This may not be my most crucial wax I share this year, but I do enjoy it. For a band hailing from Dublin these guys didn't sound a stitch Irish. Nor did Light a Big Fire strike me as a product of anything emanating from the British isles, save for maybe the Screaming Blue Messiahs, of which they shared a slightly skewed sense of humor with. Truth be told they sound wholeheartedly American, in the vicinity of Jason and the Scorchers. A little pedestrian, and even more subtly rootsy, but the tunes are fun and hold up. I plucked the following bio blurb from Irish Rockers.com, albeit it doesn't mention that Pete Holidai from Irish punk rockers The Radiators eventually joined LaBF's lineup.
Formed in Dublin in 1982 when bass player Pat Driskin got together with a
couple of friends, guitarist Pete Dench and drummer Ray Rowland. They
were joined by singer Tom McLaughlin from Belfast and additional
vocalists Daunta Grudrinska and Owen Conroy. They signed to Eamonn
Carr's Hotwire Records in Ireland (Carr became one of their managers)
and released a number of singles in Ireland as well as the mini-album,
'Gunpowders'. They signed an international deal with Siren Records and
released the album 'Surveillance'.
Despite hailing from San Diego, Friends of Ghosts sounded like they were the stuff of thoroughly British stock. Frontman D. Andrew Marries (aka Donnie Darq) went a long way in playing up the trio's Anglophile leanings by floating a convincing Brit accent atop Friend's noir, but often cheeky canvas. On Realm of the Senses it's often hard to discern where the irony ends and where the gravity begins. Much like the coterie of inspirational antecedents they were wont to draw from - The Birthday Party, Syd Barrett and Bauhaus, there's often a lack of immediacy to this record. So much so there's barely a hook in sight to grab onto until you reach Realm's halfway mark on "Eleven Boy" - but when it peaks you'll be duly rewarded. Textures and idiosyncrasies were the Friend's ostensible raison d'etre, wherein these kids hopscotched from the percussive "Windows" to the metallic stomp of "Juju Digby Juju," and onto "Ciao Manhattan," which escalates from a chilled out piano ballad to something entirely more rocking. Virtually every realm that inhabits Realm bares a demeanor of it's own making, the most persuasive being the concluding "WMT" a melodic and measured three minute bliss-take that suggests what the Psychedelic Furs might have conjured up around the same era had they not gotten so irreparably tangled up in pink.
01. Realm of the Senses
02. William the Scotsman
03. Hollywood Land
04. Sinister Daze
05. Eleven Boy
07. Juju Digby Juju
09. Ciao Manhattan
10. Broadcast of Love
Sorry I haven't set you up with much in the way of fresh sounds this week, but hopefully this compensate. In fact, I was thinking about saving this for one of my Chanukah presentations, but why not pull the trigger early? 11th Hour were a Pittsburgh combo who may have disbanded as long as three decades ago (though I uncovered evidence of a 2018 reunion gig). The band's straight-up power pop modus operandi possessed a strong jangly bent, but the Shawn Harrison-fronted quartet were flexible enough to spill over into ballsier garage punk on "I'm Comin' Down," gravitating in the vicinity of locals The Cynics, and less obviously the Lime Spiders. They even dabble briefly on the psych side of the fence on the fleeting "Garden of Sleep," but 11th Hour's penchant for lingering in more conventional guitar pop environs yields at least half a dozen startlingly great tunes on Shapes and Things to Come including "There's No Danger," "Can't Get Through to You," "Go to the Edge" and "Pictures In My Room." Shapes and Things to Come concludes on a fitting note with a wailin' reading of the Eddie and the Hotrods classic, "Do Anything You Wanna Do." BTW, Huw Gower of The Records has a co-production role on several tracks!
In addition to Shapes... proper, the CD incarnation appends the just as valuable Alder St EP, initially released as a double 45 in 1987. Bearing an even rawer aplomb, it hones in on 11th Hour when they were fully ensconced in sweet, ringing guitars, wielding even more delirious and devastating hooks. This is stuff of immensely grand proportions, and you need to make your belated acquaintance with these guys NOW.
01. Release You
02. Can't Get Through To You
03. The Changing Of The Guard
05. I'm Comin' Down
06. Live Your Life Again
07. Go to the Edge
08. Garden of Sleep
09. Don't Sell Me
10. Under the Fire
11. There's No Danger
12. Pictures In My Room
13. Do Anything You Wanna Do
Alder St. ep (1987)
14. The Seasons
15. She Goes Away
16. There's No Danger
17. Can't Wait Another Day
18. The Bells of St. Mary
19. Find Some Meaning
Way back in 2011 when I addressed Timco'sFriction Tape LP, I mentioned a collection of their singles would be forthcoming. Well, a full nine years later the forth has belatedly come. Since this is a band that hasn't been active in roughly a quarter century I can't enlighten you much more than I already have. Nonetheless here are the basics. The fulcrum of Timco were two alumni from one of a really choice, not to mention noisome indie rock troupe from the '80s I've oft featured on these pages, Nice Strong Arm. Kevin Thompson parlayed his frontman role in NSA to Timco, and also brought along Ethel M. Deathel from his old group. Timco eschew much of NSA's wailing maelstroms, instead reveling in emotive, and sometimes highly dynamic downer rock bristling with texture and sobering resignations. If that description strikes you as a bit of an oversimplification, maybe it is, and while it may apply to their albums, the aforementioned Friction Tape and 1996's Gentleman Jim, Timco's first blush of short-for
m releases reveal a more varied story.
Birds, Bees & Cherries, a double 7" ep delivers a quartet of four-track demos cut by Thompson in '91. The commencing "Dragg Dabb" is the most engaging, anchored by a low roar of melancholy vocals and a gradually escalating crescendo of layered post-punk fretwork. Sheer magic. "Water Sucks Bugs" is even rawer and more amped-out and just about the closest Timco ever came to stretching back to Nice Strong Arm's sonic posture. The two songs occupying the second 45 are more subdued - not to mention a bit sardonic, proving Thompson possesses something resembling a sense of humor, idiosyncratic as it may be.
Another single, The Hotel Radio surfaced about three years with two songs culled from a radio session on KPFK in Los Angeles. The A-side, "Gone" is relatively spare but effective thanks to a devastatingly powerful vocal hook. This song would reside comfortably next to work of Timco contemporaries Seam and Versus. The flip, "Louisiana" is a ballad of dark proportions, although Thompson's dialogue leading into sounds a tad disingenuous.
The final single, also from 1994, features two live tracks from the Friction Tape-era. Ironically, Friction... itself was cut live in studio, and it's almost impossible to tell these singler versions apart from the album. The angsty "Walking Papers" is the epitome of what Timco were all about, while"Screw You" is an insular kiss-off if there ever was such a thing. Enjoy (or not)
I keep finding great unsung Austin, TX bands from a good 30+ years ago and though I don't know much about Ring Theatre's collective bona fides, I'm happy to report they're well above average. Not resembling or mimicking anyone in particular, the quartet's serrated guitar pop dabbles in lightweight punk chords on the feisty opener "Mrs. Ann" and "Second's Romance." Elsewhere the going never gets too middle-of-the-road thanks to RT's organic power pop angles and humble garage tendencies. In fact, this platter isn't far
removed from such other cold cases I've dispensed to you over the years by Public Bulletin and Signal Thirty, arcane as those references may be. This appeared to be Ring Theatre's one and only vinyl offering. If anyone in the audience has more details don't be a stranger.
01. Mrs. Ann
03. Second's Romance
04. Kill Yourself
05. Remember May
If Minor Alps haven't made it onto your radar by now, it's safe to say it's going to remain that way, as the duo of Matthew Caws (Nada Surf) and Juliana Hatfield (Blake Babies) haven't been particularly active since their debut 2013 LP, Get There. The collaboration seemed to be a one-off, as there was never a follow-up, but it's two participants did some touring behind the album, including a handful of dates in Europe. The April 2014 gig in Köln, Germany that I'm sharing today is an acoustic performance, and while not necessarily exciting or even climactic, it's a treat if you're an established fan of either Hatfield or Caws (in my case both). If not an out-and-out revelation, I thought Get There really played gracefully to the more austere, melancholic strengths of both of them without delving into anything heady or dramatic. This show, largely derived from songs from that album, follows suit with some poignant examples of this ethos like "I Don't Know What to Do With My Hands" and "Far From the Roses." As you might expect, given Hatfield and Caws' deep song catalogs outside of Minor Alps these are dipped into as well, albeit some of their more obvious signature titles are passed over in favor of less familiar ones. No complaints from my end there. Just a hint, track 21 is a cover...as if I had to tell you. Anyway, I'm making this whole shebang available in MP3 and FLAC below. Major thanks to whomever tracked this show and supplied pics/artwork.
01. I Wanna Take You Home 02. If I Wanted Trouble 03. Far From The Roses 04. Buried Plans 05. Candy Wrappers 06. 'taking three steps forward'/Bob Dylan banter 07. Wish You Were Upstairs 08. Live On Tomorrow 09. Maxon 10. Such A Beautiful Girl 11. Inside Of Love 12. Waiting For You 13. Out There 14. Beautiful Beat 15. Lonely Low 16. The Moon Is Calling 17. Airscape 18. I Don't Know What To Do With My Hands 19. Away Again 20. The Way You Wear Your Head 21. Bette Davis Eyes 22. Fruit Fly