Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Windows - Now Under New Management ep (1985)

If a picture is worth your proverbial thousand words, then this album sleeve was worth about 100 to me...pennies that is. Intrigued by the gorgeous cover (designed by the decidedly abstract Guy Juke) I took a chance on this rekid a few weeks ago on Ebay, and amazingly wasn't outbid. Why this beaut of a disk (sealed no less) wasn't worth more than a scant $1.00 to any other potential buyer surprises the hell out of me, but anyway...

The Austin, TX based Austin Records clues me in to where The Windows hailed from, but no specific address for the band is provided. Just a stab in the dark, I'll venture this rather spotless trio was from, um, Austin. Very solid, mainstream tilting modern rock/power-pop of the era, with no particular frills or haircuts of note. Can't really picture them playing out with contemporary local yokels The Reivers or Texas Instruments, but the Windows aren't entirely removed from that scene. The band's choice to name themselves after the most common of inanimate objects, coupled with the everyday WASP'y monikers of it's participants makes for something of a Google nightmare, but there's nothing wrong with a good mystery once in awhile.
01. A Heart of Stone Can Break
02. Revolving Door
03. Way Out West
04. Now Under New Ownership

Friday, November 28, 2008

Nyack (ex-Aenone) - 11 Track Player (1995, Echo)

In response to my Aenone post a little while back, someone requested some tuneage from Nyack, essentially Aenone rechristened with a new moniker, and more significantly, an almost entirely renovated sound. As anyone who has listened to their two eps will tell you, Aenone were through-and-through dream-pop on par or superior to most of their early '90s counterparts. Strip them of their flange and distortion pedals (most of 'em that is), and accord them with an appreciation of those fabled three chords, and voila, you've got yourself a Nyack on your hands, my friends. 11 Track Player oozes power-pop aplenty, touching upon Superdrag, Teenage Fanclub, and the numerous likenesses thereof, with perhaps the only anomally being the closing "Sunrise In My Head," offering a little Jesus & Mary Chain headiness. I've been told that "Savage Smile" was the emphasis track here, and furthermore was made a single. You can hear more Nyack trax from the band's above linked Myspace page.

01. Lost In You
02. Knumb
03. I'm Your Star
04. Heartsore
05. Summersleeper
06. I Remember Red
07. Savage Smile
08. Evergreen
09. Sepia
10. All That Shines
11. Sunrise In My Head


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Singles Going Single # 84 - Small Factory - TLTTWT 7" (1994, Vernon Yard) + The Industrial Evolution (1996, Pop Narcotic)

For a time in the mid-90s, Providence, RI's Small Factory were arguably the flagship band for the burgeoning "twee" indie movement. A co-ed trio, drummer Phoebe Summersquash's compatriots bassist Alan Kemp and axe-slinger Dave Auchenbach were downright tone deaf in the vocal department compared to her sweet, coo-ing pipes, yet Small Factory were quite tuneful overall. Their first album, I Do Not Love You, released on Spin Art records in 1993, was a sheer charmer, chockablock with slighty fey strummy and chiming pure-pop for the ages. Virgin Records soon caught wind of Small Factory and scooped them up onto their Vernon Yard boutique label just in time for the release of their second LP, For If You Cannot Fly.

That album, sizeably more vigorous than the first, would prove to be their finale and did little to break the trio beyond their established indie-fanbase. As was the case with numerous major label casualties of the era, the band was relegated to the damaged-goods triage, broke up, and splintered off into spinoffs The Godrays and Flora Street. A nice discography can be browsed here.

As for the single that concerns this post, For If You Cannot Fly's lead-off cut, "The Last Time That We Talked" is coupled with the non-lp b-side "Movies." In fact, "Movies" is absent from Small Factory's lovingly assembled singles compilation The Industrial Evolution. Since today is Thanksgiving, I thought I'd give you an extra reason to be thankful, by sharing Industrial Evolution in it's entirety, considering it's been out of print almost as long as the singles it houses. The CD packaging includes neat little mock-ups of the 7" sleeve art for each record, that I might upload pics of later on. For now, enjoy the tunes.

Vernon Yard 7" (1994)

A. The Last Time That We Talked
B. Movies

The Industrial Evolution (1996)
01. Suggestions
02. Happy to See
03. Not Afraid
04. Want to Want
05. Here You Come
06. The Giant Merry Go Round
07. Hey Lucille
08. If You Hurt Me
09. So What About Love?
10. We Will
11. Yeah!
12. Hopefully
13. Lose Your Way
14. Scared of Love

1-3 from Collision Time single, 1991
4-6 from Slumberland single, 1992
7. From One Last Kiss compilation 1992
8. from Working Holidays split 7" (with Tsunami) 199
9-10. from Pop Narcotic 7" 1993
11. from Why Do They Call It Pop? compilation 1993
12. from Something Pretty Beautiful compilation 1993
13-14 from Slumberland/Bi-Jupiter 7" 1994

Vernon Yard singleHear
The Industrial Evolution is now available on iTunes, Amazon and Emusic.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Guided By Voices - The Carefree Kitchens Are a Blast (198?-9?)

I procured this 15 track collection of GBV rarities a few years ago On Soulseek, but I know nothing of it's origins. Not even listed among the many GBV bootlegs on the great and otherwise thorough Guided By Voices Database, this is obviously a fan-assembled compilation. Carefree Kitchens is akin to the much lengthier To Trigger a Synapse clusterfuck I posted last Halloween.

Surprisingly, for a GBV mix of this scarcity, there's some pretty substantive and revealing cuts, not the least of wish demo incarnations of later to be classics "Echos Myron," "Smothered In Hugs," and even "Glad Girls," which much to my surprise began life all the way back in 1993. Almost as rewarding is "Sleepers," a buried gem which had a significant portion of it's melody grafted onto Bee Thousand's "Peep-Hole." Same situation with "Song of Below," which served as a demo of sorts for "The Goldheart Mounatintop Queen Directory," which appeared on Bee Thousand.

As many of you know, Robert Pollard and Co. for no explicable reason, aborted an entire album's worth of material that was to be released as The Power of Suck. Many of it's songs were later released on official GBV albums including Under the Bushes Under the Stars, but Carefree Kitchens ostensibly contains four songs from the abandoned Suck sessions, with only "I Am Decided" seeing the light of day on any official release (specifically the Suitcase 2 box). By the way, "Decided" has it's antecedents in a much rawer and livelier unreleased GBV song, "Whiskey On Your Breath" that I will try to upload in the not too distant future.

In the midst of all the aforementioned are a handful brief but admirable sketches, "Separation of Church and State," "Roving Reporter," "Good Old Mr. Expandable," and the distorto-punk outburst, "I Can't Win," all presumably recorded prior to GBV's notoriety. All in all, Carefree Kitchens is a real find for the die-hards out there. My tip of the hat to the fine soul(s) that cobbled together this collection, and of course, the bard of Dayton himself.
01. I Can't Win
02. Separation of Church and State
03. Echos Myron (acoustic demo)
04. I Am Decided (Power of Suck demo)
05. Song of Below
06. Stingy Queens (Power of Suck demo)
07. Roving Reporter
08. Sleepers
09. Speak Like Men (Power of Suck demo)
10. In Need You Now
11. Stumbling Blocks Into Stepping Stones
12. Good Old Mr. Expandable
13. Sweeping Bones (Power of Suck demo)
14. Glad Girls (1993 demo)
15. Smotherd in Hugs (demo)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Singles Going Single # 83 - Baby Lemonade 7" (1994, Munster)

This entry into my singles series is a very beltated follow-up of sorts to my post last year of Baby Lemonade's Wonderful 10" ep. Yeah, the cover to this 7" looks kinda yummy - that is of course if you've been living on prison food for a couple years, but I digress. Still trying to figure out what the heck a "local drag" is - drag queens, dragsters, or just a bunch of downtrodden saps? Maybe a little of all three. "Local Drags" is veritable punk rock when held up to their refined, magnum-pop-opus, Exploring Music that Baby Lemonade delivered, merely two years after this fun lil' slice o' racous. As for the flip, you'd swear that J Mascis had hijacked the guitars on this less-than conventional rendering of the Elton John classic. Hot damn.

A. Local Drags
B. Benny and the Jets


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tommy Keene - Strange Alliance (1981, Park Avenue)

The eight-song mini-album Strange Alliance was the world's (or at least the US') introduction to Tommy Keene (formally of the D.C. based Razz) as a singer/songwriter and ultimately, jangle-rock demi-god.

From song one, "Landscape," Keene established a recipe that he would rarely deviate from on future recordings, up to and including his last studio record, Crashing the Ether. Much sought after (going for $100 on Ebay!), Strange Alliance bears an unmistakable prescience, foreshadowing a remarkably consistent career that would follow in the ensuing decades. Here are some further observations from music scribe Rob Cladwell:

Strange Alliance was originally released in 1981, and then re-released the next year with a 7" single containing the song "Back to Zero." This bonus single was a smart move, as "Back to Zero" was a big jump forward in songwriting from most of what was on the album. Strange Alliance wasn't bad by any means, but there were fewer hooks and fewer memorable songs than on future Keene releases. Basically a power pop record with a raw garage -- almost punkish -- feel, it was better than most of what was being released in the same period. Overlooked then and now, the album is by no means a classic, but is definitely worth seeking out by Keene fans and those with an interest in music akin to Jules & the Polar Bears and early Greg Kihn. by Rob Caldwell

1. Landscape
2. All the Way Around
3. Don't Get Me Wrong
4. I Can't See You Anymore
5. It's All Happening Today
6. Strange Alliance
7. Another Night at Home
8. Northern Lights

Cell - Everything Turns promo ep + 1 (1993, DGC)

When Sonic Youth dove headfirst into the big leagues with their 1990 Goo album, not only did it accord the band with a bigger (albeit somewhat conflicted) audience, but some significant clout as well. Case in point, leadman Thurston Moore set up his already established boutique label, Ecstatic Peace, under the auspices of Geffen Records. Hoboken, NJ's Cell, a billowy, indie guitar band, were one of the beneficiaries of this arrangement. Their two albums for the label, 1993's Slo-Blo and it's followup, Living Room had miles and miles of bountiful head-space to offer, but to this set of ears, not much stuck. As it just so happened, a four song promo-ep, Everything Turns, was a surprising exception. Released in conjunction with Slo-Blo, it featured a cover of Patti Smith's "Free Money" as a b-side. Right on the heels of that little gem came "So Cool," an outtake embellished in a glaze of J Mascis-y fret-work, that was more visceral than anything the album had to offer. The ep concludes with a demo version of "Hills," and I just wish there had been more where this came from." In fact there was - a cover of Cheap Trick's "Auf Wiedersehen" as a vinyl b-side to Slo-Blo's "Wild" which I have tacked on here as well.

01. Everything Turns
02. Free Money
03. So Cool
04. Hills (demo)
plus: Auf Wiedersehen


Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Northern Pikes - Big Blue Sky (1987, Virgin)

Believe it or not, I'm just as much a Johnny come lately as anyone. Maybe even more so. Were it not for a retrospective on Canadian music of the 1980s on Alan Cross' Ongoing History of New Music program four or so years ago on CFNY, this post would have been dedicated to an entirely unrelated band, one quite likely inferior to The Northern Pikes.

The 'Pikes, who kicked things off in the chilly hinterlands of Saskatchewan in the early '80s, released a pair of now impossible to find self-financed albums, The Northern Pikes in 1984, and Scene in North America a year later. By 1987, they had signed to Virgin who unfurled the quartet's major label debut, Big Blue Sky. It was this particular album that housed what would be my first encounter with the 'Pikes, the instantly enticing "Teenland." With it's wash of crisply ringing guitars and disarming themes of adolescent insecurity and escapism, it made for an irresistible introduction. As a whole, Big Blue Sky follows a similar sonic template, one that for better or worse would gradually be abandoned on future NP records. Though there are several accompanying tracks that scale near-"Teenland," heights, namely "You Sold the Farm," "Love and a Muscle" (you can explore an opposing viewpoint on this song here), and "Jackie T," many compositions are a tad underwritten, but for me that's part of BBS's collective charm (although I don't know what in the hell they were thinking on "Dancing In a Dance Club"). The strength of this album hinges more on Bryan Potvin's resplendent, chiming chords than Jay Semko's pipes, but despite the occasional songwriting deficiencies it all works out. From what I can tell, BBS was never embraced by the Audities/Not Lame community, but it's unmistakably a power-pop endeavor, which furthermore has stood the test of time.

If anyone can help me locate, or at least produce MP3s of the Pike's aforementioned scarce, early recordings, I beg of you, don't be a stranger!

01. Teenland
02. You Sold the Farm
03. Things I Do For Money
04. Just Another Guy
05. Dancing In A Dance Club
06. Jackie T
07. Lonely House
08. Love and a Muscle
09. Never Again
10. Love Will Break You
11. Heartaches Heartbreaks (Open Up)
12. Big Blue Sky

Now available from Amazon Downloads and iTunes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

toyboat - s/t lp (1996, What Else)

While I have yet to post any bona fide Wynona Riders music, a few months ago I shared a fabolous slab of one of lead singer Skip's other project's The Latter Day Saints. While the two bodacious songs that were enshrined on that single were of a more modest bent in comparison to the barn-burning pop-punk of the Riders, Skip's next outfit, toyboat was even more of a departure. Quietly released on the Columbus, OH-based What Else Records imprint, toyboat's eponymous album was a one-off, vinyl-only affair limited to a mere 1100 copies. "N. Judah" and "Apartment D" suggested that some of the Riders fervor (and brevity) was still indeed intact, however the tenor on toyboat boasted a more contemplative, singer-songwriter aesthetic, which in fact, that's exactly what it was. Occasional splashes of harmonica, organ, and Flamenco rhythms serve as a a surprising subtext on various cuts, but no particular facet dominates. There's little if anything of seismic magnitude here, and if in fact toyboat was designed to appeal to non-Rider/Skip fans I'd be stunned. It's an enjoyable, varied record, and well worth listening to if you've read this far, but it helps to have an appreciation of it's creator's earlier endeavors.

There's more than a few pops and whatnot on this analog-to-digital transfer, so if I come across a cleaner copy (or that damn bottle of vinyl cleaning solution I misplaced) it shall be re-ripped.

01. pal
02. lion in winter
03. whirlgig
04. stomach hurts
05. n judah
06. gold
07. sleeping dogs
08. hold
09. judgement
10. moment of glory
11. apartment d
12. windmill traincrash
13. raven flies
14. sunate


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

French - French ep (1996, Bear) & French 2 ep (1997, Bear)

French were a stunning NYC quartet who bridged the not-so-great-divide between scrumptious power-pop and good ol' fashioned indie rock. With connections to Versus, and that band's precursor, Flower. In fact former Flowers Ian James and Andrew Bordwin were founding members of French. James Baluyut, while only having a bit part in French, was also linked with Versus, via to his relation with that long-running outfit's head honcho, Richard Baluyat. Quite the axis these guys (and gal, Maria Ocanto) had going, huh?

Tight to a fault, the eminently sturdy French were adept pop-smiths, peeling off penetrating guitar licks amidst harmonies to die for. Their first ep's lead-off track, "Bus Girl" sets the stage perfectly, revealing the rock-steady modus operandi that would carry over to their next release, 1997's French 2 (click on the hyperlinks for analysis by French super-fan Jack Rabid of Big Takeover magazine fame).

Upon browsing the discography portion of French's website, these two eps are only the tip of the iceberg. Depending when their corner in cyberspace was slapped together, physical copies of the eps may still be available from Ian himself, but otherwise, there are several albums worth of MP3s to plunder.
French ep
01. Bus Girl
02. Misanthropy
03. Strictly Dreamboat
04. Fondly
05. Genevra's Gone
06. Leave It

French 2 ep
01. Deliver
02. SDB 2
03. A Miracle
04. American Venus
05. Santa Fe
06. (I Would Like To) Rule the World


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Singles Going SIngle # 82 - m.i.j. - 300 miles 7" (199?, One Percent) + the radio goodnight (2000, caulfield)

Along with such contemporaries as Texas Is the Reason, Christie Front Drive, and The Promise Ring, m.i.j. were part of the last wave of the pre-mainstream "emo" movement. Unfortunately, few people are aware with that last name I just mentioned. Kind of surprising actually, given that this quite remarkable power-trio hailed from a city as big as Minneapolis, and more significantly, had the backing of a fairly prominent indie label that helped spearhead the movement into the '90s, Caulfield Records.
Although no release year or recording details are furnished, the 300 Miles 7" ep on One Percent Records gloriously offers the wail of strained, teen-aged voices and dynamic guitar squalls, amidst a surprisingly heightened sense of melody. "Raw" might be a keyword here, but maybe that's just my perception.

As an extra treat, I'm also posting m.i.j.'s one and only album, The Radio Goodnight, on Caulfield, that damn near completely delivers on the promise of the band's aforementioned nascent recordings. Leadman Jeff Hanson (who packs a mean falsetto by the way) now preforms and records as a solo artist for Kill Rock Stars. You can read about him here.
300 miles ep
01. do you miss?
02. lamp light
03. 300 miles
04. (untitled)
the radio goodnight
01. say it in woords
02. the radio goodnight
03. right downtown
04. west
05. sometimes in sleep
06. the last time was
07. the swingtown pledge
08. do you miss?
09. your stories
10. again today
300 miles: Hear
The Radio Goodnight is now available from: iTunes, Emusic, Amazon Downloads

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ridel High - Recycle Bin CD

Per the request of a couple folks who were enthusiastic about my Ridel High 7" post a few weeks ago, I'm making good on my offer. A "fan club" CD of sorts, Recycle Bin pretty much collects all of the Ridel High songs that didn't wind up on their Emotional Rollercoaster album, which would unfortunately prove to be their swan song. Check out the aforementioned post for commentary and background info on Kevin Ridel/Ridel High. You'll be so glad you did.

01. intro
02. Winona Ryder
03. Blue
04. Goodbye Nate
05. Mindblower
06. Devil Angel
07. Motorboat
08. Breaking Up
09. Pivot
10. Second Skin
11. Go getter
12. #1
13. You Are Mine
14. Defenseless
15. Coming of Age
16. Headliner
17. Look at me Now
18. Battleship Gray
19. Robot (live)
20. interview (N0ise Pollution)
21. message from Michino and Yoko


Singles Going Single # 81 - The New Grand - A Dangerous Affair 7" (1995, Bubblegun)

They were new. They were grand. They were The New Grand. A four piece outfit who shipped out of London, Ontario in the mid-90s, the New Grand loosely followed in the footsteps of such likeminded, Canuck indie-rock contemporaries as Sloan and Thrush Hermit. After the release of this single, the band would record two excellent, deftly-crafted long players for the Sonic Unyon label, a self-titled set in '96, and a follow-up, Incognito two years thereafter, both of which I can't recommend strongly enough. The b-side, "Ready, Steady, Go," (not the Gen-X song) wound up on their debut album in overhauled from.

A. Playing It
B. Ready, Steady, Go


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cactus World News - Spin "Special Forces" concert series (1986, MCA records promo)

Were it not for the fact that Cactus World News regained the rights to their catalog, and thus re-released their debut, Urban Beaches, and it’s long unreleased follow-up, No Shelter a few years ago, they would have surely been one of the first entries on this blog. While it’s always a blast to have all of these under-documented artists in my back pocket to share with you, all the better if you have the opportunity to purchase a well assembled, commercially available reissue. Since their two albums can be purchased through their website, I can only in good conscience feature this promotional live record, taped for Spin magazine’s long put to pasture “Special Forces” live concert series. So far as I know, this was only available on vinyl, and this rip was taken from an original, near-mint condition copy.

Hailing from Dublin, Ireland in the mid-80s, CWN weren’t merely influenced by U2, Bono took the band under his wing and released their first ep on his own Mother Records label. Offering echoing guitar (a la The Edge) and Eoin McEvoy's commanding, soaring vocals, Cactus World News, much like Bono and Co were well ahead of their time. Toss in some keenly, substantive songwriting and a performance acumen well beyond their years, and you had a world-class rock band, one that was sadly marginalized during their much too-fleeting lifespan. This show, recorded at L.A.’s legendary Whiskey on the band’s 1986 US trek supporting Urban Beaches, includes “America,” a song exclusive to this record, ostensibly inspired by their tour (the lyrics are pretty much a dead giveaway). The band’s two albums have recently been issued on CD and available for purchase
here. Beaches, by the way, is a superb album of desert island magnitude.

Subversive Sounds blog was formally hosting their own vinyl-to-digital transfer of this disk, but the download link is kaput. I’d still recommend going there to peruse the commentary if you’re so inclined.

I have not edited the tracks (at least at the tine being), so as to avoid gaps and abrupt segues. The tracklist is as follows:

Side A

Church Of The Cold
promo spot
Years Later
Tables Overturn
The Bridge
Hurry Back
promo spot

Side B 
promo spot
The Other Extreme
Maybe This Time
instrumental interlude
Jigsaw Street
out cue


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Various - Pyloric Waves compilation (1994, D-Tox)

Fulfilling a request via a response to my recent Slowchange Madagascar post. Here are 18 whacked-out North Carolina bands circa the mid-90s. A decent comp that not only features my much lauded "Tree" by the aforementioned SM, but a career-prime nugget from Superchunk, "Invitation," as well as dandy contributions from Polvo, Picasso Trigger, and a myriad of lesser-known bands from the NC scene.

01-Robert Delaney - Intro
02-Well Nigh Forgotten - Florida Evans
03-Picasso Trigger - Queenie
04-Blue-Green Gods - Water
05-Matt Malloy - Traffic Lights Cause Accidents
06-Slowchange Madagascar - Tree
07-Polvo - Wild Turkey
08-Geezer Lake - The Bag
09-Orifice - Fuck
10-Vanilla Trainwreck - Someone Somewhere
11-Toxic Popsicle - American Dream
12-Boil - Timmy
13-Shiny Beast - Texasatan
14-Camper Van Chadbourne - Out To Lunch
15-Eighthundred - Drift
16-Superchunk - Invitation
17-Erectus Monotone - Bang
18-Bicycle Face - Brand New Attitude
19-Robert Delaney - You Little Asshole


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Glass Eye - Marlo ep (1985, self-released) & Huge (1986, Wrestler)

Glass Eye were part and parcel of what is loosely referred to as the "New Sincerity" mini movement of collegiate rock bands hailing from Austin, TX in the mid-to-late '80s, that also included the likes of The Reivers and Texas Instruments, who I have expounded on here before.
A coed quartet, Glass Eye didn't quite fit into the more straightforward jangle-rock mold of the aforementioned, nor did they forge their own, at least not on their initial releases. On their first effort, the self-released Marlo ep, led predominantly by Kathy McCarty Glass Eye were seeped in the choppy, rhyhtmical inclinations of none other than the legendary Gang of Four. McCarty however lended a sense of warmth and relative serenity to what could have been an out-and-out lock-step affair. Surprisingly palatable given the heavy influence of said predecessors, the crisply recorded and executed Marlo is Glass Eye's finest moment in my opinion (yeah, it's all kinda downhill from here).

Their followup, the long playing Huge, is a step in a couple different directions. Stella Weir's keyboards are boasted much more prominently in the mix than on Marlo, suggesting the work of bands like Polyrock (i.e. new-wave meets watered-down no-wave). Huge also marks the increased participation of bassist Brian Beattie as mouthpiece. "Lake of the Moon," and "Invention" were two of the album's most sparkling selections, but elsewhere, Glass Eye's songwriting deficiencies were quite evident. After Huge, the band went on to record two more albums and an ep for Bar None Records that you can read up on here. The quartet regrouped in 2006 for some shows, and while speculation of a CD reissue of Marlo and Huge once loomed on their website, nothing has come to fruition as of this posting. You can also get a fill of their Myspace page.
Marlo ep:
01. The Big Moment
02. Clean Living
03. Vegetable Wheel
04. Glass Eye
05. Calling
06. Chrome Shoes
01. Lake of the Moon
02. What's With You Now
03. (I Can't) Go to Sleep
04. Mean
05. Losing the War
06. The Sleeping World
07. I Don't Need Drugs To Be Fucked Up
08. Invention
09. Treefort
10. Maggie
11. Minnie the Moocher
Marlo: Hear
Huge: Hear

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Smile - Maquee (1993, Headhunter/Atlantic)

Recently had a request for this. To get caught up to speed on Smile, mosey on over to a post from late last year. Mild mannered Southern-Cali kids indulging in startlingly dynamic, slab-olicious grunge, with the occasional jarring excursion or three to keep things interesting. They were on Atlantic Recruits in '94 for about one week. Like you care. Hope ya like.

01. Rock Anthem For The Retarded Teenage Hipster Population
02. Staring at the Sun
03. Spud Gun
04. Picture Made Past
05. Lemonade
06. Moosh
07. Jack Shrimp
08. Papaya Clearance Sale
09. She
10. Wallflower
11. Until

Get yourself some at: iTunes or Amazon

Singles Going Single # 80 - Slowchange Madagascar - My Brother's an Idiot 7" + 1 (1992, D-tox)

Equipped with a strange moniker, North Carolina's short-lived Slowchange Madagascar were fittingly off the beaten path, but alluring nonetheless, particularly on "Tree," a cut culled from the Pyloric Waves compilation that I've included here as a bonus. "Tree" boasted a downcast starkness so affecting that singer/guitarist Chris Clodfelter might as well have been channeling Michael Stype circa 1984. Slowchange weren't particularly jangly however, but given that so many of their predecessors had cornered that market this wasn't much of an issue. The three-song My Brothers an Idiot 7" was one of only two short-form releases to the trio's credit. Occasionally punctuated with hushed strains of trumpets (as was the case with "Tree") the wispy "Forever I Love You" is the charmer here. Makes me wish these guys had stuck around for an album or two. You can check out the other Slowchange Madagascar single here.

A. My Brother's an Idiot
B1. Commercial Pilots
B2. Foever I Love You
+ Tree (Pyloric Waves compilation D-tox Records)


Friday, November 7, 2008

The Hollowmen - Sinister Flower Gift (1986, Pravda)

I've long been an admirer of an Iowa band named Head Candy, who released but one album, 1991's brilliant, power chord melee, Starcaster. That album (which can be downloaded from the hyperlink) is right up there with Sugar's Copper Blue. Enthralled to no end with the record, a Google query on Head Candy leadman Mark Sangster yielded a few details pertaining to his former band, The Hollowmen.

While not of much relevance to my fixation with the aforementioned Head Candy album, Sangster played guitar in the Hollowmen, but didn't contribute vocals. Nevertheless, their debut Sinister Flower Gift is prototypical Midwest, indie-guitar rock that generally splits the difference with REM and the Minneapolis trifecta, just not quite as endearing. Definitely worth a listen though. At present, I don't have The Hollowmen's follow up, the splendidly titled Pink Quartz Sun Blasting. Word on the street is that original copies of Sinister may still be available for mailorder from Pravda Records, so if you like what you hear, tell 'em Wilfully Obscure sent ya.
01. Just For You
02. Big Blur
03. Lost to the World
04. Seven
05. Beyond the Wall of Sleep
06. Mirror
07. Soft World
08. Treeline
09. Map of the Heavens
10. My Bell (unlisted)
Now on Bandcamp

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

TSAR - King of the School ep (2001) + SBN Session, March 2001

TSAR’s bitchin’ self-titled debut on Hollywood Records rocked my MONOstereo in a big way when it materialized in 2000. Like many before and after them, they suffered from a seemingly indifferent promotion team at Hollywood and made nary a dent on mainstream or college radio. Despite failing to make such crucial inroads, the album was a near-jaw dropping stunner, offering cheery, colossal hooks and amped-out guitar swaths. Think Silver Sun, or maybe Jellyfish on steroids. A little bit 'o glam doesn't do them a disservice either.

Though the aforementioned debut failed to fly off shelves, Hollyweird Records saw it fit to put out a promo ep of TSAR non-lp goodies, i.e. outtakes, demos of completely unreleased songs, and some live cuts. In addition, I’m also tacking on a quartet of live songs from this period that the band recorded for a British SBN Session (whatever that is). Don’t look at me, I live in the States. I just download this shit.

King of the School ep
01. King of the School (demo)
02. Larger Than Life
03. Silver Shifter (remix)
04. You and Jim Will Hit It Off
05. Songwriter! (live)
06. Afraidio Pt. Two, Pt. Three, and Pt. Four (demo)
07. Smart Boys (demo)

SBN Session - March 2001
01. Calling All Destroyers
02. I Don't Wanna Breakup
03. Silver Shifter
04. MONoSTEReo

Get 'em both here.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Singles Going Single # 79 - Grandpaboy (Paul Westerberg) 7" (1997, Soundproof/Monolyth)

While many fans of The Replacements savor Paul Westerburg's post-Mats solo material, no one is in denial over the contrasts between the two. Yes, his clever wordplay and philosophy remain firmly tethered to the aesthetics of Minneapolis' fab-four, but there was something a little different afoot. In fact, his stark, confessional Suicane Gratification in 1999, and 2002's likeminded Stereo albums proved to be sheer gold mines, chockablock with his most affecting ballads to date.

Then there's his decidedly more whimsical side. In 1997, he had a bright idea to create an alter-ego dubbed Grandpaboy, ostensibly to house his rawer, louder, and arguably raunchier songs. Crazy thing is, this single and a simultaneously issued Grandpaboy ep, whether coincidentally or nor, serve as the perfect precursor to his recent web-exclusive releases, e.g. 49:00 formally available through I supposed you'd actually have to hear 49:00 to know what I'm talking about, but anyway... Although two more Grandpaboy albums were to follow in the '00s, I still think this single (and for that matter the ep) stand as the most enjoyable and representative efforts Westerberg has recorded under his assumed moniker. "I Want My Money Back" is rip-roaring, impulsive, and was most likely recorded on the fly given it's tossed-off sense of abandon. The flip, "Undone," takes a calmer path, veering towards a country angle, with some faintly plucked banjo pickin' going on in the background. Just FYI, these two tracks are credited to Winthrop Marion Percival V on the back sleeve. Hmmm...
A. I Want My Money Back
B. Undone

The Figgs - Rejects (2000; rec 1993-99)

When I picked up a cassette album by The Figgs, Ginger, in 1992, I never would have guessed they'd still be an active band some 16 years later. Furthermore, I couldn't have anticipated that I'd be following them as fervently now as I did back then. While there initial batch of singles and albums, including Ready, Steady Stoned, Lo-fi At Society High, and Banda Macho, found these upstate New Yorkers at their zenith, they've nonetheless managed to pump out many, many more quality records on a fairly consistent basis. Currently whittled down to a trio of Pete Donnelly, Pete Hayes, and Mike Gent, The Figgs not only draw on all three members as talented songwriters, their sound is rooted in the likes of Elvis Costello, the Rolling Stones, and a myriad of edgy power-pop groups past and present.

The vinyl-only, and now out of print Rejects was a treat for fans fond of The Figgs halcyon era. Combining half a decades worth of (mostly) short-and-sweet outtakes, Rejects could easily pass for a proper album in itself (not counting the funny interludes and answering machine messages, as you'll soon experience). The cream of the crop here includes, but is certainly not limited to, the Stonesy stomp of "Fucks Off," the riff-roaring punk-pop of "Rollerskate," a cover of the Young Fresh Fellows "Hillbilly Drummer Girl," and "The Bar," a paean to full-blown inebriation.
01. answering machine #1
02. Rollerskate
03. What Became of It
04. Hillbilly Drummer Girl
05. Sully
06. Much to Lose
07. Barely There # 1
08. Rice Chicken commercial
09. ''Kick into da blues''
10. Fucks Off
11. The Bar
12. Getting Down With L.T.D.
13. My New Gun
14. She's Fine
15. commentary from Mike Gent
16. Barely There # 2
17. answering machine # 2 (WEQX)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Love Tractor - Themes From Venus (1989, DB)

A fixture in the much-lauded Athens, GA scene during the ‘80s, Love Tractor married some of the quirkier tendencies of the 'new south' sound to the burgeoning modern rock movement that was just about to break into the mainstream. Unfortunately the band didn't.

For better or worse, Love Tractor have always been big on instrumentals, and while there are several on Themes From Venus, they don’t hinder the proceedings. As for the ‘sung’ songs, the textured, lush, and sometimes downright complex arrangements imbue “Venice” and “Fantasy” with an air of warmth and vitality, outdoing the work of many of their local peers at the time. Late '80s college rock at it's finest, not to mention intriguing.

Produced by none other than Mitch Easter, Themes would be the last album Love Tractor would issue before reconvening in 2001 for The Sky at Night, the first in a series of reunion albums.

01. I Broke My Saw
02. Themes From Venus
03. Crash
04. Satan
05. Crystal World
06. Venice
07. Hey Mess
08. Noon Express
09. Fantasy
10. Here Come the Cops
11. Crash (inst version)
12. Satan (inst version)
Now available from Emusic, Amazon, iTunes