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