Thursday, August 30, 2007

Straitjacket Fits - Missing From Melt ep (1991)

This is a followup/request to my post of The Fit's Hail CD a few weeks ago. Missing From Melt is a five song EP that was released as a companion to the 1991 album. A couple of remixes and some decent outtakes, but nothing especially revelatory. The Live at the Wireless session at JJJ in Australia is derived from the Arista Records, promo-only "Roller Ride" CD. God it must have been weird for the Fits to share a label with Whitney Houston. Strange bedfellows I suppose.

Missing From Melt
01. Missing Presumed Drowned (LP mix)
02. Bad Note for a Heart
03. Skin to Wear (stripped mix)
04. In Spite of It All
05. Cave In


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Family Cat - Furthest From the Sun (1992)

As far as music in Britain went in the early to mid '9os, The Family Cat was something of an anomaly, if only because they didn’t subscribe to the Madchester or shoegazer temptations of the day. The laziest comaprison I can conjure up is the Jesus and Mary Chain, but without all that hair in their faces. Furthest From the Sun, is an untrendy, unsexy post-post-punk album, to nail a genre to it. More poignantly, it's sonically impressive, possessing a sense of dynamics that sounded out of place then just as much as it does today. It''s faint psychedelic, swirling guitar fills derive just as much from Television as The Chameleons. The sublime "Steamroller" is arguably the centerpiece here, with it's mesmerising organs and dense arrangement, that's should ideally be experienced with a big pair of headphones.

This is the special limited edition version of the album, featuring two bonus cuts, " Kolumbus," and "Montague Terrace (In Blue)"

Get it from Emusic and iTunes.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Tommy Tutone - National Emotion (1983)

Why Tommy Tutone of all things? Because I can. And because I don't have another damn thing ripped at the moment, and I'm lazy. Overlooked, and undoubtedly underrated, this followup to Tommy Tutone 2, the album that spawned the band's signature hit "867-5309" was as good as it's predecessor. Don't set your expectations too low. National Emotion never made it's appearance onto CD by the way.

Don't fret, there will be hipper selections in the days to come.
01. Dumb But Pretty
02. Someday Will Come
03. Laverne
04. National Emotion
05. Get Around Girl
06. I Believe
07. Money Talks
08. Imaginary Heart
09. Sticks and Stones
10. I Wanna Touch Her

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Permanent Green Light - Against Nature (1993)

Back in 1993 when Against Nature was released, given the seismic shifting in the so called "alternative nation," Permanent Green Light weren't so much a blip on most people's radar, mine included. PGL was an L.A. trio fronted by Michael Quercio, lead-man for fey, "Paisley Underground" demi-gods, The Three O' Clock. In the Three, Quercio blended lightweight psyche-pop with keyboard laden new wave, earning significant cult adoration in the process. After their dissolution, Permanent Green Light was his next vehicle. Not as focused as Quercio's previous endeavor, PGL issued a self-titled EP and this album to no fanfare on the struggling Rockville Records label, a division of indie distributor Dutch East India Trading. Against Nature runs the gamut from ballsy riff-rockers, to hushed acoustic folk/rock. The EP is cinch to find, but this isn't, thus prompting me to post it.

01. Honestly
02. Wintertime's A Comin'
03. Martha Raye
04. Portmanteau
05. All This and Alistair Cooke
06. Something On Me
07. (You and I are the) Summertime
08. Marianne Gave Up Her Hand
09. Fireman
10. All For You
11. Sleepyhead


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Various - Cinnamon Toast (Records): Trim Crusts If Desired (1994)

In the 1990s, Halifax, Nova Scotia was ground-zero for quality indie-pop, and an extra special treat for fans across the border. In total, no less than five acts from this fabled locale (Sloan, Eric's Trip, Hardship Post, Thrush Hermit, and jale) had indie or major label deals in the States. By the mid '90s virtually everyone that had been swept up by this maritime phenomenon professed that Sloan were the cream de la creme, end of discussion.

1994 saw the release of the Trim Crusts If Desired compilation on the once venerable Cinnamon Toast label based in Halifax. At 15 tracks this hour of power is an accurate snapshot of the local scene at the time, featuring The Hardship Post's finest moment, "Won't You Come Home," as well as worthy contributions from jale, Rebecca West, Eric's Trip, and Thrush Hermit. Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention, Sloan aren't anywhere to be found on this disk. Sure, Trim Crusts has it's share of non-names and duds, but by now you know the drill. Hear the album for yourself. Enjoy (or not)

01. The Hardship Post - Wont You Come Home?
02. Quahogs - Them
03. Bubaiskull - Eel Monkey
04. Skreech - Theme Song
05. Jale - Brother
06. Leonard Conan - Frightened Of...
07. Rebecca West - Sick
08. Thrush Hermit - Pink Is The Colour
09. PlumTree - Dog Gone Crazy
10. Erics Trip - Laying Blame
11. Cheticamp - Coincidence
12. Les Gluetones - Reincarnated
13. Jale - Twisted
14. Strawberry - Buried Treasure
15. Hardship Post - Rock Is My Life


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Parasites - Pair of Sides (1990)

In the spring of 1994, The bay area Parasites quietly released Punch Lines, an album as infectious, commanding, and endearing as any pop-core band could ever hope to mastermind. It's out of print, but if you can snag a copy, I predict you'll enjoy it as much, if not more so than any given Descendents or Green Day platter. Punch Lines, wasn't their debut, but Pair of Sides is. Once I was able to lift my jaw off the floor back some 13 years ago when I became enlightened about Nikki (aka Dave) Parasite and his crew, I immediately made a point of tracking down their earlier releases to find out what I had missed the first time around. There were a bevy of great singles, but most of were in the hands of collectors. Eventually, I came across a sealed copy in of Pair of Sides a dusty record rack in upstate New York. With Punch Lines being the seismic experience that it was, my expectations of their debut were cautiously optimistic. It certainly didn't have the agility and melodic structures the Parasites would later develop, but the energy and dysfunctional aesthetic were hemmed well in place. More importantly, Pair of Sides, was a fun record of minute-and-a-half, Ramones-y indebted rock and roll. Besides Punch Lines, the Parasites would release only one more proper album of all-new material, but there were plenty of excellent stop-gap disks in the interim that are worth investigating.

It appears that the Parasites have gone on permanent hiatus. Rumor has it that roughly 50 different musicians have passed through the Parasites lineup over the band's 15-year tenure, with Nikki (aka Dave) being the loan constant. Incidentally, Pair of Sides was a vinyl-only release. Doesn't that make you feel special?

01. Refuge
02. Fool For You
03. I Wanna Be Like Dee Dee Ramone
04. Wild Youth
05. Never Giving Up On You
06. If You Knew
07. Waiting Game
08. Where The Kids Are
09. Make You Mine
10. My Demon Eyes
11. I'm So Happy Now
12. Good Grief
13. Getting Together
14. It's Getting Hard
15. 772
16. New Voice


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Cotton Mather - The Crafty Flower Arranger ep (1992)

I hesitate to post Cotton Mathers' s rarer than rare, The Crafty Flower Arranger for a number of reasons. Number one I don't own an original copy, or even possess a burned copy from an original. Number two, the best rip I was able to locate on MP3 sharing sites was a paltry 128 kbps, half of what I personally rips my CDs and records at. Strangely enough, I was able to find this at a slightly higher bit rate on Soulseek, but with much inferior quality than the 128 kbps version I'm hosting. Finally, and most significantly, this is an ethical dilemma. The eight song CFA was never intended for public release, rather as a tool to book shows in the Austin, TX area, where Cotton Mather resided. Some people might refer to this CD as a "vanity release," and by and large that would be accurate, taking into account it's scarcity and the cherry-picked audience it was targeted for. No one perhaps the band knows exactly how many copies were pressed, but estimates are in the low hundreds - if not less than a hundred!

If you like Cotton Mather, or for that matter have an inclination for quality guitar-pop in general, then it's a safe bet to say that you love/will love their debut album, 1994's Cotton Is King. The Crafty Flower Arranger is effectively a CD of demos for that very record, making it no small object of intrigue to die-hard CM fans. Only three of the tracks would latter appear in slightly modified versions on Cotton Is King, and five others ("Asterisk Man," "Listen to the Angel," "Spellbound," "Ship Shape," and "I'm in Debt") are 100% exclusive to this coveted, five inch circle of aluminum. Simply put, the full-length album that these eight tracks were the appetizers for, transcend mundanely termed "power-pop", "indie," etc. Cotton Mather would record two more albums, Kontiki and The Big Picture, and while they imbued all of their music with class and wit, they never were able to match the magic and moxie of Cotton Is King. For the uninitiated, hearing is believing.
If anyone associated with Cotton Mather objects to this post, please contact me. I might however ask why you would want a record of this caliber and scarcity removed from the public domain. As a shout-out to the band, I hope you will consider reissuing Cotton Is King, along with the tracks from CFA as a bonus, or for that matter a separate release.
Incidentally, I was able to swipe a jpeg of the cover from a listing for this CD on Ebay, some four or five years ago. So far I as I can tell, it hasn't reappeared since. Enjoy.

01. Asterisk Man
02. Ship Shape
03. Spellbound
04. April's Fool
05. Cross the Rubicon
06. Lost My Motto
07. Listen to the Angel
08. I'm in Debt

Get a superior rip here

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Versus - Let's Electrify! ep (1993)

The NYC trio Versus, were a spin-off of the dissonant, guitar-heavy Flower, a late-80s indie rock crew also based out of the Big Apple. Brothers Richard and Ed Baluyut and Fontaine Toups solidified the Versus lineup, that spanned a considerable ten years

Even on the 1990s indie-rock circuit, Versus were not one of the more preeminent visages of their era, yet the band's recorded output was quite prolific, yielding roughly a dozen albums and EPs, not to mention several singles and copious compilation tracks. 1993's Let's Electrify! was the band's first foray into the digital realm. Better albums and extended players would come, but this record, albeit heavily resembling early-Sonic Youth in certain places, honed in on Versus as they attempted to mesh clangy chords with melancholic pop structures. If you ask me, they nailed it pretty well.

01. Silver Vein
02. That Girl's Gone
03. Noogie
04. Let's Electrify
05. Seaweed Rising
06. Sea Girl

Available on Bandcamp

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Close Lobsters - Headache Rhetoric & Nature Thing CDS

Always the debut, never the follow-up. As one of the premiere, if not the outright definitive band of the mid-80s, British "C86" jangle pop movement, many fans and critics alike revere the Scottish band's 1986 debut album, Foxheads Stalk This Land while somewhat marginalizing Headache Rhetoric. The album in question is indeed a step forward, but an entirely logical one at that. A little more polished? Yes. Fuller, and more robust arrangements than on the Lobsters debut and early singles? You got it. Despite the band's increased proficiency, and the incorporation of more macabre lyrical content, nothing is compromised here. And even if Headache isn't your favorite Close Lobsters lp, you'd be hard pressed to convince me that "Nature Thing," and "Got Apprehension" don't deserve their rightful place on a hypothetical Close Lobsters "best -of" mix tape.
But wait, there's more! I'm also including as a separate upload, "Nature Thing" cd single containing three non-lp cuts, including a cover of Neil Young's "Hey Hey, My My," which I believe also found it's way onto a compilation. The cute lil' 3" CD that the four cuts are enshrined on makes for a perfect companion to the album.

Headache Rhetoric
01. Lovely Little Swan
02. Gun Powder Keg
03. Nature Thing
04. My Days Are Numbered
05. Gutache
06. Got Apprehension
07. Gulp
08. Words On Power
09. Skyscrapers
10. Knee Trembler

Nature Thing cds
01. Nature Thing
02. Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)
03. Paper Thin Hotel
04. Never Seen Before (live)

Update: Headache Rhetoric is now available on Amazon and iTunes
Nature Thing cds: Hear

Friday, August 10, 2007

Material Issue - Eleven Supersonic Hit Explosions (1991)

Imagine the excitement of being a music director in 1991 (preferably at a college radio station) and having this promotional-only Material Issue CD fall into your lap. Issued in conjunction with Material Issue's iconic power-pop classic, International Pop Overflow, Eleven Supersonic Hit Explosions never made it's way into stores (with the rare exception of used shops, only by virtue of ignorant and/or unappreciative twits, swapping it for the new Garth Brooks album). Eleven Supersonic's enticement is that it contains practically another album's worth of songs unavailable elsewhere. Leading things off are three "emphasis" cuts from International. The gravy officially kicks in with a cleaner-than-clean acoustic take of a key LP track, "Diane." Three of the eight non-LP cuts are covers - "The Boxer" (Paul Simon), "Blockbuster" (Bay City Rollers), and "Cowboy Song" (Thin Lizzy), the last one being a butane anthem for the ages. There's also a re-recording of their debut EP's "She's Going Through My Head," a live version of "Valerie Loves Me," and a couple more LP outtakes. To say that this 11-song promo CD was a "treat" would be a colossal understatement. Enjoy!

01. Very First Lie
02. Crazy
03. Renee Remains the Same
04. Diane (acoustic)
05. The Boxer (live)
06. Cowboy Song
07. The Girl Who Never Falls in Love
08. Echo Beach
09. She's Goin Through My Head
10. Valerie Loves Me (live)
11. Blockbuster 


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Arcwelder - Jacket Made in Canada/This (1989-90, Big Money))

A 30 second video clip for this album's "Missing You," broadcast on MTV's 120 Minutes eons ago, was enough to make me an instant Arcwelder fan. Released on Big Money Inc Records, Jacket Made in Canada was the follow up to the band's debut, This, which was originally credited to Arcwelder's original moniker, Tilt-a-Whirl. Name infringement ugliness ensued, and Tilt-A-Whirl became Arcwelder.
Imagine a cockeyed version of Husker Du, or Mission of Burma had they made a deliberate attempt to scale the pop charts, for an idea of what this off-kilter Minneapolis trio have in store. Over the course of the '90s, four more Arcwelder albums on Touch & Go Records would eventually hit shelves. As exemplary as most of them were, little on those records could quite adequately capture the spontaneity of Jacket's skittish punk-pop, particularly on standout tracks like "Favor," and "Everything." 

The CD version of Jacket includes Arcwelder's first album This, which was recorded in 1989 when the band existed under the Tilt-a-Whirl banner.

Jacket Made in Canada (1990)
01. Harmonic Instrumental
02. Daydream
03. Missing
04. Hint Taken
05. Left
06. Plastic
07. Favor
08. When You're Gone
09. Everything
10. Staback
11. I Hates to Lose
12. Bob Sez 

This (1989)
13. This
14. Such a Very Long Time
15. Blue
16. What Am I Supposed to Do?
17. Living Legend
18. What Have I Done to Me?
19. Arcwelder
20. Pint of Blood
21. Moment of Passion
22. It Won't Change
23. Understanding


Monday, August 6, 2007

Baby Lemonade - The Wonderful ep (1993)

Baby Lemonade made their way onto my sonar in the late '90s, with their blissed-out, pure-pop masterstroke, Exploring Music. With that album, this marvelous L.A. trio transported themselves into an ethereal strata that a lesser band could only dream of. Naturally, I was fascinated enough to explore Baby Lemonade's previous outfit, which included the 68% Pure Imagination LP, as well as The Wonderful EP referenced in this post, both on the Sympathy For the Record Industry label. This five-cut 10" record is perhaps most notable for containing a sublime medley of the Beach Boys Smile-era "Windchimes/Wonderful," but speaking for their original material, the band was clearly on their way. Rusty Squeezebox and Mike Randall, the nuclei of Baby Lemonade, would later comprise part of Arthur Lee's backing band for the legendary reformed Love in the early part of this decade.

01. Windchimes/Wonderful
02. Please Consider Us
03. Drown
04. The Only One
05. The Hole


Sunday, August 5, 2007

Rain Parade - Crashing Dream (1985)

It probably wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that whomever downloads this album knows more about L.A.'s Rain Parade than I do. Chalk that up primarily to the fact that I didn't become familiar with them until some 15 years after Crashing Dream came out. I did however experience their preceding studio album, the psychedelically tinged Emergency Third Rail Powertrip, before I laid ears on this one, which from my understanding never made it into the digital age. Rain Parade was a significant prime-mover in Los Angeles' fabled "paisley underground" movement, which was a key component of the new romantic scene of the era. That only goes so far I suppose. As opposed to Emergency ..., Crashing Dream seems to cater to the more commercial auspices of the record biz, and understandably so, given it's Island Records credentials. Not a bad disk though. I do have to strongly disagree with the Trouser Press critic that claims "Mystic Green," could pass for The Records. Nonsense.

01. Depending On You
02. My Secret Country
03. Don't Feel Bad
04. Mystic Green
05. Sad Eyes kill
06. Shoot Down the Railroad Man
07. Fertile Crescent
08. Invisible People
09. Gone West
10. Only Business

Bandcamp has you covered

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Sugarplastic - Polly Brown ep (1996)

If I had to boil it down to one single artist that was the essence of Wilfully Obscure, it just might be Los Angeles' long-running Sugarplastic. With their wry, XTC-ish (a lazy and obvious comparison, I know) sensibilities and esoteric wit, the Ben Eshbach and Kiara Geller-helmed Sugarplastic are one of the most curious and intriguing "pop" bands to have ever snagged a major-label deal. It was 1996 when the 'plastic grasped for the brass ring, resulting in their sophomore album, and Geffen debut (and finale) Bang, The Earth is Round.
The four-cut Polly Brown single however, did not see any domestic release. From my keen observations, I estimate that no more than a few hundred copies made it to American shores, outdone by it's sheer scarcity only by the band's triple-7" box set on Pronto Records, and the "Sheep"/"Superball" 45, that was limited to a mere *gasp* 200 copies! Read 'em and weep. There are two LP tracks here, "Polly Brown" and "Another Myself," as well as "Where Dead Bullies Go," which previously saw the light of day on a Minty Fresh Records 7" (and later on a CD compilation). So, the real curiosity here is "Daisy May," that thus far hasn't appeared anywhere else, including the Sugarplastic's b-sides and outtakes Japanese import, Primitive Plastic. Now that's what I call quite rare.

Unless there are any objections, look forward to future Sugarplastic posts. I'll even take requests. Enjoy (or not).

01. Polly Brown
02. Where Dead Bullies Go
03. Daisy May
04. Another Myself


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Mega City Four - Magic Bullets (1993)

Although Mega City Four frontman, Darren "Wiz" Brown outlived his band's fourth album, Magic Bullets, by some 13 years, one gets the sense that on a certain level, this was his artistic nadir. The album was a far cry from the manic punk-pop of Tranzaphobia and their early singles, but a logical progression from 1992's Sebastopol Road. That record introduced a more delicate, contemplative template that Mega City Four's British contemporaries in the Brit-Pop, Madchester, and shoegazer scenes were all but ignorant to. All the better, because Magic Bullets is a favorite of many, if not most die-hard MC4 fans. And while it may lack the visceral thrust of their early material, "Wallflower," "President," and ''Toys" convey the kind of bittersweet pathos that so many of the Brit-plop hopefuls of MC4's era could hold a candle to. Not that they'd even try to of course. "I saw myself burning with passion, aching for the world" - Wiz Indeed

01. Perfect Circle
02. Drown
03. Rainman
04. Toys
05. Iron Sky
06. So
07. Enemy Skies
08. Wallflower
09. President
10. Shadows
11. Underdog
12. Greener
13. Speck