Thursday, September 28, 2017

Guided By Voices - Learning to Hunt (1988, aborted album)

It's been a long time between posts everyone, my apologies.  I hope this makes up for it.  What we have here is a hypothetical GBV album, one that would have probably slotted in between Devil Between My Toes and Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia.  The fourteen songs presented here eventually found their way onto Self-Inflicted, and much later on rarities and outtakes collections including the Suitcase series.  After the jump is an explanation (provided by gbvdb.com) penned by Robert Griffin of Scat Records, the label Learning to Hunt was slated to be issued on.  If you are unfamiliar with anything Robert Pollard and his varying guild of compatriots were up to prior to such seminal favorites as Propeller and Bee Thousand, this is actually a handy and often satisfying way to acquaint yourself with early Guided By Voices.  This album (that never quite was) contains some of the burgeoning band's most affecting songs, included but not limited to "Paper Girl," "We've got Airplanes" and "Liar's Tale." 

From Robert Griffin (Scat Records): "Of course there may have been a few different sequences, but Learning to Hunt goes like this (according to a cassette Bob gave me when we were putting together the first Box). I don't know where the side break would go. A few of the songs wound up on Self Inflicted..." Also, this: "Below are the sequenced track lists for Back to Saturn X and Learning to Hunt, direct from the cassettes that Bob gave me when we were putting together the King Shit... LP. I'm not sure where the side breaks would have been, Bob didn't indicate that on the j-cards. Both of these records were totally ready to be put into production - edited master tapes, completed artwork, but in each case Bob decided at the last minute that were fatally flawed and 'shitcanned' them." (Note: see the separate Back To Saturn X for that aborted LP's tracklisting).

01. Taco, Buffalo, Birddog and Jesus
02. Blue Gil
03. Slopes of Big Ugly
04. Paper Girl
05. Turbo Boy
06. Soul Flyers
07. Let's Go Vike
08. Dust Devil
09. Uncle Dave
10. Settlement Down
11. The Qualifying Remainder
12. Liar's Tale
13. We've Got Airplanes
14. Short on Posters

http://www36.zippyshare.com/v/CFZ2ZKu2/file.html

Sunday, September 24, 2017

I'll make an impression they can't forget.

A bittersweet debut album from 1988.

Here

Pop Art - A Perfect Mental Picture (1985, Stonegarden)

Recently had a request for this one.  It was originally hosted on another blog, but my understanding is that the link is long dead.  At any rate, this isn't the first Pop Art product I've shared before.  I'm still hosting the records that sandwich this one, namely a self-titled ep and their second full length, Long Walk to NowhereA Perfect Metal Picture might be their best, filled with wall to wall Anglophile pop homage - only Pop Art hailed from L.A....and had fake Brit accents.  This will be pleasant surprise for those of you who are craving the second coming of Aztec Camera, or Postcard Records type bands.  Enjoy (or not)

01. One
02. The Party
03. The Meeting
04. October Wind
05. Wanted Man
06. Reduced
07. Walrus of Love
08. Trapped in a Fire
09. Planting
10. Four Long Days
11. Sunshine Club
12. Anxious Call
13. The Porch
14. In Between

http://www100.zippyshare.com/v/3lnB0dDi/file.html

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Chris Bell - I Am the Cosmos Delxue edition (2017, Omnivore) - A brief overview.

So much has been written and anthologized about Chris Bell that I'm bound to sound redundant regardless of what length I limit myself to, so maybe I'll keep this on the brief side.  For the uninitiated Bell was a Memphis songwriter/musician who made his mark in the local scene in the late '60s via little known collaborations Icewater and Rock City.  By 1971 he hooked up with ex-Box Top Alex Chilton who along with Andy Hummel and Jody Stephens formed the heralded proto-power pop quartet Big Star.  Bell factored in prominently on Big Star's debut, #1 Record, with a co-songwriting roll alongside Chilton, significantly contributing to the overarching tenor of the album, featuring the aching but strenuous "Feel" and the feel-good "In the Street."  Departing the band acrimoniously in 1972, Bell spent the next six years of his life making a name for himself in his own right with little to show for it, - that is while he was still alive.  He passed away in late 1978 in a car accident, leaving an unreleased album's worth of material on the reel.  Big Star's legend posthumously grew in stature in the 1980s and beyond, and with it a series of reissues saw the light of day in 1992, among them Chris Bell's solo recordings, compiled under the title I Am the Cosmos.  This month Omnivore Records have issued an expanded version of the album, along with a vinyl box set featuring his entire solo recorded output and pre-Big Star endeavors.

If Bell's contributions to the first Big Star album gave us a peephole view into his soul, I Am the Cosmos offers a vast window into the human condition.  The title track (released as a single during his lifetime) is a forlorn and wrenching romantic lament revealing the extent of his conflicted psyche.  The opposite side of that 45, "You and Your Sister" cuts the tension, but exudes no shortage of Bell laying it all out on the line for a woman who has misgivings about him.  "Fight at the Table" is a fun piano driven rocker that shows his capabilities in less angstier realms, while the born-again "Better Save Yourself" makes it's point without getting preachy.  And would you believe I've only touched on one third of the album?  There's no doubt that Bell struggle with depression and his inability to further his career in his lifetime factored into the overarching themes on Cosmos, themes that would in fact be adopted by generations of jaded listeners.

You'd be forgiven if you have "reissue fatigue" in regards to I Am the Cosmos.  After all, this double disk reissue follows up yet another two CD reassessment of the album, specifically the Rhino Records edition from less than ten years ago.  Omnivore's expansion actually cleaves off a handful of Icewater and Rock City tracks, which in fairness were recently moved over to the Chris Bell pre-Big Star collection, Looking Forward.  So what are we getting in exchange?  Essentially more of what we love, in the form of copious alternate takes, mixes and backing tracks of the precious few original songs Bell left us.  All of the extras might be getting too far in the weeds for more casual fans, but then again, are there really any "casual" Chris Bell fans?  See for yourself, straight from Omnivore or Amazon

Bash and Pop - Friday Night is Killing Me (1993/2017, Omnicore) - A brief overview.

Just for the record, in the post-Replacements sweepstakes let it be known that Tommy Stinson's Bash & Pop debut Friday Night is Killing Me beat Paul Westerberg's premiere solo juncture 14 Songs to the clock by a good half a year in 1993.  I suppose if you want to get really technical, Paul had his two songs on the Singles soundtrack a year prior, and of course their was original Mats drummer Chris Mars who released his first solo disk, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades in 1992, but I digress.  All competitiveness aside, The newly reissued and vastly expanded Friday Night.. floored virtually anyone who encountered it.  Thing is, this record had a lot going against it at the time - veritably overshadowed in an era of high-stakes grunge, metal and the emerging Brit-pop movement.  Secondly, despite his reputation as founding member of the Replacements, he was after all the bassist and a minimally contributing songwriter.

In essence, the prospect of a Tommy Stinson spinoff project didn't quite garner or match the anticipation of Westerberg's 14 Songs.  Luckily, Tommy had connections to ex-Mats fill-in drummer Steve Foley and Wire Train's Jeff Trott who not only helped flesh out the ranks, but infused Friday Night with a ferociousness that could rival the latter-era Mats' live setup.  Comparisons to his former meal ticket are inevitable (and I'll even broach one of my own in a minute), but to my ears it sounds like Tommy had profoundly studied Keith Richards 1988 solo outing Talk is Cheap.  In terms of further inspiration antecedents, Stephen Thomas Erlewine's All Music critique of Bash & Pop entails multiple references to the Faces.  A more than valid argument, but much akin to Richards/Stones and the Faces, B&P plays their hand rambunctiously as-all-get-out yet never quite careens off the rails.  It takes a certain acumen to balance rough hewn with roughshod, and Stinson and Co. possess just the right skill set to put this kind of magic off.  Friday Night is chockablock with rollicking, seemingly tossed-off wonders like "Hang Ups" and "Fast and Hard," the latter with Paul Westerberg on backing vox.  Elsewhere, "One More Time" might have slotted in on the Mat's Pleased to Meet Me, and the boys strike a more consoling tone on the tamer "Nothing" and "First Steps."

Between Tommy's next endeavor, Perfect, a decade-plus stint with a reconstituted Guns N' Roses, and even a Replacements reunion, it would be another 24 years for Bash & Pop to belly up to the bar with a follow-up (check out this year's Anything Could Happen).  Regardless of the prolonged layover, Friday Night stood as a testament to Stinson's capabilities as a frontman and song scribe, and remarkably stands up over twenty years later.  Omnivore Record's reissue of the album in question is duly remastered, but the gravy is an 18-song bonus disc that commences with a quartet of solo home demos.  These lead into a handful of studio outtakes, some only appearing on hard to find promotional 45s.  The majority of the remaining tracks are a bevy of alternate takes, many none-too-discernible from the album versions, though an extra-strummy spin of "Tiny Pieces" stands out.  You can buy the whole enchalada straight from Omnivore, Amazon, and hopefully a local brick and mortar record dive near you.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Our American Cousins - demo (1990)

It's amazing that a relatively "minor" piece of music recorded almost three decades ago made the kind of effect on me this tape did a couple of days ago when I went to play it for the first time.  I think I received Our American Cousins demo a few years back in a bundle of cassettes I purchased on Ebay.  I went into this with little to no expectations.  To my surprise I was treated to a quartet of dazzling mid-fidelity pop tunes from a New Jersey coed troupe who by the sounds of things had their collective gaze fixed upon the Brit indie pop scene of the late '80s.  You know - early Primal Scream, maybe some June Brides, a whiff or two of those early Ride eps.  Dabblings into shoegazer and even punk-pop make themselves faintly evident as well.  Top it all off with a hint of grainy sonic mystique, and by Jove, we may have picked a winner.  Per their Discogs tally, OAC released a bundle of singles, but alas, no full length.  The opening cut, "One Wish Too Many" has a pesky audio dropout at around the one minute mark, but it looks like the tune materialized on one of their 45s.  As of 2014 it looks like the group reunited

01. One Wish Too Many
02. Come On, Come On
03. Ice 9
04. Fuzzbox

http://www52.zippyshare.com/v/9Kmq9JlH/file.html

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Elevators - Frontline (1980)

More Massachusetts tuneage for you, only these lads weren't from Boston, rather a little further west in Northampton.  What few references that exist online regarding The Elevators invariably attach the new wave tag to this quintet, but power pop is more applicable.  Adopting the more gimmicky attributes of The Cars and Cheap Trick, it's pretty clear a few songs into Frontline that the Elevators are not cut from austere cloth.  There's something cheeky afoot on this record, but a more ironic angle would have made this one stick out a little more.  Lines like "Love is like wearing a rayon shirt/making me itch and making me sweat" are about as deep as these folks get.  Frontline doesn't offer much in the way of knockouts, but fortunately it's a record that will capably stimulate fans of Tommy Tutone, The A's and the Clocks.

01. Frontline
02. Girlfriend's Girlfriend
03. Stop the World
04. Stickball Kids
05. Lie Detector
06. Don't Let me Die
07. Tropical Fish
08. Lies
09. Johnny
10. Friends
11. On the Wire

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

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Turning a trick on a west end street...

Nouveau yacht rock anyone?  Yes, this is better than I'm making it sound.  I've even tacked on a podcast with more details on this mysterious duo.  Enjoy.

Here

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Nova Mob - s/t (1994, Restless)

Thursday morning I learned that Grant Hart, drummer and co-vocalist of my all time favorite band, Husker Du, had passed away from cancer, a diagnosis I was ignorant to up until the announcement.  That plain-clothed power-trio from Minneapolis set me on the most exciting and visceral musical trajectory of my life.  They opened many a door for me.  I never witnessed Husker Du live, but had the opportunity to spend some time with Grant Hart, and am grateful for having the privilege of doing so.

The truth is, I had a closer affinity to Bob Mould's post-Husker endeavors than Grant's.  Still, every record he put his stamp on was at the very least worth investigating.  The self-titled second album from Grant's next band, Nova Mob, was well above average and worthy of the kind of copious praise heaped upon Sugar and Bob's early solo records.  It's also the most guitar-oriented album Grant was involved with outside of   Husker Du.  Some outright great songs present - "Old Empire," "Little Miss Information" and "Shoot Your Way to Freedom."  Many Hart related releases preceded and followed Nova Mob, but it's the closest he would come to perfection in his own right.  It's quite sobering to know that the voice behind these songs, and so many classics like "Green Eyes," "Sorry Somehow" and "Turn on the News" has been silenced.  Rest in peace, Admiral of the Sea

01. Old Empire
02. Shoot Your Way To Freedom
03. Puzzles
04. Buddy
05. See and Feel and Know
06. Little Miss Information
07. I Won't Be There Anymore
08. Please Don't Ask
09. The Sins of Their Sons
10. Beyond A Reasonable Doubt
11. If I Was Afraid
12. Not Talking About
13. Evergreen Memorial Drive

http://www35.zippyshare.com/v/a5IWlRTp/file.html

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Boys With Toys - Big House (1985, Hot Fudge)

Info on this Iowa City trio is pretty scant, but a brief primer can be found here.  I believe Brad Jones (ostensibly the Boys frontman, though I can't confirm) eventually went on to record a solo disk for Big Deal Records a decade after Big House hit the racks.  As for Boys With Toys proper, they struck a pretty reasonable compromise between power pop and rootsy rockabilly.  Their "pop" angle loosely resembled the Romantics and Plimsouls...but I wouldn't get too excited.  "Every Young Boys Heart" and "Ain't No Picture Show" twirl my knob the most.  Enjoy (or not).

01. Every Young Boys Heart
02. Cold Grey Morning
03. I Been Dreamin' too
04. Ain't No Picture Show
05. Holdin' On
06. Two by Two
07. In The Mood for Me
08. Oh Oh, No No
09. Rockin' and Rollin'
10. Don't Put Your Perfume on Tonight

http://www39.zippyshare.com/v/Kx7gUNTq/file.html

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Looking at my watch and I'm half-past caring.

The Japanese version of this Scottish band's 1990 debut containing several b-sides as bonus tracks. 

Here

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Bob Mould - Workbook demos (1988)

My apologies if it seems like I've been phoning it in lately.  Hopefully in the near future I'll be able to provide you with a "normal" amount of content again.  Until then I have this.  Workbook was Bob Mould's first album after dissolving Husker Du in the tail end of 1987 (or was it early 1988).  That band veritably changed my life and musical trajectory.  It surprised a lot of people when Bob returned to music with an unabashedly acoustic endeavor.  By coincidence, Workbook was very much in the same league as Richard Thompson, another acoustic-y singer/songwriter.  At any rate, here are eight drum machine-driven sketches for the album in question (some of which btw never gestated past the demo stage)Dare I say an audio workbook for a Workbook?

01. Brasilia Crossed With Trenton
02. If You're True
03. Sunspots
04. Wishing Well
05. Walls in Time
06. Heartbreak a Stranger
07. Dreaming I Am
08. Trade

MP3 (320 bps)  or  FLAC

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Walt Mink - El Producto (1996)

Hard to believe an indie band of any stripe would become more inspired upon making the jump to a major label.  Nevertheless, Urge Overkill, Surgery, and what's that other one...oh yeah, Nirvana, all seemed to gain a stronger sonic/lyrical foothold when the big boys rang the dinner bell.  This phenomenon could be pure coincidence, but I'd lump Walt Mink into that elite fold, with their lone Atlantic Records release, El Producto.  Their third proper album, Producto yielded little in the way of hits (thanks in part to a nil-promotional push), but in terms of proficiency and hook saviness it's probably the most convincing album of their tenure.  From the buzzy power pop of "Betty," the dexterous guitar splay of the uncanny "Overgrown," to the bowl-em-over thrash pop scorcher "Little Sister," you'd be hard pressed to claim this lil' rekid doesn't persuade in one way or another.  Gotta love those arpeggiated guitar fills too.  Make sure to check out our previous Walt Mink entry surrounding a pair of early demo albums here

01. Stood Up
02. Everything Worthwhile
03. Betty
04. Overgrown
05. Settled
06. Me & My Dog
07. Little Sister
08. Up & Out
09. #246
10. Listen Up
11. Sunshine M
12. Love in the Dakota

http://www117.zippyshare.com/v/Dcqyu5vI/file.html

Sunday, September 3, 2017

I didn't try to take your love away, I just never knew I had it.

From 2001 & 2003.  Why their first two albums (these ones) go ignored is beyond me.  BTW, LP #7 drops this week.

Here

Friday, September 1, 2017

Fudge - Southside Speedway (1994, Caroline)

In 2009, I offered you no small amount of music/insight regarding Richmond, VA's Fudge, whose weirded-out spin on dream pop was nothing less than sublime on a spate of early singles and an often phenomenal debut, The Ferocious Rhythm of Precise Laziness.  By the time of that particular album (1993) the whole shoegazer shtick was getting a little predictable, but I'll be damned if this crew didn't incorporate something a little indigenous into the recipe - something I was never quite able to put my finger on.  What a difference a year made.  By the time of their '94 follow-up, Southside Speedway, the band had eschewed a lot of that crazy cool haze and tremolo - a development that was a bit of a bummer at first blush.  I have to wonder how many Fudge-istas threw in the towel after checking out SS for the first time.  I know I was almost tempted to, but I persisted and grew into it in almost no time.  On an album that turned out to be their swan song, Southside tilted heavily in the vicinity of American indie rock, with signposts pointing to Superchunk and Monsterland.  There are a few instances of dissonant dross on this bad boy, but thankfully there's plenty of equally primo material that any combo of their ilk would be more than proud of.  But don't take my word for it.  Check out "Patty Hearst Machine Gun," "Superstar Junky," and "Our Francis III," just a handful of excellent songs that transcend any genre-fication Fudge were saddled with (for better or worse).  BTW, the links to most of my previous Fudge entries have been fixed.

01. Tree Fort Stash
02. Dart GT
03. It's Morning, Already
04. Patty Hearst Machine Gun
05. Our Francis III
06. Southside Speedway
07. Feather Splitter
08. Lucky's Tightest T-Shirt
09. Car Stereo Blast Off
10. Superstar Junky
11. Shirts & Skins

http://www106.zippyshare.com/v/7S6tXsle/file.html