Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Pengwins - If U Want 2 7" box, and Nixon's Head/Donuts !Pow/Mod! - A brief overview

So here's the concept.  Say you were in a commendable but unheralded power pop band from about 30 years ago.  You had the privilege of recording about a dozen and a half songs that were fit for public consumption, but only a few trickled out onto an EP that is now out of print, and largely speaking your following was local.  To make this music available again (some of it for the first time) the obvious thing to do would be to cram these songs onto a CD for reissue, and/or go the iTunes route and be done with it.  Or you could get considerably more creative with the idea and release each song as a separate 7" single, with a new song from a reconvened incarnation of said group to accompany the "oldie."  Not finished yet?  Ok, let's say you wanted to prolong the fun, and house each separate single in it's own corrugated cardboard box, with a bonus CD of the songs, plus stickers, photos, commentary, trinkets and other reproductions of ephemera contemporary to the era.

Unless you're Led Zeppelin, not many artists would entertain the thought of such an undertaking, but for the Lannie Flowers fronted Pengwins are already up to the second chapter in this exhaustive and unique saga.  As was the case with the first box in this sixteen part series (Naive/Life After High School), which dropped in late 2013, the packaging and ingredients were nothing short of dazzling, and even more swag is being offered this time around, but I shan't give away any more details that what's depicted above (click on the pic for a closer peek).  Oh yeah, and there's music here too.  The A-side, "If U Want 2" is the newbie, while the alternate side of the coin, the 4-tracked "Look Around" dates back to 1977.  Astonishingly, "Look Around" sounds nearly as current as it's far more recent flip.  The Abbey Road recorded (no joke) "If U Want 2" bears glints of Cheap Trick and Velvet Crush, without getting quite as decadent as either.  In the sampler linked below I'm offering an alternate version of the track, a bonus on the enclosed CD version of the single.  The whole shebang is available from CD Baby or by emailing Spyder Pop Records directly.

In unrelated news, I recently posted a record by Philly's Nixon's Head, Traps, Buckshot and Pelt from 1987.  It turns out that not only is Nixon's Head still present and accounted for, they also have something to show for it, namely a split release with the Donuts.  Each band is allotted their own separate full length CD.  The album title alternates depending on how the sleeve is held.  The Nixon's disk, MOD! showcases a quite different sounding group than their days of yore, going straight for the pleasure center here, deviating between saucy riff-pop, a la recent Sloan, and the refined psychedelic inclinations of the Grip Weeds.  Tracks one through five are proper length tunes, with the remaining 14 clocking in at ninety seconds on average, making for a somewhat intriguing comeback.  The Donuts weren't my cup o' Joe, so instead of doing them a disservice in this write-up, I'm including a representative song from their POW! disk in the sampler so you can draw your own conclusion.  MOD/POW! is available from CD Baby and Nixon's Head's merch page.

Pengwins - If U Want 2 (Abbey Road Rage Version)
Nixon's Head - Lose Me
Donuts - Under Heavy Fire

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