Sunday, November 18, 2018

Swiss time is on the move...

From 1999.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Dead Boys - Younger, Louder, and Snottier - The Rough Mixes (1997, Bomp)

To this day, I'm still trying to get my head wrapped around the term "rough mix."  Does this translate into "unmixed" or "casually mixed," or even "carelessly mixed?"  All I know is that pre-album mixes (or lack thereof) can sound palpably different from the finished product we pluck off the shelves.  In the case of the first Dead Boys album, Young, Loud and Snotty, the seminal punk record in question didn't sound particularly glossy in the first place.  On this incarnation of the LP, the overarching effect is less bass-y, Cheetah Chrome's guitar wails are a tad more prominent, are the background vocals are more discernible...and that's "roughly" (sorry, couldn't resist) the extent of the discrepancies.  I'm not privy to the fact if actual demos exist for YL&S, but I couldn't imagine them sounding to far off the mark from these unfettered takes.

Young, Loud and Snotty isn't one of my desert island picks, but it did make an impact.  It's even more rollicking at times than Never Mind the Bollocks, not to mention less calculated.  The Dead Boy's follow-up, We've Come For Your Children is nearly as potent as their debut but is rarely if ever mentioned.  Funny that.  Anyway, the Boys found a replacement fill-in for Stiv Bators a few years ago.  They've commenced touring, and have even gone to the effort of re-recording YL&S with said replacement.  Will wonders never cease...

01. Sonic Reducer
02. All This and More
03. What Love Is
04. Not Anymore
05. Ain't Nothin' to Do
06. Caught With The Meat In Your Mouth
07. Hey Little Girl
08. I Need Lunch
09. High Tension Wire
10. Down in Flames

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Splatcats - tape (199?)

The Splatcats rarely come up in conversation these days, if ever - even in their misbegotten home turf of Buffalo, NY.  But in their brief reign during the mid' 80s right up to the dawn of the Clinton era, these gents proved to be one of the most reliable and competent combos on the circuit, even generating ripples all the way over in Europe.  Sporting a penchant for ballsy rock with a delightfully punky verve, and even some garagey undercurrents, the band released a trio of remarkably consistent albums between 1986-90, with their debut Sin 73 garnering then the most notoriety.  Their earliest material loosely hovered in the vicinity of contemporaries the Lime Spiders, and by the time their 1990 swan song, Right On! was rolled out (albeit exclusively overseas to the frustration of local fans), the boys took a more linear tact.  This cassette only compendium (not an official release) focuses on the 'Cats latter era, offering a side of then brand new material, while the flip functioned as a six-song sampler for Right On!  

No copyright date is provided, but I would peg this tape right around 1991.  Some of the band's final cuts truly were their finest, with the smart "Smile Jenny, You're Dead" and "Susan, God & I," exuding a bright, tuneful penchant vaguely channeling the Replacements, and more accurately that band's unheralded acolytes the Magnolias and Junk Monkeys.  To my knowledge the first seven songs here are resident to this release only.  Perhaps another Splatcats morsel or two will drop on this site in the future. 

Side 1: new stuff
01. Supercharger
02. Smile Jenny, You're Dead
03. Requiem for a Heavy Date
04. Desperate Living
05. Susan, God & I
06. Bad Penny
07. Keep Your Pants On

Side 2: selections from Right On!
08. In Like Flynn
09. Bedknobs and Broomsticks
10. Gordon Ritchie
11. Cost of Admission
12. Lights, Cameram, Action!
13. Fort Apache

Sunday, November 11, 2018

I'd throw myself at this house to break windows and smash walls...

It just dawned on me that this disk turned twenty this year.  Sometime in 1998 a friend told me these guys sounded like Lifetime and that I'd love them.  Gladly, she was correct on both of those claims.  They've been a part of my life since, and even though they vastly outdid themselves on subsequent records, I was pretty dazzled with this debut at the time.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**



As per your relentless requests.  Included is the much requested Aztec Camera compilation with a bonus folder of all tracks that had the pitch corrected. Thanks again to one of our readers who went to the trouble of remedying this!

Aztec Camera - Digging Through Those Dustbins
V/A - Lessons From Little Hits, Vols 1, 2, 3 & 4
The Ocean Blue - s/t live (MP3 of FLAC) & Cerulean live (MP3 & FLAC
Material Issue - Eleven Supersonic Hit Explosions
Sweet Jesus - discography
Airlines - s/t
Hollins Ferry - s/t
The Square Root of Now - Bent Around Corners (MP3 & FLAC
Dils - Live!
True Believers - Live - Harder... tape
The Proof - It's Safe 
Timco - Friction Tape
The Othermothers - No Place Like Home ep
Outlets - Whole New World
V/A - Black Brittle Frisbee
V/A - Twisted - 7" ep
Connections - 7"
Pigpen - Tard 7"
27 Various - 7" 
Kilkenny Cats - 7"
Comet - 7"
Bridge Climbers - Full Bag, Don't Bend
Cockeyed Ghost - Karaoke tape 
The Strawberry Zots - Cars, Flowers, Telephones
Helen Keller Plaid - Din
Full Fathom Five - 4 AM
Squalls - Rebel Shoes
Miles Dethmuffen - Nine-Volt Grape, Clutter & Presto 7"
Corduroy - Dead End Memory Lane & Lisp ep
Hangmen - Used ep
The Hairs - Subcutaneous 
Verbow - Chronicles 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Raves - Past Perfect Tense 1980-89 (1992, Hologramophone)

Here's a band that time forgot...but Not Lame didn't.  No, this wasn't a Not Lame Records release, rather a title I procured from their distribution arm of other labels they were thankfully carrying.  This Atlanta era quartet had roots all the way back to an early-70s group, Nod, before rechristening themselves as The Raves in the subsequent decade.  Unabashed power pop was their calling card, rooted in the likes of the Raspberries, but in practice more tangibly resembling Shoes, The Rubinoos, and a variety of their equally obscuro contemporaries on the Titan Records imprint (e.g. the Secrets and Arlis).  A handful of the songs here are culled from The Color of Tears LP, but the bulk of them are unreleased.  I don't have liner notes to refer to, as my copy only came with a b&w tracklist with no credits or background details to speak of.  The Raves were immensely competent and gratifying, and in fact their only shortcoming (if it can even be referred to as such) was their likeness to a myriad of similar combos during their tenure.  A second comp of Raves (and Nods) material supposedly saw the light of day in 2002 but seems to have vanished upon release. 

01. Every Little Bit Hurts
02. C'est la Vie
03. Make Up Your Mind
04. Now You've Really Done It
05. I Can't Take Anymore
06. Whatever She Says
07. I Bet You're Lonely Too
08. Calling Your Name
09. It Doon't Matter At All
10. When She's Gone
11. To Your Face
12. Nevermore
13. Any Way You Can
14. My, My, My
15. Tonight It's Gonna be Great
16. Chastity

Monday, November 5, 2018

Permanent Green Light - Hallucinations & The Death of Rock: Peter Holsapple vs. Alex Chilton (2016, Omnivore) - A brief review.

I'll admit it.  Even I've privately referred to Permanent Green Light as "That post-Three O'Clock band."  I didn't have an immediate allegiance to PGL, if only because my intro to the was not through one of their originals, rather a B-52s cover on the Freedom of Choice compilation.  No, in order to really see the Light, I started with the ringleader's (Michael Quercio) more renown predecessor band, the aforementioned Three O'Clock.  During their mid/late '80s tenure, TO'C christened the very namesake of the movement they were the quintessential vanguard of - the Paisley Underground.  Alongside local L.A. contemporaries Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade and even pre-stardom Bangles, the Three O'Clock married a forward thinking collegiate rock aesthetic with the more docile affectations of '60s psych-pop.  From a sonic standpoint, this melange wasn't as sub-rosa as I may be leading on, but the subtle nuances these groups exuded went along way in earning them copious amounts of critical acclaim and cult status.

By 1990, The Three O'Clock were more than half past their anointed hour, and the next year saw the first flurry of activity by Quercio's newly activated Permanent Green Light, a trio fleshed out with emerging area indie stalwarts Matt Devine (bass) and Chris Bruckner (percussion).  Not a total 180 from what TO'C were about (but nonetheless a horse of a demonstrably different color) PGL's aptitude proved to be a whip smart dalliance of power pop and the more cerebral quotient of ‘90s alt-rock.  Survived by an ep, the 1993 full-length Against Nature, and a clutch of singles, the band's catalog has been cherry picked for the newly minted compendium Hallucinations, an album that makes an almost air-tight argument for PGL, even more consistent and inviting than the individual releases it's sourced from.

Michael Quercio has a fairly unmistakable timbre - high, running just shy of a falsetto.  It was an ideal fit for Three O'Clock's more whimsical New-Romantic forays, but how did that translate to a power trio template?  Surprisingly apropos, in fact, as PGL's comparatively muscular tact never exceeded to the point where Quercio was forced to overpower the music.  Possessing a stupefying array of sophisticated, melodic chops didn't hurt either, acutely evidenced on "The Truth This Time," "Street Love," and "(You & I Are The) Summertime."  And these guys packed a visceral wallop as well, with stinging slammers like "Honestly" and "We Could Just Die" which soared in the same airspace as Redd Kross and Frosting on the Beater-era Posies.  I should also point out that Michael gave guitarist Matt Devine the "green light" to pen and present some of his own songs, yielding the spare ballads "Portmanteau" and "Marianne Gave Up Her Hand."

Were it not for the fact that Permanent Green Light releases were confined to such small labels (predominantly Gasatanka, a subsidiary of Rockville Records helmed by recently deceased White Flag frontman Bill Bartell) there wouldn't be a need for such an exhumation as Hallucinations.  Nonetheless, even if PGL are a posthumous discovery to most there's some fantastic music here that's far better discovered later than never.

File The Death of Rock under: Peter Holsapple, Alex Chilton, Big Star, The dB's, proto-power pop, or simply under informal recordings.  Music fandom can take a person a long way.  In the case of one future dB's co-frontman Peter Holsapple, the man in question was so enamored with the first two Big Star albums, he headed to the band's hallowed home turf of Memphis, TN to track some recordings at the storied Sam Phillips Studios.  It was his intention to imbibe some of the vibes that made the Birthplace of Rock and Roll what it was, and perhaps cross paths with his "mentor" Alex Chilton himself.

The Death of Rock is and never was intended to be a proper album.  It exists as an artifact to document a mildly haphazard collection of 1978 recordings cut by an ambitious Holsapple who set out to be something of a Chilton protege.  Only thing was, by this time Alex had very much fallen out of love with the brand of semi-precious pop that gracefully adorned Big Star's Radio City and #1 Record landmark albums, and was very much in the process of forging his own path, soon to be evidenced on the freewheeling and genre dabbling Like Flies on Sherbert.  The first quotient of Death is actually pretty together, with Holsapple previewing two of the dB's signature pieces, the lusciously hooky "Bad Reputation," and nearly as potent "We Were Happy There."  The centerpiece of these glorified demos is the ambitious title track, channeling what both contemporary Rolling Stones and The Who had notched themselves up to the late '70s.  Amazingly, the song would be given to the Troggs who would retool it into a song dubbed "I'm in Control" for a 1992 reunion album.

Midway through the recordings, Holsapple managed to corner Alex Chilton in a Memphis bar.  A belittling compliment from Chilton directed to his junior ultimately led to a jam session, which is what the second tranche of songs on Death zero in.  Per Holsapple's liner notes, AC ambled into Sam Phillips studio shortly after for some casual woodshedding - and the results were caught on tape. Problem was, the very loose collaboration appeared to be intended as a demonstration by Chilton, not so much a substantive recording session.  Wielding a painfully untuned bass, the former Big Star/Box Tops wunderkind joined Peter in a seemingly impromptu bluesy piece "Tennis Bum," concerning Chris Bell's fixation for the pastime. "Marshall Law" is similarly cut from less-than-structured cloth, and jammy renditions of "Train Kept a Rollin'" and "Hey Mona" were also priorities of the moment, and in fact make a more lasting impression than the aforementioned Chilton originals.  In all frankness this brief meeting of the minds was likely never intended to see the light of day, but it points to the looser direction Alex was embracing, just as his counterpart was striving to be the popsmith his icon was merely five years or so before.

The Death of Rock rounds out with a grab-bag of session leftovers, mostly of Holsapple rehearsal takes including the title cut, "Bad Reputation," and even some very brief finaglings of Big Star's "O My Soul" and "In the Street."  Just don't get your hopes up as far as those renditions.  Generally speaking this is not your traditional "reissue," nor is it representative of the quintessence of anyone involved.  Nothing seminal here, merely a few moments in time captured on tape, passed along digitally to whomever may be eager enough to experience it.

Both Hallucinations and The Death of Rock are available direct from Omnivore or iTunes and Amazon.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

So when the atom age collects it's toll...

1989 album from trio of downstate New York lads.  Bit of an acquired taste this one.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


Saturday, November 3, 2018

The Delfields - Ogres (2008)

Surprisingly, the internet doesn't have much to offer on The Delfields despite this album having only been in existence for ten years.  In terms of band-specific details, I can only inform you that these are five NJ cats who seem to have an affinity for Office Space, based on their depiction on the back of the cd case.  Luckily, their album is considerably more enticing.  Ogres is bejeweled in shimmering, lucid indie pop, tuned into the given intelligentsia of the time - Shins, early Rogue Wave and even Outrageous Cherry.  We're served nine concise slices here, and the Delfields don't piddle away a second on anything frivolous or contrived.  Be sure to indulge in the sprite "Fawn Fight" for maximum sustained tingle inducement.

01. A Slippery Slope
02. Honest
03. Francine
04. Short Sleeves
05. Ogres
06. Solvents and Vacuums
07. Our Beds
08. Fawn Fight
09. Highlands

Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Lift - Nearly Gear! (1985, Roo)

Hailing from the not oft spoken locale of Newport News, VA, The Lift weave some intermittent magic across the dozen song (and one stray chord) Nearly Gear!  The album jacket suggests this trio might be of rockabilly stock, but to far greater delight they apply a bevy of advanced maneuvers within our sometimes routine left-of-the-dial environs.  I say intermittent in the respect that the Lift have a tendency to diverge from song to song, resembling a cornucopia of their contemporaries.  The band light the pleasure sensors ablaze on "Plush With Blonde" and "Monetary Means," emanating the stripe of creative juices Matthew Sweet did with his early Buzz of Delight endeavor, and ditto for such oddly alluring combos from Wilfully Obscure's back pages like Cannon Heath Down and Square Root of Now.  Something Fierce comes to mind as well.  When the Lift shift into peak performance, Nearly Gear! resembles some sort of long lost Mitch Easter production credit.  Elsewhere, we're allotted a par excellence serving of power pop in the guise of  "Good Head," and "This Is Bad's" Johnny Marr inflected jangle is nearly as sublime.  Despite some demonstrable inconsistencies this record still manages to border on a revelation.   

BTW, Lift fulcrum Bryan Forrest has a Reverbnation page featuring music from a variety of his endeavors, including the one I just introduced you to.  Well worth exploring.  

01. Nothing Sacred
02. Fair Airplane
03. Plush With Blonde
04. Monetary Means
05. To Have and to Hold
06. Shift the Edge
07. This of That
08. This is Bad
09. Swayed (Scottish Mix)
10. She Gets By
11. Good Head
12. Must I?
13. Paul's Lost Really Gear Chord

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Follow all the rodents until the cows come home.

From 1992.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


Saturday, October 27, 2018

Aztec Camera - De Villes, Manchester, UK 8/14/81

Got a very early Aztec Camera piece for you tonight.  So early in fact that AC front-man Roddy Frame was a mere fifteen years old when this set was performed.  As such, the man in question had not hit his proverbial prime (but would do so a couple years hence at a still fairly precocious age on the marvelous High Land, Hard Rain) but what makes this recording so unique is how spartan and minimal it all sounds.  Chalk this up in part to how prominent the vocals and guitars are in the mix, virtually drowning out any semblance of bass   Also note the percussion - audible, but not the least bit dominant and hardly on an even keel with Roddy's performance.  Sonic characteristics of this particular gig aside, AC were well on their way to establishing a signature sound - cozy and strummy, with a yearning romantic penchant that would echo for decades to come.  And, best of all, this nine-song set features a number of non-album tracks that would never make it past the home demo stage.  You can hear the whole thing in either FLAC or MP3 below.  Check out some rarities from the same era and beyond over yonder

01 - Just Like Gold
02 - Green Jacket Grey
03 - Up In The Sky
04 - Pillar To Post
05 - Mattress Of Wire
06 - In Another Room
07 - The Spirit Shows
08 - Remember The Docks
09 - We Could Send Letters

MP3  or  FLAC

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Model Americans - s/t (1987)

So...this one wasn't exactly a magnum opus.  Another of my "bought it for the cover" endeavors, and the skate punk I was sure was awaiting me turned out to be relatively nondescript rock with a mildly loungy undercurrent.  Definitely not antiseptic radio pap mind you, but 'frisco's  Model Americans don't take us very far.  The quintet's finest attribute by a long-shot is frontman John Lee's chiming guitar tone, which borders on jangly at moments.  An array of pedestrian saxophone outbursts crop up frequently, and oddly enough don't sound terribly misplaced.  The money shot here is clearly "Radioland," a song that should have led the album off, but was instead shoved to the back end.  Kind of a mellower Tommy Tutone thing happening there.  I suppose a distant second would be the synthy "Life Indoors" which warns the listener about the hazards of inanimate objects. 

01. Changing My Mind
02. Lake of Fire
03. Public Gardens
04. Diesel Train
05. Life Indoors
06. Get Straight
07. Billy
08. Radioland
09. untitled

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Bunji Jumpers - A Two Z ep (1986, Banana)

Well, it looks like another blog (I'll let you figure out which one) got the "jump" on this one before yours truly, but I had such a pristine copy of this record I thought I'd go to the trouble of offering my rip.  Perhaps it was the alternate spelling of their name or this co-ed duo's post-modern poise that set me up with the impression that the Bunji Jumpers were artsy, brooding types with an oblique axe to grind, but...not so much.  The brunt of A Two Z is actually not heavy-handed darkwave or even ostentatious new romantic.  "Be Brave" and "These Days" function just fine as forward-thinking pop highlighted by Eva Dilcue's graceful yet impassioned croon.  "Comrade" is more angular, punctuated with brass that I don't mesh with so well, whereas the concluding "Bigblackboots" points squarely to the Bunji's peacenik ideals, something I can certainly get behind.  This is a damn neat record.

Bunji Jumpers had their antecedents in a Cleveland outfit called The Generators, who bore something of a power pop aptitude.

01. be brave
02. these days
03. comrade
04. bigblackboots

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Chasing Tracy's all I do...

From 1998.  I may have shared this before, but considering how much more it's sunk in with me over the past few years that gives me adequate license for a rerun.  One of the most transcendent indie rock albums to ever grace my ears.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


Saturday, October 20, 2018

Sonic Youth - Candle promo 12" (1989, Enigma)

Much ado has been made of Sonic Youth's 1988 double album Daydream Nation - and virtually every scrap of praise and critique has been true.  This week marked the thirtieth anniversary of it's release, sparking many a commemoration in social media. 

Daydream Nation was my introduction to Sonic Youth.  Both the video for "Teenage Riot" on 120 Minutes, and it's 'album of the year' designation on at least a dozen critics polls (including the coveted Village Voice Pazz and Jop poll) was all that it took to usher me into a store to purchase a cassette copy.  Despite the sweet, near-melodic charms of "Teenage..." much of the remainder of Daydream was an acquired taste.  By and large it didn't take long to incubate with me.  Acclimating to Thurston Moore's and Lee Renaldo's intricate latticeworks of feedback, ear-shattering dissonance, and con-caved sonic motifs was a right of passage for folks like myself back then, much to the chagrin of my parents, not to mention schoolmates who were still clinging to their Whitesnake albums.  One soon realized that the the insertion of Daydream Nation into their music collection upped it's "cool" ante exponentially whether it be on a record shelf, CD rack, or in my case a shoebox full of tapes.  Sonic Youth never made an album like it before or since.  Wisely, they didn't even try.  Daydream Nation resides on it's own metaphorical plateau you could say.

I'm not at liberty to share the whole album, but I can at least let you have this promo ep, featuring an edited version of one of  Daydream's more approachable songs, "Candle," along with a trio of live cuts and a conclusion that I can only categorize as miscellaneous. 

01. Candle (edit)
02. Hey Joni (live 1988)
03. Flower (live 1985)
04. Ghost Bitch (live 1988)
05. conversation between Lee Renaldo and Wharton Tiers

Friday, October 19, 2018

Contoocook Line - Oliver's Garden (1988, Rughead)

Would you believe another blog got to this one a good fifteen years before I did?  For starters they didn't share the whole record, but they did disclose a kernel of info that would have been lost on me otherwise.  Contoocook Line contained in their humble four-piece lineup future Pavement drummer Steve West, who for some unspecified reason goes by the moniker of Jonah West here.  Hmmm. Anyway, C/L hardly sounded like a logical precursor to Stephen Malkmus' soon-to-be hallowed slack attack.  As the piece on Vinyl Mine notes, Contoocook had more in common with REM (think, Life's Rich Pageant but with less zest) at least on some of Oliver's Garden's livelier cuts.  The chaotic album sleeve, not to mention intermittently rambunctious song titles, belie a fairly garden variety, DIY college rock record with too many sleepy (and even folky) underpinnings for it's own good.  Fortunately, OG awakens from it's slumber for a handful of peppier respites like "Western Sizzlin'" and "Same Ol', Same Ol'" which should still encourage an abundant number of you to tune in.  As for the concluding acoustic ballad, "Go to Hell," the sentiments expressed within are sadly as true today as they were in the Reagan-era.

01. All the Things
02. Western Sizzlin'
03. Allen
04. Acoustic/Blurb
05. Painted Dreams
06. Goliath
07. Sister Time
08. Same Ol', Same Ol'
09. Sour Grapes
10. Go to Hell

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Stark Raving - Sniveling and Whining ep (1987, Incas)

Stark Raving were a Connecticut export whose lone record, Sniveling and Whining came courtesy of Incas Records, one of my favorite indie imprints of the '80s.  Thing is, this fast(ish) and loose co-ed punk trio would have been a more suitable fit for SST, particularly among that label's stable of second-tier acts.  They're a bit on the ramshackle end of the spectrum, and their charm begins and ends there.  Sniveling and Whining produces the occasional gnarly tune, like "Too Much to Take" and the relatively ambitious "New Highways," which vaguely resembles what X were attempting around the same time.

01. Andy's Brain
02. Job With no Future
03. Guns
04. Too Much to Take
05. Crazed New World
06. New Highways

Sunday, October 14, 2018

It's never too late to enjoy dumb entertainment.

From 1980.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


Friday, October 12, 2018

V/A - The Wiener Dog Comp (2012, Burger) - 71 songs!!

Alright, I practically had to take a day off from work to lasso this one all together.  Per above, 71 tunes, three hours of content spread across two packed cassettes, and limited to a mere 500 copies.  Between digitizing, separating tracks, scanning artwork and the rest of it this took up a good six hours or so of my time.  I hope it was worth the effort, but in hindsight what's on here may be of limited appeal.  You can chalk that up to the Wiener Dog Comp's relative lack of star-power, or it the very least, a roster of veritable unknowns.   

The backstory to this one is pretty simple - a benefit album to cover the expenses of a dachshund's large (and evidently lifesaving) veterinary bill.  Burger Records was a relatively fresh indie imprint at the time (and now something of a fixture).  The idea was to get every band on the label (and beyond) to contribute an exclusive song, making it an extra enticing label "sampler" as it were.  To my knowledge a few songs carried over to subsequent releases by a handful of contributors (Paul Collins and Cleaners From Venus come to mind), but otherwise this material is unique to these tapes, and was never made available digitally.  An L.A. area label (and physical store as well if I'm not mistaken), Burger has a discernible penchant for indie rock of all stripes including punk, garage, psych, and lo-fi.  Over the years they've earned a reputation as ear-to-the-ground taste-makers to boot, and even if they never garner a reputation as lofty as Sub Pop or 4AD, pretty much any act with the Burger Records logo emblazoned on their record is guaranteed a modicum of respect.

And what of the bands that occupy these lengthy reels?  Most I can't impart very much about, but there are a bunch that caught my eye upon seeing their name on the roster: Pop Zeus, The Resonars, Tenement, Gap Dream and more notably Redd Kross and the Three O'clock, both of whom contribute live covers.  Of the more established acts, Thee Oh Sees, The Tyde, King Tuff, and Paul Collins (of Paul Collins Beat fame) all show up and make it count.  You'll find some pleasant surprises along the journey as well.  I was introduced to the likes of the succulent Frausdots, Nightmare Boyzzz, and the Blank Tapes and regard myself as all the better for it.  Finally, I'd be remiss if I failed to point out Dirt Dress' sterling mid-fi spin on Wire's 154-era classic "The 15th."

Click on the images to your left and above right for complete tracklists (though bear in mind the last two songs on side D are errantly printed in reverse order).  If you dig what you hear, you can also check out Burger Record's similarly themed Kitty Comp from the same year right here

Tape A (sides A & B):
Tape B (sides C & D):

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

John Wicks and the Records - Rock'ola (1998, Rock Indiana)

Word went out on Sunday afternoon that John Wicks, who had been battling cancer on and off for the past few years, had tragically succumbed to the disease and passed away in hospice.  As was expected, dozens of social media posts and blurbs from online news outlets touted his inarguable claim to fame as co-founder of The Records and author of the band's signature piece "Starry Eyes." While those details might not be particularly revelatory to you and me, The Records themselves were in fact a sheer revelation for a good lot of us.  Through Wicks and the three near-perfect albums issued during the band's original late '70s to 1982 inception (Shades in Bed, Crashes, and Music on Both Sides), I made a conscious effort to delve deeper into power pop in general (albeit, my discovery of the Records and the genre didn't happen until the mid-90s).  Better late than never, and as it turned out there was a lot more to unearth, including dozens (at minimum) of bands that seemingly took a discernible cue from Wicks and Co.  In short, were it not for The Records, Wilfully Obscure may have taken on a far different trajectory. 

Seeing the original Records lineup in the flesh was long out of the question for me, but I did attend a collaborative gig with John and Paul Collins of the Paul Collins Beat in Pittsburgh, roughly around 2009 or so).  In person and in email John was always gracious to me, though we hardly got to know each other.  The music alone sufficed.

Shortly after I made my acquaintance with the Records posthumous catalog, I learned John Wicks had convened a revamped version of the band.  This incarnation of the group didn't contain any of his original bandmates - Phil Brown, Will Birch, etc, rather a brand new assemblage of players, presumably hailing from America where Wick's had emigrated to in the mid-90s.  The resultant album, Rock'ola was typically released on a European label, but import copies were easy enough to come by.  Though it may not have exuded the warm analogue glow of their big label efforts from two decades prior, Rock'ola managed to revive all the telltale calling cards - penetrating hooks, reliable chord progressions, and the linear but occasionally witty aplomb that made the Records so vital to begin with.  A lot had changed...but thankfully far more hadn't.  "Her Stars Are My Stars," "That Girl is Emily," and the Townsend-y-riff fest "Union Jack" are sheer charmers, and Wicks even dedicates ten percent of the album to his idols the Beatles by way of "Liverpool 6512."  The man in question really hadn't lost a thing over the years, and though we've sadly lost him, his legacy speaks (or more acurately, sings) for itself.  R.I.P. John Wicks.

01. Edges of a Dream
02. That Girl is Emily
03. So Close to Home
04. Different Shades of Green
05. Liverpool 6512
06. Every Word We Say
07. Union Jack
08. Cry a Million Tears
09. Her Stars are My Stars
10. Forever Blue

Monday, October 8, 2018

I'm so caught up in the tree of stars falling in my backyard...

From 1996.  I'm pretty certain a good 30% (or more of you) have heard this one, but to anyone who hasn't, try to set aside some quality time - say a little over an hour.


Friday, October 5, 2018

Doughboys - Turn Me On (1996)

By the time the Doughboys turned in 1993's wonderful Crush, this celebrated Montreal crew with an ever-evolving lineup had graduated from melodic hardcore to something a little more down-tempo on the continuum, still resembling punk, while gracefully sidestepping grunge.  The subsequent Turn Me On was to be their parting shot, and given the band's continuing development it's kind of frustrating that was the case.  Still capable of pulling off ferocious, and visceral slammers like "Nothing Inside" and "My Favorite Martian," John Kastner and Co. indulge in a little dumb fun to boot on the looser "Diamond Idiot."  The more subdued yin to the Doughboys characteristically raucous yang turns up in spades as well, on the not-quite-ballads "It Can All Be Taken Away" and Everything and After."  Turn Me On was the most varied, and perhaps polished record they had tracked to date, but a slightly mellowed Doughboys never yielded the kind of yawn-worthy muck their contemporaries were pumping out at the time.  At the end of the day, all I you can really fault the band for was not sticking it out.

01. Lucky
02. I Never Liked You
03. Everything and After
04. My Favorite Martian
05. Diamond Idiot
06. Coma
07. It Can All be Taken Away
08. Perfect Garden
09. Nothing Inside
10. Slip Away
11. Tears
12. Down in the World

Sunday, September 30, 2018

When I met you on the outskirts of town...

So you wanna know what Vaporwave is all about?  Of course you do.  I've got two prime examples for you below. 


Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Swimming Pool Q's - Pow Wow Hour rarities 1982-86.

More request fulfillment.  I didn't have much of a relationship with the Swimming Pool Q's music during their '80s heyday.  In fact, you might argue that they didn't have much of a heyday at all at least not commercially, but on their two albums for A&M (1984's self-titled effort and Blue Tomorrow a couple years later) they made a noble run for the big time.  A coed quintet from Atlanta, the Q's favored forward-thinking rock with rootsy undercurrents and themes that often reflected the dichotomies of operating as such in the deep south.  

In 2013, A&M reissued the band's output for the label in a limited edition CD collection.  The deluxe variant of this set included alongside the aforementioned records, an hour-long compendium of b-sides, outtakes and such all funneled under the title of Pow Wow Hour.  Only problem was, the packaging fell a bit short and shoddy, and nowhere in the liner notes is the rarities portion mentioned or acknowledged.  Translation: I can't tell you much of anything about where these songs were originally derived from, other than the time period of the mid-80s.  Listening to it however, you do get a sense of the Q's diverse aplomb and overall tenor as a band with mainstream crossover potential, albeit with enough stubborn integrity to ensure they never sounded like a slick product of their era. 

I'm not sure if I'm going to share the proper albums themselves at some point, as they might still be available from the usual suspects, but I'm pretty certain that the Pow Wow Hour tracks are unavailable at this point.  Enjoy.

01. Power and Light
02. Baby Today
03. The Bells Ring
04. Fading Star
05. Purple Rivers
06. Baby Today
07. Pretty on the Inside
08. Think
09. She's Lookin' Real Good (When She's Lookin')
10. Last Goodbye
11. Blue Tomorrow
12. Tears of a Clown
13. Miss Sensitivity
14. 14-More Than One Heaven (Scott Litt Remix)
15. El Presidente
16. Make Me Bigger Than The U.S.A
17. More Than One Heaven (Jeff Vocal)

Friday, September 28, 2018

The McGuires - Start Breathing (1987, Righteous)

Recently had a request for this one.  The McGuires were a pop-centric San Francisco treat with something of an acoustic bent.  Think a more pedestrian Camper Van Beethoven with a few glints of Crowded House, and to an even lesser extent Aztec Camera and R.E.M.  On Start Breathing (apparently their one and only record) the McGuires launch a decidedly digestible and plaintive attack, but incorporate an ample amount of cheeky observations and heart, not to mention heightened tuneful sensibilities, acutely illustrated on "Russian Hill," "Talk About Love," and "Problem With Decision."  And in case you're wondering "TV Party" isn't the same tune as the Black Flag classic, but is pretty appealing in it's own right.

01. Talk About Love
02. TV Party
03. Looking Glass Neighbor
04. She's a Lawyer
05. Start Breathing
06. Just Pretend
07. Russian Hill
08. Problem With Decision
09. Let You Down
10. Eliahu
11. The Barbecue Song (Time to Go)
12. You Won't Find It

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Red - s/t ep (1986, Lost Moment)

Not to be confused with the American '80s band The Reds, the band we're dealing with today, The Red were obscuro Brit exports whose self titled EP was bifurcated into "fast" and slow" sides.  The "fast" tunes arrive on side A, and only rapid by sheer comparison to the other half of the coin.  Sounds like these guys were putting an Anglo spin on Stateside contemporaries Wire Train.  Not quite straightforward new wave, "Promises" and "Hell and Morning" are inviting, forward-thinking slices of modern rock rife with melody and ringing guitars.  Sorta predates what bands like the Ocean Blue and Then Jerico would soon have in mind.  "Sail Away," one of the slower pieces, is indeed more subdued, not to mention polished.  Overall this record is a solid thumbs up.

01. Promises
02. Hell and Morning
03. Sail Away
04. Conclusion Festival

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Dark clouds are moving in, dogs howl out in the wind...

Two late '80s albums from a Washington state quartet who have been defunct for a good two decades now.


Are these words distraction to the words you want to hear?

What would possess someone to gather up every single take and remix of U2's "Two Hearts Beat As One" and have it pressed to CD risking the repercussions a bootleg such as this might entail?  Not sure, but despite it's inherent redundancy I'm happy Two Hearts and Other Strange Things exists.  It's certainly not the most iconic song off of War, and for that matter it strikes me as a tad underwritten on certain listens.  Nonetheless, it's a perfect snapshot of Bono & Co's development since Boy and October, if not lyrically, sonically.  "Two Hearts..." delights with an alluring, bittersweet chorus hook and the chiming, jagged fretwork is quintessential Edge.  There's a semblance of restraint here that would expand exponentially on future U2 records, yet it doesn't cut the line completely with the band's earlier aesthetic.  In short, a downright respectable balance.

The thirteen variations of "Two Hearts" is followed up by a thirty minute extraction from a late '87 acoustic jam session with Bono and the Edge, fleshing out two new songs we never saw the finished versions of, plus previews of "Heartland" and "Van Diemen's Land" songs that would soon crop up on Rattle and Hum

Two Hearts Beat as One - thirteen versions
01. vocal session take
02. vocal rough take 1
03. instrumental alt take
04. alternate vocal take 1
05. alternate vocal take
06. vocal mix take
07. vocal rough take 2
08. vocal classic mix take 1
09. vocal classic mix take 2
10. instrumental classic take
11. vocal dance take
12. instrumental dance take
13. avantgarde mix take

14. acoustic jam session, Nov 1987

Friday, September 21, 2018

X-Teens - Big Boy's Dreams ep (1980, Moonlight)

I've been meaning to post this for awhile as a follow-up to the X-Teens LP I shared a good four years ago.  This co-ed NC five piece come armed with a Wurlitzer (or some stripe of organ) and boy, did they know how to wield that sucker!  The preceding Big Boy's Dreams ep is cut from even brighter cloth than the full length, kicking off with "Johnny's Having Fun," sounding like the love child of early Go Go's and Pointed Sticks.  "Fragile Beings" is another inviting slice of DIY wave, but by far and away the real prize here is "Venus," a primo power-poppy nugget with nods to X-Teens overseas contemporaries Elvis Costello and the Freshies.  What I wouldn't do to have a band of this caliber around today. 

01. Johnny's Having Fun
02. Fragile beings
03. In a Grey Circus
04. Venus
05. Big Boy's Dreams

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Newsbreak - s/t ep (1983)

I'm down with the band, the frontman, not so much.  Tomy Brennan passes himself off as a goofy caricature of David Byrne, drooling all over everything with sardonic, amusingly unhinged vocals, that were so in vogue circa the era this record found it's way into the marketplace.  At the very least, the L.A.-based Newsbreak manged to redeem themselves with competent players like Richard Lo Guercio who peels off a bevy of dandy guitar leads alongside bassist brother Randy.  More 'modern rock' than 'wave,' exuding the faintest modicum of reggae, so slight it may not make it onto your radar.  This four songer closes out on a relative high note with "Hidden Eyes."

01. In Your Eyes
02. Why You Do Me
03. Victim
04. Hidden Eyes

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Everything won't be ok all the time...

From 1994.  Their first (or third) album, depending on how you're counting.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


Wednesday, September 12, 2018


Realistically, I'm probably not going to be able to post anything else for the remainder of the week.  Maybe on the weekend, but that's a slim chance.  In short, please stop back Monday.  Cheers.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Notes on new music: Bird Streets, Guadalcanal Diary, St. Lenox, Dot Dash & the Jeremy Band.

Here's a rundown of some new releases recently sent my way.

Throw a dart an any given project or musical entity Jason Falkner is associated with and if you’re don’t land precisely on the bulls-eye, anywhere in the near-vicinity is at the very least satisfactory.  John Brauder, an as-yet-to-be heralded singer/songwriter from New York was conscious of this as anyone.  Upon reaching out to Falkner (former mastermind of such vaunted outfits as Jellyfish and The Grays, not to mention Beck’s current road guitarist) with a fresh batch of songs in mind, the two settled on a new collaboration, ergo Bird Streets.  Neither party set out to reinvent the wheel here, and luckily they didn’t necessitate such an endeavor given Falkner’s penchant for rich, contrarian pop smarts and Brauder’s contemplative, albeit narrative prose.  At its most intoxicating, Bird Streets peels off resonant pearls in the guise of “Direction” and “Same Dream,” not only recalling channeling its two architects but just as rewardingly Nada Surf.  Likely a coincidence, but I’ll take it.

Guadalcanal Diary were one of the more neglected "should've made it" propositions of the '80s, and furthermore were a huge credit to the Georgia's already vibrant alt-rock milieu of the Reagan-era.  Murray Attaway and Co. were responsible for four full length albums, the last one, 1989's Flip Flop saw them depart on something of a flat note with a record that just didn't have the oomph a lot of fans were accustom to.  The band reconvened in the winter of 1998 for a two night stand in Atlanta, and were pleased enough with the results to commemorate the occasion, and perhaps Guadalcanal in general, with a privately released live record in '99, At Your Birthday Party.  It became a minor collector's item over the years, and is now enjoying a bona fide widespread release on Omnivore.  Say what you (or more, acurately I will) about their aforementioned lukewarm swan song, because I'll be damned if the fellas didn't cook live, even when running through some of the Flip-Flop's paces like "Pretty is As Pretty Does" and "The Likes of You."  The brunt of the record concentrates on earlier material, dipping all the way back to the independently released Watusi Rodeo ep.  Assertive and affirming Guadal classics "Litany (Life Goes On)," "Lips of Steel," and "Trail of Tears," among an assortment of others, are all present, accounted for, and brought back to shimmering life again.  ...Birthday Party is a primo bookend to GD's career, and truthfully, not a bad way to sample their legacy if you're a newbie.  Both this and Bird Streets are available now from Omnivore.

“You asked me what I like to do for fun in East Columbus, and I told you I wrote poetry to music in my mind” intones St. Lenox’s Andy Choi on “First Date.”  However, my friends, Choi is not your run of the mill poet cutting third rate material, rather a singular force of nature who’s back with his third spellbinding collection.  Possessed with a bellowing vocal range and a knack for stitching together verbose, cathartic diatribes that eschews mundane metrical composing (i.e. “rhyming”) entirely, the bard in question goes straight for the jugular.  Adopting a discernibly more stream-of-consciousness tact on this go-around, Ten Fables of Young Ambition and Passionate Love isn’t always as soaringly melodic as St Lenox 2015 debut, ...Memory and Hope.  Yet despite the fact that the hooks aren’t consistently frontloaded, you won’t mind chilling a few seconds longer as Choi waxes on a bouquet of romantic quandaries, and throws down a fever dreams's worth of cathartic, rapid-fire truisms throughout.  And pay close attention to the presumably semi-autobiographical “Gold Star,” which loosely analyzes why he isn’t keen on relinquishing his day job for the full time music career that St. Lenox fans (to our tortured chagrin) wish he would just finally embrace. Ten Fables is available September 28 from Anyway Records or Amazon.

But what, there's more.  Dot Dash have just dropped LP #6.  The D.C. area denizens whose antecedents lie in such esteemed indie rock conglomerations as Swervedriver, Tree Fort Angst, and Strange Boutique among others have been pumping out a deluge of strident, clangy power pop, with lite post-punk affectations (not to mention a solid dollop of wit) for almost a decade now, and Proto Retro is another sturdy link in the chain.  Dot Dash aren't ones to alter their recipe, as what they started with was downright effective.  One borderline anomaly on Proto I'd be remiss if I failed to mention is "TV/Radio," a fun, briskly paced cut with Anglo-punk leanings, briefly name-checking some rather recognizable public figures.  A video for "Unfair Weather" recently dropped here, and the album is available as we speak from The Beautiful Music and Amazon among other sources.

Last but not least, Portage, MI's finest son Jeremy Morris is back with a new collection of plaintively, pleasant guitar pop, in the guise of Joy Comes in the Morning.  Credited to his most recent ensemble, The Jeremy Band, the album is a continuation of his jangle-inflected, chin-up aesthetic that's as reliable as a rooster's morning croon.  Call it twelve, middle-aged symphonies to God (and otherwise) if you will.  And being it's a Jeremy record, the ageless hippie in him doles out his usual allotment of psych guitar treatments as well.  Joy Comes... is available now straight from Jam Records

Friday, September 7, 2018

Swing Set - Life Speeds Up (1986, Blackberry Way)

When doing what research I could on this one, I discovered that Minneapolis' long defunct Swing Set ironically had something of recent posthumous profile boost, courtesy of the inclusion of this album's "Blackout" on an episode of Stranger Things.  The TV show in question, of course, is based in the '80s.  Otherwise, Swing Set hasn't exactly been on many lips.  Life Speeds Up is above average modern rock that's not particularly exotic, accented with keys that thankfully don't dominate in the way the band's era was  renown for.  I could certainly imagine these guys digging on the likes of SVT or some of the more pedestrian acts who roosted on 415 Records.  Pretty straightforward stuff but a solid listen.

01. Blackout
02. Laying Low
03. Runaway
04. Victim
05. Walking in the Night
06. Lost Track
07. The Dance
08. I'm On Fire
09. Rain on Our Parade
10. So Long

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Absolute Grey - Painted Post ep (1987, Midnight)

I was in for a bit of a shock when I first heard this one, expecting the same Absolute Grey who dazzled me (albeit posthumously) with their '84 debut, Green House.  The Rochester, NY co-eds' initial proposition was that of a neo-psych band, with ample nods to their west coast contemporaries the Dream Syndicate.  For the predominantly acoustic Painted Post, the quartet was paired down to Mitch Rasor on guitar and bass, and Beth Brown on the mic.  It's such a departure that I'm inclined to regard PP as less of an Absolute Grey record, and more of a solo vehicle for Brown.  Those observations aside, the record by and large succeeds on it's own premise of contemplative, unencumbered ballads that are virtually impossible not to appreciate...just don't expect much in the way of mystique or guitar feedback. 

01. Closer Apart
02. Painted Post
03. Gardens (remix)
04. Sylvia
05. Abandon Waltz
06. Fences

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Webster gave me light, Judy gave me poem...

The 1997 follow-up that bested his debut.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


Zipgun - 8 Track Player (1992, Empty) & Baltimore (1993, Empty)

I can't believe I've neglected Zipgun this whole time, considering I've been listening to them waaaaay longer than I've been doing this site.  Anyway, even if they've evaded you're proverbial radar altogether you can be forgiven.  Every sweepstakes garners only a handful of winners, and this Seattle foursome finished well behind in the Emerald City's grunge/punk contest.  Not that they were deliberately pursuing the grunge angle (so far as I could tell) but they were plenty vigorous for the punk circuit.  And damn competent at it too, falling squarely in league with such contemporaries as Swallow, the Supersuckers, The Derelicts (of which Zip guitarist Neil Rogers was a member of) and even beloved Denver cousins the Fluid.  Zipgun's lifespan was accordingly brief as their catalog, which consisted of two full lengths and a clutch of singles.

8 Track Player hit the racks in 1992.  It's subterranean scumfuck quality was evident, but not overpowering.  Z'gun were undeniably groomed on Motorhead and Raw Power and not the latest NOFX offering.  Like the aforementioned acts they were akin to, Zipgun were upping the ante to something meatier and more potent than what proto-Warped Tour skate punks were getting off on.  Suggested (first) listening: "Together Dumb," "The End," and "Cool in the Cell."

Arriving just one year later, Baltimore is doubly more assertive, tighter and balls-out rockin' than the already blistering debut I just got telling you about.  I'm tempted to dole out some recommended selections, but this sucker is an all meat, no gristle affair.  Relentless in it's breakneck pace and muscular aptitude, you could argue that Baltimore served as a precursor to just around the bend speed punks like Zeke and REO Speedealer.  As for the album sleeve, I'm really not sure what the hell Zipgun had in mind, but it sorta works.  More info available on Wikipedia.

8 Track Player
01. Forward
02. Down in the Hole
03. Together Dumb
04. The End
05. Hallway
06. Ego a Go-Go
07. Put Me Away
08. Cool in the Cell
09. Third Prize
10. Feel it Wearin'
11. Can't Think Straight
12. 10
13. Chase the Ace
14. Backwards

01. Long Hot Kiss
02. Home at Last
03. Just the Way it Sounds
04. Highball
05. Through the Roof
06. Shadey
07. 4th Prize
08. I Can't Wait
09. Missionary Miracle
10. In the Wire
11. Holiday
12. Hades

8 Track Player: