Friday, September 28, 2007

The Reivers (Zeitgeist) - Translate Slowly (1985)

What can I really say? Call me Johnny come lately, but I was about 20 friggin’ years tardy in investigating this rather snazzy Austin-based quartet. The Reivers originally opened up shop as Zeitgeist, but were forced to change their name about two years after Translate Slowly was released in 1985. During their tenure in the ‘80s The Reivers were part of a little known, folk/modern-rock vanguard dubbed the “New Sincerity,” which you can read more about here. Other so-called “sincerity” outfits like The True Believers, Wild Seeds, Doctor’s Mob, and the slyly named Texas Instruments, were also part of this central-Texan mini-movement that had a firm presence in Austin, but little elsewhere.

With loads of jangly, echoing guitar leads, and vintage college-rock aplomb, the co-ed Reivers recalled some personal favorites such as Dreams So Real, Translator, and perhaps more vaguely, The Replacements. Translate Slowly features a rather stiff rendition of Daniel Johnston’s “Waking the Cow,” amongst of bevy of solid originals. This rip was from the cd version which included bonus tracks. It is now out of print and getting tougher to find.

01. Araby

02. Cowboys
03. Legendary Man
04. Blue Eyes
05. She Digs Ornette
06. Things Don't Change
07. Translate Slowly
08. Sound and the Fury

09. Without My Sight
10. I Knew
11. Freight Train Rain
12. Hill Country Theme
13. Electra (Cd bonus track; originally on Zeitgeist E.P.)
14. Wherehaus Jamb (Cd bonus track; originally on Zeitgeist E.P.)
15. Walking The Cow (Daniel Johnston) (Cd bonus track)


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Christie Front Drive - ("anthology") lp (1997)

The progression of so called "emo-core" from it's humble beginnings in Washington D.C., circa 1985 to today's safe-as-milk, but profitable manipulation thereof is bewildering, and frankly phony at best. A lot was lost in the translation. Was there really any "bridge" at all connecting Rites of Spring and the Promise Ring all those years in between? You'd be hard pressed to find any sort of missing link, because there is no obvious one to found. So what about the not so obvious? Sunny Day Real Estate, though they insistently declared they weren't of that particular stripe, left their mark and were ultimately co-opted with the "emo" tag.

There was a similar, but no less pronounced situation with Denver's Christie Front Drive. Swiping their moniker from an obscure, turn of the century fire engine, DCF's dim flame burned out quickly, but posthumously they were anointed as one of the key disseminators of the genre. Yet there is virtually nothing on this collection of long out of print singles and EPs to suggest any type of influence from say, Ian MacKaye, nor did they definitively lay the groundwork for bands like Thursday and Dashboard Confessional. Like many bands of their era, Christie Front Drive were a product of punk' s post-hardcore movement, and as such, angst usually trumped politics.

Determining if CFD were indeed the "missing link" is ultimately subjective, much like opting to use the term emo to begin with. Long since broken up, CFD spawned some cool spinoff projects, including The 101 , Golden City and Daniel G. Harmann

01. Turn
02. Dyed On 8
03. Long OUt
04. Lot
05. Pipe
06. Dirt
07. Slide
08. Now I Do
09. 4010
10. Away

Get it from iTunes and Amazon.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The High Speed Scene - s/t ep (2002)

I normally don't post that are presently active (except those way past their prime), but I'm making an exception for the rather exceptional High Speed Scene, an LA trio who very quietly released an album in 2005 on Interscope. That self titled disk came and went...pretty much nowhere. In fact, to this day, most of my friends and colleagues know bupkis about these guys. The six-cut "red" ep this post concerns served as demos for their album.
Perhaps this is what Weezer might have passed for if they were party-happy and debaucheristic as all-get-out Dolling out plump, chunky, slabalicious power-chords coupled with abundant, potty-mouthed tales of scoring chicks, spinning doughnuts, and keeping tabs on “the kids,” (whomever and wherever they may be). HSS are frivolous, lowbrow fun galore, and much like Weezer, they triumphantly fly the flag of the underdog. Front-man Max Hart's guitar riffs are downright assaulting, exuding the command and musculature that's uncommon for songs so seeped in fun and frivolity. The highlight here is "The Iroc-Z Song," an '8os era tale that ponders teen angst, Oakley sunglasses, and Van Halen.
All six tracks found their way onto the album, re-recorded of course. I waver when it comes to deciding which versions impress me the most, but if I had to boil it down to one, I'd go with the album. If you're new to HSS consider ep as a teaser for the album. As a matter of fact you might be able to obtain a copy yourself, if not sold-out of course, by going here. Support the band!

01. Revolutionary Fervor
02. The Iroc-Z Song
03. For the Kids
04. Fuck and Spend
05. Hottie
06. All About It

MP3  or  FLAC

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Tribute: Otis "O" Barthoulameu ~ Olivelawn, Fluf, and beyond

Olivelawn - Sophomore Jinx! (1991)

So this is my first official "tribute" post. It's for someone I've never spoken to, written to, or even written about. I did have the pleasure of seeing him on the first two Warped Tours fronting fluf, one of the tour's most under-appreciated participants. I'm taking about "O." As in the letter "O," an economized euphenisim for what appears to be his birth name, Otis Barthoulameu. Making his entrance into the late '80s San Diego punk scene, O's presence would be especially pervasive throughout the '90s, commandeering the aforementioned fluf, and a previous outfit, Olivelawn. O has not only won respect for his recorded output, but also as a catalyst of of sorts, being attentive and respectful to fledgling bands, and more importantly his fans. I don't know much more about the guy, so I shan't pretend to. On with the music:

Fun, but not goofy, Olivelawn was the first of two outfit, that brought O s0me prominence, if not nationally at leas southern California. Their debut full length, Sap, no to mention some early singles did Olivelawn justice, but weren't quite as representative as the pulverizing followup, Sophomore Jinx! For all intents and purposes, Sophomore, was a...umm....grunge album. Yes and a damn solid one at that, cast firmly in the mold of their Seattle contemporaries Tad and Mudhoney. All the ingredients are here - heaving slabs of monster-truck riff-ola, a penetrating rhythm session, and of course an engulfing swath of angst.

They were one of the most underexposed and unsung power-trios of the '90s, but akin to bands of the period like Overwhelming Colorfast, fluf inadvertently filled the void left by Husker Du, and Barlow-era Dinosaur Jr. With an unwavering punk foundation O and fluf, never met a hook they didn't like. Their are some great fluf albums and eps out there, and though they're out of print, they aren't difficult to obtain. Considering how vocally O has bemoaned the demise of vinyl over the years, I decided to rip Wasting Seed direct from wax, all glorious 10" of it. The songs here can also be found on fluf's Mangravy CD.

Last but not least, this post will concern the little known O solo 7" ep on Goldenrod Records. O. O. Crispies is about as close to unplugged the man gets (and it certainly ain't emo). You can definitely say It's a departure....not that there's anything wrong with that. For the truly devoted only.
Although not a frontman, O is also a member of a full-throttle, first-class power pop trio, Reeve Oliver. It would behoove you to buy their self-titled album on the Miltia Group label, and while you're at it, check out their Myspace page. These uploads are just a tip of the iceberg. Do some further invest-"O"-gating, if you're so inclined.
The links are the titles above. No password.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Swell Maps - Whatever Happens Next...2xLP (1981)

I had the good fortune of meeting Nikki Sudden last spring before he died in New York City just two weeks later on March 26, 2006. When we began talking about his previous band, seminal art-punks, The Swell Maps I inquired about the bands back catalogue. The Swell Maps two proper albums, A Trip to Marineville and Jane From Occupied Europe had recently been reissued on Secretly Canadian Records, but I was inclined to ask him about a very scarce 2-LP set of home demos, Whatever Happens Next, released in the UK on vinyl only in 1981. He replied that it might be reissued on CD, but failed to elaborate.

All mundanities aside, when Mute Records initially reissued the two aforementioned albums and the outtakes/singles collection Train Out of It in 1989. Containing songs dating as far back to 1974, Whatever... was also slated to be ushered into the digital age, but the label opted not to release it. Quite frankly, who can blame them? Whatever... is rough, and I mean rough going. It's a rudimentary maelstrom of improvised thrashing, kitchen noises, and occasionally something approaching a punk rock song (or more accurately post-punk). What should be of most interest to Nikki Sudden/Swell Maps devotees are early versions of future album and single tracks like "Midget Submarines" "Read About Seymour," and one of the band's signature blasts, "Vertical Slum." 2006 saw the release of another Swell Maps collection of miscellaneous debris, Wastrels and Whippersnappers, that's even more treacherous than this.

01. Read About Seymour
02. Fashion Cult
03. Armadillo
04. (I Am) The Greatest Pluming!/Radio Ten
05. Here's The Cupboard (Thrash)
06. Terribly Insect
07. Midget Submarines
08. Whatever Happens Next...
09. Clearasil Record
10. Blam!!
11. Down With Tractors
12. Amphibious Landing Craft
13. Paul's Dead
14. Sheep Dip
15. Havoc All Ended
16. The Himalayas
17. You And The Night And The Music
18. The Stairs Are Like An Avalanche
19. Vertical Slum
20. Forest Fire
21. Midget Submarines (II)
22. Armadillo (II)
23. Bandits On Fire


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Splitsville - Amateur Hour (1998?)

As far as "unreleased" albums are concerned Splitsville's 20-song Amateur Hour, a supposed concept piece, isn't particularly storied. Whether this is due to Splitsville's relative obscurity, or rather to the frivolous nature of these recordings is subjective I suppose. When I say frivolous, I'm referencing the stupefying brevity of the tunes here, which average 45 seconds a pop, not counting some lengthier closing tracks.

According to the band's contribution to cyberspace, Amateur Hour is noted as follows:

A seventeen minute concept album that may best be described as "the bastard child of Sergeant Pepper and Tommy with attention deficiency disorder".

Hardly. If anything, much of this album recalls mid-period Elvis Costello, however there's mucho genre hop-scotching. As for a storyline, I'm suspicious if there's one at all. For those acquainted with Splitsville's ironic take on power pop, there's nothing especially revelatory on here, but it's a fun way to kill the better part of a half hour.

No track list or art available for this one. Anyone care to contribute?


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Buzz of Delight - Sound Castles (1984)

Most die-hard Matthew Sweet fans may have heard of Buzz of Delight, just not their music. They’re missing out, but I’ll try to compensate with this post. B of D came on the heels of the the defunct Oh-Ok, a celebrated outfit from Athens, GA that Matthew Sweet was a not so illustrious member of. Around ’83 and ’84, Sweet and fellow Oh-Ok alumni, David Pierce formed the short lived, but quite phenomenal duo, Buzz of Delight. Their lone ep, Sound Castles, was produced by Don Dixon in 1984. Soon thereafter, Sweet pursued a solo career and was never heard from again. Ever.

With Buzz of Delight, Sweet married the breezy, ethereal pastiche of the “new romantic” strain of new-wave, to the skittish obscurity of the nuevo-southern pop contingent of the period: REM, Pylon, and Let’s Active, uber-producer Mitch Easter, yada yada. There’s a purity that wafts it’s way through Sound Castles, that Matthew Sweet would never replicate again, or for that matter, try to - and that’s what makes this all the more special.

Tacked on the ep is “I’ve Got Gold,” a cut from the Db Records compilation, Squares Blot Out the Sun, which may be uploaded in it’s entirety on this page at a later time, but as usual, I digress.

“Ask for Jill” credited to The Jacks, was from a one off session with Don Dixon and Chris Stamey. The song would later be recorded by Stamey’s legendary band, the dBs. Outtakes from the Sound Castles sessions can be found on Sweet’s To Understand – the Early Recordings of Matthew Sweet compilation.

Sound Castles
01. Southern
02. Miracle
03. In Summer
04. Happy Town
05. Christmas
06. And…

07. I’ve Got Gold (from Squares Blot Out the Sun compilation)
08. Ask for Jill (performed by The Jacks)


Sunday, September 16, 2007

White Flag - Thru the Trash Darkly 1982-1992 (1993)

Formed in 1982 as a parody, just as much as an afterthought of the Los Angeles punk scene that had recently burned itself out, White Flag were to a certain extent the punk equivalent of the Ruttles. And like the Ruttles, White Flag were actually quite adept at what they did. Their early singles and albums, like Third Strike and WFO play like quintessential artifacts of their era, providing the perfect soundtrack for the nascent So-Cali skateboard scene at the time. I don't think White Flag were necessarily trying to appeal to "the kids," and from my vantage point they didn't. It took more seasoned ears (and eyes) to appreciate White Flag's parodied album sleeves, aliases such as Pat Fear and Jello B. Afro, choice cover tunes, and of course the band's patented tongue-in-cheek sensibilities, that were if not outright funny, at least attention grabbing.

Many contributors, both famous and non-famous have passed through White Flag's revolving lineup, including but certainly not limited to: Kim Shattuck (Muffs), Steven McDonald (Redd Kross), and Tony Adolescent. Although this compilation revisits White Flag's halcyon era, the band in one form or another carried on sporadically. With a reborn sonic overhaul, White Flag carried their banner into the 21st century with the album Eternally Undone, featuring Ken Stringfellow from The Posies of all people.

Thru the Trash Darkly does an adequate job of cherry picking White Flag's complex discography, which would frustrate even the most anal of completists. You can read up on white flag here and here.

01. In the City
02. Don't Give It way
03. Face Down
04. I Need You
05. Beyond Hurt
06. In a Different Light
07. Suicide King
08. He's a Whore
09. Think 4 Yourself
10. Everything Means Nothing
11. Hot Rails to Hell
12. Fruit Loop Dreams
13. Glass Dagger
14. I'm Down
15. Instant Breakfast
16. Butterfly Revolution
17. Demolition Girl
18. Return of the King
19. Jungle
20. I'll be Back
21. Loaded
22. Suite Bobby Brady
23. Hot Bitch
24. Shattered Badge
25. Flipside
26. Wake Up Screaming
27. Over My Head
28. Celebrate
29. Mirror Mirror
30. Suzy Secret
31. Hoppity Hooper
32. Flaming Halos
33. Cheze
34. Why, Because?


Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Trilobites - I Can't Wait For Summer to End ep (1988)

Australia's Trilobites were one of the first discoveries from my initial exposure to college radio back in the late 1980s. Typically, at the time all of the Trilobites releases, and for that matter most bands on the RooArt label were unavailable stateside. Luckily, I was able to find a cassette copy of I Can't Wait For Summer to End, in a relatively short amount of time (this rip is taken from CD). Like The Godfathers and The Jam, whom the Trilobites appear to be heavily deriving their influences from, these Sydney bad boys dispensed taught, no-nonsense rock and roll with all the penetrating hooks and vigorous guitar chops one could ever hope for. The potent highlight, "Why Can't I Remember" is indelible as this stuff comes, and they sport a political conscience on "Critcal Mass," and the closing "All Hail the New Right." Gotta love the detailed cover sleeve on this one.

Preceding Summer, there were Trilobites singles nearly as good, but this ep's followup full-length, 1989's Savage Mood Swing, was less consistent.

01. I Can't Wait for Summer to End
02. Tall Poppies
03. Why Can't I Remember
04. Critical Mass
05. All Hail the New Right 

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bracket - Like You Know (unreleased LP, 1996)

Presumably extinct at this point, Bracket were a San Fransisco (or thereabouts) four-piece that worshiped at the alter of 39/Smooth-era Green Day and the much hipper Big Drill Car (more on them later). Bracket's riff-happy pop-punk was buttressed with a sly, cynical sense of humor. A good dosage of raw talent helps, and these guys delivered in spades. Already two hot LPs into their career, (924 Forrestville St. and an even more smashing sophomore set, 4-Wheel Vibe), the band completed their third album, Like You Know, for Caroline Records. Even though a catalog number was assigned and promos were sent to stores and radio, they were dropped, and the disk never made it's way to the public. Copies of this promo went for as much as $100.00 on Ebay, and admittedly, I paid a price close to that for mine.

Five of the cuts here would eventually be issued as part of a Bracket singles collection on Fat Records, and the other seven cuts made their way onto a split cd with another band that shall remain unnamed, because I forgot their name. Copies of that one were just as scarce.

Like You Know lacks some of the bite and spunk of it's predecessors, but is a worthwhile listen, for established fans and soon-to-be fans.

01. Hermit
02. Serena Hides
03. Eating Pie
04. My Very Own Apple Tree
05. Flea Market
06. Whatever Piper
07. Shoe Gazer
08. Betterman
09. Warren's Song Part 6
10. Shadow Puppets
11. Envy
12. Speedbump

Soon to be officially reissued.  Details to follow.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Majesty Crush - Fan ep (1992) & Sans Muscles ep (1994)

Majesty Crush may have been the only shoegazer/dream-pop band from Detroit to land a major label deal in 1992. Their deal with Dali Records culminated soon after with their scrumptious Love 15 LP, which is a must, must have. Singer David Stroughter's hushed vocals atop his band's woozy, but soothing soundscapes made for some of the most sublime, enthralling music of their time. Giving the amount of competition in the early '90s, that's saying a lot.

The Fan EP, on the independent Vulva Records label served as a demo Love 15, containing formative versions of three songs that would appear on the album, including "No. 1 Fan," perhaps the most melodically stunning song ever to suggest a presidential assassination. Seriously. Lyrically, much of their early material may strike some as being a tad underwritten, but MC's sonic prowess is adequate compensation.

After apparently being released from their contract, or perhaps simply imploding, their final release came a year later. Sans Muscles is another five-song delight, this time showing a marked progression wherein the band extricates themselves from their dreamy haze, landing on a more lucid plateau.

To read up on the band's history, and for details of their recent "best-of" collection, check out their myspace page (linked above) and their Wikipedia entry.

Fan ep
01. No. 1 Fan
02. Penny For Love
03. Sunny Pie
04. Horse
05. Worri

Sans Muscles ep
01. Space Between Your Moles
02. Seine
03. Bestower of Blessings
04. If JFA Were Still Together
05. Ghost of Fun

Fan ep: Hear
Sans Muscles ep: Hear

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

further - grimes golden ep (1994)

Imagine the joy on that summer day in 1993, when further's debut Griptape landed in my lap courtesy of the music director of the college station that I dj'd at, WBNY. I say joy because by then the Lou Barlow-free Dino Jr just wasn't cutting it for me. As anyone who has experienced further's scattershot first two albums, Griptape and Sometimes Chimes (both released by the micro-indie label, Christmas) it was clear that these saviors of indie-rawk were here to replenish the Barlow-void in the most lo-fi, and feedback friendly-way possible.

The Grimes Golden, or if you wish Golden Grimes ep followed the aforementioned albums in 1994. There was plenty of further singles and extended-players that preceded Grimes, but this one made it's way onto CD, which of course translated into convenience and accessibility. Stating the obvious I suppose, but it wasn't until this ep that further really embraced the whole splice and dice, cut and paste eccentrism of a certain band named seBADoh. This ep was the weirdest offering from the further oeuvre at that time, but along with that weirdness came bona fide melodic sensibilities, manifested in songs like "Quiet Riot Grrrl," and "California Bummer." This nine-song collection, in my opinion, is the most memorable and concise record they ever made.

As for a back story, further prime-movers Darren and Brent Rademaker had a stint in Shadowland, a major label outfit that was long on corporate pandering, and low on credibility.

More info on further can be found here and here. Brent Rademaker and future further member Chris Gunst would later go onto Beachwood Sparks and The Tyde, but nobody in the world is familiar with those bands, right?

01. California Bummer
02. Inert Pieces
03. Quiet Riot Grrrl
04. Summer Shorts
05. Artificial Freedom
06. 20 Pages
07. This Time Around
08. Teenage Soul
09. ...v.s. livingston seagull

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Beekeepers - Third Party, Fear and Theft (1998)

The Beekeepers were a short lived UK outfit that managed to release the Third Party, Fear and Theft album and a string of EPs on Beggars Banquet Records. There was no release on my side of the pond, and from what I can tell they enjoyed minimal notoriety in their home country. Considering this album was issued after Brit-Pop's much lauded reign, I suppose it would have been useless to genre-ize The Beekeeper, so maybe that's what did them in. All of this is utter conjecture of course so I'll quit babbling. Do yourself a favor and click on the hyperlink above for more historical data.

As for the Beekeepers all too meager one-shot deal, Third Party... is a near phenomenal album, all crunchy guitar and hooks galore, brandishing anthematic tunes like the rollicking "Do You Behave Like That at Home?," and "Inheritance." Truth be told, the 'Keepers did have some like-minded British counterparts, specifically Compulsion, and the recently posted Family Cat, but without a "scene" to associate them to, the band seemingly fell by the wayside. Thankfully, we were left with a choice souvenir.

01. Eyeballed
02. Killer Cure
03. Inheritance
04. Second Skin
05. Do You Behave Like That at Home?
06. I Only See What You; Suffer
07. Beau Peepshow
08. Elsewhere
09. Catgut + frivolous hidden track

Now available from the powers that be at iTunes and Amazon Downloads.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Various - Why Do You Think They Call it Pop? (1994)

With it's lovingly whacked out cover art, this Pop Narcotic double 10" comp hit turntables in 1994. The Boston based Pop Narcotic label went as quickly as it came, but not before dispensing records from Versus, The Dambuilders, Small Factory, and most notably the Why Do You Think They Call it Pop? compilation that this post concerns. It's my assumption that the record's title is a play on the once ubiquitous catch-phrase "why do you think they call it dope?" but I digress. All of the aforementioned, and ten more lucky hopefuls, are immortalized on yummy strawberry and banana 10"s of wax, which strangely turned out to be a very representative snapshot of indie music at the time.
The results are about as mixed as they come but the creme de la creme disproportionately populate the first slab, filled with ringing roughewn pop gems from Small Factory, Sleepyhead, and the sensory-overloading guitar sprawl of Monsterland, whom I will dedicate to future posts. The Dambuilders do their best Polvo imitation on "Pennsylvania," apparently oblivious to the fact that Polvo themselves are on the flipside of the disk!

Side three offers a female-fronted trifecta: Helium, Ruby Falls, and Twig. The last side rounds things out with some lesser knowns, and an early Grifters song. Many selections here would crop up on original albums or retrospective singles & rarities compilations specific to each band, but this is a wonderful and unique souvenir of the era. If anyone wants future postings for any of these bands, just say the word and I'll see what I can do.

01. Sleepyhead - Hot Stuff
02. Dambuilders, The - Pennsylvania
03. Small Factory - Yeah!
04. Versus - Sunburned (Life's a Beach)
05. Polvo - Colonial Arms
06. Monsterland - Sunburn
07. Wingtip Sloat - Leap Into My Velvet Arms
08. Helium - In a Little Box
09. Ruby Falls - Let Me Go
10. Twig - Airplane
11. Greenhorn - 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
12. Kudgel - Friction~Ali Baba
13. Grifters - Black Fuel Incinerator

Saturday, September 1, 2007

3 1/2 Minutes - Peep ep (1992) & Bled Me Dry ep (1993)

Thank god for mix tapes, and for that matter, anglophile music fans that know a good import bin when they find one. Truthfully, I don't remember the name of the individual who was smart enough to tape me 3 1/2 Minutes Peep EP in it's entirety on a 90 minute Fuji cassette some fifteen years ago, but trust me folks when I offer them the utmost thanks. From all I can glean, 3 1/2 Minutes hailed from the Hertfordshire region of the UK. Their discography consisted of two EPs, both of which can be downloaded via the links below.

As I have already mentioned privately to some of the browsers of Wilfully Obscure, the band's debut EP, Peep (vinyl only by the way) is one of the most electrifying records in my collection. Musically, the Minutes clearly belonged in the same camp as Mega City Four, and to a lesser extent, Ned's Atomic Dustbin. Each song is an absolute rush of feedback-addled guitars and punk ferocity, without sacrificing melody one iota. It's a must download/listen.
Peep was followed up a year later with the the noticeably subdued, four-cut Bled Me Dry. 3 1/2 Minutes weren't going "pop," so much as maturing. In spite of it's indie-label pedigree, released on the tiny Scared Hitless imprint, the title track actually wound up on the Son In Law soundtrack in 1993. Now that's what I call unlikely.
Peep ep (1992)
01. Feelings M
02. Shake It Up
03. M.C.D.
04. Sodium
05. Shit Sells

Bled Me Dry ep (1993)
01. Bled Me Dry
02. Parrot Fashion
03. A Little Howl
04. The Spellbinding Mr. Benn's Trauma Parlour