Sunday, December 30, 2007

Corn Dollies - s/t (1988)

Not a bevy of info is out there about these folks, but sill quite commendable. The Corn Dollies self-titled debut album was issued during the waning hours of Britain's fabled C86 mini movement. The South London quintet by and large subscribed to the aesthetics of so many indie bands of their era, employing lots of sweet strummy chords, with vocals faintly recalling Stan Ridgeway. This album spawned numerous Corn Dollies singles, most notably their signature song, "Forever Steven," endeared by many fans. Another single, the album's leadoff cut, "Map of the World" illustrates a much more cranked, amped-out disposition of the Corn Dollies, that unfortunately didn't manifest itself elsewhere on here. Still you can't go wrong with the remaining 13 cuts. More singles and another excellent album, Wrecked, followed but the Dollies called it a day in 1991. A short bio and discography can be found here.

01. Map of the World
02. Mouthful of Brains
03. Shake
04. Forever Steven
05. The Big House
06. What Do I Ever
07. Gathered Up
08. Be Small Again
09. Big Cane Call
10. Sweetheart Rose Special
11. About to Believe
12. Climbing Stairs
13. People Gone
14. This is Mine

Get it from iTunes and Amazon Downloads.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Marshes - Fledgling (1996 Grass Records)

Not only does the Marshes’ Fledgling LP stand as one of my favorite albums of the ‘90s, it‘s sheer quality alone provided justification for the proliferation and exploration of punk/pop-punk in an era that was so abundant with poseurs and also-rans. Based in Amherst, Massachusetts, this phenomenal trio unleashed this standout debut full length, rivaled only by the likes of Jawbreaker and Samiam. Though they didn’t necessitate any sort of pedigree, The Marshes benefited from the inclusion of a recognizably named drummer in their ranks, Colin Sears of Dag Nasty, fame. The real stars here however are mouthpiece/bassist Emil Busi, and crack guitarist, Steven Wardlaw.

With speedy, careening guitar leads, heightened melodicism, and some of the most curious and provocative lyrics you could ever expect for an aggregation of their chosen ilk, The Marshes hit on something enormously special, just not universal. Not by a long shot unfortunately. The Marshes ostensible appreciation for Jawbreaker pervades much, if not all of Fledgling, but even Blake S. and Co weren’t capable of staying up to speed with Busi’s quick, trademark wit. The opener, “Offshore,” inspired by a fantasized takeover of Earth by aquatic life, is worth the price of admission alone, but this album ceaselessly vaults from one sky-high crescendo to another – “Anniversary,” “Intelligentsia,” “Little Napoleon,” and more.

Following the album's twelve “proper” tracks, is a goofball trifecta, the most substantive cut being “Sandy,” a mock hair-metal ballad committed to fairly convincing effect. The Marshes would record two more albums, Pox On the Tracks and Recluse, both on the more than respectable
Dr. Strange Records.

01. Offshore
02. Flat Out
03. Obnoxious
04. Benefit Street
05. Anniversary
06. Shadow
07. Intelligentsia
08. Little Napoleon
09. Cliff
10. The Puppy and the Smokestack
11. Slump
12. Goat Song
13. Wicked Hardcore
14. Go Mark Go
15. Sandy


Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Diodes - Survivors lp (1982)

I never really was what you might call a "drooling fanboy" over Toronto's Diodes. For one thing, I wasn't aware of their existence until way after the fact. Secondly, aside from their rollicking, quintessential punk/power-pop signature tune, "Tired of Waking Up Tired," I never found anything in their catalog that was quite on par with it. I do however own the so-called Best of the Diodes reissue that came out in the late '90s, which featured their first two albums - 1977's The Diodes, and the followup, Released. A decent listen in moderate doses mind you, but despite the Diodes copious Ramones fixation, they were a bit too pedestrian for their own good.

Nevertheless, I know that some of you that peruse these pages would be interested in some hard-to-find Diodes material, so I offer to you fittingly enough, Survivors, a 1982 collection of outtakes on the Canadian Fringe Records label. Among some spicy originals like "Burn Down Your Daddy's House, and the title track, the Diodes take on the Stones, The Animals, and Shocking Blue, the latter beating Bananarama and Nirvana to the punch by several years.

01. Survivors
02. When I Was Young
03. Hot Sands
04. Heat or the Beat
05. Lost In the Dark
06. Burn Down Your Daddy's House
07. Curiosity Girl
08. Roses and Thorns
09. Coma
10. Play With Fire

Monday, December 24, 2007

almost forgot...

The Figgs, perhaps my favorite underdog band of all time, released this gem of a Christmas single in 1995, smack dab in their creative zenith no less. They kick off the festivities with their take on the Kink's classic "Father Christmas," brandishing all the moxie and exuberance of Ray Davies and the boys, and then some. The flip side reveals an original, "Christmas Sake," penned by vocalist/bassist extraordinaire Pete Donnelly. The follow-up cut, "Merry Christmas, Girl," is a driving, indelibly catchy blast of The Figgs trademark, punkin' power pop that even wins over the Kinks remake on the A-side. It's credited to "J Parrish," but can anyone tell me who this fellow actually is? Always been a mystery...

Stay tuned for the real "present" tomorrow. Indulge in the Figgs for now!

a. Father Christmas
b1. Christmas Sake
b2. Merry Christmas, Girl

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Glide: Open Up and Croon (1995), Disappear Here (1996), Shrikwrapped Real Thing (1997)

As a prelude, I know it’s a hard sell to encourage anybody to investigate music they are entirely unfamiliar with, even if it’s offered *ahem* for “free,” but to anyone who has checked out my previous posts, even so much as one album or single, trust me when I say that Glide are an absolute must listen. I’d probably start with Disappear Here, and go from there but read on… (Please note this is not the same Glide associated with Will Seargent's UK group of the same name).Complete unknowns in North America, and virtual unknowns in their native Australia, Sydney's Glide dispensed bittersweet ruminations of love and angst in the form of incredibly melodic and thoughtful guitar-rock songs that have yet to be replicated since their all-too-brief ‘90s tenure. The untimely 1999 death of charismatic front-man William Arthur short-circuited Glide’s career, but not without leaving behind an impressive body of work that has ostensibly languished out-of-print for close to a decade now.

Glide took their cues from ‘80s American indie-rock, and less obviously availed themselves to a handful suave Brit-pop maneuvers. Despite these touchstones, this phenomenal Aussie quartet yielded something that was unmistakably of their own creation. There’s a certain depth and heaviness to their songs that shine through consistently, but even their most gripping moments never succumb to maudlin or melodramatic trappings. With Arthur’s lyrical acumen and his band’s impressive sonic salvos, Glide melded it all together with a sophistication that defined their sound, and ultimately, their legacy. This band’s catalog is nothing short of astounding.

Open Up and Croon, Glide’s debut full length is the raw, toughened yin to Disappear Here’s bittersweet, reflective yang. Texturally the albums are different, but not entirely disparate. The formers lead-off title cut is a bitter piss-take, aimed squarely at the protagonists romantic rival. The song is somewhat unrepresentative of the remainder of the album, but ultimately Croon gradually segues into mellower, but no less angst-ridden motifs.
I feel guilty for suggesting that as good as Glide’s debut was, Arthur didn’t really hit his stride until the following Disappear Here, but there is some truth to that notion. The intensity and fervor is still present as it ever was, however when Glide ease the reigns ever so slightly (i.e. pile on some choice ballads) the end result is that much more rewarding. The melancholic, yet totally appreciable “What Do I Know?,” “Hole in the Middle,” and “Tangled,” bare a minimum of two colossal hooks, just one of which would prop up some other sorry suckers entire album.

Shinkwrapped Real Thing gathers up a myriad of early ep tracks, with much of the material on par with Glide’s proper albums. A posthumous Glide album of new, unreleased songs, Last, was released in 2000 in conjunction with the band’s
official website. A full discography and catalog of “available” Glide CDs are provided, but the site has seen no updates since it’s inception seven years ago, I wouldn’t hold your breath when whipping out your Mastercard. Glide’s Myspace page has a bevy of useful info, and the usual obligatory songs. If anyone is interested, I have a superb compilation of Glide b-sides and radio sessions I can upload.


Open Up and Croon (1995, Hypnotized Records)

01-Open Up and Croon
02-Why You Asking?
05-Pitch and Sway
06-He Sees a Way
07-Dead Weight Beauty
08-Spin Doctor
10-Spit You Up
11-Tripped Up and Stalled
12-Picking at Your Paws

Disappear Here (1996 Shock Records)

01-You Were Always More Than A Trick To Me, Ray
02-What Do I Know?
03-Two Wrists
05-Wrapped In Fingers
06-Here She Comes
07-Surfaced Euphoric
08-To Your Side
09-Hole in the Middle
10-Ripped and Stripped

Shrinkwrapped Real Thing (1997 Hypnotized)

01-Something Of Me Inside
02-Not So You'll Wake Him
03-16 Years To Life
04-Turn My Life Out
05-Water Falls
06-Thin Faced Man
07-One More Mistake
08-Worlds Away
10-Your Time
11-Dream Of Sammy
12-Scary Pale

I've decided it wouldn't be too smart to host these disks anymore, now that they've been made available on iTunes.  From what I understand some physical copies might be available through Glide's website.  Go here for all the pertinent details and links.  If you're encountering Glide for the first time, check out the handful of tunes they have streaming on their page, or go with the 30 second clips on iTunes linked above!  

Friday, December 14, 2007

another hiatus...

please check back in a week or so...sorry folks.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

One Plus Two - Once In a Blue Moon (1986)

This album was recently requested from one of our gracious viewers. It was in fact procured several months ago from the late, great Power Pop Lovers blog, a none-too-key impetus for creating my own page, but I digress.

My knowledge of One Plus Two doesn't stretch far beyond the music and album sleeve. They were a coed outfit who released this album on Homestead Records in 1986, and had two previous records available, namely another 12" on Homestead, and a 7" ep titled Watercolor Haircut on the prestigious New Math label.

Once In a Blue Moon is an immediately winsome album, flavored with the jangly indie-pop (think Mitch Easter, etc) of it's era. Perhaps not brilliant, it's still well worth anyones time and hard drive space.

01. Late Last Night
02. Everything's Alright
03. Darkness
04. Hey Little Girl
05. You Can't Run
06. Can't Go Back
07. Heaven Up There
08. Letters
09. Midnight Train
10. You'll Be Thinking

Monday, December 10, 2007

Summercamp - Tonight! ep (1997)

Up until very recently (at least from my vantage point) the going rate for every major-label success, is about ten or so flops. From the '60s to the early '00s, the big five (or is it four?) deliberately and predictably threw their weight behind a proverbial "golden goose," according them with the lions share of the promotional budget, leaving dozens of other signees to languish with nary a thought of recouping their investment. Absurd by any measuring stick if you ask me, but due in part to file sharing, the big boys have wised up, carefully selecting their rosters and making a more substantial priority of their signees. The beauty of the old-school model was that so many of the spill-over bands that were given short shrift by the public and the industry, would occasionally be of artistic, indie-label caliber, adopting small but devoted audiences in the process.

Santa Barbara's Summercamp just so happened to be one of those "major label miracles." Scooped up during the '90s alt-rock feeding frenzy the band signed to Maverick, the Madonna curated division of Warner Brothers. The wrong place at the right time, or the right place at the wrong time? Maybe a little bit of each. Summercamp's hyper-melodic power-pop probably came across as rather ordinary to young adults and older. Some of the most potent material on their solitary LP, Pure Juice, flirted at the edges of pop-punk, but the Warped Tour set wasn't convinced. Initially, it appeared that Summercamp had their foot in the door, boasting some regular airtime for their "Drawer" video on MpTytV, but hopes of making a more noticeable dent were soon dashed. A follow-up was recorded, and in classic music industry fashion, it was shelved. Singer Tim Cullen went onto an indie solo career, which resulted in an album, Fun Razor, that didn't stray far from where Summercamp left off.

The Tonight! ep was released shortly after Pure Juice as a Japanese import, with very limited copies swimming their way over to the mainland. It's no substitute for the aforementioned main course, but a nice little appendix, with three live selections and some studio outtakes. The title cut, by the way, is a mere four seconds. Huh.

01. Nowhere Near (live)
02. High Horse (live)
03. The Bright Side (live)
04. Anyone
05. Miss Leonard
06. Drawer (demo)

07. Tonight!


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Life before Nada Surf - The Cost of Living & Fancipantz

Howdy. I'm afraid I don't have much time at the moment to ramble on at length, but I thought this post would be a treat for Nada Surf fans, as well as connoisseurs of late-80s college radio. That's right, before NS, frontman Mathew Caws stewed his creative juices in an outfit dubbed The Cost of Living. They were undeniably pedestrian in comparison to the empathetic and sonically gratifying Nada Surf (going on almost 15 years now), but C.O.L. are still worthy of merit, particularly their parting bow, Comic Book Page. Lots of sweet, jangle-rock bliss, if a bit straightforward. Just don't approach these disks as likely precursors to High/Low and The Proximity Effect, and you'll be surprisingly rewarded.

Fancipantz were a one-off single project involving Caws, and Rachel Blumberg, who many years later would surface in the Decemberists and The Minders. The A-side, "Dispossession," would later be revived as a Nada Surf cut on the aforementioned Proximity Effect. In fact, the variations here are practically negligible. The b-side, "Bed" was contributed by co-band member Nicholas Columbo, and has little or no relevance to most of us.

Cost of Living - Day of Some Lord (1986): Hear
Cost of Living - Comic Book Page (1989): Hear
fancipantz 7": Hear

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Deviators - Century 21 7" (1990) & Falling Away 7" (1993)

Had they released more than a handful of singles and/or had I the opportunity to see them live, The Deviators would have probably been amongst the most coveted bands in my 1990s small of fame, but alas, what can you do?

Brooklyn's "fab four" (ok, bit of a stretch there) unleashed three 7" s on a rather ignorant public in the early '90s, two of which are extolled upon in this write-up. The Deviators recipe was pretty straightforward - mid-tempo punk with pop underpinnings, topped off with an unmistakable garage rock disposition. And class, boy did these guys have class. They could have even taught the sauve-faire Hives a thing or two.
The Falling Away triple shot, is the superior of the two disks. The a-side, as punchy and melodic as it is, is outdone by the melodic, propulsive thrust of "Just Another Story," reminiscent of what contemporaries Moral Crux were achieving with equally fine results.

Another three-song "ep," Century 21 actually predates "Falling Away" by a couple of years and the difference is quite evident. The title cut is Clash-y as-all-get-out, hearkening back to The Clash and Give Em Enough Rope to say the very least. The Ramones-y b-sides are fun and well executed, just not revelatory.

Although seeing the Deviators live in the flesh just wasn't in the cards for yours truly, I did speak to guitarist/vocalist Pablo Medina a few times in the mid-90s, and by jove, you couldn't find a nicer bloke. Should anyone know how I might be able to score a copy of the Deviators "Seeing Double" 7" please get in touch. Enjoy.

Falling Away (eMpTy Records 1993)
01. Falling Away
02. Just Another Story
03. Spotlight

Century 21 (Skene 1990)
04. Century 21
05. Let It Go
06. Hiding

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Smile - early singles

Grunge. It's not just from Seattle anymore, or more precisely was. Tustin, California's Smile had a lengthy but less than prolific run, yielding two LPs, Maquee (1994) and Girl Crushes Boy (1998). Maquee (pronounced 'muh-key') was initially released on Cargo/Headhunter Records, but was reissued a year later on Atlantic Records, strictly on the recommendation of a college intern, so the rumor goes. That album's bottom-end tendencies actually paled compared to the short stack of wax Smile released beforehand. Neither icons nor iconoclasts of the short-lived grunge movement, this power-trio led by the surprisingly diminutive Michael Rosas, offered perhaps their most ferociously bludgeoning song ever, "I Don't Want to (Leave You)," on what appears to be a self-released single. That cut along with the accompanying "Leuaine," in all their bass-heavy glory, could have gone head-to-head with anything on Nirvana's Bleach. Trust me, that's saying a lot.
The other single in question was just as much fun. The A-side, "Amanita" fell in line, so to speak, with the lock-step grooves that Helmet were renown for in their early-'90s prime. Six and a half minutes of taught, scalding riffola that would have surely sent any household pet within earshot straight under the couch faster than any vacuum cleaner. The less intense flipside, "Staring at the Sun," is underwritten, but still a keeper. It would find it's way onto Maquee in an overhauled version.

After the commercial disappointment of Maquee, Smile reverted back to Headhunter to eventually release Girl Crushes Boy in 1998, an endearing pop-inflected album, steeped in Rosa's idiosyncratic muse. It's very much worth seeking out.

PS: Michael Rosas can now be found in this band.

Resin single (Jester Records)
01. Resin
02. Lenuaine
03. I Don't Want to (Leave You)

Nemesis label single
04. Amanita
05. Staring at the Sun

Monday, December 3, 2007

Dreams So Real - Nocturnal Omissions (1985-1990)

My first encounter with Dreams So Real, was their video for "Rough Night in Jerico," from their major label debut album of the same name, sometime back in 1988. Although "Rough Night..." had all the earmarks of a rock and roll classic (which I still esteem to this day), I was in for even more of a treat when I heard their first LP, Father's House. Hailing from the alt-rock hotbed of Athens, Georgia, Dreams So Real, as did many bands from that era (and area) took a page from REM. In DSR's case, they honed in dead-center on Peter Buck's crystalline Rickenbacker jangle, and just ran with it on Father's House, albeit with a slightly more pedestrian approach.

Preceding that album, was the "Everywhere Girl"/"Whirl" 7" on Coyote Records in 1985. These two songs were quintessential examples of the southern indie-rock sound of the 198os, and also function as the unofficial centerpiece for Nocturnal Omissions, a Dreams So Real "fan club" CD of outtakes and rarities of damn-near every song that didn't make it's way on to the band's three official albums. Released in 1992, it chronologically follows DSR through every phase of their brief and largely ignored tenure. There's so much gold to warrant mentioning here - pre-Father's House demos, "Golden" from the Athens, GA Inside/Out soundtrack, copious outtakes from their two Arista albums (including a collaboration with the B52s Cindy Wilson on "Appalachee Shoals"), a pair of Christmas tunes, and an embarrassing foray into old-school rap. Dig in, but as precursor for anyone new to Dreams So Real, you may want to check out their debut album from here
01. (Maybe I'll Go) Today
02. Heaven
03. Window
04. History
05. Up to Fate
06. Golden
07. Everywhere Girl
08. Whirl
09. And So We Love
10. Open Your Eyes
11. Entwined
12. A Shipwrecked Sailor
13. Appalachee Shoals
14. Please Don't Cry
15. In the Garden
16. Egypt
17. There's a Fire
18. Red Lights (Merry Christmas)
19. Just For Christmas
20. Eppy