Thursday, February 15, 2018

Band of Outsiders - Acts of Faith (1987, Sourmash)

New York's Band of Outsiders, must have truly lived up to their outsider quotient, as there is nil info or remembrances to be had on them, at least in cyberspace.  The cult band in question, had ties to yet another NYC cult act, Certain General.   The overlap between them will likely mean nothing to a good 99% of you, but if you want a more detailed timeline of their somewhat complicated confluence, Trouser Press lays it all out for you.

The Outsiders evoke the tenor and tonality of a group far more storied than they apparently actually were.  Still, that didn't stop them from swabbing elements from contemporaries like the Feelies, Dream Syndicate, Let's Active (occasionally) even stretching a little further back to the Soft Boys and the Velvets.  Their approach was more traditional than advanced, lending itself to a wholly earnest aptitude, which must have really flown in the face of flash and superficiality of their chosen era. Per Trouser Press:

Band of Outsiders relied not so much on hooks or abandon as an ensnaring ambience.

Acts of Faith, partially consisting of material from earlier EP releases, is a pleasurable if not a tad meandering listen.  I found most of the highlights residing on side two, including a John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band cover, "Remember," and the even brighter and livelier "Clean Saint," which loosely suggests an affinity for John Wicks and the Records.  The album caps off with the wailin' "Weeping Willow," a bratty, organ-laced, garage rock rave-up.

01. Conviction
02. I Wish I Was Your kid
03. Somewhere East
04. Conversation
05. Longer Than Always
06. Remember
07. Killing Time
08. In a Minute
09. Fire in the Wall
10. Clean Saint
11. Weeping Willow

Sunday, February 11, 2018

...and if the wall seems like a door, attach new hinges to it so you can use it.

From 1991.  This is what you might call an "unaffected" major label debut.  A rarity for sure. 


Saturday, February 10, 2018

Mexican Pets - Nobody's Working Title ep (1994, Blunt)

This gem of a band/record breezed by my eyes not too long ago when I spotted some of their recordings on one of my file-sharing platforms of choice.  At the time I had no idea who Mexican Pets were, but the name must've caught my attention because before I knew it was downloading a folder of supposed "early demos," quite randomly at that.  Smart move on my part.  As it would soon become evident to me the Pets were a bygone Irish inde-rock outfit who to my sheer good luck wielded a penchant for meaningful songwriting couched in a distortion-savvy, albeit tuneful construct.  To this set of ears, similarities to one of their contemporaries in the opposite hemisphere, namely Australia's Glide, made for an enticingly pleasant surprise, though MP's likeness to the aforementioned was in all probability a sheer coincidence.  All of this aside, the songs on that demo spoke for themselves, drenched in bittersweet, melancholic sentiments, intermingled with melodic but fuzz-addled guitar swells (a la Swervedriver and early Dinosaur Jr.), all cloaked in a raw, mid-fidelity context that allowed the Pet's warm, analog hues to come bristling to life so genuinely.

The Pets' recordings never made it stateside, and the band folded by the late '90s, having only one proper album to their credit, HumbuckerNobody's Working Title is actually a consolidation of two earlier EPs, and those songs wound up on yet another future compilation.  A decent overview of their career can be accessed on Wikipedia, and hopefully there will be more to come regarding them in the not-too-distant future on these pages.

01. Stigmata Errata
02. Subside
03. Magnet Force
04. How to Have More Fun
05. Bruise
06. Merry Hell

Friday, February 9, 2018

Confuse a Cat - Ankles tape (1992, 360)

Well, I know this won't be for everyone, but Confuse a Cat are/were such a WTF proposition I couldn't resist pitching this into the sphere.  Their moniker (a nod to Monty Python) should tip you off to their decidedly eccentric and crooked nature. Hailing from the relatively conventional environs of Birmingham, MI, this coed foursome sounds like they had a shared affinity for the Violent Femmes, Stump, Agitpop, and perhaps Captain Beefheart.  The overarching vibe on Ankles is loose, but nimble, with bassist Jenny Gabel's skittish bass runs punctuating an already frisky sonic backdrop.  No power pop or overt catchiness here, yet CoC's tunes are just structured enough to infiltrate the fringes of your cerebellum - that is if you're willing to invest multiple spins of this often tricky reel.  "Let the Bugs Crawl" and the rambunctious, violin-enhanced "Latin Libra" are a couple of the arguable highlights here.

01. Latin Libra
02. Mellow Soul Breath
03. T.V. Boy
04. Let the Bugs Crawl
05. ¡Whirl!
06. Empty
07. Junco Bird

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Silver Tears - s/t ep (1984, Ripe)

I believe someone requested this a few months ago.  More rock o' the '80s, from southern Cali by the looks of things.  If you liked 415 Records acts like Red Rockers you're bound to dig this, although Silver Tears steered clear of upright accoutrements that contained fancy buttons and such.  A fairly pedestrian yet occasionally compelling modern rock modus operandi abounds here, with a bit of an Anglo bent dontcha know.  I especially enjoy the ringing guitar tones percolating on the melancholy-ish "Safe Home."  And maybe I'm the only one to pick up on this, but mouthpiece Roger Prescott extends a vocal panache that negligibly resembles Joe Strummer.  Like I said, that interpretation is entirely mine, so make of it what you will. 

01. Over and Over Again
02. Safe Home
03. High Life
04. New Funk

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Fictions - s/t (1980, Intercan)

I recently had a request for this nearly four-decade 'ol relic.  I don't actually possess a copy of Fictions, but I did have files of it.  Fictions were a Canadian quartet, possibly from Ontario.  No useful background data is available on them online, but then again, their moniker makes that a considerable challenge to begin with.  The lead-off "Won't Wash Away" is peppered with the kind of jerky rhythmic meter that made the Police a household name, and being that virtually everything else on the record pales by comparison, it's safe to say this tune might have been their proverbial calling card.  The remainder of Fictions sports a more pedestrian bent, with trace elements of the Cars, The A's and to a lesser extent the Pointed Sticks making themselves evident, albeit these guys went easy-does-it on the keyboards.  Not the most innovative record going, but still plenty recommendable. 

01. Won't Wash Away
02. I Let Go
03. Don't Look Down
04. Shuffle
05. Better
06. Fixation
07. Snob Appeal
08. Jersey Shore
09. Dimestore Romance
10. Do It With the Lights On
11. Praying for the World

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Tiny Lights - Know It You Love (1989, Gaia) - Unreleased LP!

So...I'm not the biggest Tiny Lights fan on the planet.  In fact, I'm not the least bit "fanatical" about this bygone Hoboken, NJ collective, a co-ed one at that.  It's not for lack of trying of course.  I even own some of their earlier efforts - Prayer for the Halcyon Fear and Hazel's Wreath to be exact.  Nonetheless, I was never able to grasp onto this co-ed's subtle melange of pop, folk, and even some occasional chamber inclinations.  So why I'm I dedicating to this entry to a band I'm not entirely enthused about it?  As it would turn out, the band's third album, Know it You Love, was initially slated for release in 1989, but unfortunately had to be tabled due to their label, Gaia, going belly up, unexpectedly.  Ironically, the masters were sent to the pressing plant before Gaia dissolved, and a number of advance tapes were printed up.  Guess who made off with one of those scarce advance cassettes?

And here it is, the whole thing.  A portion of the Know It... tunes materialized on the Tiny Lights retrospective, The Young Person's Guide to Tiny Lights.  These folks are an acquired taste, though more genteel palates are likely to experience a more immediate impact.  One number that stands out for me is the commencing, "Ochre Revolution," which exudes a faint Paisley serenity, not unlike what a more enlightened Bangles could have conjured up.  Scott Miller's Game Theory might have been suitable at interpreting this tune as well.  Elsewhere, "Big Deal" finagles with a decent enough pop hook," and "Pushin' the Button" flirts with an uncharacteristically funky groove.  Enjoy (or not).

01. Ochre Revolution
02. Dawn
03. Wave
04. Close My Eyes
05. Horsehead
06. T.A.D.
07. Say Good-bye
08. Big Deal
09. Pushin' the Button
10. Donna's Flag
11. April's Song