Sunday, March 17, 2019

Looking for the house that dad built.

Pristine, melodically endowed jangle 'n strum greatness from 1989.

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


The Garden Path - 5 Reasons (1986, Greasy)

Here's another gem of a record that I don't own the physical vinyl of...but I'm working on it.  Adelaide, Australia was home base for The Garden Path, a sterling indie pop five-piece who recording for the equally sterling and rewarding Greasy Pop imprint.  Regarding their debut, 5 Reasons, it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine that these guys had encountered a Rain Parade or Dream Syndicate record or two.  Their psych-inclinations, while evident, aren't heavy handed, and like home-country contemporaries done good, the Church, the Garden Path aren't maneuvering for any cloying throwbacks to the the sixties (though I have to admit, the keyboards augmenting "What Do You Want to Hear" faintly exude a farfisa organ).  A balance of subtly and dynamics characterize 5 Reasons, and I'm curious as to how they progressed on subsequent releases.  A double CD archive of their recordings, Take it All Back, was released in 2011 and appears to be sold out.  After the jump, take a gander at TGP taking on the Soft Boys "Kingdom of Love," and executing it with as much perfection as the original.

01. This Place
02. Into the Clouds
03. Times (Out of Mind)
04. 5 Reasons
05. What Do You Want to Hear
06. Strangers
07. 5000 Miles
08. Little Pieces

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Episode I - Young and in Debt (1987, Bam Boo)

Up for a new wave cold case?  Here's yet another record that I'm only fortunate enough to possess files of, so I don't even have something as basic  a back cover to refer to.  Episode I's seemingly lone album has a supposed issue date of 1987, but the accoutrements this outfit (presumably a duo) employed strike me as being backdated by a good four or five years.  Anyway, these guys plucked out a raft of synthy 80's affectations like they were going out of style (true that).  They had a couple of saving graces.  First, they didn't go overboard on any particular tune, but better yet they actually came up with a few genuinely memorable ditties - "Maggie," "America Loves You," "Time After Time," among others.  Heightened pop sensibilities abound, albeit nothing slick - which is just the way I happen to like it.  Enjoy (you will).

01. Guido
02. Time After Time
03. Favourite God
04. Ecstasy
05. Equal Balance
06. America LovesYou
07. Calling Day-o
08. Maggie
09. Brotherhood
10. Lastsongsecondside

Sunday, March 10, 2019

You're exploding everywhere.

From 2004.  Sounds like these guys were channeling Guided by Voices, say Mag Earwig-era.


Cockeyed Ghost/Adam Marsland - Rarities Vol. 1

The name Cockeyed Ghost might ring a bell if you took a liking to a bevy of fresh-faced power pop acts emanating from the Los Angeles-era circa the mid-90s like the Wondermints, Baby Lemonade, The Negro Problem and The Sugarplastic among a dozen or so others.  Starting in 1996, four Cockeyed Ghost albums came, and sadly largely went without much fanfare, but it wasn't for lack of trying or competence.  CG weren't the monochromatic, three chord variation on power pop that was all too ubiquitous back then, thanks to frontman Adam Marsland, an adept singer songwriter who wielded sophisticated motifs, layered arrangements and a dynamic vocal range to boot.  After pursuing multiple Cockeyed Ghost lineups, Adam launched a solo venture in earnest the next decade, yielding diverse and often visceral records like You Don't Know Me, Go West, and The Owl and the Full Moon.

By the late-90s he had already racked up a significant body of work, so much so that all of it couldn't be corralled onto proper albums.  Two compilations of unreleased and under-released CG (and related) songs were issued as limited edition CD-Rs and made available through his website.  Today I'm presenting Rarities Vol. 1.  Copious and informative liner notes accompany the album, all of which I've scanned in with the artwork, but if you're looking for a shortcut, here's a little synopsis of what's on here.

Oddly enough, CG Rarities Vol. 1 doesn't delve straight into Cockeyed Ghost jams, rather Marsland's preceding endeavor, Adam Marsland's Band, who were responsible for a short run of local tapes and ep's in the early 90s.  Some of the six AMB nuggets featured are the ambitious "Here Comes Eric," the rather rockin' "A Manner of Speaking," and the slick but sublime ballad "Where's My Heart."  Even from the get-go Marsland had a deep-seated penchant for harmonies, and the hooks, while present, would be evidenced exponentially in the not-too-distant-future.

Two respectable. albeit finely polished solo recordings from 1993, "The Empty Room" and "Do Something" follow next.  After that it's an album's worth of scarce Cockeyed Ghost goodies, including some of the band's earliest studio attempts, including punky riff rocker "Cut and Run," the melancholic "Leave Her Alone" and Get Me Out of Here," a demo of Keep Yourself Amused's "Keep the Sun" and a Japanese-sung version of "Special," a tune which originally appeared on CG's 1997 album Neverest.  Faithful renditions of Badfinger's should-have-been classic ballad "Name of the Game" and the Raspberries "If You Change Your Mind" also make an appearance.  The set concludes with Adam's solo acoustic take of "Falling Down the Hill," yet another deep album track.

If you enjoy what you were hear, lay your ears on some of the proper Cockeyed Ghost albums. I'm afraid CG don't have much of a presence on Spotify, but some of his solo albums do, and there's always his homepage's store where physical CDs and such can be purchased including his latest, Bulé.

The last I heard, Adam was traipsing around some exotic outpost in the eastern hemisphere.  Perhaps you can get a feel for what he's been up to here

Adam Marsland's Band (1991-93)
01. Here Comes Eric
02. Young + Stupid
03. Don't Laugh at How I Feel
04. Where's My Heart
05. Talking About Myself
06. A Manner of Speaking

Adam Marsland (1993)
07. The Empty Room
08. Do Something

Cockeyed Ghost (1994-98)
09. If You Change Your Mind
10. Cut and Run
11. Love, Art and War
12. Get Me Out of Here
13. La La La La La La (Manic 5-0)
14. Leave Her Alone
15. Keep the Sun
16. Name of the Game
17. Someone You Know
18. Special (Japanese)
19. Falling Down the Hill (Adam acoustic)

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Orbits - Q: What...Ans: Nothing (1981, Electric Eye)

Contrary to the album title, Boston's Orbits don't pose many a question on this album, and certainly nothing deep.  No, any such lofty ruminations weren't on their agenda by a long-shot.  Upbeat power-pop was their game, and they executed it with near rapturous enthusiasm and aplomb.  Q: What...Ans: Nothing is considerably more fun than what I usually vend you...and I make no apologies for it. It's a record that comes from a similar place as '80s Cheap Trick, The Producers, and maybe even a dash of the Bay City Rollers.  Gotta love those patented, wonky synth lines wedging their way in intermittently too.  A video exists for "Rear View Mirror," and I'd love to know if MTV aired it at some ungodly hour of the morning in their first year or so on the air.

01. Rear View Mirror
02. Brand New Beat
03. Slow Motion
04. Rockette
05. 7 Digits
06. Sensors
07. Atomic Love
08. It's a Surprise

Sunday, March 3, 2019

I come fully loaded with an option to buy...

Four eps from four disparate artists, falling between the years 1991 and 2016.  Total satisfaction absolutely guaranteed.

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


Thursday, February 28, 2019

V/A 3X4 - featuring The Bangles, The Three O' Clock, Rain Parade and Dream Syndicate (Yep Rock, 2019) - A brief review.

Dare I say this is one music scene who've literally decided to celebrate themselves?   For the uninitiated, Rain Parade, The Dream Syndicate, The Three O' Clock and The Bangles were not only considerable entities unto themselves, they composed a four-cornered vanguard in the mid-80s that was routinely referred to as the Paisley Underground.  There were several other minor players hovering on the fringes, but this quartet of bands were the ambassadors of an oft-underexposed mini-movement predominantly native to the Los Angeles-area.  While each of these aggregations had a distinct panache you might say all of the aforementioned majored in jangly, collegiate-level pop with a discernible minor in the more graceful facets of '60s psych.  Nothing too esoteric for the palette, mind you, as the Three O' Clock were wont to double dip oars in New Romantic waters, and as for the Bangles (initially The Bangs) the rest is rock and roll history.

A good thirty to 35 years has passed since the heyday of these artists, so what gives with this crash course in Paisley you might ask?  Well, December 2013 saw the reunion of all four bands for two nights in L.A. and San Francisco.  For all groups involved, not to mention established fans, it was a reminder of just how tight-knit this collective was back in the day.  The venture turned out to be significantly more than a mere nostalgia trip.  In the intervening years since, the Dream Syndicate and Bangles carried on in earnest, but something must have felt unfinished, for in 2018 all four combos found themselves smooshed together in the same king sized bed for yet another reunion in the guise of 3X4.

The premise of the 3X4 is a simple enough one, wherein each of the Paisley cornerstones takes to task one song apiece from their other three contemporaries.  The Bangles cover tunes by Rain Parade, the Syndicate and Three O' Clock, and the other groups follow likewise.  For you lucky ducklings who fancy themselves as aficionados of all four bands, or even those who've developed an appreciation of even just two or three this is a record that quite literally sells itself, not only by virtue of it's participants, but by the volley of long-endeared songs 3X4 unfurls like a new set of Venetian blinds.  On tap is a veritable Paisley hit parade with the Three O'Clock tackling the Dream Syndicate's signature "Tell Me When It's Over" and the Rain Parade's masterstroke, "What She's Done to Your Mind."  The Bangles turn in a reverent version of the Three O' Clock's timeless "Jet Fighter," the Syndicate wield an unlikely reading of the Bangles' "Hero Take a Fall," while Rain Parade do adequate justice to another Bangles classic, "Real World."  And that's only the half of what's in store here.

A couple of quick overarching observations.  Few if any of these covers outdo the original recordings.  No one is reinventing the wheel here, nor is anyone trying to 'best' or even challenge one another.  Instead, 3X4 is a project born out of sheer respect and mutual admiration.  Bearing this in mind, the album's casual, relaxed-fit tenor is wholly appropriate.  Secondly, if you're going into this one cold, you'll find 3X4 pleasant at the very least, but it would behoove you to have some familiarity with Paisley touchstones like the Dream Syndicate's Days of Wine and Roses, Rain Parade's Emergency Third Rail Power Trip, and the first couple of Three O' Clock records.

3X4 was issued in a brief run as a physical release for Black Friday Record Store Day last year, and has recently been made available in wider circulation both digitally and in tangible formats.  Yep Rock Records can serve you straight from the tap, and Amazon and iTunes also have you covered.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Daisies - Kowloon House (1995, I.R.S.)

Despite having ties to a fairly prominent indie label, I.R.S., I hadn't been exposed to The Daisies until just a few years ago.  Typically, given their stature and era there is little more than a Soundcloud page I can refer you to.  This quartet from I-don't-know-where existed at the height of the "alternative" epoch, but don't sound like a deliberate product of it.  Kowloon House is heavy on ballads, but thankfully not the 'power' variation thereof.  The overall effect is akin to a more economic Gin Blossoms, but that's a vague comparison at best.  Truth be told the Daisies were a helluva lot more effective when they cranked their collective amps on the power chord-laced title track, "Aeroplane Day" and "Day Spent."  Signposts occasionally veer towards the Lemonheads (say, It's a Shame... era) and another splendid contemporary of theirs, Small 23.  An ep and a couple singles surrounded this album.

01. Aeroplane Day
02. Sunday Drivers
03. Day Spent
04. Dog
05. New French Ballad
06. Everything Comes to Nothing
07. She's All Mine
08. Kowloon House
09. Milk Out of Grass
10. Chocolate
11. Purple & Green
12. Another Good Reason Not To Be A Star

Sunday, February 24, 2019

No clue.

From 2005, but I won't give much else away about this album.


Friday, February 22, 2019

L.E.S.R. - s/t ep (1984, L.E.S.)

Yet another lost cause when it comes to surveying pertinent info on Google, but a sheer treat for the ears.  The seemingly background-less L.E.S.R. (no, I don't have a clue as to what their acronym references) were your basic four-piece set up: vox/gits/bass/drums, who probably had a bevy of obvious accusations leveled at them back in the day - rootsy bar rock, power pop, and perhaps more inaccurately, even rockabilly.  No need to fret over cataloging this NYC quartet, because their searing strain of saucy, no frills rock was effective as-all-get-out.  Call 'em a more pedestrian Flamin' Groovies if you will, or perhaps a succinct foreshadowing of what the Georgia Satellites would ride into the top-ten in a couple years  Whatever the case, L.E.S.R. made a devastating case for themselves inside of 600 seconds or so. 

01. Ain't Got the Money
02. 166 Norfolk
03. Sane
04. Jealousy

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Beat Feet - One Hundred Places (1986, Aegean)

This one is almost worthy of a Chanukah upload, even if it's not an out-and-out revelation.  Truth be told, Beat Feet are something of a cold case, with virtually no pertinent info available online, other than a potential home base of Brimingham, AL.  One Hundred Places appears to be their only wax, and it's shame, because this quartet craft some impeccably sublime, jangle-enhanced power pop with just enough forward-thinking acuity to not only maintain my interest over the course of this mini-album but to absolutely crave more.  Their somewhat frivolous moniker belies keen creative angularities on "She's on Time" and "Leaders" recalling Velvet Crush precursors Choo Choo Train, and Matthew Sweet's pre-solo venture Buzz of Delight.  Stunning hooks abound virtually wherever the needle drops on this platter, and you get the feeling Beat Feat cut their teeth on the likes of the dB's more so than say, the Knack or Raspberries.  One Hundred... closes out with an unlisted live track, and an uncharacteristic one at that, wherein the band shifts into uninhabited, punk-cum-metal overdrive.

01. I Should Have Known
02. Come When I Say
03. We Walk Tonight
04. A Place For Me
05. She's on Time
06. Leaders
07. Go Unafraid
08. untitled

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Heaven sent her so complete, I dropped my TV in the street. I didn't even care.

From 2004.  There isn't a moment of this album that I don't enjoy.

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


X-15 - Blueprint (1982, Precision)

When I started this site umpteenth years ago, it wasn't exactly my intention to feature albums housing such mundane titles as "Baby Hold On" and "You're So Cruel."  But what if a record existed with the aforementioned tunes that wasn't so vapid or generic?  While not full fledged power-pop or pub rock or barely ever edging into punk terrain, X-15 are a rare exception to the rule.  Admittedly, ya'll AOR fetishists in the house will find a trove to drool over with this one, but this Pittsburgh six-piece seemed to chow at the more credible end of the hard rock trough.  Think early Greg Kihn, the first Loverboy album, Clocks, and at times even Hard Promises-era Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.  X-15 were hardly long on innovation, but potent, hard-driving daggers like "Danger Zone" and "Give Me Your Love," not to mention the utterly arresting, mid-tempo "Is it Him," make a persuasive case nonetheless.

01. Is it Him
02. Danger Zone
03. Give Me Your Love
04. Second Hand love
05. Jennifer
06. All the Time
07. You're So Cruel
08. Waiting Tonight
09. Cold Shivers
10. Baby Hold On

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Lung Overcoat - Climbing Up the Hill ep (1986, Scolex)

You say you've never heard of a band from San Antonio, TX?  You have now, and as luck would have it they were a good one.  Meet Lung Overcoat, new wave denizens from the Lone Star state who oozed copious loads of promise on this four songer.  Perhaps these youngsters didn't lob the beefiest hooks on the block, but Climbing Up the Hill is an ambitious mofo of a record with dense arrangements and subtly veiled socio-political themes that plot these cats wiser than their collective 80 years... or so it would seem anyway.  At times Overcoat pitched in the direction of a less danceable Duran or Japan, yet were inflicted with just enough artful maneuvers and post-punk inclinations to keep them from taking the pedestrian plunge.  "Life in Holes" is my pick of this all too brief litter.  Check out In Depth Music Blog's excursion into the guys, with all kinds of tasty YouTube linkage and such. 

01. Sickroom
02. Voice in the Box
03. Life in Holes
04. When Dreams Drag On

Monday, February 11, 2019

Soul Asylum - While You Were Out/Clam Dip... (1986/1988, Twin/Tone, 2019, Omnivore) - A brief review.

Of all the high pedigree indie-rock bands to spill a little ink on a major label recording contract in the late '80s and '90s, Soul Asylum's back catalog seems to be one of the most neglected and un-examined.  I'm not referring to availability, as Twin/Tone's distribution arm had decent outreach, making their presence felt in plenty of Sam Goody's and such, but given the sizable breakout success of Grave Dancer's Union in 1992/93, you'd think newfound S/A fans would have felt some nagging urge to backtrack and find out if the spate of five proper albums that preceded it would've stimulated them.  Then again, Say What You Will Clarence, Made to be Broken, While You Were Out, Hang Time, and ...the Horse They Road in On weren't exactly chockablock with contemplative ballads in the mold of "Runaway Train."

So yeah, Dave Pirner & Co's "Sony years" were demonstrably more consistent with the aforementioned GDU and subsequent Let Your Dim Light Shine and Candy From a Stranger ebbing and flowing on a more linear, and dare I say conservative course.  Par for the course when punks sign to majors - the odd feathers get plucked, sometimes a lot quicker than even the most devoted fanboy expects.  While You Were Out was Asylum's last indie hurrah, and although I'll never fault them for making the leap, the irony is Mpls' little quartet that could had already made a quantum stride between their raucous, wet-behind-the-ears '84 debut Say What You Will Clarence to the largely more tuneful and occasionally disciplined Made to Be Broken a year later.  Those two album were the focus of nicely bonus-ized reissues in late 2018, and now 1986's While You Were Out is seeing a similar overhaul, with the subsequent Clam Dip and Other Delights ep hitching a ride with some totally unreleased material. 

What made Soul Asylum so effective was their ability to emanate character without any one member of the band being a character themselves.  Never was this facet more evident than in the band's nascent, pre-Grave Dancers era.  The secret sauce constituting albums like WYWO were the congested, frenetic arrangements of it's creators, frontman Pirner, Dan Murphy on guitar, the late Karl Mueller on bass, and thrashy as-all-get-out drummer Grant Young.  "Carry On," "Crashing Down" and "Miracle Mile" all bear the punky, ramshackle tincture of their Replacements-informed roots, but by this album Asylum's rambunctiousness was tempered by something resembling melody and/or restraint.  And the hooks get downright heady on "Closer to the Stars," a near-anthem of their early years, wherein thoughtful and vaguely philosophical notions made their way into the quartet's wooly mix.  The relaxed-fit "Passing Sad Daydream" is a corny ballad that closes the record out in typically sardonic S/A fashion.  Albeit not entirely consistent, While You Were Out is still overflowing with highlights, many outdoing the cream of the crop on Made to Be Broken.

Soul Asylum were clearly on a roll - one that perpetuated through their first major label outing, Hang Time.  '88s Clam Dip and Other Delights ep isn't necessarily part of that volley, as it were, given it wasn't a proper album.  Instead, the six-song hodgepodge with the spot-on Herb Alpert and Tijuana Brass album jacket parody is a collection of loosely executed covers and some outtakes yielding jovial but mixed results.  One of the standouts, "Chains," was originally the invention of another Minneapolis act, The Wad, that Soul Asylum keenly transform into an essential missing link of their own.  There were two versions of Clam Dip making the rounds, depending on what side of the Atlantic you obtained it on, but Omnivore's reissue includes all the songs from both incarnations.  Four Twin/Tone-era outtakes conclude the CD incarnation of the reissue.  While You Were Out and an expanded version of Clam Dip are available separately on vinyl.  Physical versions are available now straight from Omnivore, and Amazon has you covered as well.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Snow on the ground and a chill in the air...

From 1992.  The magnum opus from this UK act that were thankfully not part and parcel of the Britpop movement.  This is the import edition with two extra tracks.

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


Friday, February 8, 2019

Rex Daisy - tape (1992)

This bygone combo from the suburbs of the Twin Cities offered express delivery to the same power pop sweet spot contemporaries The Rembrandts, Velvet Crush and Greenberry Woods more famously made the same destination to.  The quartet known as Rex Daisy wasted nary a second on this three song demo, a preface to their Guys and Dolls album.  Word has it they even seized a major label deal at one point but had the proverbial rug pulled out from under them.  For shame, because they boasted excellent material.  If you dig these numbers the aforementioned album is available on Amazon streaming and downloads and iTunes.

01. Bottom o' the World
02. Stuck on AM
03. La La Land

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Start - Look Around (1983, Fresh Sounds)

Recently had a request for this one, and an interesting pick at that.  Taking Look Around's album sleeve at face value you might reckon Lawrence, KS' Start were on the same wavelength as the Smiths or Rain Parade.  Not completely off the mark, but this trio's inclinations were more disparate than that.  The first side emanates some choice, left-of-the-dial leaning pop, like the Wurlitzer-spiked "Empty Rooms" and the even more coveted "Where I Want to Be," oozing with chiming guitar strains and DIY ethos that might as well have predicted what Brit indie titans-to-be Primal Scream would have in store just a couple years later.  Very much on the Postcard Records tip I might add.  Side two gets a lot more unpredictable, commencing with "Little Fish/Big Fish," featuring none other than Allen Ginsberg reciting a poem regarding U.S. involvement in Central America atop these guys providing the music bed.  A bit disorienting at first, but somewhat fascinating on return visits.  Word has it Start had connections to William Burroughs as well.  "My Town" prominently features trumpet, and is almost another harbinger of mid-80s UK indie pop.  Problem is the band didn't bother to insert a hook anywhere.  As for the remainder of Look Around, there's not much else that's overwhelmingly effective, but not unsatisfactory either.

01. Empty Rooms
02. Where I Want to Be
03. Saw Me at All
04. An Evening Such as This
05. Little Fish/Big Fish (with Allen Ginsberg)
06. My Town
07. Night Song
08. Lies

Sunday, February 3, 2019

I guess beauty runs in the family, it's as easy as DNA.

Everyone raves about the debut  - and rightfully so.  But this follow-up came in at a remarkably close second.

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



Sorry I've been late in getting to so many of your requests!  Hope I got to everything.

Aztec Camera - live Manchester 1981 - MP3 or FLAC
Mission of Burma - Electro-acoustic Sessions
Replacements - How Did the Vomit... 
Sloan - Live at a Sloan Party - MP3 or FLAC
Splitsville - Amateur Hour
Pezband - Thirty Seconds Over Schaumburg
The Dentists - Powdered Lobster Fiasco
The Fluid - Purplemetalflake demos, 1987 demos, Freak Magnet, singles & eps
Simple Machines 'Tool' tape series - Slack, Hated, Late!, Mommyheads, Geek, Saturnine, My New Boyfriend
Fire Town - live and demos 
Red Fox Grey Fox - Bear-sides...
The Burdons - s/t LP
Pitchblende/Swirlies - split single
Bum/Smugglers - split single
Wooden Igloo - s/t LP
Mexican Pets - Nobody's Working Title ep 
Stark Raving - Sniveling and Whining ep
fulflej - microwave ep
Crossfire Choir - Back to the Wall
Boys With Toys - Big House
Nice Strong Arm - Mind Furnace, Stress City, Cloud Machine ep
Silver Tears - s/t ep
Fictions - s/t LP
Pterodactyls - We've Done it Now
The Sneetches - Sometimes That's All We Have 
Heavy Blinkers - Hooray for Everything
Catapult - The Architecture of a Year
The Heartbeats - Pulsator
Pop Art - Long Walk to Nowhere, A Perfect Mental Picture, s/t ep
Pond - Moth 7''
Tsunami/Velocity Girl split single
Nevermen - Monitor
TNP - Their General Suave Guys Request
Lions and Dogs - demos
The Fans - Mystery Date
Rods and Cones - New Breed
Killjoys - Onenight and a Morningafter
Springhouse - 7"
V/A - Lonely Planet Boy
The Wood ChildrenShopaholic

Saturday, February 2, 2019

House of Large Sizes - 7" ep (1987, South East)

So I was never quite bitten by the House of Large Sizes bug, as it were.  Then again I know of no one else that was either, so maybe I'm not in the minority for once.  In my reexamination of the subject three decades on, I would submit to you this co-ed Cedar Rapids, IA  trio may have been on the right wavelength after all.  "Man Overboard!" is nearly four minutes of convincing, riffy indie-rock with a delectable guitar line and ironic observations.  The guitars get even stockier on the subsequent "Eisonhower," though a diminished semblance of melody and Dave Deibler's obnoxious vocal parlance threatens to collapse his band's humble abode.  Over on side two, "Cold-train" is redeeming and rollicking, loosely in the same ballpark as period Meat Puppets.  As for "40 Orange Cookies." one gets the impression the tune isn't necessarily about food.  From what little I've been able to glean online, these songs were re-cut for HoLS' first album, One Big Cake.

01. Man Overboard!
02. Eisonhower
03. Cold-train
04. 40 Orange Cookies

Thursday, January 31, 2019

V/A - Nobody Gets on the Guest List! (1984, Throbbing Lobster)

Finally got around to ripping this one and kinda regret not getting to it sooner.  Why?  Well, it features no less than a half dozen acts that have found a home on Wilfully Obscure over the aeons - Christmas, Classic Ruins, Underachievers, Flies, Chain Link Fence, and 21-645 (albeit that last one by virtue of another compilation appearance).  Throbbing Lobster was a superb Boston indie imprint circa the Reagan-era, who did a fine job of exposing a bevy of interesting local yocals that weren't tied to the area's renown hardcore scene.  Unlike the Beantown acts peddled by the mainstream (Cars, 'Til Tuesday, etc) few names on the TL roster made inroads outside of Massachusetts or college radio.  For shame, because while garage-y propositions like The Turbines, Johnny & the Jumper Cables, and the Hopelessly Obscure brandished some nervy sass, I like to think they could have broken through to a larger audience.  The Prime Movers wield primo jangle-pop splendor on "Matter of Time," and the Flies and Chain Link Fence cuts equal or surpass the caliber of the records I presented to you in previous years.  And is it just me or do Baby's Arm bear an uncanny resemblance to aforementioned Boston bar-titans Classic Ruins?

There's a host of other phenomenal acts not present on Guest List that also recorded for the label - Primitons, Outlets, O Positive and Cowboy Mouth.  Browse a listing of Throbbing Lobsters catalog over at Discogs if you get the chance, and if you really dig what you hear on this disk, original copies of this record may still be available for purchase.

01. The Flies - In the Dark
02. Underachievers - I'll Be There For You
03. The Hopelessly Obscure - She's My Best Bette
04. The Prime Movers - Matter of Time
05. Christmas - Our Mutual Friend
06. Wild Kingdom - The Way to Love
07. 21-645 - Red Red
08. The Turbines - I Get Excited
09. Classic Ruins - Let's Get Dull
10. Johnny & the Jumper Cables - Not Your Kind
11. Chain Link Fence - The Happening
12. Holy Cow - Zucchini Dance
13. Noise Pencil - Weirton, West Virginia
14. Baby's Arm - I'm a Wimp

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Looking back it's just reflection, it's just something else to do...

The latter part of this '80s band's discography.  A unique and invigorating take on punk with intermittent assaults of funk, plus a few choice anomalies that I never, ever tire of.  There's 31 songs on this sucker, so check out the comments for a few suggested cuts to get you started.

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


Van Duren - Waiting: The Van Duren Story Orignal Docuemntary Soundtrack (2019, Omnivore) - a brief review

It feels a little counterfeit writing a review for a soundtrack to a film I've only seen a trailer for. Then again, the movie pertains to a musician, and as such, the music should ideally precede the story-line, so maybe this isn't that much of a moral quandary after all.  Truth be told, not may of us were anticipating any sort of bio-pic about Memphis' sadly unheralded Van Duren, because, well...a good 99.99% of the warm bodies inhabiting this country have no familiarity with the man in question.  In 2016 a pair of Johnny-come-lately fans in Australia (Wade Jackson and Greg Carey) were exposed to Van Duren's first album, Are You Serious?  Ironically, that record was released four decades prior in 1978.  Despite the 40-year delayed reaction, Jackson and Carey were so enamored with the music they were compelled not only locate it's creator but to parlay his backstory into a documentary, Waiting: The Van Duren Story.

Aside from some screenings in Memphis in late 2018, the movie hasn't seen widespread release (though that should be on the horizon).  I can't speak to how Van Duren's life, or even certain pivotal events inspired his songs, simply because that history isn't available to me, at least not in full.  This critique will focus on the music itself, and luckily, if you're at all piqued about the topic at hand the perfect gateway awaits you in the form of this soundtrack.

Van Duren put down roots in the Memphis music community in the mid-70s, ingratiating himself with the Ardent Records crowd, though he never recorded for the label.  He was however a collaborator with two alum from one of Ardent's most renown stablemates, Big Star.  I'm not privy to whether how much (or if any) historical evidence exists to show for it, but circa 1976 Van Duren was in cahoots with a post-Star Chris Bell and Jody Stephens in a presumably short-lived local outfit, the Baker Street Regulars.  They haven't been heard from since.  Big Star's shadow was barely beginning to loom, but if Alex Chilton & Co. were merely a whisper in the 70s, Duren was a veritable ghost.  By and large that's how it would stay.  For shame Van Duren, and Are You Serious? was such a carefully guarded secret, because as a budding popsmith he was busting out tunes in the mold of McCartney, Rundgren, Emitt Rhodes and Eric Carmen.  He may not have possessed the angsty, soul-bearing tumult of Big Star, but Serious' "Grow Yourself Up," "Positive" and the subdued "Waiting" were piano-laden confessionals that skipped many a poignant stone in spite of grazing such topically familiar waters.  Van Duren may have possessed the acumen of his peers, but the all-crucial "big break" never materialized.  At one point he was even taken under the wing of Rolling Stones manager Andrew Oldham, but success was ultimately elusive.  A subsequent record in 1979, Idiot Optimism was shelved and didn't see the light of day until a scarce Japanese import no less.

The '80s was Duren's last genuine gambit to thrust himself out of the woodwork, this time in the guise of a fully amplified, radio-gunning power-pop combo, Good Question, whose lone record (and a fantastic one at that) Thin Disguise I featured on these pages some time ago. It didn't chart but it contained what would become one of his signature pieces, "Jane."

The soundtrack for Waiting offers an ace cross section of Van Duren's career, underexposed as it's been heretofore.  There's a smattering of material from his two solo records, two representative cuts from Good Question, and even some live and unreleased offerings.  One major highlight for Big Star devotees is a cover of Chris Bell's "Make a Scene," a tune posthumously released on Bell's I Am the Cosmos album.  Waiting will be available physically from Omnivore Recordings on February 1st, as well as from iTunes and Amazon.  To keep abreast of widescale release of the movie, please check Waiting's website periodically. 

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Motor Home 7" (1994, Dirt)

Yet another substantial indie rock proposition from the '90s that passed me by at the time.  Motor Home (which I've also seen spelled as a single word) were a trio of co-ed Chicago kids who were adeptly in tune with the aesthetic of the time.  Side A, "Whole In My Head" is female fronted, wielding a comparatively mellow, but dynamic vibe sporting shades of the Spinanes and early Lilys, but not overly derivative of either.  The flip, "Sugarlow" is considerably noisome and aggro, pounded out with the fuzzy, distortion-addled fury of contemporaries Monsterland, taking a good five and a half minutes to finish off the listener's sizzled nerves.  The packaging for this one was unique and went way above and beyond what's normally expected with your typical pic sleeve 45.  Motor Home were also responsible for an album around the same era that I anticipate getting my hands and ears around soon.

A. Whole in My Head
B. Sugarlow

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Popdefect - Playing for Time ep (1983, Heart Murmur)

For indie/punk connoisseurs in the '80s and early '90s the name Popdefect was relatively unavoidable.  It seemed like this L.A. area trio were constantly cropping up in fanzines (granted, more frequently in ads than articles) and on various artists comps.  They had a steady slew of singles and albums too, but the ones I investigated back in the day struck me as either a little goofy or not particularly memorable.  Nonetheless I'm happy I took a gamble on Playing for Time a couple years ago as I found it significantly more palatable.  Defective?  Nah.  A little crooked?  Surely.  I don't think Popdefect were strenuously vying for a specific angle, but any inclinations to power pop may have very well amounted to happy accidents on "Perfectionist" and "Speak Your Mind."  The hooks aren't spilling over or anything but melody is still keenly discernible, and they even tinker with post-punk flavorings on my favorite number here, "Can't Catch Up."  By far and away, Playing for Time is the creme de la creme of what I've heard from this trio thus far, and I might be motivated to re/investigate other sectors of their catalog.  In addition to an aging Earthlink band page (linked above) they have a Facebook presence to boot. 

01. Perfectionist (Can't He See)
02. Never Have the Time
03. Speak Your Mind
04. Can't Catch Up
05. No Purple Heart
06. untitled instrumental

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Teenage Fanclub/Viva Saturn flexi (1992) - Re-rip, re-up.

You might say this as close as Wilfully Obscure comes to a "reissue."  I originally shared this 1992 flexi from Revolver magazine about six or so years ago.  This weekend I decided I could improve upon the audio quality of this quarter-century (plus) old soundsheet , and I did just that, removing as much of the extraneous surface noise as I could.  Heck, I even re-scanned the art, and on top of all that it's now available in lossless FLAC in addition to the typical MP3.  You can read my original write-up for this disc in the link above.

01. Teenage Fanclub - Everybody's Fool (Cleveland, OH 2-29-92)
02. Viva Saturn - Black Cloud

MP3  or  FLAC

Sunday, January 20, 2019

It's the smiling on the package, it's the faces in the sand...

From 2004.  The debut was great, but this followup surpassed it.

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


Kitchens of Distinction - Drive That Fast ep (1990, One Little Indian)

So, what's stopped me from posting anything from Kitchens of Distinction?   This probably has to do with the fact that most of their catalog is still available - but then I remembered...b-sides.  Truthfully, I'm sharing this for the a-side, the sublime "Drive That Fast," which had me enamored from the word go, almost thirty some years ago now.  Alongside Swervedriver's "Mustang Ford," The Kitchens brought the car song to dream-pop, though I would venture to guess neither band had that particular end in mind.  Patrick Fitzgerald's caterwaul/croon gracefully sits atop a bed of Julian Swales atmospheric, chiming guitars, sounding nothing short of ripped from a primo Cocteau Twins record.  In fact, nothing off the band's subsequent LP, Strange Free World could quite rival it, but nonetheless manages to stand as their finest hour. 

"These Drinkers" pursues a similar sonic template, albeit Fitzgerald is content to talk (not rap) on this one, and he doesn't show up on the mic at all for the long-winded but pleasant instrumental "Three to Beam Up."  "Elephantiny" is a starker piano-laden piece, recalling what I loved so much about those Epic Soundtracks solo records.  The Kitchens washed their final load of dishes in 1996, but reemerged in 2013 for a reunion record, Folly

01. Drive That Fast (7" edit)
02. These Drinkers
03. Elephantiny
04. Three to Beam Up

Friday, January 18, 2019

Dole - The Speed of Hope (1986, Play It Again Sam)

Sorry for being so late in getting something new out to you this week.  I hope this one makes up for it, not that many of you will recognize the name.  Dole were/are a Belgian export with only one album to their credit (this one).  Produced by The Sounds' Adrian Borland, this six-man entity had their creative tentacles steeped in the same transfixing waters as contemporaries Sad Lovers and Giants, Lowlife, The Chameleons and Echo and the Bunnymen, to varying degrees from song-to-song, mind you.  Tethered to the more atmospheric end of the post-punk/wave spectrum, Dole were capable of creating the same sweepingly melodic racket as the aforementioned contingents, best exemplified on The Speed of Hope's "The Dream," "Maybe Tomorrow," and "A Day." Coincidentally or not, they vividly recall the Cure on "I Say," and to a lesser extent Teardrop Explodes amidst the chorus of "Rumroad."  There's saxophone accompaniment on the whole of this record, but it gracefully embellishes and never threatens to overpower. 

Dole still perform in Europe, sans some of the original members.  And they have a new live album set to drop any moment know.  You can read some postings relating to that on their Facebook page, and further audio/visual goodies are available on their site linked above.  BTW, this album had no less than three different album jackets in circulation, so I appreciate you like the variation I've fitted you with.  On a final note, this rip was taking from a defiantly crackly slab of vinyl that I was barely able to clean up, however the TSoH saw a very brief reissue on CD in the mid-90s, so with any luck I'll have a more pristine version to share in the future.

01. Slumberland
02. The Dream
03. Maybe Tomorrow
04. I Say
05. Rumroad
06. A Day
07. Third Man
08. Satellite

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Makes the earth toss and tumble...

A two-fer featuring a 1983 album and ep from a group that practically wrote the playbook for the scene that celebrates itself.

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


Saturday, January 12, 2019

Eleventh Dream Day - Nuernberg, Germany 3/14/90

This one is pretty straightforward.  A full live set from Chicago's noisenik, indie/major label rockers Eleventh Dream Day.  This exemplary gig fell between the band's Beet and Lived to Tell albums, and this was one of the last tours audiences would be treated to such old chestnuts as "Watching the Candles Burn."  This recording could pass for a soundboard tape, but the setlist from the torrent I obtained this from notably states that track ten "Michael Dunne" had to be faded out due to a tape flip at the end, so perhaps this recorded by someone in the audience.  I'm offering it in the unaltered FLAC (lossless) from it was originally shared in, and an MP3 version if that's what you prefer. Enjoy.

01. Intro - Liz Beth
02. Between Here and There
03. Love to Hate to Love
04. Testify
05. Tranatula
06. Bagdad's Last Ride
07. Among the pines
08. Merciless
09. Watching the Candles Burn
10. Michael Dunne (fade out)
11. Teenage Pin Queen
12. Awake I Lie
13. Go!
14. The Death of Albert C. Sampson
15. title unknown - outro

MP3 (320 kbps)  or  FLAC

Friday, January 11, 2019

Beggar Weeds - Sure Pants Alot ep (1988, Junior Highness)

This long bygone Jacksonville, FL trio had an interesting array of parties cropping up in their "thank you" list - grandmas, the Chickasaw Mudpuppies, Henry Kissinger...  What to make of that is anyone's guess, and to a lesser extent you can apply that notion to the Beggar Weeds themselves.  From what little poking around I was able to do before stringing these 150 (or so) words together, I ascertained the band fancied themselves as "speed folk."  After a couple spins of Sure Pants Alot, the most immediate comparison I conjured up was that of a higher pitched John Fogerty fronting the Violent Femmes.  But as is the case with so many of my comparative attempts that's hardly a spot-on correlation.  There's a certain twangy modus operandi in operation here, and although BW were a discernible product of the deep south their vibe was thankfully more nonchalant than forced.  Word has it the band made inroads with the Athens, GA indie circuit of the day, so it's not a stretch to say the 40 Watt Club contingent rubbed off on 'em, at least to a modest extent.  In a nutshell, this platter is exponentially more earnest than hip - and thirty some years after the fact I'd say these boys settled upon the correct equation.

01. All I Need
02. Skinny
03. Harry Lee
04. Graduating
05. Churchin'

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Rods and Cones - s/t ep (1985, Oh Stu!)

Not to be confused withe the Boston band of the same (coincidentally featured here a few years ago) the Rods and Cones I'm sharing today were a more economical three-piece set up, situated in the less urban locale of Bloomington, IN.  Guitar pop with varying dosages of power was their calling card and they played it capably, if perhaps half a step or two shy of the mainstream.  Their approach was plenty accessible, but thankfully not as gaudily decked out as the drivel that say, Huey Lewis and his dudes were crapping out around the same time.  The Rods thing was more in league with Tommy Tutone and later Knack.  "Hypnotize Women" and "Useless Knowledge" were cheeky riff-rockers with ample bite, bearing enough commercial prowess to land on AOR playlists of the day...though I'm not sure if that scenario ever came to fruition.  Rods and Cones winds things down with a novel acoustic reading of the Peanuts theme (lazily titled "Charlie Brown") before seguing into one last original.  BTW, the band reunites every Christmas for a local performance.  Visit the link above to be delivered to their Facebook page for evidence of this.

01. Hypnotize Women
02. Getaway
03. What it Takes
04. Useless Knowledge
05. Nine Kinds
06. Charlie Brown/Outta Control

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Open up your mind, open up your purse...

Something decidedly off the beaten path for you this week.  A chronological, double CD anthology spanning 1971-88 for a band that lay claim to veritable genre-shaping in their native UK, but across the pond, not so much.

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


Saturday, January 5, 2019

Signal Thirty - Purpose (1987, Hit a Note)

Something has always fascinated me about rural/small town indie rock, maybe because there seems to be so little of it.  Signal Thirty, ostensibly hailing from Paducah, KY, could have conveniently chosen to season their ears on such mainstream purveyors of the day as Def Leppard or John Cougar Mellencamp, but I tend to think their collective tastes ran a little deeper than the Top-ten.  Said to have been recorded over the course of Memorial Day weekend in '87, Purpose sounds like a dandy way to have killed three days.  Varying from twangy, albeit skewed roots rock, to jangly REM-isms, this trio never quite settles on a singular penchant here, yet manages to keep the entire affair structured.  Purpose really gets cooking on side two, with brisk keepers like "Wild With Me," "(The Adventures of) Laritasm," and "Some Sweet Day" all exuding verve and zest, not to mention a homegrown aplomb that occasionally floats in the vicinity of what the Meat Puppets had up their sleeves around the same time.  Solid stuff.  The record ends in somewhat uncharacteristic fashion with a medley of the reverent country ballad "Wings of a Dove" and the theme to Petticoat Junction.

01. Long White Sleeve
02. Napalm Luv
03. I Know It's You
04. I See God
05. Misconnected
06. Swimming's Funny
07. Fine Lines
08. Comparison
09. Wild With Me
10. (The Adventures of) Laritasm
11. Life Light (White World)
12. Some Sweet Day
13. Wings of a Dove/Petticoat Junction theme

Thursday, January 3, 2019

A slight case of underblogging - Best of the blog mix 2018

It's time once again for our annual rehash *ahem* taster of the creme de la creme of Wilfully Obscure's juiciest morsels from the year just departed.  Per the title, I say under-blogging in the respect that each year I seem to grow a tad more slack than the one prior in terms of the amount of audio victuals I lay out buffet-style on our coveted, on-the-house table.  Is what it is I suppose, as I'm in no hurry to exhaust my collection.  Revelations continue to abound on these pages, and 2018 brought to the fore some pretty phenomenal vintage wax from the likes of Three Leaning Men, The Woodies, The Lift, November Group and the Cuban Heels amidst approximately twenty others I've managed to shoehorn into one folder.

Given the disparate offerings here, more than a few song-to-song segues may not make for the most logical of transitions, though I've attempted to maintain a semblance of continuity, fractured as it amy sometime seem.  Roughly speaking, the first half houses some of the more aggressive selections, while the prettier and more jangly numbers have been corralled in the second.  Included are three previously unshared nuggets that until today you never knew you couldn't live without. 

01. Cuban Heels -  Liberty Hall
02. Private Domain - Burn the Torch
03. Wooden Igloo - Lost Weekend
04. Ten Ten - Giving In
05. Uncalled Four - Set Me Straight
06. The Woodies - Penelope Says
07. Mexican Pets - Stigmata Errata
08. The Red - Promises
09. November Group - Pictures of the Homeland
10. Stark Raving - Too Much to Take
11. Rank Strangers - Target
12. Rockphonics - Lock and Key
13. LMNOP - Like A Diatom*
14. Material Issue - Echo Beach (1986 vers.)
15. The McGuires - Russian Hill
16. Diesel Park West - All The Myths On Sunday (demo)
17. The Lift - Plush With Blonde
18. The Wishniaks - Marcy's Gone
19. The Colours - Somewhere in Between
20. Richard X. Heyman - Hoosier
21. Free Loan Investments - In the Park*
22. The Pterodactyls - Germs
23. Three Leaning Men - Facing
24. Stick Figures - September*

* = previously unshared