You know that new Teenage Fanclub (Here) you treated yourself to about a month ago? If it's currently occupying a space in your CD or LP rack, you just might want to clear the slot adjacent to it for the album I'm about to discuss herein. Ostensibly deriving their moniker from the spunky My Generation-era Who song of the same name, The Legal Matters are a Motown trio composed of local luminaries Chris Richards, Keith Klingensmith, and Andy Reed, all of whom I understand had a toehold in previous power pop endeavors. And as far as that ubiquitous nomenclature is doled out like so many Snickers fun-sized bars on a Halloween trick or treat run, the power quotient isn't consistently palpable on the Matters' second LP, Conrad. Luckily this isn't a problem, because much like their maturing counterparts - Posies, Matthew Sweet, and the aforementioned Fannies, volume and riffs aren't as relevant or in demand these days. Carefully measured and nuanced as these eleven songs may be they often exude time capsule-worthy quality control.
I likely need not mention it, but the Matters hardly reinvent the wheel here, or for that matter add or subtract any spokes. Conrad hardly possesses a revisionist bone in it's anatomy, and yes, you're likely to have encountered the band's modus operandi before, albeit conveyed on behalf of different and more renown artists. Thing is, this trio pull it off effectively without getting bogged down in any sort of pedantic ditch. Their secret weapon? Harmonies, in spades I might add, that are bound to conjure up the timbres of everyone from CS&Y to the Greenberry Woods. From the goes-down-easy persuasion of Conrad's milder fare like "Anything" and "Pull My String" to the more robust arrangements of "Minor Key" and "She Called Me to Say" these lads aim for the sweet spot while deftly curtailing any potential saccharine overload. The Legal Matters make it look all too easy. Truth is these kinda chops (not to mention hooks) take time to hone and marinate...but the main course has just arrived.
You can find Conrad straight from Omnivore Records, Amazon and iTunes. BTW, the vinyl version of the album is bundled with a download code for a vocal-only mix of the record.
Yet another thoroughly blind purchase, although seeing Peter Buck's name in the credits didn't hurt. The eclectic Upbeats were from Athens, GA (or thereabouts) with the band's approximate focal point amounting to one Bill Holmes. Despite being all over the map, Pop Songs has at least two fairly stunning songs going for it, kicking off with "Just Another Pop Song" bearing some Plimsouls-cum-dB's moxie. Peter and brother Ken Buck have cameos on this one "The Laser Beam Boys" manages to best the aforementioned by a whisker, sounding like something Matthew Sweet could have conjured in his Buzz of Delight days. Otherwise, the remainder of Pop Songs traverses a very crooked road, with The Upbeats shuffling lineups from song to song. We get a faithful run through of the Beatles/Stones chestnut "I Wanna Be Your Man." "Mary Jane" could pass for a lukewarm Neil Young outtake, "Jello Party Mania" reeks of utterly goofy shtick, and "Roadrunner" isn't the Bo Diddley or Modern Lovers tune, rather a swank, jazzy instrumental that I do believe some folks would term "yacht rock." Frankly, this unfocused disk reveals itself almost as if were some lost, various artists compilation. I'm not sure if The Upbeats followed this up with anything. Pardon the crumpled, water damaged album jacket (not my doing, I swear).
My share this spring of a previous installment in the Lost in the Haze comp series was met with no small amount of enthusiasm, so I couldn't resist sharing another one (and perhaps more in the offing). For the unacquainted, Not Lame Records was a venerable power pop label and distro, circa the 1990s-'00s. The CEOwould frequently
incentivize purchases by tossing in a handmade
and self-curated cd-r compilation of impossibly rare songs that never
made their way into the digital era proper. God knows how many volumes existed in the Lost in the Haze series alone (at least 19,
obviously). Accompanied only by a tray card track list with no other
pertinent details about the music presented, these compilations were
stuffed into paper cd envelopes, and would tend to accumulate in various
piles in my house. With a veritable absence of artwork they went out
of sight and out of mind for years until I was able to wrastle 'em all together in a tidying up effort a few months ago.
The cool thing about these custom curios was the exposure it gave me to artists I had heard of, just not actually heard. The emphasis of Lost in the Haze was centered on overlooked and arcane also-rans (with the occasional rarity from a superstar) from the '70s to the early '80s. Vol 19 was where I got my first taste of The Elevators, Sherbs, and Elektrics. This playlist was also a handy reminder of how terrific two major label casualties, Interview and The Headboys were, both of whom should have been reissued and anthologized a long time ago. And there's a strikingly curious anomaly for a compilation of this ilk, a collaboration between Shaun Cassidy and Todd Rundgren's Utopia. It was apparently a hit. As for Sparks, they were never really my bag. You can check out the tracklist to your above right.
No doubt marketed as "new wave, Indoor Life's exploratory leanings put this trio well to the left of say, Thompson Twins or Howard Jones. Synth-driven and likely unabashed about it, these chaps eschewed much of their commercial viability and embraced a relatively minimal, not to mention artful approach. Heck, even Indoor
Life’s most approachable and straight-laced forays ("Blue Grey Green" and “Searching”) wouldn’t inch near Top-40 playlists, but throughout this self titled LP there are poignant glints of melody and warmth. I'm really trying to reach for a realistic comparison here, but the best I can surmise might be Urban Verbs and virtual unknowns Instructions. Not for nothing, the concluding "Miuzu" is a bit of a rehash of the opener, "The One I See."
Here's my second post in as any days to reference the Beach Boy's coveted Smile album. This Minnesota trio took their name from the working title of that very album, but their shtick doesn't quite allude to anything particularly Brian Wilson-esque. Steeped in 4-track, lo-fi sonics Dumb Angel's tape manipulations, samples and messy homegrown whimsy weren't far removed from say, early Ween or Sebadoh. Incidentally, two of the Angels (Jon Kimbrough and Joey Waronker) also belonged to Walt Mink, while a neutral party, Tim Gartman was the primary microphone fiend. Recorded in 1990, portions of Topflite are more structured than others, with the tuneful "Sugarbaby" comprising the only track thoroughly winning me over. Make of this what you will. BTW, you can delve into some rare Walt Mink material here.
02. TV Song
03. Jungle Song
04. Me & My Dog
05. Ditty Dum
06. untitled interlude thingy
07. 19th Century School Girls
08. When Grown-ups Sleep in Sunnymede
From 2004. Per a magazine article contemporary to the release of this album, this Hawthorne, CA quartet were on record as stating they regarded the Beach Boys then still unreleased Smile album to be the finest body of musical work ever. Nonetheless, by the sound of the disk I'm presenting today, you'd hardly guess these guys were fans.
I recently had a request for this one. I was damn near over the moon about Sour Landslide's second and regrettably final album, They Promised Us Jobs, circa 1997, which found the Toronto based co-ed trio catapulting into their prime with fourteen slices of buzzsaw power pop, akin to a merger of Shoes and Nirvana. For whatever the reason I gave their first at-bat, Friends of Dracula comparatively short shrift. Lacking the crunch and immediacy of ...Jobs, Friends bore a more subtle modus operandi that proved to be something of a grower for these ears. Maybe that's because Sour Landslide were growing and developing themselves. Unlike that aforementioned swan song, Friends of Dracula conceded more to back-to-basics pop/rock with occasional folky inclinations, putting them more in league with the likes of burgeoning local legends Lowest of the Low. The long and short of it all is that ...Dracula took a significant amount time to sink in with me. Hopefully you'll make Friends faster. By the way "On the Bus isn't the Replacements tune, nor is "William Shatner" a Wedding President cover.
01. Peppermint Patty
02. On the Bus
03. When I Die
04. Here Comes Georgeanne
05. Status in Wonderland
06. All the Signs
08. The Cup's Yours
09. William Shatner
10. Purple Heart
11. Friends of Dracula
12. Hall of Fame
I was so impressed with Living Doll'sEmotional Parade ep that I jumped at the chance to obtain an original copy of their 1984 demo. Upon posting ...Parade four years ago, I remarked that this Seattle trio skirted on the fringes of new wave but deftly wielded a more organic approach. This six-song precursor to that record (produced by Terry Date no less) illustrates that the Dolls had their act together from the get go, melding jangly arpeggios to appropriately melodic songcraft in the realm of Rhythm Corps, Split Enz, and so forth. Highlights entail "Cost of Confusion" (later to be re-cut for Emotional Parade) and the bustling "Making Statements."
Sometimes it can take years for me to excavate all the dollar bin finds i have piled up like so many cable bills around my house - and this happens to be one I just got to over the weekend. I don't know a great deal about their pedigree, but this Melbourne, Oz combo made a spectacular psych-addled noise that was more droney than stony. Just how I like it. Sunset Strip's sophomore LP, Move Right In, exudes reference points like Television, early Screaming Trees, and Seattle's Love Battery (though some of these are likely to be the product of sheer coincidence). Move's... opening trio of tunes alone expose all of the band's key attributes and strengths. The chord bending, "20th Century Girl" is a heady wash of Hendrix-ian maneuvers and indie rock persuasion, "Rainy Day Girls" loosely purloins from the Velvets and Rain Parade, and "I Want to Know" is imbued with the stripe of sludgy and fuzzy proto-grunge that Blue Cheer so capably made their calling card. And the fun doesn't stop there kids. These chaps did their thing with class, albeit with a bit of a derivative angle at times. Not that I'm complaining. Dig in.
01. 20th Century Girl
02. Rainy Day Girls
03. I Want to know
04. Crawl Around
05. Out of Touch, Out of Time
06. Don't You Let Me
07. Move Right In
08. Morning Dew
09. Say Goodbye
Yep, that's the Coca-Cola logo you see at the foot of the sleeve art to your right. Wilfully Obscure has indeed sold out, and in the process has forfeited lock, stock and barrel any remaining shred of credibility to a nebulous, corporate monolith that worships at the alter of the almighty dollar. Ok, so I'm laying it on a tad thick here.
I'm presenting the ninth volume in an ongoing series of fun-sized compilations courtesy of a Dallas, TX record labeled who sought to expose new and emerging musical talent. Thing is, this disk's main draw, Hagfish, were quite established in their north Texas environs, and arguably nationally via a 1995 PolyGram album, ...Rocks Your Lame Ass. Despite having kicked around for a good ten years prior to this compilation, Hagfish were ostensibly still "emerging," but in fairness, they were relegated back to the indie circuit, so maybe it all kinda makes sense. I dunno. Quite frankly this Descendents-y quartet could not merely rock your ass off, but the remainder of your nether regions as well, with a barreling crush of guitars and a swift but smooth delivery system akin to a 200 mph steamroller. Hagfish are represented here with two new songs, ('Wrong" & "Yeung Chen") that were to potentially appear on a 2004 album that ultimately never was, due to the splintering of the band. A crying shame if you ask me. Guitarist Zach Blair would go onto greener pastures in Rise Against later in the decade. You can check out the Hag's pedal-to-the-metal 1994 debut, Buick Men,here.
Rounding things out are two veritable unknowns, The Feds and Sally Majestic, both tailored to the more vigorous end of the rawk radio spectrum, who manage to keep things at a rousing boil without embarrassing themselves.
About four years ago I shared what I assumed to be a demo tape by a Champaign, IL power trio, Milo. I mentioned I had encountered an ep of theirs in the '90s but didn't actually own the thing. As it's come about, I recently acquired said ep, Can We Play Run Around? Turns out what I initially thought was a "demo" was an advance cassette of Can We Play... At any rate, I'm presenting it again from, this time CD sourced and with actual artwork. I stand by my 2012 critique:
Milo subscribed to a scraggly, indie guitar-punk ethos, recalling at
times Titanic Love Affair, the Magnolias, Finger, Liquor Giants, and by
virtue indirectly, the Replacements. Nothing fancy, but effective,
and judging how they poised themselves among this nascent batch of
rollicking tunes they deserved way more attention than they were likely
to have ever received.
A three song 7" followed this ep a few years later. Not that I actually have it of course. Enjoy this upgrade.
01. Empty 'em
02. King of the City
03. Ribbons and Bows
04. The Best Part
05. I Get Burned
I'm surprised that I didn't get to this one a long time ago. Guess it didn't help that I practically forgot I owned it altogether. Not that Berkeley's Jüke were forgettable - completely to the contrary in fact. Aside from some compilation appearances this was the extent of their discography. Jüke definitely had that DIY, Cometbus-punk vibe going for them that reminded me plenty of another gaggle from their neck of the woods, Soup, and to a lesser extent Crimpshrine. This is waaaay more Pinhead Gunpowder than Green Day, and believe me, that's hardly a complaint. There's a helluva lotta groove fortifying "The Child Bride" and "The Reproduction of Existential Angst," due in no small part to some prominent bass potted up nicely in the mix. I'm damn fond of this record. Alongside the ep, I'm tacking on "Retail Therapy" from the Very Small World compilation from 1991. A total blast. If perchance someone in the band comes across this post, by all means get in touch.
01. The Child Bride
02. Kids Will Rock
03. The Standard
04. The Reproduction of Existential Angst plus: Retail Therapy from a Very Small World comp
From 1978, and no doubt some of you have heard this. It's the album that turned me onto the band. One day in the late '80s I was perusing my Mom's boyfriends record rack. Amidst the Poco and Loggins LPs was this rather curious, and comparatively radical anomaly. I'd been acquainted with the name, but not so much the music. I inquired. Her boyfriend explained the record was errantly delivered by Columbia House, and he never bothered to return it. Without any coaxing or suggesting on my part he handed it off to me. And the rest is history.
I recently had a request to revive a link for a Flying Nuns 7" I shared a good eight years ago. I granted that requested, and am going one better here with the expanded CD incarnation of that release, Yard, featuring an additional track not on the vinyl. As I noted in that original entry, Mission of Burma comparisons are largely inevitable when describing the Nuns, also a trio from Beantown. Noisome, clangy guitar play and tense delivery are part and parcel of the band's intoxicating shtick, but so is melody. It's all wrapped up in a distinct post-punk context that these guys were so adept at. Brief, but excellent. A Flying Nuns full length surfaced in 2002, and I believe that's the last we've heard of them.