Monday, March 31, 2008

Singles Going Single #26 - Painted Willie 7" (1984, Spinhead)

In reference to the title of this single's lead-off cut, Painted Willie were a ragged army indeed, and the band's ramshackle debut 7" is a stumbling-block-to-stepping-stone chestnut for the ages. Released on what would appear to be a tiny, local imprint, Spinhead Records, this record would lead to greater things, more specifically being ushered under the wing of the burgeoning SST Records for a number of LPs during the Reagan era. Painted Willie's quasi-minimalist post-punk, was unabashedly nascent and shambolic at the time of this release, but endearing in it's own rite. The curiously esoteric subject matter disclosed in "Ragged Army" exemplifies this aesthetic the best, while it's flipside, "Kill It," packs a serious, metallic bite, that's the yin to "Army's" playful yang. Two of the three songs here also appear in the "jukebox" portion of their Myspace page, but these particular rips were extracted directly from my own copy of the single, tattered sleeve and all. Enjoy (or not).

A1. Ragged Army
A2. Paper Tiger
B. Kill It


Singles Going Single #25 - Drive "tribute" 7'' (1992, First Strike)

For Descendants fans, the sleeve of Drive's "tribute" single depicted directly to your left is a surefire giveaway, with it's parody of the 'dents iconic I Don't Want to Grow Up LP. The other side of the sleeve is a less effective stab at Raymond Pettibone equally iconic art for their take on The Minutemen's classic, "This Ain't No Picnic" Drive were a rather arcane British pop-punk band, existing in the late-'80s/mid-'90s. Often lumped into the same neighborhood as Mega City Four, Hooton 3 Car, and the previously discussed 3 1/2 Minutes, notoriety eluded them, even in their native Liverpool. Their recordings were conglomerated on Boss Tunage's relatively recent Discography 1988-93 CD, which you can check out here.

A. My World
B. This Ain't No Picnic


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Pollyanna - Hello Halo (1997)

It's hard to believe that Pollyanna's entire back catalog is languishing hopelessly out of print, even in their native Australia, where they were one of the predominant indie success stories of the '90s. It's even harder to be a Pollyanna fan Stateside, let alone Down Under. Once I discovered Pollyanna's third-times-the-charm stunner, Hello Halo in an 88 cent CD bin (thank you Sounds, in NYC), by hook or by crook I managed to obtain their entire discography over the course of four or five slightly arduous years. Amongst their five albums and twice as many eps, I still haven't found anything that equals the passion and melodic prowess of this disk.

Pollyanna's twenty-something angst struck more bittersweet and joyous chords in yours truly with this one album than most bands are capable of when their entire repertoire is considered. Were Hello Halo to have a 2008 copyright date, certain circles would brand this as "emo," given it's often melancholy tendencies. Indeed, this record is emotive, but in the most uncontrived way possible. To describe this album's most affecting offerings like "Cinnamon Lip," "Hilltop Green," and "Effervescence" with such mundane but tempting tags as "distorto-power pop," or "the ambivalent man's indie rock," would be a grave disservice - and yet that's the best I can come up with. Call it what you will, but Pollyanna's Hello Halo  is in a veritable class of it's own. 
01. Peachy Keen
02. Frosted Over
03. Hilltop Green
04. Cooling Your Heels
05. Effervescence
06. A Beginner's Guide to Under Achievement
07. Brittle Than Broken
08. Butterman
09. Forgetting How to Feel
10. Cinnamon Lip
11. Pulling Teeth
12. Velocette
13. Rat in the Ranks
14. Tank

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Individuals - Fields LP (1982, Plexus)

While I'm not terribly big on these guys (and girl), I had a request a long time ago for Hoboken, NJ's Individuals, so what the hell. Fields was produced by Gene Holder of dB's fame, and furthermore, Mitch Easter is credited for "engineering and good ideas." Hmmm. The Individuals definitely had the early '80s college rock thing going, with a touch of the "new south" vibe tossed in for good measure, not to mention a razor-sharp awareness of rhythm. With that, I'd say that Fields would make a great appetizer for a Talking Heads binge. You can also download the Individual's Aquamarine ep right here.

01. My Three Sons (Revolve Around the Earth)
02. Can't Get Started
03. Hooks & Ladders
04. Monkey
05. Dancing With My Eighty Wives
06. Walk By Your House
07. Leap of Faith
08. White
09. Johnny's in the Mines
10. Thinking Aloud
11. Swimming in the Streets

Update: Fields, along with the aforementioned Aquamarine ep have been reissued on CD through Bar None, and as you might imagine, is also available from iTunes and Amazon downloads.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Cavedogs - Fall Back In It (2001)

Boston's Cavedogs were should-have-been luminaries that deserved their place among the likes of The Replacements and Posies. Their story is an utterly familiar one - nationally distributed records, videos, "buzz," but ultimately, it just wasn't to be, not universally at any rate. Armed with acumen, wit, and some of the best damn songs the indie contingent of the "power pop" genre ever had to offer, the Cavedogs were more advanced than many bands their senior. As always, the proof is in the pudding, and their two crucial albums, Joyrides For Shut-Ins (1990) and Soul Martini (1992), either of which were high caliber enough for inclusion on the recent and often ludicrous Shake Some Action top-200 album list, can be found in gently used condition from the usual suspects, Half and Amazon, or in a bargain CD bin near you.
If you're new to the Cavedogs, it would be good to have an appreciation of those albums before delving into Fall Back In It, a compendium of unreleased rarities, demos and live cuts, wrapped up in the guise of a faux radio program, rife with goofy and animated dialogues. In fact, the band sums it up a lot better than I can:

This is a collection of demos and previously unreleased songs by the Cavedogs, along with pieces of their radio show, "The Cavedogs Funtime Hour." Each title corresponds to it's equivalent digital start ID number, resulting in 20 little dioramas, each more compelling and/or stupid than it's predecessor.

The Fall Back In It CD was available from the band's now defunct website as a mailorder only proposition a few years ago, and was unadorned with any artwork to speak of. An essential listen for established Cavedogs aficionados! To read up on the Cavedogs here are a few links: - a nice primer with a handful of choice MP3s - aka Tayter Country, an extremely thorough fansite with lots of info and tons of live MP3s of questionable quality.

Here's the tracklisting:

01-intro~better than that
02-midnight hour (live)
03-bed of nails (acoustic)
04-turn it off (live)
05-folderol (original demo)
06-country song #1 (live)
07-bury the beat
08-on for the ride (acoustic)
09-strapped on mendelssohn
10-christmas song (orig vers)
11-i hate you (live)
12-as you were ~goodswift ad
13-mike the tiger
14-typical witty banter
15-country song #2 (live)
17-hangman's pop
18-pais de la potato (live)
19-la la la (orig vers)

Update: Fall Back In It is now available on Bandcamp for SUPER cheap!  Please go there are patronize these fine folks!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Singles Going Single #24 - Menthol "USA Capable" 7" (1995, Capitol)

Urbana, IL's Menthol started out life as the otherwise non-descript and less than impressive, Mother, before changing their name and going for the gusto on a marvelous, self-titled album for Capitol Records in '95. "USA Capable," kicked that album off in style, in all it's assaulting and visceral glory. Prodigious in the classic rock sense, but none too impervious to the "alternative" dogma sweeping the nation, Menthol brought to mind Soul Asylum to this set of ears, although I believe that to be coincidence more than intention. Their album was one of the more unaffected major label offerings of the decade, and despite their off-kilter inclinations and frank songwriting, Menthol's conveyance of their tunes was nothing short of eminently powerful.

An anomaly to say the least, the album stiffed, and dedicated listeners were forced to wait some seven years for the tongue-in-cheek, digitally-glazed followup, Danger: Rock Science on Hidden Agenda Records. The b-side, "Crystal Keg People" is exclusive to this single. For further convincing, you check out some Menthol rarities here.
A. USA Capable
B. Crystal Keg People

Singles Going Single #23 - Fuzzy "Flashlight" 7" (1994, Seed)

Fuzzy's finest moment came on this genius single, a gleefully exuberant slice of power-chord pop that brandishes more hooks in three-and-a-half minutes than should be ordained by law. Seriously. This Beantown co-ed quartet were one of many '90s major label casualties, signed to "boutique" indie labels, (in their case, the Atlantic Records marketed Seed Records) that really didn't garner the national exposure their intended "best of both worlds" strategy was mapped out to. The Velocity-Girl-esque "Flashlight" was the first, and only single for Fuzzy's '94 self-titled album, their most satisfying if I may say so. Their like minded 1996 followup on Seed, Electric Juices, failed to put them over the top either, and they were presumably dropped, after eking out one last hurrah in the form of the independently released Hurray For Everything in 1999.

This here single offers a couple of non-lp numbers on the flipside, including the appropriately dubbed "Country Song," which sports a decidedly 'Americana' bent. As always, enjoy (or not).
A. Flashlight
B1. Thurber
B2. Country Song

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Smashing Orange - The Glass Bead Game (1992)

When their debut album was released in 1992, Delaware's Smashing Orange had the misfortune of contending with a slightly more popular Smashing band making waves at the same time, who's moniker also coincidentally referenced an orange fruit. At any rate, The Glass Bead Game is an excellent album of domesticated shoegazer rock, just as engaging as anything by contemporaries The Swirlies and Drop Nineteens. Whipping up a dense, mini-maelstrom, Smashing Orange's tuneful noise had an almost hypnotic effect on those that subscribed, however their booming, echoey mineshaft approach was potentially alienating to more sensitive ears. "Wired," and "All Girls Are Mine," embellished with Rob Montejo's androgynous vocals, are sonically grandiose, and it's shame that little more came on the heels of this album.

A year later the quartet inked a deal with MCA a year later, resulting in 1994's No Return in the End, an unrecomendable generic alt-rock album that exhibited no antecedents of Orange’s impressive previous efforts. Sure enough, it tanked. Smashing Orange also put out two eps, preceding Glass Bead Game, that were reissued a few years ago on the posthumous 1991 album on Elephant Stone Records.
01. Remember Kendra
02. Wired
03. Flower Kisses
04. All Girls Are Mine
05. Something Comes Down
06. Indians Say
07. Look Behind You
08. How Did You Feel
09. Highway
10. Below and Beyond

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Singles Going Single #22 Fitz of Depression "The Awakening" 7" (1991, Meat)

Blood-boilingly intense punks, The Fitz of Depression came courtesy of the early-90s Olympia, WA breeding ground. Although they received some local notoriety at the time, including an honorable mention from Kurt Cobain, the band disappeared from everyone's collective radar by the middle of the decade, and haven't been heard since. The Awakening showcases the Fitz at their rip-roaring best, blasting through three songs in nearly as many minutes, a la Motorhead cum Zeke. A couple of albums on K Records followed this single, but they failed to capture the breakneck vigor and urgency that the Fitz so effectively displayed here. Bitchin'.

A. The Awakening
B1. Waiting For Your Move
B2. I'm a Poser


Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Shakers - Desired Effect (1987)

This gem of an album could have easily slipped by if it wasn't for the good people at Hyped to Death. Were I not fortunate enough to obtain a copy of their Teenline Vol. 3 compilation, of lost and under appreciated American indie bands from the '70s-80s, Nashville's Shakers would be entirely unknown to me and furthermore, you. Coming across as if it were a classic Don Dixon or Mitch Easter production, Desired Effect impresses with a wellspring of persistently jangly guitar chords, a la Dreams So Real and The Plimsouls. By no means start-to-finish par excellence, (not to mention leaning a bit AOR at times), this albums exemplary "Turn You Down," "Change My Mind," and the well-chosen Teenline comp selection, "All Tied Up," are good as gold. Desired Effect comes courtesy of the presumably short-lived Hit-A-Note label, whom have released other records that may or may not appear on this site.

01. A Stranger's Eyes
02. Throw Away
03. I'll Turn You Down
04. Change My Mind
05. I Love You, Love
06. The Need For Love
07. Remember
08. Last Call
09. Tryin' To Be Near You
10. All Tied Up

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mission of Burma - Electro-acoustic sessions (1980)

To coincide with the reissue of Mission of Burma's exemplary back catalog today, I thought I'd upload a collection of demos dubbed the "Electro-Acoustic Sessions," taking it's namesake from the studio they were recorded at in 1980, which you can read in greater detail about here. Some of these tracks have appeared on the Taang! Records MOB outtakes collections, Peking Spring and Forget, which I believe are still in print, and just as crucial as the band's Signals, Calls and Marches ep and Vs. LP. On this 17-song collection you will hear scalding hot early versions of numerous MOB classics-to-be, including "That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate," "...Revolver," "Academy Fight Song." The sound is a bit hissy, as it was obviously converted from a cassette. "Track 2" is glaringly omitted from the lineup, but considering this was procured from a file-sharing application, I have yet to find the song (whatever it may be) from another user. Enjoy (or not).

01 - Peking Spring
03 - OK No Way
04 - That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate
05 - Secrets
06 - Red
07 - Progress
08 - Max Ernst
09 - Academy Fight Song
10 - Nu Disco
11 - Forget
12 - This Is Not a Photograph
13 - That's When I Reach For My Revolver
14 - Execution
15 - Eyes of Men
16 - Fun World
17 - Head Over Head
18 - Einstein's Day


Monday, March 17, 2008

Singles Going Single #21 - Catherine 7" (1991, Limited Potential)

Talk about precocious. According to the back cover of this single, Billy Corgan is given a co-production credit, in 1991, the same year Smashing Pumpkins released their debut LP, Gish! Billy may have moved up through the ranks at a breakneck pace, but Chicago's Catherine could barely garner a following outside the Windy City. Featured here are two longish nuggets of swirling noise pop, not unlike fellow Illinoisans, Hum down the road in Champaign. Catherine would go onto record an ep and two full lengths, including the very Pumpkin-esque Sorry! in '94. I don't hasten to mention that drummer Kerry Brown was in fact married to Darcy of the Pumpkins. Keep on the lookout for Catherine's Sleepy ep to appear on these pages in the relatively near-future. As the band's motto goes, "better living through noise!"

A. Sparkle
B. Charmed (for Taylor)

Singles Going Single #20 - The Wondermints 7" (1993, Pop Psycle)

While I ca't give you a firsthand account, I can tell you that Los Angeles had a thriving, renaissance of an indie/power pop scene in the mid to late '90s. Some of the crème de la crème included The Andersons, Cockeyed Ghost, Sugarplastic, Baby Lemonade, and the slightly conspicuous Negro Problem, but if I were to boil it down to one band that was representative of that era, The Wondermints would probably be my band of choice. Pristine and polished as they were, the 'mints had an incredible sense of integrity and quality control. Their debut single on what would appear to be their own label, Pop Psycle, is the best of both whirls, as one might say. The a-side, "Proto-Pretty" was timeless enough to even be enshrined on a Rhino Records power pop anthology. It's flip-side, "Silly Place" is just as golden, as was their self-titled album that followed this single. That album is out of print but relatively easy to hunt down. In short, whether you're an established fan, or if you're here for your first spin, you're in for a major treat.

A. Proto-Pretty
B. Silly Place


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Singles Going Single #19 - AV EP 7'' (pre-Pointed Sticks) (1978, Quintessence)

Vancouver, BC's AV were of particular significance aside from their music. Number one, they were...well #1, literally. AV's 7" "EP" was the first release for Vancouver's Quintessence indie record label. Secondly, guitarist Bill Napier-Hemy would later go on to form the much higher profile Pointed Sticks, which you can check out on this previous Wilfully Obscure posting. Fronted by Tim Ray, AV's post-punk rock was not terribly Earth shattering, or for that matter, influential, but they were a mildly interesting footnote, not to mention springboard for Vancouver's fledgling indie scene in the late '70s.

01. Dying in Brooklyn
02. Cliche
03. Little Old Man
04. All Same


Popealopes - An Adder's Tale (1988), Kerosene (1990)

The Popealopes were psych-tinged rockers from Davis, CA that deserved their rightful spot on the Children of Nuggets box set, despite their inconsistency on album. On their debut, An Adder's Tale, the 'lopes sport covers of the Stones "2000 Light Years From Home and John Lee Hooker's "Crawling Kingsnake," but the album's centerpiece is their own "Poor Tom," a lazy Dream Syndicate-esque zinger. The CD version of the album, tacks on a bonus track, "Bovine Lament," which was the b-side to the "Poor Tom" single.
Kerosene helps put the Popealopes on a more straightforward rock trajectory, but as with the debut, a sizable chunk of the album isn't particularly memorable, but strangely fascinating in it's own special way. Were some of the halfway-there melodies fully realized here (perhaps with the title cut being the exception), Kerosene could have been downright dazzling.

You can see what Trouser Press has to say about the Popealopes here. BTW, both of these albums are damn near-impossible to find on CD, as well as their subsequent releases.

An Adder's Tale
01. Southern Mind
02. Poor Tom
03. Barbed Devil's
04. Pennance
05. 2000 Light Years From Home
06. Robber's Banquet
07. Menagerie
08. Beneath the Stone
09. Beautiful Friend
10. Crawling Kongsnake
11. Bovine Lament
01. Violet
02. Kerosene
03. Lionheart
04. Rosarium
05. Another Black August
06. Missouri
07. Tokyo Throat
08. Red Reaction
09. One Foot Down

An Adder's Tale - Hear
Kerosene - Hear

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Replacements - How Did the Vomit Get Up on the Ceiling?

Since my last Mats upload (Boink!!) was such a roaring success, I've decided to follow it up with this 26 track collection, predominately consisting of demos and outtakes for the Tim and Pleased To Meet Me albums, although there are a few b-sides from subsequent albums included as well. Sorry for the lame sleeve. Wasn't my design. Enjoy. By next weekend I will/may/possibly resume posting on a more consistent basis. Cheers.

03-Alex Chilton
04-Red Red Wine
05-Kick It In
06-Valentine (Instrumental)
07-Run For The Country
08-Going Out Of My Head
09-Trouble On The Way
10-Make This Your Home
11-The Ledge
13-Nightclub Jitters
14-Can't Hardly Wait
15-Learn How To Fail
18-I Don't Know
19-Red Red Wine
20-Shooting Dirty Pool
21-Cool Water
22-Route 66 (From B-Side Of "Alex Chilton")
23-Tossin' And Turnin' (B-Side Of German "The Ledge")
24-Ought To Get Love (Don't Tell A Soul Outtake)
25-Kissing In Action (All Shook Down Outtake)


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Gladhands - Wow and Flutter (1999)

Chapel Hill's Gladhands, were an exemplary power pop trio who released two smashing albums on the venerable, but sadly departed Big Deal Records - From Here to Obscurity in 1995; La Di Da two years later. Neither records met with anything resembling mainstream success, but were highly lauded among the band's devotees. When it came time for album three in 1999, Wow and Flutter, Big Deal were on the cusp of bringing it to market, but when the label was abruptly bought-out in mid '99, the album was temporarily put on ice. Promotional copies made the rounds to the usual suspects (i.e. radio, print media) just in time however, making it a minor collectors item. To my knowledge, only the Japanese enjoyed an official release of this disk, but import copies were available stateside, at a rather steep price I might add.

Admirers of bands like Owsely, Tubetop, not to mention a good chunk of the Big Deal roster will revel in Wow and Flutter, despite it's somewhat slick leanings. This was to be the Gladhand's last hurrahs, excluding a couple of post-mortem archival releases. In fact, their departure is written all over Flutter's "Get Real," making for a fitting, if not bittersweet coda.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Womb for improvement

Hey everyone. Just wanted to let you know that the pickings are going to be a bit meager for the next two weeks. By this weekend, I'll try to get another 'Mats boot up, as well as some more singles. I really appreciate all the positive feedback. Keep it lit!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Singles Going Single #18 - Cherry Smash "West Coast Rip-off" 7" (199?, Candy Floss)

The Cherry Smash are yet another band I belatedly became acquainted from a long out of print compilation, namely, Pure Spun Sugar, released all the way back in '98. I'm including their brilliant comp song, "Split Screen," as a bonus to the one and only single I have by the band.

Sounding like a byproduct of the '90s indie rock scene and the waning shoegazer movement of the time (wish they'd included a copyright date, sorry folks) The Smash deliver melodious, chiming guitar pop, a la Fudge and Small Factory...if that means anything to you of course. While "Split Screen" is the song that sold me on Cherry Smash, West Coast Rip-offs A-side, "Nowhere Generation," clocks in at a very close second. The B-side features two numbers. "You Made Me Hate the Beach Boys," kicks off with a bizarre mangling of the of the actual Beach Boy classic "Good Vibrations," before giving way to Cherry Smash's ultra lo-fi original composition, ostensibly recorded to a boom box. The follow-up cut, "Airport Girl," is crunchy and fuzz-laden as-all-get-out.

Should anyone in Cherry Smash, or anyone associated with them read this, please get in touch. I'm very eager to hear any more CS singles that made it to market unbeknownst to me. This is phenomenal stuff!
A. Nowhere Generation
B1. You Made Me Hate the Beach Boys
B2. Airport Girl

Bangtails - Hypnotic Downpour ep (1987)

First and foremost, I'd like to give props to Little Hits blog because if it wasn't for the fact I was exposed to the Bangtails on their site, this post simply would not exist. You can read the write-up as well as download two of the this ep's four songs here (or heck, just download the whole shebang from me). I was able to procure an original copy of the ep shortly after the LH post, and have decided to share it with the world at large.

The Bangtails were from Kansas City. These days, the band is considered to be a minor footnote in the career of Archer Prewitt, whom he served as bass player for. This was the Bangtails one and only release, which is a shame. Sonically, they are awash in chiming jangle pop, straight out of REM 101, circa Chronic Town. The Bengtails were further defined by singer Mike Winston, who's strained-to-the-max croon echoes of Squirrel Bait vocalist Peter Searcy. Though these diametric facets sound seemingly uncomfortable on paper, they actually translate well onto record. For me, this was a very pleasant find. Incidentally, the sleeve was designed by Archer Prewitt, but you can read more about that from the Bangtails link on Little Hits. Light up a stick of patchouli and enjoy.
01. Patron of the Arts
02. Full of Daylight
03. While Laughing
04. Giants/Dead Rain