Sunday, August 9, 2020

Do you think I should take a class to lose my southern accent?

This past Saturday (Aug 8th) marked the 25th anniversary of one of the most dazzling debut albums ever...or at least so says I.  Instead of sharing the record in question I thought it would be more of a kick to share the demos for it...and some demos for their even more popular sophomore LP...and why not some really scarce and altogether unreleased tunes on top of that?  This collection was sourced from tapes, and whomever did the digital transfer may have had the Dolby switched on, but it's barely enough to detract from the overall quality of both the audio and the songs.  For what it's worth, back in '96 it meant a lot to have these tracks to tide me over while I was patiently waiting for their second album to come out.  Hope ya dig.

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


Saturday, August 8, 2020

Pacer - s/t ep (1993, Remora/Bear)

Pacer were a coed trio of New York indie kids with a penchant for noise and serrated guitar histrionics, but on their lone ep they reign in just enough of the chaos to filter in a few morsels of the latent tuneful ambition they could have likely made so much more of on subsequent records had they stuck it out.  They were label-mates with Versus, who were newly incorporated themselves at the time, and the two bands had just enough in common to draw a legit comparison.  Truthfully, Pacer made more of a racket and played it a good bit looser.  You might sense trace elements of the first Seam album (Headsparks), and Unwound, but I think the latter was more of a coincidence.  Of the three Pacer aluni, it's bassist Samara Lubelski that went onto to the most robust career with stints in the Sonora Pine, Chelsea Light Moving and has abundant solo releases to her credit. My apologies if the audio is a little bumpy in spots.  Purchased this one used and the condition wasn't as sharp as I preferred.

01. Hot Wired
02. Go
03. Tell You Something
04. Seven
05. Two
06. Disso

Friday, August 7, 2020

Punchbuggy - The Great Divide (2002, Boss Tuneage/Does Everyone Stare)

Got a request for this one recently.  The Great Divide was the fourth in a series of Punchbuggy albums to feature less songs than the LP that preceded it.  I suppose they called it quits after this one considering the only logical move for a fifth record would entail offering merely ten songs (or less). That would hardly be a complaint though given the caliber and consistency of what they pumped out for almost ten solid years.  These Ottawa-based Doughboys proteges knew their way around a hook, not to mention chunky punk-pop riffs, all the while sustaining maximum sonic density.  I've gone back and forth on my favorite Punchbuggy albums over the years, but since they're not a band that anyone normally "debates," so guess what?  I don't have to pick favorites. Even with the absence of Jim Bryson on guitar (who also wasn't aboard from 1998's My Norwegian Cousin) The Great Divide is another wall-to-wall trove of aces, wherein the band even negotiates some modestly mature gestures on the slower (but not quite ballad-worthy) "Easy to Leave" and the relatively contemplative title cut.  Aficionados of the Doughboys Crush or Goo's Superstar Carwash will find plenty to love here.  In fact, the only thing that might have improved ...Divide is if the band employed another halter-topped model for the album cover, as they so effectively did with the aforementioned My Norwegian Cousin...but once again I digress.  You can also find the band's second LP, Grand Opening Going Out of Business Sale here.

01. Same
02. Way to Go
03. Kids Say
04. Rock and Roll Fantasy
05. Easy to Leave
06. Heart Attack
07. Just Another Day
08. Want You More
09. Lucky Me Lucky You
10. Marianne
11. The Great Divide

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Don't try to get a ride in my Cadillac, you don't look good enough for that...

From 1982.  I had car songs on the brain the other day, and when that happens the first tune on this album invariably comes to mind.  Not typical Wilfully Obscure fare...but that's why Mystery Mondays were invented. 

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


Saturday, August 1, 2020

The Cure - Live in Orange (rec. 1986, released on video 1987)

My friend was looking for the audio portion of The Cure's 1987 Live in Orange concert video tape.  I found it for him and am sharing the contents with you as well, with lossless FLAC as an option. The video/audio was captured from a series of gigs Robert Smith & Co. performed in 1986 at the Théâtre Antique d’Orange, in Orange, Vaucluse, France, in support of the Head on the Door album.  As such, don't expect to hear anything from Disintegration or Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me.  The setlist is exceptional, not skimping on old fan faves like "A Forest," "Charlotte Sometimes," and "Shake Dog Shake."  The audio component of Live in Orange was never officially released on record/CD, but somehow it found it's way to market in places like Malaysia and China.  Online video links are available here.

01. Shake Dog Shake
02. Piggy in the Mirror
03. Play for Today
04. A Strange Day
05. Primary
06. Kyoto Song
07. Charlotte Sometimes
08. In Between Days
09. The Walk
10. A Night Like This
11. Push
12. One Hundred Years
13. A Forest
14. Sinking
15. Close to Me
16. Let's Go to Bed
17. Six Different Ways
18. Three Imaginary Boys
19. Boys Don't Cry
20. Faith
21. Give Me It
22. 10:15 Saturday Night
23. Killing an Arab

MP3  or  FLAC

Friday, July 31, 2020

Nothing But Happiness - Detour (1987, The Remorse Label)

Been sitting on this one for awhile.  You can attach almost another ten years on top of that, as I patiently waited for an affordable copy of Detour to make itself available Stateside, given I was only looking to make a minimal to moderate investment in it.  The draw here was none other than Kurt Ralske of Ultra Vivid Scene renown.  Truthfully, Nothing But Happiness wasn't actual his "baby" so to speak, rather that of frontman David Maready Bowman, whom I believe occupies all the lead vocals on this record with Ralske serving as guitarist.  Bowman was also a contributor to Crash,  another pre-UVS band that Ralske had a more definitive role in commandeering, who happened to exist during the mid-80s as well.

There is sadly little to no details to be had online regarding NBH, and I'm not even certain of what side of the Atlantic they operated on (though a NYC correspondence address on the back sleeve indicated one or all of the members already had a foothold in the States). If you're looking for a "lost" UVS album by another name you won't find much of a discernible Ralske influence at all on Detour...but it is good, channeling a bevy of Brit, indie small-of-famers like the June Brides, Felt and  early Microdisney.  The wily and rambunctious feedback and horns-laced corker "Buried in the Flowers" taps into nascent Jesus and Mary Chain, "For Waitress Friends" and "Couldn't Make You Mine" are glistening guitar pop forays, however Detour counters with an equal number of ballads and relatively serene pieces too.  Nothing But Happiness were officially a co-ed quartet, with Lynn Culberstson contributing subdued backing vox on a number of tracks.

01. For Waitress Friends
02. Striped Socks
03. Battle Hymn
04. Buried in the Flowers
05. Facsimilie
06. Don't Laugh
07. Couldn't Make You Mine
08. My Summer Dress
09. Blue Kiss
10. Narcotics Day

Sunday, July 26, 2020

I've stood some ghostly moments with natives in the hills...

From 1978.  Every band has to have a start.  This was theirs. 

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


Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Local Rabbits - Basic Concept (1998, Murder)

Hard to believe this band's first and third albums were so utterly polarizing (to my ears anyway).  In fact I don't have a solid idea of what the Local Rabbits debut, 1996's You Can't Touch This, was all about, because on the two occasions I attempted to listen to it I was repulsed enough by the second or third song in I gave in to my compulsion to yank the thing out of my CD player.  I remember it having an unseasoned and unfocused air to it, and the fact that they went to the trouble of covering John Lee Hooker didn't do anyone any favors.  Ugh.  What a difference six years made, because by 2002's This Is It Here We Go, I was fully onboard thanks to the seemingly multiple quantum leaps these Montreal natives were responsible for.  The link above will take you to my critique of that LP, but in a nutshell, the quartet in question got exponentially more sophisticated from that off-putting debut, and post-Y2K they had fused bona fide singer/songwriter chops with retro yacht-rock tangents aplenty.  This Is It... was outright dazzling, and to this day I'm still stunned how a band who were so mediocre on the launch pad delivered such a devastating moon shot a mere six years later. Sadly, that's the last we heard from the Local Rabbits.

If you've gotten this far, you might be asking what of the band's crucial "transitional" second album?  Well, it was called Basic Concept and was an immense progression from their comparatively frivolous baby steps. I should also point out that L/R were on Sloan's Murderecords label.  They never particularly sounded like Sloan, but they did have something invaluably in common with the Halifax boys-done-good.  Much like Chris Murphy & Co. the Rabbits possessed multiple not to mention adept singer/songsmiths in Peter Elkas and Ben Gunning.  On Basic Concept they hadn't pulled out all the bells and whistles yet, but the record housed genuinely melodic, mature and stimulating tunes like "When You Return" and "Nightingale."  Further in we get nascent previews of the next album's diverse streaks by way of the sax 'n' keys enhanced ballad "Read How You Read" and the textured "Lowdown on the Download," a piece concerning romance in the recently-gone-mainstream digital era.  Again, the Rabbit's didn't fully emerge from the fabled "hat" until they got around to the full-bloom This Is It... but Basic Concept was genuinely respectable if not always consistently rewarding.

01. Our Life
02. When You Return
03. Play On
04. This Lengthy Glance
05. Nightingale
06. High School Hierarchy
07. Read How You Read
08. Stomp Your British Knights Down
09. The Deal
10. Something So Big
11. Keep it Down
12. Lowdown on the Download

Sunday, July 19, 2020

The obvious is to unwind, but I still thought we had some time.

This week it's a noise pop pearl from 2015. 

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


Saturday, July 18, 2020

Big Idea - The Big Idea (1987, YoYo)

Ultimately for the Big Idea, the record label they found themselves on (for what appears to be their only album) would soon gain considerably more notoriety than they would in their own right.  YoYo Records was directly associated with Yo-Yo Studios in Olympia, WA, and both would become key indie taste-makers in the '90s, with the label being responsible for a relentless slew of various artist compilations that in no small way helped codify what indie (particularly the twee contingent) represented in that decade.  Big Idea presaged all that in 1987 however, with their LP The Big Idea, being the label's maiden release.  Mildly unfocused, but never messy, the Idea were an eclectic coed five-piece, with integrity for miles, loosely pulling from a number of then-current, forward-thinking sources, including Athens, GA, and North Carolina's burgeoning Comboland circuits, without over-indulging from any one pool.  Theirs was a fun and lively endeavor, combining traditional analog accouterments (translation: guitars/drums) with flavorful keyboard lines and gentle flourishes of  harmonica.  Each song on this platter reveals itself to have it's own particular flair, and for a change I'm not disclosing any spoilers.  Just know this one is organic, heartfelt, and even a bit daring.  Enjoy.

01. Walking on Water
02. Go Ahead
03. Words of Wisdom
04. The Farce
05. Round and Round
06. Shameless
07. You're Alright
08. The Great Joy
09. Coming on Strong
10. Left and Gone

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Airstrip 1 - Longer to Live 12" (1981, Oval)

More commonly spelled Airstrip One (but what's in name anyway, ya know?) this UK batch sound as if they quickly absorbed the earliest records by Killing Joke, U2, and perhaps even Comsat Angels and decided to have a merry go at the post-punk thing themselves.  Recording under this name from 1981-82, they ostensibly re-calibrated themselves a little later in the decade as the dancier Escape From New York, but I haven't 100 percent confirmation of this (just going by Discogs stats, folks).  Airstrip didn't waste a second of this angsty three-songer, offering ample presence and texture not to mention a dab of social consciousness, albeit a little derivative.  I really enjoy this and must hear more, hopefully to share at a future date.

A. Longer to Live
B1. English Guns
B2. Crime

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Burn down days like cigarettes...

From 1989.  A relatively common one this week.  Then again, this quartet's prior album was so lackluster and uninspired, many of you likely gave up on them.  Hope this will be new to some of you, because this "comeback" record was fairly on par with their first three.

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


Orange Helicopter - s/t (2001)

It's harder to start off an album with a bigger bang than "Arsenic Bubblegum," a tune which beckons Cheap Trick's punky 1977 clarion call 'Elo Kiddies" to such an extent it's hard not to regard it as gloriously plagiaristic...but who in their right mind would complain?  Orange Helicopter hover their collective chopper over the environs of power pop like there's no damn tomorrow, and they do so with LOUD, hook-filled abandon.  From the sound of it, this quartet had their ears affixed to combos like Enuff Z'nuff and Jellyfish as well.  Aside from "Arsenic" there aren't a ton of outright revelations, but quality control was a calling card for O/H, and they would have fit in like a glove on the sadly defunct Not Lame Records imprint.  And yes, "Jet" is the Paul McCartney and Wings mainstay, done to very enthusiastic effect at that.

01. Arsenic Bubblegum
02. Strawberry
03. Take it All
04. Majestic Black Rainbow
05. Help!
06. Summer Song
07. Jet
08. Falling Star Potion
09. Coming Around
10. One Step Closer
11. Movies

Friday, July 10, 2020

The Glory Box - Donkey ep (1990, PolyEster)

I can't profess to know what a "Glory Box" precisely is, but if someone were to place this record in a carton of some sort and hand it off to me I'd say, "Yeah, this is pretty damn glorious."  I wasn't necessarily opining that about the lead-in track, "Cut" which starts Donkey's proceedings a tad on the slow side, but this five songer (created by five guys, ironically) quickly gains steam thereafter showcasing this Aussie unit's penchant for serrated and mildly droney indie guitar rock that happens to remind me of their UK counterparts the Family Cat, and to a much lesser extent the Straitjacket Fits.  Donkey reveals itself to be more stimulating with each succeeding song, a rare phenomenon in itself.  So much so that by the time you hit "Regrets" and "Aarr"occupying side two you'll find yourself craving more...but five tunes are all we're allotted.  A full length, Fudgeland followed in 1991, and a generous spate of singles and EPs surrounded it as well.

01. Cut
02. To You
03. Intersect
04. Regrets
05. Aarr

Sunday, July 5, 2020

In the Exorcist baby, you were really insane...

In 2008 this long-running combo released a live DVD, bundled with a makeshift best-of collection.  It was only available as a Spanish import.  I'm sharing the best-of (minus the DVD), although many of you might have these guys down pat already.  Please say I'm not insulting your intelligence!  This one is for the uninitiated. 

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


Saturday, July 4, 2020

Drake Tungsten (Britt Daniel, pre-Spoon) - Clocking Out Is For Suckers tape (1994)

This isn't the first Spoon related post I've done, but it could be the last considering there isn't a whole lot to plunder that's not available through commercial means (iTunes, Amazon, etc).  At any rate this one is a curiosity, albeit a very inconsistent one at that.  Drake Tungsten was an assumed recording (and possibly performing) alias for Spoon money-shot Britt Daniel.  The cassette-only Clocking Out... is a 17 cut mish-mash of lo-fi recordings, with the only element keeping the whole thing from completely careening off the rails is the fact that there are discernible track separations.  The finest moment we're offered is one which quite a few Spoon fans have abundant familiarity with, namely a well rehearsed demo for "All the Negatives Have Been Destroyed," which is the only thing here that wound it's way onto Spoon's primo Telephono debut LP.  "I Could Be Underground" was eventually recorded as a b-side, and the version here isn't exactly striking.  There are some meagerly pieced together covers including Wing's "Let Me Roll It," The Pixies "Do the Manta Ray," and a hushed reading of The Cure's "Secrets."  The dynamic "Dismember" is one of the more notable originals here, while the remainder of the tape veers between tolerable and sheer dross.  You have been warned.  I don't own an original copy of this, so a hearty thanks to whomever digitized it for us.

01. 15 Credibility Street
02. Chicago at Night
03. Let Me Roll It
04. All the Negatives Have Been Destroyed
05. Interview 1
06. Do the Manta Ray
07. I Could be Underground
08. Taking My Piss Out
09. Yeah Oh Yeah Oh Yeah
10. untitled
11. Interview 2
12. I Can't Believe Kurt Cobain Is Dead
13. Secrets
14. Dismember
15. I Wanted To Be Your Friend
16. Call Me When You Come Home
17. Are You Part Of The Movement?

Friday, July 3, 2020

Action Kit - Here Comes the Wolf Tone (2006, Jump Cut)

"Cold cases" are par for the course for a lot of '80s presentations I offer you, and to a certain extent even records from the Clinton-era...but 2006?  To their credit, Action Kit did have a legit website to call their own - not that it's online anymore.  Furthermore a cursory Google query brings up not a single mention of their CD Here Comes the Wolf Tone.  In fact I can't give you an accurate guesstimate of where they operated out of, but externalities , because I admire the tunes.  This "Kit" consisted of three pieces- two women and one gent, with most of the vocal responsibilities being conveyed by Holly Lipper.  There are vague sonic parallels to the Spinanes and Versus, but Action Kit aren't exactly a '90s throwback.  Specializing in subtle tones, lucid keyboard fills, some mild mathy syncopation's and warm but serious predilections, their's was an artful craft - one that maneuvers it's way in slowly and carefully.  If it's immediacy or discernible pop anthems you're seeking you're advised to gird your proverbial loins, because while ...Wolf Tone never quite bops you over the head, it's very much an acquired taste worth acquiring.

01. Psychic Kicks
02. Near the Surface
03. Forensic Twist
04. Cavefish
05. Like Pushing Waves
06. Hansa Clipper
07. My Hagiography
08. Panning Mine
09. Pacific Time
10. Balloons for Mel
11. Fair Game

Sunday, June 28, 2020

I'm sick of the things I do when I'm nervous, like cleaning the oven or checking my tires...

I just missed the fifteen year anniversary of this one by a couple weeks, darn it.  Anyway, this may have been my favorite album of 2005, and possibly in my top five for the decade.

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


Buzzcocks - Sell You Everything 1991-2014 box (2020, Cherry Red) - An extended review.

When the Buzzcocks (specifically the songwriting nucleus of Steve Diggle and the recently departed Pete Shelley) reconnected in 1989 after a nine year-long breakup, the band already boasted roughly 50 songs from their initial 1976-80 run.  And not just any 50 tunes, but some of the most distinctive, nervy and enduring in the history of British punk and power pop, including "What Do I Get," "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't 've)," and "Harmony in My Head," among copious others.  If three near-perfect albums from this era (Love Bites, Another Music in a Different Kitchen and A Different Kind of Tension) alone weren't enough, The Buzzcock's legendary first blush of 45s were of such caliber and consistency the compilation they were assembled into (1979's Singles Going Steady) is often referenced/revered more than their proper LPs.  In short, when they resumed doing live gigs in '89 (upon adopting a new rhythm section) they could have sold out rooms and concert halls for years and decades to come strictly on the strength of their back catalog.  And to large extent,  Buzzcocks concerts from this era forward contained numerous, highly in-demand standards from yesteryear.  However, between 1993 and 2014 they managed to pump out six brand new studio records, literally tripling their album discography in the process.  To boot, almost all of them produced accompanying singles.  Cherry Red's leave-no-stone-unturned eight disk Sell You Everything box collects all half-a-dozen of these later records, along with every single, solitary b-side, plus outtakes and some surprisingly intimate home demos from the Diggle/Shelley archives.

With a new lineup cemented in place by 1992 entailing new bass-wrangler Tony Barber and drummer Phil Barker, the band's much belated fourth record Trade Test Transmissions followed a year later.  Before I delve into that one, I should point out the Buzzcocks began recording in earnest in late 1990, namely at Drome Studios in their native Manchester, where they laid down over a dozen demos.  Online bootlegs of these tracks have been circulating for ages, but on Sell You Everything,  Cherry Red prefaces the band's proper mach II albums with The 1991 Demo Album (also available separately on vinyl).  Perhaps not as rambunctious or even as sassy as their first incarnation, the Buzzcocks were still plenty spry with a more expansive sonic aptitude to boot.  A handful of songs from the 1991 sessions were soon re-cut for an ep, Alive Tonight, that followed later in '91, while others would be-recorded for future albums, but there's approximately half a dozen tunes from the Drone Studios sessions that were accounted for exclusively here, including the groove-laden, proto Brit-pop experiment "Tranquilizer," and Steve Diggle's immensely melodic "Searching for Your Love."  The bonus portion of the disk is comprised of the aforementioned Alive Tonight ep, and some preview demos for Trade Test.

The Drone Studio sessions weren't as representative of the Buzzcocks' comeback LP, Trade Test Transmissions as one might expect.  Instead, the plenty-good and almost return-to-form reunion album slots the band ever so close to their distinctive chainsaw-pop aesthetic of yore, wherein the quartet is rarely encouraged to pump the brakes.  Swift slammers like "Energy," "Innocent" and "Last to Know" have the telltale tincture of classic Buzzcocks, and Diggle's comparatively subdued "Isolation" and lusciously catchy "When Love Turns Around" work wonders amidst the band's slightly modified doctrine.  TTT is one of those rare reunion ventures that's actually worth the decade-and-a-half long wait.   As if fifteen album tracks weren't enough, this reissue tacks on all the contemporary b-sides, and some wholly unreleased titles courtesy of Steve Diggle's clutch of home demos.

All Set followed a comparatively mere three years later in '96, and didn't futz much with the prior album's overarching tenets.  True, Shelley's prose isn't as biting or provocative as it was in say, 1978, but the energy quotient remains sufficiently intact on "Totally From the Heart" and "Your Love," while "Kiss 'n Tell" makes some subtle but gradual concessions to '90s sonic proprieties without encroaching into anything grungy.  1999's Modern on the other hand, if not an entirely different kind of tension was a certainly a different kind of album, wherein the Buzzcocks cautiously partook in some experimentation. They vaguely channel their inner Gary Numan on the synth-tweaked "Soul On a Rock" and "Stranger in Your Town."  Despite demonstrating they're ready to graduate to the twenty-first century there's still your daily allotment of power chords to be imbibed on Modern - just don't expect anything as inspired as the band's two preceding records.  A fairly straightforward spin on the Small Faces "Here Comes the Nice," and a chilled out acoustic piece, "Autumn Stone" (the latter credited to Steve's Buzz, are bonus-ized.

I'm not sure if it was in response to mixed reactions to Modern or if the band was try to compete with all the competition they had spawned over the ensuing decades, but 2003's self-titled effort is the most obvious attempt the Buzzcocks ever made to sound punk, save perhaps for the band's initial 1976 recordings (Spiral Scratch anyone?) when original co-frontman Howard Devoto was still part and parcel of the lineup.  Vigorous isn't merely a watchword here's it's the band's full throated modus operandi on the positively rampaging "Jerk," and "Driving You Insane," among others.  Speaking of Mr. Devoto, a song he co-wrote with Pete Shelley way back when, "Lester Sands" is revisited to appropriate effect here (you can hear the original version on the Buzzcock's Time's Up compilation of pre-record deal demos.  As with Modern, only a handful of bonus tracks on this one, the most revelatory being a live version of ...Tension's spunky "Paradise," an exceedingly scarce song to crop up on the band's setlists despite it being one of their finest.

As is frequently the case with bands who've enjoyed a lengthier than expected reunion, even veteran punk bands can sound a bit routine going into their eighth record.  Not that the Buzzcocks overstayed their welcome, but by 2006's Flat-Pack Philosophy a bit of a holding pattern had set.  No histrionic highs or crashing lows, just another steady and sturdy pallet of Shelley/Diggle compositions that were a welcome listen to fans of their more recent albums - but not exactly a godsend either.  There was a disproportionately generous portion of FPP b-sides, all eight of which are graciously appended.

When A Different Compilation came out, I automatically mistook it for yet another best-of collection.  While it is chock full of hits, this 2011 double LP length release was the Buzzcocks covering...themselves - and to outstanding effect.  They certainly weren't the first band to play this sometime cliched card, but their new paint job applied far more grit than polish.  With raw passion and renewed energy they bowl through all the standards you'd expect them to - "Fast Cars," "What Do I Get," "Whatever Happened To?," "I Don't Know What to Do With My Life," and naturally, the immortal "Orgasm Addict."  And they don't just do justice to the classics, but also inspired and more recent material like "Alive Tonight" and "When Love Turns Around You."  ...Compilation caps off with an extra deep-cut off of Love Bites, "Love is Lies" than even I almost forgot about.

When the band recorded their ninth studio LP, The Way, I'm not sure if they intended for it to be their last, but in all likelihood it is (though from what I understand Steve Diggle is carrying on under the Buzzcocks banner for the time being).  The crowd-sourced album in question came a good 35 years after the last album with their original lineup, A Different Kind of Tension, was recorded, so naturally the guys didn't sound quite the way longtime adherents remember them.  A little more grizzled, and not quite as sardonic, the crew still has teeth, and occasionally turn in a gem or three. "In the Back" features another phenomenal Diggle chorus hook, proving once again he was the Townsend to Pete Shelley's Daltrey.  And speaking of Pete, his most gratifying contribution here is technically a bonus cut, the true-to-form "Disappointment."  Not a bad way to go out, which sadly for him and the rest of the world was quite suddenly on December 6, 2018.  Rest in peace and pop.

Housed in a sturdy and handsome cardboard case, Sell You Everything is available exclusively on CD from Cherry Red Records, or in the States and elsewhere on Amazon plus the usual spate of online retailers for a remarkably reasonable price.  Buzzcocks die-hards may have a good 80% of this already, but the supplemental material and sharp packaging should accelerate this collection to the top of your want-lists.   

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Lifers - This House (1981, Gammon)

Besides token entries on Discogs and YouTube, I'm pretty certain another music blog (now likely defunct) shared files of this one.  Evidently I was impressed enough to seek out a copy of my own, a sealed one at that.  The Lifers were one of many San Francisco treats from the Reagan-era that I've parceled out cyberspace to in recent years, but this is one of the ones I'm proudest to present.  Why? Because this is downright, red smokin' hot post-punk just the way I love it.  Sweet, clangy guitars a la Comsat Angels and Pylon mingling with Clay Smiths urgent spoken/sung vocals make This House a more then welcoming musical abode.  The Lifers overarching sonic mystique coincidentally resembled a couple of contemporary bands that would advance a similar sound to at least modestly more substantial highs - Middle Class and Rifle Sport.  I'm finding satisfaction wherever the needle lands on this one, chilly and insular as it often tends to reveal itself.  A wonderful find.

01. A Quick Draw
02. Wealthy Additions
03. Walking Distance
04. Island Dreams
05. Waves
06. The River
07. Big Rock Candy Mountain
08. Missing Person
09. Car Mirrors
10. Spotlight
11, The River

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Clive Langer and the Boxes - I Want the Whole World ep (1979, Radarscope)

Yet another gem of a disk that I had zero awareness of when it initially hit the racks.  Not that it caught fire, or to my knowledge was even released in the States.  In fact Clive Langer's stature in his native UK wasn't know primarily on the basis of his namesake, rather his involvement in more renown acts Big in Japan and Deaf School.  For the five song I Want the Whole World Langer wasn't one to dig in his "punk" or "wave" heels, but instead opted for a more natural approach.  In his case, "natural" was loosely akin to what the Kinks were dispensing around the same time (coincidentally, Langer's vocal aplomb wasn't dissimilar to Ray Davies).  Deftly crafted tunes like "Lovely Evening" and "I Know I" are pleasingly sophisticated without resorting to anything pretentious, and are ample proof that the man and his accompanying Boxes boasted considerable talent.  A follow-up LP, Splash, surfaced a year later.

01. The Whole World
02. Lovely Evening
03. I Know I
04. Those Days
05. Simple Life

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks - Orange Crate Art (1995/2020) - A brief overview

The "myth" of the Beach Boys once long-unreleased SMiLE album loomed larger than the music enshrined in it's grooves, if only because the album wasn't issued in it's entirety until a solid 45 years after the sessions were abandoned in 1967.  In fairness however, a good chunk of SMiLE's most crucial selections accumulated a half-hour in the band's career spanning Good Vibrations box in 1993.  The Beach Boys main collaborator for the should've been follow-up to Pet Sounds was Van Dyke Parks, a composer/producer by trade for a variety of big and small screen shows.  In his role as co-conspirator on the SMiLE sessions, he was also a key songwriter alongside Beach Boy's prime mover and creative backbone Brian Wilson. Stories as to why the album was never fully completed (at least under the Beach Boys banner) are long and legion, but I'll let you investigate that on your own.  Roughly thirty years later, in 1995, Wilson and Parks reunited for an album that would be fully realized, Orange Crate Art, which is seeing a thoughtfully padded reissue on it's 25th anniversary.

It wasn't so much nostalgia that reunited the two as coincidence.  Brian Wilson hadn't been doing much in the years since his 1988, comeback solo album Brian Wilson came out, and was ready to resume recording when Van Dyke Parks phoned him (presumably in the mid-90s) to float the idea of working together again.  The idea wasn't to continue where they left off in 1966-67, nor did either of the two men have designs on out-smiling SMiLE.  Far closer to the truth, Parks had written a new batch of songs that happened to appeal to Wilson, although the Beach Boy emeritus concedes in Orange Crate Art's liner notes, "We were hoping to catch some of that SMiLE energy."

Sonically, they did - to an extent, as examples of Wilson's fabled "pocket symphony" sprout abundantly on the record's twelve selections, offering orchestral sweeps aplenty (albeit from one gradation to another).  What differentiates OCA from SMiLE is the whimsy and surreal aptitude the latter record possessed.  That's not a slight or complaint, nor is that to say the music on Orange isn't fun, rather a more mature and measured modus operandi is at play here.  Parks wrote virtually every morsel of text here and handled arrangement duties, leaving his companion with little else to do but sing and harmonize (and I'm assuming play a little piano).  By the '90s Wilson's vocals had taken on a remarkably deeper and huskier tone.  This development would have been outright startling to listeners had his 1988 solo debut not happened.  Luckily, most of his fans were prepared, but the transition still took some getting used to (personally, I'm still coming to terms).

That being said, there are some immaculate songs to be had here, the stunning title track being foremost among them, one of Brian Wilson's post-BB performances.  "Sail Away" and "Summer in Monterey" are discernibly breezier, and perfectly in line with the Wilson/Love aesthetic, even though it's Parks' ink adorning the lyric sheet.  Elsewhere, "Wings of a Dove" is plush and modern, and the story-line vibe of "San Francisco" might be the closest thing that Wilson was aiming for in the late '60s.  The trademark harmonies weaving their way through every song here are nothing short of impeccable, not to mention soothing and consoling as ever.  Perhaps it wasn't Orange Crate Art that triggered Wilson's impulse to finally complete the long-belated SMiLE (under his own name in 2004) but one has to reckon if the successful pairing of him and Parks all those decades later didn't spark a few robust embers.

Omnivore's two disk expansion of OCA features three outtakes - all genteel covers of such established standards as "What a Wonderful World" and Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue."  The bonus disk is composed of most of the album in instrumental form, falling somewhere between a classical score and the pop-friendly "pocket symphonies" Wilson had always relished.  You can find Orange Crate Art at what brick and mortar music retailers are left, or obtain it straight from OmnivoreAmazon has you covered as well.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

You always sound so bitter when you call me on the phone, so I just erase the message.

This LOUD, but sophisticated album of indie rock distinction is celebrating the quarter century mark this year.  And to think, this was only the beginning for these young San Diegans.

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


Friday, June 19, 2020

Nyack - I'm Your Star ep (1995, Echo)

Before the weekend is over, I'm going to try to get something resembling a full length up, but here's a loooong belated followup to Nyack's 11 Track Player I shared over a decade ago!  Almost forgot I had this accompanying ep, featuring "I'm Your Star," one of the highlights from the LP, and three otherwise unavailable b-sides.  And b-sides appropriately enough they are given they're the chilled out in yin to 11 Track's distortion soaked power pop yang.  While nothing here is particularly revelatory, the reaction to Nyack's aforementioned album (and two EPs from the group's earlier guise, Aenone) were so well received I didn't want to deprive you any longer.

01. It's Your Star
02. Mean Streak (demo)
03. Love is a Stranger
04. Dreamland

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Re-ups for June.

Have at it.

Jellyfish - Fan Club box - Disks 1, 2, 3 & 4
Buzzcocks - Many Random Parts
Wire - Pink Flag/Chairs Missing demos & 154 Rehearsals
Chameleons UK - Radio 1 Evening Show Sessions
Simple Machines tapes - Geek, Slack, Late!, Hated, Saturnine, Mommyheads & My New Boyfriend
Raspberries - From the Vault - MP3 or FLAC
Buck Pets - Rares & demos
Material Issue - What Girls Want ep
The Thumbs - s/t and No Price on Earth
The Hummingbirds - LoveBUZZ and singles
Cavedogs - Joyrides for Shut-ins
Boo Radleys - Giant Steps demos
Snake Corps - two eps 
The Phones (NY) - Dial Direct
The Phones (MN) - Stickman ep
Edge Park - Personal Fable
Humidifier - Nothing Changes and Gazer ep
Heaters - Energy Transfer
Heartbeats - Pulsator
Zeitgeist - Translate Slowly (vinyl rip) 
Poole - two eps
Missed in Diary - Dissolve ep
Desperate Hours - s/t ep
Out of the Fire - Into the Frying Pan
Overwhelming Colorfast - Sourdough ep and 7"
Bum - singles collection
Permanent Green Light - Together 7"
Brave Tears - Silver in the Darkness ep and Mystery Boy 7" 
Siren - Becoming Wheels and In the Absence...ep
The Cry - s/t LP
The Lads - Out From the Shadows
Drongos - s/t & Small Miracles
Dils - Live!
Redd Kross - Switchblade Sister ep & Dinner With LP 
Those French Girls - s/t LP
Hidden Charms - History
Elevators - Frontline
Bleach - Snag & Eclipse eps
Serious Young Insects - Housebreaking
Howard and Tim's Paid Vacation - I Never Met a Girl...
Decorators - Tablets
Rapture of the Deep - Under Quabbin ep
Dryer - Beauty Parade tape & singles 
Porcelain Boys/Marble - split 7"
Remember Maine - The Last Place You Look
Mega City Four - Magic Bullets 
Ff - Lady Shoe & 7"
Big Wheel - East End
The Bible! - Graceland 7"
Blown - Forever
Billy James - Sixes and Sevens
Poi Dog Pondering - 8 Songs tape
Mood Paint - demo
Mood Swing - How to Win Big at the Races ep
The Farewell Party - Here
Upbeats - Pop Songs
Puppies - Fun is Right ep
Mrs. Svenson - Flood Sessions and Rocktopussy
VA - Chanukah singles 2017 (B-Lovers, Red Buckets, Cosmopolitans, Soup, MCS)
VA - The Best of 415 Records
VA - Nobody Gets on the Guest List 
V/A - An Appreciation of Eddie and the Hot Rods "Do Anything You Wanna Do"
V/A - An Appreciation of A Flock of Seagulls "Space Age Love Song" 
VA - Lessons From Little Hits - Vols. 1, 2, 3 & 4
VA - WBNY Alive on Air
Bailter Space - Peel Session 1992
Lost Luggage - Synchronous Ownership ep
Leslies - 7" ep