Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Huw Gower - Guitarophilia ep (1984)

Mr. Huw Gower was the guitar slinger for a little known power-pop act from the late 70s/early 80 called The Records. Gower led his talents to the Records on their colossally influential, genre-defining debut, Shades in Bed (aka The Records in the States) including the classic single "Starry Eyes." No home should be without one.

Gower made his departure from the Records around 1980, just prior to their sophomore album, Crashes. His debut solo offering, the four-cut Guitarophilia ep was released in 1984, but his, debut album, Ile de France didn't materialize for a full sixteen years. Now that's what I call a coffee break!

Guitarophilia kicks the proceedings off with the sprite "She's Still a Mystery," which would have found it's rightful place on the first Records album. Gower temporarily relinquishes his singing duties to Regina Now on "Love on Demand," and although it marrs the continuity of the record, the ep recovers on side deux with the mid-tempo rocker, "Calling Out the Heretics." A respectable cover of Eddie & The Hot Rods' pub-rock standard, "Do Anything You Wanna Do," closes out this ep on a high note, and furthermore, bolsters Gower's credibility.

As mentioned above, Gower released his debut full-length in 2000, and followed that up with In Pursuit Of Excellence in 2003, an album that revived his power-pop roots.
01. She's Still a Mystery
02. Love On Demand
03. Calling Out the Heretics
04. Do Anything You Wanna Do

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Singles Going Single #9 - Rollkicker Laydown (DeSoto, 1993)

While we're on the subject of Geoff Turner (see Senator Flux post below), The Rollkicker Laydown 7" single makes for a perfect segue into edition #9 of Singles Going Single. If you're a fan of Washington D.C. post-hardcore rock, you might agree that Rollkicker Laydown's one and only record, is one of the greatest one-off singles ever. Music journalist Andy Kellman capsulizes the essence of this 7" classic better than I ever could:

Rollkicker Laydown was a post-hardcore version of the Traveling Wilburys. Well, maybe not quite, but the short-lived group did feature former members of Government Issue, Gray Matter, and Wool. Guitarist Tom Lyle (the Jeff Lynne of the group?), bassist/vocalist J. Robbins (then of Jawbox), drummer Peter Moffett, and background vocalist Geoff Turner met up with post-punk producer extraordinaire Iain Burgess (Effigies, Big Black) to record 1993's No Voices in the Wire single for DeSoto, the label run by Robbins' Jawbox mates Kim Coletta and Bill Barbot. Both songs on the single matched the quality of any given moment of the members' more serious prior engagements. ~ Andy Kellman, All Music Guide

What Andy fails to mention is that for all intents and purposes, both songs, "No Voices in the Wire" and "Cut," are stylistically slanted to Jawbox, not to any of the other participants aforementioned engagements. Even so, the "A" side, "No Voices..." is actually more immediate and engaging than anything Jawbox recorded up to that point. Right from the get go, Lyle's slicing, melodic power chords, are soon accompanied by Robbin's most devastating vocal hook to date, making for the three most visceral minutes you could ever hope to be within earshot of. The flip-side, "Cut," is culled from the same piece of fabric, albeit not as vicious and breakneck.
A. No Voices in the Wire
B. Cut

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Senator Flux - The Criminal Special (1990) & Storyknife (1991)

As if it wasn't enough to helm two influential D.C. hardcore bands (Gray Matter and the poppier Three) during the mid-80s, Jeff (alternately spelled Geoff) Turner upped the ante another notch by the turn of the decade with the tragically overlooked Senator Flux. A lost, but superb left-of-the-dial contender, Senator Flux's unique spin on collegiate indie-pop was a measured one at that. Even at their most neurotic, power chord rave-ups and blistering punk salvos were nowhere to be found. All the better, because the band's lucid context provides an ideal backdrop for Turner's half-spoken/sung acuemen, wherein he often rambles and waxes philosophical in the verses, only to recover with a sublimely melodic chorus that more than rewards your patience. Brass and woodwind's mildly punctuate some of Flux's material to sweet effect.

The two albums this post concerns were staples for me in my late high school years. I was informed of The Criminal Special through a music video for "Grey Eyed Athena." To me, this album points to where The Connells and Guadalcanal Diary should have been heading at the time, but that's more of a personal observation, not so much a critique. A thoughtful rendition of the George Harrison-penned "It's All Too Much," meshes perfectly with the original compositions. The following LP, Storyknife from 1991, was more advanced, both in harmony and Turner's pensive prose, the likes of which haven't been heard since. I can't emphasize enough how unique Senator Flux were. Definitely not power pop, but atypical and mesmerising pop all the same.

These two albums were preceded by the less accomplished Shotgun For Cosmo and Spectacles, Testicles, Wallet, and Watch, which are still worth investigating, depending to what extent you appreciate the ones discussed herein. 
The Criminal Special
01. Great Sloth Heart
02. Fallenness
03. Postscript
04. The Combine
05. Grey Eyed Athena
06. United States of Amnesia
07. Before the Sun
08. Testimonial
09. It's All Too Much
10. Somnia
01. Candia
02. Homestead
03. Monuments
04. Humming Bee
05. Sinking Sensation
06. Godwash
07. On a Limb
08. Lightning Bug
09. Devotional
10. Universal Solvent 
The Criminal Special: Hear
Storyknife: Hear

Friday, January 25, 2008

Singles Going Single # 8 - The Shins - Nature Bears a Vacuum 7'' ep (Omnibus, 1998)

Chances are , someone is already hosting this on some MP3 blog(s) out there, or for that matter on any number of run amok file sharing apps. Not only that, I'll even go a step further and bet there's a more listenable version of this 4-song ep floating around, as admittedly, my personal copy lends itself to some slight vinyl noise, including a pesky "pop" or two.

Essentially, I didn't realize I even had this in my collection until a few weeks ago, when I was rummaging through some records for my Singles Going Single series. I suppose this is my way of celebrating this find. Released on Omnibus Records in 1998, this vinyl-only ep was presumably limited to a 1000 copies or so in it's initial pressing. It was reissued several years later, but even that batch of wax has flown off of record store shelves and Ebay by now. It's a secret too good to keep to myself, so enjoy.
01. Those Bold City Girls
02. Eating Styes From Elephants' Eyes
03. We Built a Raft and We Floated
04. My Seventh Rib

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

V/A - Fish Hips & Turkey Lips (Shakedown, 1993)

Here's an oldie, but goodie. The Fish Hips & Turkey Lips, was an ultra obscure UK vinyl only release, featuring three bands from the North Carolina indie-rawk circuit, circa 1993, or thereabouts. Distribution was assumedly scare stateside, but I bought this at a Small/Archers of Loaf concert either in '93 or '94, a point in time when the world was damn near-perfect. Don't think so? That's ok, you're still wrong. Here's a primer on the three participants:

Small (who later changed their name to Small 23, then absurdly back to Small again) were the best Chapel Hill, NC export second only to Superchunk. Small, as it so happened, boasted Superchunk expatriate Chuck Garrison, as a drummer, and in their earliest lineup, Eric Bachman of Archers of Loaf. Moreover, Small's real asset was a bevy of deftly crafted, melody-rich pop punk tunes that spanned three albums (I'd recommend True Zero Hook for starters) and a load of eps and singles.

Very little is known/written/spoken about Finger. A good fit for this compilation, Finger were the most "regional" of the three acts here. This is not to imply that they exude a heavy southern drawl, rather their aesthetic is a little "down home" so to speak. Finger produced about a half-dozen singles, and in 1992, issued their one and only album on Skyclad Records.

Motorolla were unsurprisingly, um, "urged" to change their moniker to the less infringing Motocaster almost immediately after Fish Hips hit the racks. Their rough-around-the-edges three chord rawk, was just swampy enough to lure in fans of Nirvana and the like, but despite a deal with Interscope that yielded their lone lp, Stay Loaded...bupkis.

Incidentally, Fish Hips features a number of cheesy intros and interludes, totally irrelevant to the three contributors, but I decided not to edit them out for the benefit of maintaining the continuity of the record.
01. ''Billy Speer vs. Jimi Hendrix''
02. Small - Empty Room
03. Small - Every
04. Small - Nasty Little Chick
05. ''New & Improved''
06. Finger - You Can Have It All
07. Finger - Out of Focus
08. ''Mr. Taylor Surfs the Drags''
09. Finger - Vessel
10. ''Tuber''
11. Motorolla - The Train
12. Motorolla - The Habit
13. Motorolla - Sweet Pearl
14. ''Mr. Taylor Drags the Surf'' 

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Silos - About Her Steps (Record Collect, 1985)

I never bought into the hype surrounding The Silos major label debut in 1990. To a modest extent, they were touted as the next poster children of college radio. Whether that actually came to pass is water under the highest of bridges at this point, but at the time, the Silo’s faint rootsy swagger didn’t sway me.

Although I’m an exceedingly late bloomer to the Silo’s first album (more like mini album) About Her Steps, this is almost precisely what I wanted them to sound like all along.

This eight-song jewel brings to mind such Austin, TX “new sincerity” luminaries as The True Believers and Texas Instruments, even hinting at the Feelies and Velvets. A few pockets of pedal steel and violin, not to mention an undercurrent of sweet jangle helps seal the deal, adding more than enough icing to your proverbial cake. A near-stellar collection. As for the blurry album sleeve, that 's the band's doing, not mine.

01. Shine it Down
02. 4 Wanted Signs
03. Susan
04. Start the Clock
05. A Few Hundred Thank You's
06. Now That I've Lost You
07. Seeing Blue
08. Heart & Soul 


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Singles Going Single #7 - Four Point Star (1994, Broken Rekids)

San Francisco's Four Point Star were an unpolished gem, who didn't hang around long enough to show off their luster. I'd like to be proven wrong, but this three-cut 7" ep is apparently the only record of what I'm assuming was a much too fleeting existence. Approximating Hüsker Dü by way of Versus, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Four Point Star were compatriots with fellow 'Frisco natives, J Church. In fact, I'd put money on it.

FPS's lo-fi, fuzz-addled indie punk is best evidenced by this single's exuberant a-side, "Stranger's Ways." A roughhewn, but joyously melodic pop nugget that I saw fit to graft onto many a mix tape at the time. The flipside's angular "Wait/Wasted," and "Slow Reaction," pale slightly in the wake of such a hot leadoff track, but no matter. This single is still worth it's weight in gold.
A1. Stranger's Ways
B1. Wait/Wasted
B2. Slow Reaction 


Singles Going Single #6 - Chainsaw Kittens (1990 Mammoth Records)

My introduction to one of the two greatest bands to ever emanate from Oklahoma (i'll let you figure out the other one) was via a college radio station broadcast in Albany, NY, on an evening runaway-from-home joyride sometime in the spring of 1991. The song in question was the LP version of this single, "Mother (of the Ancient Birth). Just as much now, as it was some 17 years ago, I'm still stunned by the tune's beckoning melody and power-chord thrust. The Chainsaw Kittens glam-rock, and to a lesser extent, cross-dressing tendencies were utterly lost on me, as I was in thrall with the music, not the cosmetics. In a fan letter I wrote to the Kittens, I opined that mouthpiece Tyson Meade recalled Morrissey. When Meade responded, he insisted that the Chainsaw Kittens thing had always been more Cheap Trick than anything else. By and large he was correct, but it took a few more years (and albums) to fully convince me.

As I mentioned above, the single version of "Mother" is a slightly different take than the one on their presently out-of-print debut album, Violent Religion, which also came out in 1990. The b-side, "Death-Sex Rattletrap" can only be heard here...and for better or worse, it'll probably stay that way.
A. Mother (of the Ancient Birth)
B. Death-Sex Rattletrap

Friday, January 18, 2008

Jo Broadbery & The Standouts - The House of Love (1982)

First off, let me start off explaining that there is virtually no information regarding Jo Broadbery anywhere online. Despite garnering a short-lived stint with Virgin Records via his previous project, Local Operator, in the late '70s, the man seemingly dropped off the face of the map - either that or "Jo Broadbery" was simply a vanity moniker. If anyone knows anything regrading this chap's whereabouts, or if the man himself is perusing these pages, don't be a stranger.

The innovatively titled, House of Love is the second and final album credited to Jo Broadbery and the Standouts. A self-titled debut album was issued two years prior, but the circumstances surrounding that release are confusing. In the late '70s, Broadbery was the frontman of an equally obscure outfit dubbed Local Operator. Arguably, you could refer to Operator's shtick as power-pop, but they bore a considerable mod/ska-inflection that was hard to go unnoticed.

Two relatively easy to find singles were released on Virgin (potentially a subject for a future post) under the Local Operator name. Following up those 45s was an extremely rare and unspeakably scarce album, Pushing Out the Poets. We're talking serious Ebay potential folks, but I digress. Issued only in Europe, my guess is that the project stiffed. Unbeknownst to even a lot of Broadbery fans, that Local Operator album was reissued song-for-song with entirely different art under the name of Jo Broadbery & the Standouts, in 1980. In fact, PVAc to 44.1 kHz blog has posted that fine album right here if you want to investigate for yourself. The recordings and mixes between the Local Operator and Jo Broadbery versions of the record were to my knowledge identical, but I cannot confirm that. There has been no explanation for the album's re-release under Broadbery's name, but marketability might be a safe estimate. At any rate, Broadbery and/or Local Operator were virtual unknowns in either incarnation, and the album was never issued on CD.

That brings us to the second Jo Broadbery & the Standouts full-length, The House of Love. It was released on the German Blow Up Records label in 1982, presumably sold exclusively in Europe, and even more obscure than the debut. While the first album flirted with the last vestiges of the waning British punk movement, Broadbery and Co. were by and large aiming for the pop charts with this follow-up, but without pandering wholesale to the new-wave trend-du jour. Admittedly, I am partial to the second side over the first, but as a whole it's not as strong as the debut. Nevertheless, even though it takes some getting used to, I thought I would post The House of Love, for the few established Jo Broadbery fans out there. Lord knows there's ain't many of us!
01. The House of Love
02. Back in Anger
03. Heaven's Boys
04. Snakebite
05. Sharon Was
06. What Kind of Joke is That?
07. One Heart
08. The Cage

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Waxing Poetics - Hermitage (1986 Trumpeter/Emergo)

The Norfolk, VA based Waxing Poetics were yet another Mitch Easter production from the '80s that fell by the wayside. In fact, on this particular album, REM's Mike Mills assisted Mr. Easter on Hermitage, which also happens to be the Poetics debut. And for a debut, it's pretty decent, but not what you would deem revelatory. Playing resplendent, collegiate indie-rock, Waxing Poetics fell into the same realm as Guadalcanal Diary and The Connells. Some of Hermitage's more fetching moments, like "If You Knew Sushi," and "Distinction," place a particular emphasis on rhythm - a faculty many of their contemporaries were seemingly averse to.

Waxing Poetics went onto to records two more LPs, 1988's Manakin Moon (which featured an upbeat remake of Brian Eno's "Needles in the Camel's Eye") and Bed Time Story in '90. Some of their CDs fetch a decent amount of money on Ebay, if that means anything to you... 
01-Beauty & the Beatitudes
02-If You Knew Sushi
03-Living Chairs (Going Through the Walls)
04-Friday's Child
07-Walking on Thin Legs
08-Mrs. Dance's Skeleton
09-This Parade
11-A Year By Air 
Update: Hermitage is now available through Amazon Downloads and iTunes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Singles Going Single #5 - The Dickies - Dawn of the Outtake bootleg 7" (1989)

It's always the Buzzcocks, Descendents, Hüsker Dü, and other likeminded small-of-fame pop-punkers that typically get pegged as "influencers." Shouldn't LA's long-running Dickies be among that coveted contingent too? Anyway...

I mailordered this bootleg slab of clear yellow wax many years ago, assuming that it would contain demos or outtakes from the Dickie's wonderful, and in my opinion landmark sophomore LP, Dawn of the Dickies from 1979, but alas, it wasn't to be. Instead, I was graced with demo versions of "Cross-Eyed Tammy" and "Monkey See, Monkey Do," two tracks that eventually wound up on the Dickies fourth album, '89s Second Coming. Not a bad purchase, save for the throwaway b-side, which is apparently a soundcheck turned impromptu piss-take. Whatever. Enjoy (or not).
A1. Cross-Eyed Tammy
A2. Monkey See, Monkey Do
B1. Why Do You Do?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Various - Case Closed? - An International Tribute to Hüsker Dü (1994)

While the Replacements have inspired no less than five tribute albums, Hüsker Dü aficionados have a lot of catching up ahead of them. Case Closed? is merely one of only two Hüsker covers albums, the other being, Dü Hüskers: The Twin Cities Replay Zen Arcade, the content of which is limited to the band's 1984 double concept-lp (in it's entirety) as it's title no doubt implies.

If name recognition is your barometer for a worthy tribute album (and really, who's isn't?) you would almost be forgiven for taking a pass on this one. Case Closed? was issued on the European Snoop Records label in 1994, with it's limited distribution stateside, only outdone by it's dearth of American participants. In fact, you can count all the Yanks on one hand: Alloy,Sick of It All, and the always superb Big Drill Car. Nevertheless, one of your favorite Hüsker songs is bound to be among one of the 23 selections within. Despite the lineup of career punk/hardcore acts, most stay faithful to Bob Mould and Grant Hart's arrangements.
01-NRA - In A Free Land
02-Terry Hoax - Dead Set On Destruction
03-Sick Of It All - Target
04-Alloy - Out On A Limb
05-Mink Stole - Tell You Why Tomorrow
06-Rubbermaids - I Apologize
07-Jonas Jinx - Something I Learned Today
08-Only Living Witness - Too Far Down
09-Motorpsycho - New Day Rising
10-D.I. - The Biggest Lie
11-Upset Noise - It's Not Funny Anymore
12-Breszinski - Turn On The News
13-2 Bad - What's Going On
14-Richies - Don't Want To Know If You Are Lonely
15-Baysix - Hardly Getting Over It
16-Big Drill Car - Celebrated Summer
17-Balance - Makes No Sense At All
18-Gigantor - Green Eyes
19-The Strangemen - Diane
20-Alison Ate - Never Talking To You Again
21-Vanilla Chainsaws - Ice Cold Ice
22-Engrained - I'll Never Forget You
23-Medfield M.A. - No Reservations

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Singles Going Single #4 - The Anniversary - tour single (2000)

I was an early adopter of this coed, Kansas-based quintet. Their debut album, Designing a Nervous Breakdown became quite addictive, what with it's wonky-synth rock tip-toeing ever so slowly into the emo side of neighborhood. Problem was, the album had a mere ten songs. I wanted more. And luckily, there was a little bit more, that is if you were able to attend an Anniversary gig in 2001 or thereabouts. This eponymous three-song ep was dispensed at the merch table for about $4.00, and as far as I can tell that was the only location where it could be obtained. Yep, a good ol' limited tour 7." The sleeve is dated 2000, but since the selections on here sound a bit nascent compared to the LP, I have a hunch they were recorded earlier than that. But anyway, if you haven't been exposed to Designing... get it, because it will likely give you a better appreciation of this. For true.

A1. All Right For Now
B1. Hold Me Tonight
B2. Low Tide and Hospital Bed

Update: All three songs are now available on the Anniversary's Devil on Our Side, b-sides and rarities compilation.  Click on the link and get it used from Amazon cheap.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Jon Auer (Posies) - 1994 demos: An Auer of Power!

Maybe it’s just me, but even after being acquainted with the Posies for some fifteen years now, I still have trouble discerning Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer when they take the mic, spanning the gamut from Dear 23, all the way up to their 2005 reunion LP, Every Kind of Light. Heck, even on their solo albums, their respective pipes fool this set of ears, even with their names clearly emblazoned on the CD cover. Ultimately what differentiates Ken from Jon, is good old fashioned aesthetics. Both are keen songsmiths, more then adept at carrying the torch for most notably, Big Star, whom they’re invariably compared to, but Ken has been increasingly apt to follow his idiosyncratic muse, particularly on solo records. Jon on the other hand goes straight for the gusto, honing in on glorious, deftly crafted three-minute pop nuggets that gratify instantly.

At any rate, when it came time for masterminding the follow-up to the Posies, near-commercial breakthrough, Frosting on the Beater, Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow went about demo-ing songs. I’m not sure about Ken’s compositions, but when their label, the might Geffen caught wind of the stuff Auer had concocted, the didn’t order him to go back to the drawing board, rather they deemed his tentative creations needed a little mud splattered on ‘em. Keep in mind, this was the mid-90s, and their label thought they could eke a little more mileage out of the Posies if they could position themselves on a “grunge” trajectory (Their Washington State proximity wouldn't hurt the bottom line either). The final outcome, 1996’s Amazing Disgrace, was indeed heavier and for that matter swampier then it’s three predecessors, but the tunes floated to the surface blissfully as ever.

This collection of Jon Auer demos from 1994 are ostensibly what the higher ups heard that influenced the Posies to change their tune, so to speak. The relatively unfettered readings of “Daily Mutilation,” “Fight It If You Want,” and “Hate Song” among others, not only bustle with the penetrating hooks and harmonies shared with their fully realized counterparts on Disgrace, but bring something refreshing and lucid to the fore that was ultimately blunted on LP, if only slightly. Other gems here wound up on the supposed Posies finale, Success, a few more migrated to Auer’s solo releases, and some cuts remain exclusive to this set. This “Auer of Power,” will be a real treat for anyone interested in hearing what some killer Posies compositions sounded like in their embryonic state.

01. Hate Song (revisited)
02. Fight It You Want
03. Throwaway
04. Somehow Everything
05. World
06. Elena Aria
07. Brooken Record
08. Will You Ever Ease Your Mind
09. Grow
10. Placebo
11. Sad to Be Aware
12. Every Bitter Drop
13. Daily Mutilation


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Singles Going Single #3 - Ian McCulloch (1984, Korova)

Until a few years ago, I didn't realize that Ian "Echo" McCulloch released a one-off solo 45 prior to his splendid 1989 solo album, Candleland. You'd be amazed at the revelations that transpire when wading through boxes and boxes of used 7"s at Amoeba Records, but I digress. This Ocean Rain-era artifact features two vintage covers: Kurt Weills "September Song," and the traditional folk tune, "Cockles and Mussels," that finds McCulloch getting his croon on as only he can. It was a wise decision for McCulloch to distance himself from the Bunnymen for this rather out-of-character single. It does little to add or detract to his legacy, rather it's more of an eccentric oddity for his most dedicated fans.

a. September Song
b. Cockles and Mussels


Sunday, January 6, 2008

Blatant Dissent - Hold the Fat lp (198?, Glitterhouse Records)

Though DeKalb, IL's Blatant Dissent had a firm footing in classic US hardcore, it was the fabled “Chicago Sound” of the mid-to-late ‘80s that went a much longer in way in defining the band, at least on wax. BD took their cues in no small part from the most notorious purveyors of the Chi-town sound, Naked Raygun, but not without tossing in a plentiful dollop of sarcasm and irony. The result was admirable, but not the stuff of greatness.

Hold the Fat contains the brunt of Blatant Dissent’s meager output, with the rest of their discography consisting of just a couple of singles. In some circles, BD is mentioned in trivial context, as lead singer John Mohr went on to much greater success fronting Chicago powerhouse,
Tar. Exponentially brusque, not to mention sonically concussive in comparison to BD, Tar went onto record several releases for Amphetamine Reptile and Touch and Go Records between the late-80s and ‘90s, and toured internationally.

I was unable to ascertain the exact year of release for Hold the Fat, but 1988 or 1989 is a safe bet, given the brief liner notes on the back of the LP mentioning it was recorded in 1986, and that BD called it a day by the spring ’88. None of their releases ever saw the light of day on CD.

01. Contemporary Hip
02. The Man in Black
03. Painted Women
04. How Can I Lose?
05. Status Quo
06. Eleven Days
07. The Beast
08. The Party
09. Overreaction
10. Is There a Fear?
11. Bandit
12. Undermine
13. My Hands Are Tied


Singles Going Single #2 - Let's Active (1988, B.O.B.)

For those of you who are old enough to remember Bucketfull of Brains magazine (a legendary UK based music paper that ran from the '80s to '90s) you are already familiar with the depth and breadth of it's coverage of the indie/alt-rock scene, detailing the goings on of established artists, and exposing new ones (on both sides of the pond no less). B.O.B.'s distinguished itself from all other music rags at the time with the inclusion of a flexi-disk (aka sound-sheet) "record" in each issue, that usually included rare or unreleased tracks from a noteworthy artist, contemporary to each particular issue.

The disk that graced issue # 16 of B.O.B. entailed two songs by the pioneering, American jangle-pop group, Let's Active. I'm about 99% sure that the lead-off track, "I Feel Funny," is identical to the version on the band's Every Dog Has It's Day LP. One of the superior songs on that particular mixed bag of tricks I might add. This is followed up with "Wild Wild Women," a '50s rockabilly cover. The latter is exclusive to this release. Surprisingly good audio quality for the format I might add.
01. I Feel Funny
02. Wild Wild Women

Friday, January 4, 2008

Edsel - The Everlasting Belt Co. (1993 Grass Records)

For anyone on here that pours through bargain CD bins, it's a safe bet that an Edsel disk pops up in at least one out of three. Yet you rarely see this Edsel CD gathering dust, and for damn good reason.

The timing and location couldn't have been more favorable for this quartet - Washington D.C., early-mid '90s -a period when beltway indie combos sprouted almost as fruitfully as the cherry blossom trees that line the capital mall itself. Edsel seemingly failed to ingratiate themselves among the more pop-oriented local combos of their day like Velocity Girl, Unrest, and Tsunami. The Dischord Records "punk" contingent made for a slightly more adaptable fit, but Edsel fell short of becoming homies with Fugazi and Shudder to Think. The band's affiliation with such a small label, the long departed Grass Records, didn't work wonders in increasing Edsel's notoriety, but it at least gave them a chance to churn out the best record of their career, The Everlasting Belt Co.

Where should I begin with this one? Let's start with warm. Tenaciously rhythmic. Clangy guitar runs. Dense arrangements. All cobbled together in a hazy, mid-fi gauze that touched on the post-hardcore aesthetic of hometown contemporaries Jawbox, with an eye fixed on the indie-rock innovations of Archers of Loaf, Pavement, and the like. The swarmy, tremelo-bent, "Penaluma," which originally appeared on a split single with Jawbox, was what originally lured me in, but amazingly, it was only the tip of the iceberg. Quite bluntly, this album's the shit. Two follow-ups, inferior ones at that, succeeded Everlasting, and for better or worse (mostly worse) those are the ones I referred to as traffic plugs in the used section of your favorite store. Edsel's debut album, Strange Loop, is however worthy of your attention.
01. Pell Confirms
02. Checking
03. Shaster!
04. Buckle
05. Oh Bliss, Oh Well
06. Proud City
07. Our Drunken Friend
08. The Good Celeste
09. Penaluna
10. Pigeon-Hearted
11. Stane
12. Whistle Down
13. Horn & Feather
14. Bone Tender
15. Narrow
16. 19:00 Hours at the Apollo
17. Fin
18. unlisted track

This title has been reissued.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Singles Going Single #1 - Not Rebecca (1996, Thick Records)

I often ask myself why I'm so utterly remiss at adorning and garnishing this corner of the blogosphere with something stimulating - you know snazzy colors, backdrops, creative sidebar and header graphics...I guess I can chalk that up to ny own ignorance and laziness. Maybe one of these days I'll be motivated enough to embellish Wilfully Obscure with the desperately needed atmosphere it's been screaming for over the past six months. Until that time, I present you the first installment in an ongoing year-long series that will shall be referred to as Singles Going Single.

7" inch singles. I've got a bunch. A lot in fact, including a tons of virgin vinyl just waiting to meet the needle. Of the majority of bands represented in my collection I have multiple titles. This series will focus on the single, singles. Not necessarily bands that have just released one 45, rather the prerequisite here is that I have no more, but no less that one solitary slab of 7" wax by any given artist. Yeah. As if you know I'm not cheating. Just take my word for it, or better you drive over here and look under my sofa or mattress to see if I'm hiding anything. SGS is not genre specific, but if you have an appreciation for what I've offered thus far, that will be a big advantage, but I warn you, I may toss in a curve ball now and again. So for about 50 weeks this year, I'll be posting two installments. See? All you need is a computer and a basic working knowledge of first grade math.
First up is a picture disk single from one of the finest Midwestern quartets ever, Chi-town's Not Rebecca. You can play catch-up by going here. Even though you'll find a bevy of free MP3s, where it's really at is NR's two proper albums, Twin City Obituary and Rocketship to Canada, which I believe can still be purchased at Johann's Face Records site. At least I hope. Not Rebecca ushered a cozy Husker Du cum paleo-emo vibe onto the indie scene in the mid-90s, and unleashed a wellspring of masterful songs, a couple of which are represented here on their sole 45 release, some twelve years ago, courtesy of Thick Records. And "thick" this little slab of wax is, even for a picture disk. Enjoy (or not)

A. Three Feet Thick
B. Side You