Sunday, May 24, 2020

Dead to rights and honest to Zod.

From 2011.  If mid-90s Guided By Voices was your thing (say, Alien Lanes) I think this one will be your bag too.

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


Friday, May 22, 2020

Bond Bergland - Unearth (1986, Pathfinder)

Prior to cutting his first (and apparently only) solo LP, Bond Bergland was part of San Francisco's Factrix, ambient/noise experimentalists whose stripe of post-punk I can't say I have much affection for.  Luckily, the album he recorded under his own name is considerably more approachable.  With a vocal acumen that sits somewhere between Peter Murphy and Steve Kilbey, he guides Unearth's ten songs with a measure of gravity to be certain, albeit you'll be hard pressed to encounter anything overtly morose or wallowing.  The arresting and placidly contemplative "Found Wonder" is effortlessly sublime, and nearly worth the price of admission in itself.  Unearth's opposing extreme (if you can even classify it as such) "Open Arms" is smart, assertive indie rock that strikes me as a could-have-been college radio staple. The brunt of the remainder of this disk is stocked with nimble, instrumental-centric forays wherein Bergland woos you down arpeggio-addled rabbit holes revealing dexterous guitar work with glints of everything from jangle to pesudo Celtic.  I'd be remiss if I failed to credit Douglas Lichterman's tribal percussive instincts as well, particularly on the opening "Fountain of Youth."

01. Fountain of Youth
02. Open Arms
03. Found Wonder
04. The Mercy Seat
05. Trail of Years
06. Snake Train
07. The Time of My Life
08. After Raphael
09. Stone Cold Vision
10. Blue Wash

Sunday, May 17, 2020

I know this tension doesn't go away, but I will look it in the face today.

If you've ever wondered where to begin with this band start with this anthology.

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


The Darling Buds - Hit the Ground ep (1989)

Was going through a batch of 10"s recently and was reminded that I bought this a good 25 years ago at Amoeba in Berkley when that store was in it's relative infancy.  Anyway, the Darling Buds.  One of those situations where I own all of their albums, but don't quite consider myself a "super fan."   I hopped on board for their second album, Crawdaddy, and soon backtracked to their debut, Pop Said, which is the album this EP was contemporary to.  Given the Bud's penchant for saccharine female vocals and guitar crunch, I often spoke of them and The Primitives in the same breath (further encouraged by the fact they both hailed from the UK). Still enjoy these tunes as much as I did when I first encountered them.  Here we get one of their more notable signature tunes, "Hit the Ground," a buzzy and energetic non-LP b-side, "Pretty Girl." plus two relatively raw and unbridled live tunes on the flip side.  All in all about a dozen minutes total with nary a second wasted.  Enjoy.

01. Hit the Ground
02. Pretty Girl
03. You've Got to Choose (live)
04. When it Feels Good (live)

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Big Drill Car - No Worse For the Wear demos (199?)

Needless to say, the past few months have taught all of us that there are far greater tragedies in life than our favorite bands throwing in the towel.  Nonetheless, we're human and people are always going to want what they're gonna want.  There were few events in the realm of indie rock that I wanted less than the departure of Big Drill Car, whom after their third studio album, 1994's No Worse For the Wear, called it a day about a year or so thereafter.  Maybe the rationale for us not really ever "getting over" the dissolution of certain combos resides not merely in our selfish human nature but the fact that some artists/groups had something so singular and glorious to offer they were simply irreplaceable.

The Huntington Beach by way of Costa Mesa, CA quartet's mid-80s origins were inauspicious enough, with their nucleus consisting of frontman Frank Daly and guitarist Mark Arnold, both expats from the final lineup of the respectable, though never quite crucial Reagan-era, hardcore fixtures MIA.  From the get go however, starting with 1988's Small Block ep (technically a demo from what I understand) Big Drill Car didn't buttress their punky forte with gratuitous speed or sociopolitical undertones, rather a delirious infusion of melody and offbeat topical matter.  Cementing the lineup with bass wrangler Bob Thomson and drummer Dan Marcroft, BDC quickly built a reputation in the southern Cali skater-punk circuit and quickly garnered the attention of SST Records spinoff imprint Cruz.

Bearing a pop underbite a mile long, BDC's savvy for hooks and beefy but rich arrangements pointed to inspirational antecedents like the Desacedents/All (whom they shared a label and multiple tours with) and Husker Du. In fact, throughout the early '90s they seemed to be inseparably spoken of in the same breath as Green Day, prior to that band's juggernaut to stardom shorty thereafter.  And it wasn't just stick-to-your-ribs songs that made these guys exceptional, but a secret ingredient in Mark Arnold's tendencies to peel off mind-bending flights of guitar fancy not dissimilar to clearly non-punk axe shredders like Michael Schenker and even Joe Satriani. It's a formula that worked wonders on Big Drill's first LP, Album Type Thing in 1989, a record of such consistency, chops and compelling tunes that I unabashedly regard it as on par with the strongest of Husker Du's deservedly lauded catalog.  Their 1991 follow-up, Batch sported a slightly more lucid sonic aplomb, but not relenting an iota of vigor or charm.  By '93 movement was afoot in the ranks of the band. Thomson and Marcroft had departed the lineup, and were replaced by a new rhythm section consisting of bassist Darrin Morris and basher Keith Fallis, just in time for what would be the group's last record, No Worse For the Wear.  The album in question didn't disappoint in the least offering a dozen savvy but nuanced melodicore bangers that easily held their own to that year's slightly more sales-friendly chart toppers Dookie and Smash.  Success beyond the punk-pop circuit just wasn't in the cards for them, and with sales of NWFTW not eclipsing those of Batch, Big Drill Car decided it was time to move on.

Presented here are eight prototypes for their swan song.  In addition to shopping for a new rhythm section the band was also canvasing for a new label, which they eventually found in Headhunter/Cargo.  I'm not sure how many copies of this tape were actually fielded out, but I recently became the lucky owner of one. Ironically, if you're already an established BDC customer you already have five of these demos, which surfaced on the group's odds and ends compilation, A Never Ending Endeavor in 2009.  The fidelity of those songs on my cassette strangely enough aren't the least bit inferior to the ones that made the jump to Endeavor, and best of all we get an entirely unreleased tune here in the guise of "Dance Fuckers," an 85-second balls-to-the-wall slammer that bleeds the same cathartic ferocity of one of my favorite Batch selections, "Ick."

As an unrelated bonus I'm tacking on an unissued Beatles medley the band posted on their MySpace page, way back when that platform had some clout.  BTW, Big Drill Car have reunited (very) sporadically in the twenty-first century for live shows and even contributed a handful of new songs to the aforementioned Never Ending Endeavor collection.

01. What You Believe (beginning fades in)
02. Dance Fuckers
03. Thin White Line
04. Friend of Mine
05. Nagaeyna
06. Hye
07. Step Right Up
08. The Shake
plus: Polythene Pam/She Came Through the Bathroom Window

Sunday, May 10, 2020

...and you were made into a jellyfish discovering the flow of time.

From 1993.  The second album from a cadre of Seattle noise popsters that might have bested their excellent debut.

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


Saturday, May 9, 2020

The Tickets (retrospective 1986-1990), (Brewery, 2006)

Yep, this is a reissue, though with no biographical liner notes to refer to there's only so much in the way of background details I have to offer.  The Tickets were a power pop quartet (presumably from southern California based on tracking session locations) that left the world a single in 1986, and a full length cassette album, The Tickets Make a Record, four years later.  The Tic's Beatles-esque tendencies were more subtle than blatant, but still identifiable.  The overarching tenor of these songs weren't far removed from those inhabiting a bevy of hopefuls in the '90s power pop revival that would soon materialize on Yellow Pills compilations and the whole Not Lame and IPO circuits.  Song-wise you won't find any throwaways here, but exceptional moments like "Way Down Here" and "Yesterday's Girl," the fantastic b-side from that '86 7" I mentioned are a tad scarcer.  Although he didn't produce any of the material populating The Tickets, L.A. pop maven Walter Clevenger did a fine job in managing this retrospective.  

01. Our Two Hearts
02. Dream About Me
03. Way Down Here
04. Everything
05. How the Good Things Come
06. I Don't Belong
07. Heartland
08. The One That I Loved You
09. Nothing Else I Can Do
10. Last Dance for You
11. She Got Away
12. Yesterday's Girl
13. Way Down Here (alternate vocal)
14. I Don't Belong (alternate vocal)

Thursday, May 7, 2020

The Black Watch - Brilliant Failures (2020, Turntable Friend) & Mosses - T.V. Sun (2020, Anyway) - A brief review.

I'm tempted to say that The Black Watch (or more accurately prime mover John Andrew Fredrick) is back with a new record...but then again it's not like he's been away or anythingFor at least eight out of the last ten years B/W have dispensed a new LP, sticking to a recording and writing regimen that only Robert Pollard and Co. seem capable of superseding.  I've lost count of how many albums specifically have accumulated in Fredrick's well stocked canon, but I'm apt to partake in his latest volley, Brilliant Failures, because it's downright gratifying, and one of the Watch's most consistent.

Negotiating a fine line between tension-inflected indie guitar rock and a sprinkling of forward thinking post-punk has always been this band's forte.  Toss in some not-so-subtle melodic undercurrents and slyly melancholic hues and you've got a potent concoction that manages to hold everything together in a tight, lucid framework.  They're vigorous without getting aggressive on the churning "Twisted Thinking," "What I Think," and "Mind You," all bearing some notably distortion-laden musculature.  The Watch have always demonstrated an Anglophile bent, one that's more of a natural function than strained or contrived, and it shades Failures' heart-on-sleeve romantic lament  "The Personal Statement" and even the lilting acoustic opener "Julie II just as capably as some of the comparatively high-strung pieces I mentioned.  Better yet, there's plenty of movement skirting between the two variables, and Fredrick's overarching insistence on quality control alone should be enough to buoy established B/W clientele and virgin ears alike.  Brilliant Failures is available in virtually any format that you're seeking including colored vinyl through the group's Bandcamp portal where you can sample some tunes for yourself.  Amazon has you covered as well.

I went into Mosses T.V. Sun cold, but the album in question turned out to be anything but.  If you can be confident of anything this "tube" isn't remotely monochromatic, rather one that bleeds a beguiling technicolor array.  The brainchild of  gifted, multi-instrumental savant Ryan Jewell and co-conspirator Danette Bordenkircher eschew any elementary or hackneyed "pop" notions into last week (or year for that matter) and opt for an idiosyncratic potpourri of asymmetrical psych and prog inseparably tangled with miscellaneous audio collages and transcendental gestures for miles.  The overall effect is that of Ozric Tentacles, Olivia Tremor Control, and perhaps less-so Beck, all slewn together into an often dizzying mesh of trippy caterwauls navigating an oblique path via sinewy connective tissue that entails the employment of sitar, nylon strings, mellotron, vibraphone, flutes and then some.

This is some profoundly textured stuff my friends, but Mosses' dense, labyrinthine sonic constructs are surprisingly porous, so much so that you'll find passages like "Another Plan" and "You Can't Fall Off a Mountain" to be as contemplative as they are ornate.  Amidst all the surreal goings-on in T.V.-land you'll parachute back down to Earth on a relatively structured respite or two, best exemplified by "MSR" and the disarmingly benign opener "Tall Bearded Iris Speckled."  And I'd be remiss if I failed to mention "Time in Your Mind" exudes overtones not dissimilar to Pink Floyd's Barrett-era mindbender "Astronomy Domine."  T.V. Sun is yours for purchasing from Anyway Records  Midheaven distro portal, and Bandcamp and Amazon would be happy to fill this gap in your collection.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Eyes are eyes and teeth are teeth, well mine are rotten underneath.

The bonus material (and only the bonus material) from the generously expanded deluxe edition of this indie rock crew's somewhat polarizing third album, celebrating it's 25th anniversary this year.

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


Thursday, April 30, 2020

Robert Seidler - Cig Sisters ep (1987, Hill Avenue)

Many espouse the notion that an album should never be titled after one of the songs on the LP itself.  In the case of Robert Seidler's Cig Sisters I'd argue to the contrary, given the song bears such a prominent presence.  It's not an anthem mind you, yet "Cig Sisters" bears enough nervy, pedestrian panache that ever so faintly absorbs the choicest entrails of Dramarama, and to a lesser extent mid-80s Psych Furs.  Seidler's mid tempo, alt-rock shtick isn't particularly innovative, but muscular salvos like "Summer Air" and "I Can't Believe" are gratifying all the same.  Even some of the other songs that failed to persuade me on my initial listen of Cig Sisters are gradually sinking in.  More records by the man and his quartet of co-conspirators exist, albeit not in my collection.  You can find out a few more details here.

My copy of Cig was a radio station copy, the front cover of which was defaced so drastically I purloined a more representative image off  Thanks to whomever was thoughtful enough to make it available.

01. Cig Sisters
02. Summer Air
03. I Can't Believe
04. Lassie
05. Country Faces
06. Cig Sisters (reprise)

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

A gallon of re-ups.

Based mostly on your requests.  For the folks asking for the restored Defenestration and Richard Heyman links please refer to the original entries.

REM - Murmur outtakes & rough mixes - MP3 or FLAC
Tinted Windows - live Austin 2009
The Sneetches - Lights Out, Think Again ep, Starfucker ep, Sometimes That's All We Have & 7" 
Pure Joy - Unsung, Getz the Worm, s/t ep, Sore Throte, Ded Goat ep
Flop - singles
The Ocean Blue - demos
The Church - Gold Afternoon Fix demos
Rogue Wave - Cover Me
Gladhands - All is Well...
Dreams So Real - Nocturnal Omissions
Red Lorry Yellow Lorry - demos
Drop Nineteens - Mayfield
PS I Love You - Heart of Stone
Majesty Crush - Fan ep & Sans Muscles ep
Summercamp - Tonight ep
Treepeople - some singles 
I-Rails - Panharmonium, Nine Songs..., Unfocused, Valentino Says, live 1990 & 7"
G-Whiz - Eat at Eds & split 7" w/ Lonely Trojans
Plasterscene Replicas - Glow
Lions and Dogs - demos
Frontier Theory - Atlantic & No Waltz
Well Well Well - And Rise
Numbers - Add Up
Jane From Occupied Europe - Coloursound
The Crystal Set - From Now On 
The Findells - The Radiators Are Bleeding
Epic Rumors - The Feral Child
Electric Blood - Electric Easter
Popsicle - Lacquer 
Private Plain - Godwatching ep
The Downsiders - All My Friends Are Fish
Yuji Oniki - Shonen Blue
Grand Mal - Binge Purge ep
Man Sized Action - Claustrophobia
New Radiant Storm King - Rival Time
Polvo/New Radiant Storm King - split 7"
Stray Tapes - Flashcube 7"
Gardener - Intermission 7"
Bent Backed Tulips - Tie Me Down 7" 
Engine (88) - 7"
Blanket - Ocean 7"
Halo Bit - 7"
Reivers - Translate Slowly & live KUT radio 1985
Hollins Ferry - s/t LP
Vanilla Chainsaws - s/t LP + single
New Dylans - s/t ep
Just Water - The Riff
Lines - Standby ep
Brave New World - Law of Series ep
Royal Court of China - Off The Beat'n Path
Purple Ivy Shadows - White Electric
Splatcats - tape
Hagfish - two eps
Screaming Broccoli - s/t LP
Foundation - Voyage ep 
Dolce Vita - s/t ep
What Now - Small Record... ep
Sunday Cannons - Red to the Rind ep
Big Barn Burning - Acres and Acres ep
Cuckoos - Sticks and Stones ep
Nullstadt - Flesh 
Sarah Shannon - Estheraho ep
Voodoo Gearshift - s/t LP
Light a Big Fire - Gunpowders ep
Bardots - Eye-Baby & Sad Anne
V/A - This Ain't the Plimsouls
V/A - Scared to Get Happy Addendum
V/A - The Living Room
V/A - Buzz-Oven Vol. 9
V/A - Viva La Vinyl 

REM - Murmur outtakes, rough mixes (1982-83)

What I'm presenting tonight will either come as something of a revelation or a bit of rehash.  I say rehash because most of this collection of outtakes and alternate versions has been previously situated in a numerous bootlegs of varying audio quality, depth and sequencing.  I didn't assemble this collection, I'm merely dispatching it as I found it.
REM's Murmur was/is/always will be every bit the landmark it's touted as being.  A gale force surge of fresh air that sounds untouchable and out of place today as it did when it made it's bow in 1983.   The formula?  A tapestry of oblique prose, minor-key melodies and forward thinking, yet disarmingly warm charm.  Murmur's un-superfical notions must have presented itself as a stark anomaly for it's era.  Then again, I wasn't on board for it when it officially surfaced, out of sheer ignorance and inaccessibility.  I wasn't tuned into college radio back then, yet the record shaped and defined that humble left span of bandwidth, one which I would not only sacredly internalize, but eventually play an active roll in.  Fast forward ten years later and the mainstream not only embraced REM, but the format in which Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Bill Berry perhaps unwittingly staked their collective reputations in.  Numerous Grammys, platinum records, and arena tours would ensue, but that first REM record (not to mention the preceding Chronic Town ep and Hib Tone version of the "Radio Free Europe" single) would remain peerless...even by it's own architects.

The tracklist and source details are as follows.  Some tracks were omitted due to eventual official release.  The variances between the album and these alternate takes are sometimes minimal, and in instances significant.  Please note, "Laughing" (track 25) cuts out early.

01. Catapult (Stephen Hague Vers. 1)
02. Pilgrimage (Mitch Easter Vers. 1)

1983-02-16 (rough mixes w/Mitch Easter)
03. Pilgrimage (vers. 2)
04. Catapult
05. Perfect Circle
06. 9-9
07. West Of The Fields

Live In Studio
08. Band Talking
09. That Beat
10. Pretty Persuasion - omitted due to being officially released
11. All The Right Friends
12. Tighten Up - omitted due to being officially released
13. There She Goes Again
14. Moon River - omitted due to being officially released

Murmur basic & rough mixes
15. Talk About The Passion
16. West Of The Fields
17. Moral Kiosk
18. Sitting Still
19. Ages Of You
20. Perfect Circle
21. We Walk
22. 9-9
23. Shaking Through
24. Romance
25. Laughing (cuts out)

MP3  or  FLAC

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Were there really ever "good old days?"

Observant and literate indie pop from small town Pennsylvania circa, 1993.


The Seen - Under The Sun/In the Rain (1986, Red Dog)

Our fellow instigators at Shotgun Solution re-posted the rare debut single from State College, PA's The Seen, and inspired us to digitize their lone album, Under The Sun/In the Rain.  As per the bio enclosed with my copy, this trio made their objective fairly loud and clear - to consciously not resemble anything that was part and parcel of the era they found themselves situated in.   

Under the Sun... isn't an indulgent throwback to the '60s so much as a subtle one, with a relatively modest modus operandi that often slots between the Association and The Zombies, graded on a lo-fi curve.  Sonically, the Seen nail the aesthetic they're going for to a 't' on psych-infected slices of folk rock "Why Am I Here?" "Nancy's Song" and the jangle laced "In the Rain." 

What few references that have surfaced online regarding these guys put more emphasis on their garage/mod cred, but aside from the comparatively aggressive "The Letdown" and melodically strident "Younger Than Yesterday," the tension is kept to a minimum on this disk.  Often recalling a long lost private pressing from say, 1968, Under the Sun... yields almost ceaseless quality control, so long as you're on the same page as the Seen.  Though I can't find a relevant link to share at the moment, at one point I learned the album in question received a limited digital reissue of some sort, but currently you're better offer hunting down a not-so-tricky-to find original vinyl copy.

01. Younger Than Yesterday
02. The Silence Whispers
03. Heartbeat
04. In the Rain
05. A Perfect Girl
06. Why Am I Here?
07. The Letdown
08. Nancy's Song
09. Wall
10. Four Walls
11. Black and White
12. Under the Sun

Sunday, April 19, 2020

No clue.

It's a full on mystery this week.  Not even going to give you the year.

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


Hinterland - Kissing The Roof of Heaven (1990)

Hopefully this coming week I'll be posting some fresh vinyl rips and maybe re-ups of expired links.  I recently had a request for this one, and truthfully haven't had much time to live with it.  Nonetheless I appreciate where Hinterland was coming from.  In a nutshell, this is the other fork in the road U2 could have taken post-Joshua TreeKissing the Roof... is the sort of textured, contemplative music I was getting my fill of in middle school, just before I made the full scale ascendancy into alt/indie rock.  Sort of mines the same vein as David & David, Blue Nile, Not Drowning Waving.  Maybe even a mellower Cactus World News.  Robbie Robertson from The Band put a solo disc in 1987 that would have meshed nicely with this one, if that's worth anything to you.  Hinterland were of Irish stock, and at the moment I don't have much else to divulge on them except that this album was more rewarding than I was anticipating.

01. Dark Hill
02. Handle Me
03. Reporter
04. Stanley's Minutes
05. God's Reverb
06. Galway Bay
07. Dive the Deepest
08. The Artists
09. Aeroplanes
10. Desert Boots
11. Senior Romantics

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Shudder to Think - 1987 demos

Before I go any further, these tracks were admittedly made available on another site several years ago, and while the page still exists in cyberspace the link to the actual songs has been seemingly eviscerated with no promise of return. 

Shudder to Think.  Where do I begin?  I can either start with the mix tape a friend made me while I was still in grade school that included some gnarlier than gnarly, well chosen tunes from the band's first couple of Dischord Records LPs.  An equally vivid impression cemented it's way into my noggin the first time I heard Shudder on the radio, circa 1992 by way of "Shake Your Halo" down from the newly released Get Your Goat.  Yes, there something about hearing a lyric that references a fish being scrunched into a tattoo gun that really leaves an indelible mark.  From these moments on I was irrevocably hooked on Craig Wedren and Co. for largely the remainder of the decade.  I never looked back, but then again why would I want to?  

Regarding that aforementioned lyric, the band wasn't always so gratuitously surreal.  That phase in their career didn't peak until the early '90s.  In fact, they boasted a decent wardrobe of songs dating back to the Reagan era, starting with the batch of selections featured here.  As artful and left of center as they would ultimately reveal themselves to be on Get Your Goat and even 1994's major label sanctioned Pony Express Record, STT were still a fairly suitable match for the Dischord crowd, albeit hardcore punk could barely be traced in their bloodline.  Pop punk was another story.  Unlike the Descendents or even Dag Nasty, Shudder's concerns weren't linear nor did they extrapolate much in the arenas of suburban angst and scene politics - but an immensely strong melodic undercurrent was right there from day one.  If anything they dipped there toes in the Misfits sonic cauldron when it came to doling out hooks, and it's hard to argue the imagery laid out in "It Was Arson" and "Abysmal Yellow Popcorn Wall" didn't at least border on the macabre.  

Some of these songs would be re-recorded for the subsequently released It Was Arson 7" ep in 1988, and the outright wonderful Spells, Curses, Voodoo, Mooses full length a year later.  To my knowledge, a handful of these songs (incl. "Believable," "Cloak of Wine" and "Cure Song") never gestated past the demo stage.  The audio quality is what it is, and the pitch could even be off a tad, but for Shudder fans this set is a grail-like find.  A big thanks to whomever went to trouble of digitizing this.  I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Head Medicine blog did a nice multi-installment feature on the band that's worth a read.

01. Ro
02. Take the Child
03. Abysmal Yellow Popcorn Wall
04. Torch
05. It Was Arson
06. Questionable
07. Cloak of Wine
08. Thou Shalt Not Kill
09. Imagine
10. Cure Song
11. Too Little Too Late
12. Let it Ring
13. I Grow Cold
14. Believe

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Fire one for losing and two for hiding...

From 1993.

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


Pounding Birds - A Perfect Language ep (1991, Heyday)

Pounding Birds are something of a cold case, presumably hailing from San Francisco given their inclusion on this regional compilation.  It's your typical collegiate jangle and strum proposition with discernibly more of the latter.  This quartet may have been gently nudged into being by the likes of R.E.M. and Miracle Legion, albeit the band's inspirational antecedents aren't always evident.  I wouldn't go into A Perfect Language expecting anything especially high-strung, but "Another Coat of Paint" and "Drinking Poison" speak to the Birds heightened melodic acumen.

01. Another Coat of Paint
02. Sweet Mistake
03. Drinking Poison
04. Tear Something Down
05. Hatred

Friday, April 10, 2020

Chicken Scratch - Pass the Porcupine (1988, Community 3)

In spite of the haphazard sleeve art and hokey moniker, Chicken Scratch's surface level frivolities belie some genuinely commendable tunes.  Sounding like an amalgam of Agitpop (who are thanked on the back cover), fIREHOSE, and the Volcano Suns, this Jersey trio is cut from doggedly indie rawk cloth.  Not everything they fling at the wall sticks, and to be honest some of Pass the Porcupine's quieter pieces don't do them justice, but this record's more memorable moments like "House the Size of Your Mind," "Scary Clock," and "Take It Away" bear just enough accessibility to draw you further into their dissonant and often challenging microcosm.  Two albums followed, but I have firsthand knowledge of neither.

01. House the Size of Your Mind
02. Mailman
03. Pulling Sheep
04. 400 Years
05. Take It Away
06. Mumbling About Ducks
07. I Gave at the Office
08. Moon Crawl
09. Acid Rain Dance
10. Ignoring the Breadcrumbs
11. Cement State Park
12. Scary Clock
13. Birds
14. Three Blind Mice

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Pain is only a pulse if you just stop feeling it...

Something slightly different for M/M.  Here's the expanded edition of a 2002 debut this band was never able to quite top. 

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


It's not right, it's not fair - A remembrance of Adam Schlesinger and Fountains of Wayne + FOW acoustic 2008-09

If the past 30+ days wasn't enough of a mind-fuck already, the passing of Adam Schlesinger on April 1 from complications relating to Coronavirus made our dystopian state of affairs a much more devastating reality.  Even though we had a full day's warning that Adam had contracted this miserable (and in his case) lethal illness it wasn't enough to prepare us for what became the inevitable.  Then again, an otherwise healthy person dying at merely 52 hardly seems inevitable to most of us. 

I never felt a personal connection with him despite being a pretty dedicated adherent to Fountains of Wayne, the power-pop inflected quartet he co-founded with Chris Collingwood in the mid-90s.  Another band he had a hand in formulating, Ivy, made it onto my sonar almost from their inception, though there wasn't quite enough there for me to latch onto. You're no doubt familiar with Adam's resume, as many articles and memorials have laid out far more thoroughly and eloquently than mine - co-writer of That Thing You Do's  famous theme song (one of the most popular tunes ever by a fictional band, The Wonders), collaborator with numerous other musicians, songwriters, CW's Crazy Ex-Girlfreind show, Steve Colbert, power-pop supergroup Tinted Windows and the rest of it.  A recent piece on Stereogum demonstrates the depth and breadth of his work and is well worth a read.

For me, Adam Schlesinger largely began and ended with Fountains of Wayne.  I didn't regard myself as an obsessive fan or even a completest, and only got to see them perform once - yet I did absorb the albums fairly thoroughly.  Collingwood dominated the microphone, with Adam assuming the role of lead guitarist and apparently the key songwriting force.  I cautiously say apparent, because even though both guys are given equal songwriting credits in virtually every set of album notes I perused, Adam's penchant as a go-to song-scribe is so legion that it's a somewhat logical deduction he carried a hefty serving of text and insight to the table.  And now that I mention it, what of that insight?  In FOW both men had a knack for tapping into middle-class, suburbanite mindsets, especially filtered through the vantage point of up-and-coming bachelors striving for some semblance of a white-collar career, and of course a love life.  Not unlike Ben Folds, Adam and Chris wrote plaintive vignettes steeped in often ironic but relatable themes married to devastating chorus hooks.  I often thought 2003's Welcome Interstate Managers (which coincidentally housed their lone mainstream hit, "Tracy's Mom) went a little overboard with it's Office Space inspired motifs.  Moreover, by the time their follow-up, Traffic and Weather hit in 2007, I got the impression things were getting a bit formulaic - yet I kept coming back, because try as one might you can't kill off the memory of a great melody or clever couplet.

Somewhere around 2018 or '19 I learned that the Fountains had no plans to reconvene.  It was a sad notion even before Adam's startling death last week.  Being that Chris was a wholly capable frontman, I can easily see him strapping on a guitar at some point with the intention of keeping nuggets like "Survival Car" and "Red Dragon Tattoo" alive, but of course, it will be under his own banner, not Fountains of Wayne.  With that sobering thought in mind I leave you with ten acoustic FOW recordings.  I don't have the origination details of the first five cuts, but they were apparently recorded without the presence of an audience.  "Little Red Light" onward are culled from a performance at Mountain Stage in Charleston, WV from March 2009.  Enjoy

01. It Must Be Summer
02. Someone to Love
03. I-95
04. Joe Rey
05. Fire in the Canyon
06. Little Red Light
07. The Summer Place
08. Valley Winter Song
09. Cemetery Guns
10. Red Dragon Tattoo

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Let's not talk about my best friend. He's not my friend anymore.

A saucy debut from 1991.

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


Golden Calgarians - Guitar Curse ep (1985)

It should come as no surprise that a band named the Golden Calgarians hailed from Calgary, Alberta. With that near-obvious fact out of the way, this appears to be one of the quartet's final releases, preceded by two full lengths I have yet to hear a note of.  Said to have gigged with the likes of D.O.A. and the Diodes way back when, G/C weren't full throttle punk, albeit not terribly removed from it either.  The gents bore a sardonic edge, that thankfully didn't supersede their overarching shtick.  The lead-off title cut packs the same kind of wily edge and slicing guitarwork their contemporaries the Screaming Blue Messiahs had a penchant for, while the chiming "Summer of '87" is more attuned to my sensibilities. On the back sleeve the Calgarians give a shout out to the Sioux Indians "for keeping the spirit of rock alive."  Not sure how they came to that realization, but who are we to argue?  Four songs total, one's just right for you.

01. Guitar Curse
02. Summer of '87
03. Night of Miracles
04. I Feel Like...

Nowherefast - s/t (1982)

Had a request for this one.  Traditionally I'm not exactly agog over straight-up AOR rock from the '80s, or just about any decade.  Then again, I've been known to contradict myself once in a blue moon, as was the case with last year's share of the surprisingly appealing Stealer.  As for Nowherefast (that's right, all one word), I've give them credit for not pulling any outright embarrassing maneuvers.  Granted, I can easily envision these guys on a bill with Loverboy or solo Sammy Hagar back in the day, but they don't strike me as the types that were sliding on their knees in spandex or gratuitously sticking their tongues out.  "Feeling Better" and "Nowhere to Run" boast comparatively strong hooks, but otherwise this is par for the radio rock course.  Love the album cover though.  A hearty thanks to whomever went to the trouble of ripping this.

01. First Time
02. Sometimes I Wonder
03. Feeling Better
04. Strange Reason
05. Nowhere to Run
06. View Through a Tear
07. As I Am
08. No One With Nothing
09. Feeling Like Loving You