in existence, as Between the Bricks is credited to being cut at New York's renown A&R Studios. This might explain this disk's rather pronounced sheen, which cues in on the Cries doling out highly competent songs skirting the periphery of new wave and power pop, with more than a nod and a wink to mainstream FM outlets where the trio ostensibly hoped to gain a foothold. "Death in Boston" is indelibly tuneful from moment one, benefiting from soothing harmonies and a pulsing synth line. "Goodbye is a Sure Thing" is slicker, resembling period Jackson Browne but just as enjoyable, with the concluding "She is Her Own Spirit" complying to a similar formula. Other than the ep in question, and a song they contributed to the aforementioned Water Music comp, I'm not sure if this was all that Cries had to their credit. A pretty minimal discography is you ask me. You can see bigger, clearer scans of both sides of the record sleeve here, including some very charitable liner notes on the back.
01. Death in Boston
02. Midtown Frontiersmen
03. Goodbye is a Sure Thing
04. She is Her Own Spirit
So far as I can see, the most recent mentions of New York's Woofing Cookies have largely been limited to Ebay auctions. That being said, there's minimal info to be had on them, though a fan-based Myspace page has a scan of their biography taken from a press kit of some sort. "In the City" isn't the Jam classic, or even the Eagles tune of the same name. Instead, it's a W/C original that stands at the nexus of power pop, garage, and warm, raw indie rock. The flipside to this Peter Buck-produced wax, "VB Side," offers some mild dynamic tangents, but strikes me as a bit underwritten by comparison. I'm also tacking on an additional cut, "Such a Mistake," from a preceding single. Rough-hewn, strummy goodness abounds. The Cookies also have a full length to their credit that I hope to get my mitts on soon.
The Whooping Cranes were a relatively approachable NYC post-punk proposition, but perhaps not immediately accessible. Swiping a tad of Gang of Four's rhythmic ebb and flow, and spicing up their concoction with fretless bass guitar, the trio impress along the lines of Volcano Suns and fIREHOSE (or more precisely the latter’s lesser known
protégés of the period, Agitpop). Melodic gestures crop up on “Away” and "Burning Bridges" that run vaguely parallel
to early ’80s REM, but these examples are more the exception than the
rule on That's What I Need. A 45, "Hope," preceded the album in '86.
01. The Will is the Way
02. Never Turn Away
03. That Empty Space
04. Not My Type
05. Burning Bridges
06. Days Gone By
08. What a Week
09. Creeping Shadows
Before proceeding further I would like to extend a Happy New Year to everyone. I'd be remiss if I failed to thank all of you for visiting Wilfully Obscure, and extra special gratitude is in order for those of you who were generous to provide me with music to review, whether it was physical or otherwise. I don't get to everything, but I am listening.
If I was really stoked about current indie music, I wouldn't be placing such inordinate emphasis on music from twenty to thirty years ago. So why am I so jaded? Probably because everything has been seen and done to the nth degree and I require something extra stimulating - akin to that extra dosage of medication that's necessary once the body has built a tolerance to once normal allotments. Actually it isn't quantity so much as quality that I crave. So what constitutes quality? Like many of you, I privately "grade" albums/singles on a scale of 1 to 10 all the time, and ideally my Top 20 lists should consist of all 8's or above. Well, 2012 wasn't exactly ideal, as was 2010 or '11. There were in fact many, many 7's, but I could only wedge so many into my admittedly self indulgent list. The majority of slots are occupied by repeat offenders (Ben Folds, Motion City, Ringo Deathstarr, et al), and for good reason given the quality of their records, but this year I'm coming up embarrassingly short in terms of fresh faces. Could be that I'm not looking hard enough, or that my expenses don't allow me to take chances as I so often used to. Then there's all the folks who put out new product this year that I simply didn't get to: Gavin Guss, Ken Stringfellow, Bailter Space, Cloud Nothings, NOFX, and oodles more. I'm sure I've missed some good 'uns, and every new year, without fail, I subsequently find albums from the previous year that in a perfect world would have made it into my Top-20 in time. Thankfully, none of you are keeping track.
Though I didn't add any titles to my all-time desert island list, Japandroids came damn close to making the cut. Had the entire Ben Folds Five reunion disk been as consistent as it's first half it would have probably made my number one pick. Spotlight Kid's purist dream-pop revivalism was near stunning at times, and Nada Surf clocked in with their most satisfying album in about a decade. Graig Markel's new acoustic solo platter was a spare and emotional, analogue-tracked delight, rounding out a very solid top-five. Joe from one of my fave '00s enterprises, The Braves reemerged in Wire Sparrows, Pop Zeus brought the fuzz in fine fashion, Songs for Snakes picked at the carcass of Jawbreaker, much to my delight, and Dot Dash may very well have delivered the most gratifying pure-pop album of the year. As for reissues, I'm going to let my list speak for itself, but I've got a major beef with Moss Icon's supposed Complete Discography, which leaves off songs - and no tracklist, are you kidding me? At any rate, enjoy. There is no music accompanying this post.
2012 Top-twenty albums
01. Japandroids – Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl)
02. Ben Folds Five – The Sound of the Life of the