Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year of the coelacanth.

Happy New Year folks. Just taking a couple more days off, and will be back this weekend, perhaps with a best-of the decade album list. Thanks for your support and kind regards throughout 2009.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Splitting the Difference # 36 - Jimmy Eat World/Emery 7" (1995, Ordinary)

It would be no exaggeration to say that I've been on a huge Jimmy Eat World kick lately (not that a lot of you would necessarily care, or in any small way be affected by that, but I digress). The vast majority of their catalog is still in print, and while I could easily go into specifics about my albums of choice by the Mesa, AZ boys done good, I'll focus on this very scarce split single. "Better Than Oh" was recorded as a demo for the band's second album, the pre-stardom Static Prevails. At this phase in their career, the group was splitting the vocals between Jim Adkins (the one who sings all the MTV hits) and Tom Linton, who still resides in the Jimmy Eat World lineup. I'm pretty positive this track has Linton's vocal prints on it, as he possesses quite a distinctive bellow from Adkins. Besides it's appearance on this wax, "Better Than Oh" may have been included on the Japanese version of the combo's quite essential Singles collection, but that incarnation of the album has long been unavailable. BTW, if it's Jimmy demos, rarities or live shows you're looking for, you'll do no better than heading over to vast trove archived at B-Sides "R" Us.

Emery, who I have little biographical info about, inhabited a place called Rancho Cucamonga, CA. Their spirited contribution here, the dissonant "Flesher," makes a convincing case for the band aspiring to the status of Drive Like Jehu proteges of sorts. I think these guys also have a 7" of their own that I have tucked away somewhere... 
A. Jimmy Eat World - Better Than Oh
B. Emery - Flesher 


Monday, December 28, 2009

Pollyanna - Long Player (1996, Mushroom)

I believe I had a request for this one awhile ago, spurred no doubt by my posting of Pollyanna's 1997 album, Hello Halo way back in the spring of '08. Halo was a game changer as far as I was concerned, and still stands as the Sydney trio's finest hour, but the preceding Long Player comes in at a close second. Their first proper album, LP piles on the bittersweet melody quotient in spades, flowing gracefully with the band's thick, post-grunge undercurrent. This album generated three singles, namely Pollyanna's first truly timeless signature piece "Lemonsuck," as well as "Potomac" and "Keep Me Guessing." To gain a better foothold on the group's entire discography check out this handy site.

01. Big Bully
02. Piston
03. Cut the Cake
04. 16 and Counting
05. Bakelite
06. Keep Me Guessing
07. Electric Cardigan Rock
08. Lemonsuck
09. Potomac
10. Squeeze
11. T-shirt Tan
12. Railride
13. Kickboard
14. Long Player


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Steve Blimkie and the Reason - s/t (1979, Ready)

Once again I uncover a great, virtually unknown power-pop talent from an era I thought I'd reached the bottom of the barrel of a long time ago. Steve Blimkie and the Reason were a Toronto quartet who released two albums (this being the first) and about a half dozen singles during their 1979-81 run (scroll over to the hyperlink for a bio on The Canadian Pop Encyclopedia). They compensated for their lack of innovation with sheer quality and a respectable amount of character to boot. Think early Joe Jackson, Tommy Tutone, and The A's. Steve Blimkie and the Reason falls just shy of classic status, offering succinct, whip-smart pearls like "Can't Say I'm Sorry," "Subway," and "It Only Happened Twice," all clocking in well under the three-minute mark. On a more trivial note, upon dissolution of the band, two of Blimkie's hired guns went onto greater success in Honeymoon Suite.

01. Break My Heart Tomorrow
02. It Only Happened Twice
03. All I Want is You Alone
04. Can't Say I'm Sorry
05. Now That You Say You Love Me
06. On the Edge
07. Subway
08. As I Am
09. I Got This Feeling
10. Now That You Say You Love Me


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Smithereens - 21 CD Mega Box Set! (2005)

Happy Holidays!

Update 12/28/09: I know a lot of you were looking forward to hearing these recordings, but it has been requested that I remove them immediately. My apologizes, and thanks for your appreciative comments.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chapterhouse - Pearls and Treasures (1990-91) Reupload!

It was recently brought to my attention that one of the links for the fan-curated Chapterhouse radio sessions/live compilation, Pearls and Treasures I posted last year was dead. Click on the hyperlink in the last sentence to go back to the original post containing the track list and source info. The new MediaFire link (consolidated into one file this time) is below.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Single Bullet Theory - 1979 demos

Thought this might be of some interest to you out there. Single Bullet Theory were an AOR/power-pop band based out of Richmond, VA, who released a rather underpromoted album for the Columbia Records Nemperor imprint (yep, home to the Romantics) in 1982. For the curious, it may still be available for d/l from Best Kept Secrets blog, but these nine songs were recorded well before that. In fact, only two of them carried over to the the album ("Anxious," and their no-hit wonder signature song "Keep It Tight"). SBT were up the same alley as The Knack, Tommy Tutone, and more vaguely the Paul Collins Beat, but they possessed a streetwise streak that was seemingly neutered from a lot of their more prominent contemporaries. A very thorough bio on the band can be read here, plus the aforementioned Best Kept Secrets has a You Tube clip of the "Keep It Tight" video. I should also metion that there's a metal band making the rounds these days going by the same name, but I don't think you'll be confused.

01. Peggy Got Her Eyes Full
02. Miss Two Knives
03. Winter is Melting Away
04. Keep It Tight
05. Tell Me the Answer
06. I Got a Secret
07. Anxious
08. I Know Better Now
09. Rockers Night Out


Saturday, December 19, 2009

And everything is going to the beat... 2009: The year in rear view, and the genius of Passion Pit.

Everybody seems to be pretty tight-lipped about it, but not only are we at the close of another year, but a decade as well. Who can blame them, right? I need not go into that I suppose, but as an annual tradition that began last year, I would be remiss without charting the best albums and reissues of 2009. This blog is predominantly about the past, but you'd be surprised at how well I can multi-task with the current slew of music as well. For me the '00s were a steady downward trajectory, with each succeeding year producing a less enticing crop of new albums and bands. Then from out of the blue, something quite amazing happened this spring.

To this set of ears, no other band dominated '09 more than Passion Pit, perhaps the single most arresting band to roll outta Boston, MA since the Pixies. I'll be the first to admit they're a puzzling pick given my usual pallet. In fact, I've never been so stoked on a band so utterly diametric to who I normally wax about on Wilfully Obscure, past or present. Nevertheless, their debut, Manners is by far and away the most convincing proposition the year had to offer, and for that matter, the past three or four years. Specializing in engulfingly, hyper techno-pop, Passion Pit are more attuned to the dance floor than just about any other environ I tend to frequent. Upon hearing “The Reeling” on a sampler compilation this spring, I immediately succumbed to Michael Angelakos gleeful, unremitting falsetto and his band’s dizzying keyboard arrangements, penetrating harmonies, carefully choreographed glitches, and even a reoccurring kids choir. Think the Gibb brothers fronting New Order on overdrive. This is a band that mesmerises full-bore on all fronts, but the bizarre thing is, a year ago I wouldn’t have believed my gonzo reaction to an album of this ilk. Simply put, Passion Pit posses a prowess light years beyond their 2007 infancy (conceived no less in Angelakos bedroom as a Valentine’s Day gift to his sweetheart). Furthermore, Manners ironically bids adieu to a sheer pisser of a decade on an ultra celebratory crescendo, not a whimper. My only concern? I don’t see how they'll ever top it.

Though far from mainstream, the band is hardly underground at this point, which means a lot of you have already experienced them firsthand. While I’m not at liberty to share the readily available Manners, I’ve opted instead to put together a “starter kit” of sorts, containing remixes of four crucial album cuts, and two outtakes from their 2008 ep Chunk of Change, “Batty Lashes” and “Tons of Guns.” As most remixes go, they’re not exactly representative of the LP versions, so to round things out a little more, I’m also sharing their entire live set from this years Glastonbury festival! The links and tracklists are at the tail end of the post.

Yes, there was other stuff occupying my CD player and turntable this year. Also of note was the equally out of character indulgence, Owl City, yet another Casio-kissed contender churning out sublime (in fact, downright utopic) keyboard confections. Superdrag brought forth a great reunion disk, Industry Giants, while Taking Back Sunday, Built to Spill, The Marked Men, and Thermals unleashed reliably satisfying albums as well. Inspired newcomers like Japandroids, Telekenesis, and I Was a King sweetened the pot to fine effect. Mission of Burma delivered their most roiling post-reunion album yet, and Julian Casablancas (of Strokes fame) stunned with a bracing debut solo effort that I never saw coming. There was also Waking Up Birds from the little discussed Bernadettes, the latest endeavor from the ex-frontman (who shall remain unnamed) of The Braves/Evergreen Trio, an album only available via e-mail request for an extremely limited time. Thankfully, for your sake, there's a Rapidshare link to the whole thing below. Alongside my Top 20 and honorable mentions, are my fave reissues and such of 2009. I'd say that's enough typing for one day. Enjoy, and if you're up for more Passion Pit visit them on Myspace, and check out a plethora of live goodies and sessions on Peenko blog.

20 albums that made 2009 more tolerable:

01. Passion PitManners (French Kiss/Columbia)
02. The Pains of Being Pure at Hearts/t (Slumberland)
03. Owl CityOcean Eyes (Universal)
04. Two Tonguess/t (Vagrant)
05. Built to SpillThere is No Enemy (WB)
06. SuperdragIndustry Giants (Thirty Tigers)
07. JapandroidsPost-Nothing (Polyvinyl)
08. The BernadettesWaking Up Birds (self released)
09. Taking Back SundayNew Again (WB)
10. Julian CasablancasPhrazes for the Young (RCA)
11. Marked MenGhosts (Dirtnap)
12. I Was a Kings/t (The Control Group)
13. Tinted Windowss/t (S-Curve)
14. Manic Street PreachersJournal For Plague Lovers (Sony UK)
15. Vinyl CandyLand (self released)
16. TelekenesisTelekenesis! (Merge)
17. Mission of BurmaThe Sound, The Speed, The Light (Matador)
18. Silversun PickupsSwoon (Dangerbird)
19. ThermalsNow We Can See (Kill Rock Stars)
20. DovesKingdom of Rust (Astralwerks)

Bubbling under:

Doug GillardCall From Restricted
CitifiedAbsence ep (Eskimo Kiss)
The Pains of Being Pure at HeartHigher Than the Stars ep (Slumberland)
Pete YornBack and Fourth (Sony)
Dinosaur Jr.Farm (Jagjaguar)
MewNo More Stories (Sony)
SuperchunkLeaves in the Gutter ep (Merge)
Bostons SpaceshipsZero to 99 (GBV Records)
MansionsNew Best Friends (Doghouse)
Chad PriceSmile Sweet Face (Suburban Home)

Top reissues, deluxe editions, anthologies, etc...
01. Big Drill CarA Never Ending Endeavor (Variant)
02. Close LobstersForever Until Victory! The Singles Collection (Fire)
03. Big StarKeep and Eye on the Sky box (Rhimo)
04. The Stone Rosess/t (Silvertone/Legacy)
05. Jane’s AddictionA Cabinet of Curiosities box (WB/Rhino)
06. LoopA Gilded Eternity/Heavens End (Reactor)
07. The A’sThe A’s/A Woman’s Got the Power (American Beat)
08. The VaselinesEnter the Vaselines (Sub Pop)
09. Volcano SunsThe Bright Orange Years/All Night Lotus Party (Merge)
10. V/ASouvenirs: Little Gems of Pop (Sound Asleep)
11. The Undertoness/t (Salvo/Union Square)
12. The Neats1981-84 The Ace of Hearts Years (Ace of Hearts)
13. The SincerosThe Sound of Sunbathing (Cherry Red)
14. The Ergs!Hindsight is 20/20 My Friend (Dirtnap)
15. REMReckoning (IRS)
16. PylonChomp (More) (DFA)
17. NirvanaBleach (Sub Pop)
18. The PassionsThirty Thousand Feet Over China (Cherry Red)
19. CIVThe Complete Discography (Equal Vision)
20. Sunny Day Real EstateDiary/LP2 (Sub Pop)

Passion Pit starter kit:

01. The Reeling (Calvin Harris Remix)
02. Sleepyhead (Neo Tokyo Remix)
03. Little Secrets (Hey Champ Remix)
04. To Kingdom Come (Artwork Remix)
05. Batty Lashes (Chunk of Change outtake)
06. Tons of Guns (Chunk of Change outtake)

Passion Pit - live at Glastonbury 6/27/09:

01. Better Things
02. Make Light
03. Let Your Love Grow Tall
04. Folds In Your Hands
05. Moth's Wings
06. Sleepyhead
07. Smile upon Me
08. The Reeling

Passion Put starter kit: Hear
live at GlastonburyHear

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Picture Made - Past ep (1988, Mammoth)

Mitch Easter's sphere of influence, as noted in several previous entries on these pages, seemingly spanned an array of distant galaxies (actually, more like the Southeastern US) during the producer's '80s halcyon period. The little known A Picture Made fell into our man's clutches in 1988 for this six-track ep, possibly the trio's only recording of note. The noise emanating from Past wafts it's way through familiar, well-traveled corridors with some none-too-surprising touchstones like the Miracle Legion, Dreams So Real, and to a lesser extent the Dream Syndicate. The title track yields the ep's sweetest moment, while the edgy "Throw Some Light My Way," is comparatively speaking a full-throttle barnburner, kicking up some serious dust. My apologies in advance for the vinyl noise. If I come across a cleaner copy, it will be my pleasure to share it.

01. Little Boy Wisdom
02. Easter on a Train
03. A New Day
04. Past
05. Throw Some Light My Way
06. Red Wheelbarrow 


The Dice - s/t ep (1983, NARDEM)

When I picked this one up at a Canadian record show this summer, I assumed I had stumbled upon a complete and utter obscurity, due in no small part to it's daft cover art. With a turn of the wrist however, I learned from the meager credits on the back sleeve that the Ontario-based The Dice were in cahoots with Daniel Lanois, who had a hand in engineering this introductory slab of wax. In fact, the Dice went onto bigger things, namely a brief tenure on Polygram that resulted in a 1984 self-titled album. Here's a primer regarding the LP:

Their self-titled debut album was recorded at the Hit Factory in New York and was produced by Rolling Stones' producer Chris Kimsey; released in 1984, it featured performances by Peter Frampton and Chuck Leavell (Rolling Stones, Allman Brothers, Black Crowes), and also boasted a dancing performance by Mick Jagger on one song. The first two singles, "Chayla" and "Calling In The Rain", achieved heavy rotation on a number of radio stations across Canada and the video for "Chayla" was added to the rotation lists of both MuchMusic and MTV. (from

As for the ep, which preceded said full length by a year, the material here is borderline AOR, a la the Payolas, with a smidge of Stonesy swagger informing it's choicest track, "Typical Lies." I should note that this track and "Ain't Gonna Lose (No More)" are listed in the wrong order on the back cover. Enjoy, and check out the remainder of the Dice's bio per the link above.
01. Holding On to the Night
02. Tony
03. Typical Lies
04. Ain't Gonna Lose (No More)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Wardells - Now (1988, Zulu)

According to the back sleeve of this disk, The Wardells, Jim on guitar and vocals, Jeff on bass, and Rich rounding out the trio on drums, all share the aforementioned moniker as their surname. One can't be sure if these Vancouver-ites are literally bound by DNA, or if they're simply feigning brotherhood a la the Ramones. At any rate, what really piqued my curiosity regarding The Wardells Now LP, more or less entailed a production/engineering credit by one Bill Napier-Hemy of the legendary Pointed Sticks. The resulting album paints a crisp portrait of a competent three-chord bar band, but if you're looking for the visionary genius of say, The Pointed Sticks, you might want to keep shopping. Nevertheless, Now is still fairly worthy for what it is, particularly much of side two. Interestingly enough, what little else I was able to absorb by the Wardells manifested themselves in a pair of 1986, local compilation appearances. As a bonus, I'm tacking on the better of these two songs, the chimey "Laughing Instead," hinting at how The Wardells might have turned out had they opted for a less pedestrian bent.

01. Breakout
02. Get You to Want Me
03. I'm in a Hurry
04. Nothing Grows Around Zero
05. The Last Word
06. I Want to Duke the Waitress
07. Breakwatch
08. Small Talk
09. Coming Back From the Dead
10. Be Stupid
11. Old at Heart
plus: Laughing Instead


Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Prudes - Designer Karma (1991, Imaginary)

Hey folks. Remember when I posted that spiffy four-song, various artists 7" comp on Imaginary Records back in April? Sure you do. That disk featured a song by a UK combo called The Prudes who made a lasting impression on me with their contribution "True Religion." Didn't realize it at the time, but that track was accompanied by nine others on an album, Designer Karma, which I've decided to lay on your ears tonight. The most thorough biographical data (including brief testimonials from some of the band members) I was able to unearth on the band can be scoured on the fine Because Midway Still Aren't Coming Back blog.

Formed in 1987, The Prudes probably blended in a little too well with overshadowing, pre-Britpop contemporaries like The Candy Skins, Stone Roses, early-Soup Dragons, and even the Close Lobsters. Not quite jangly enough to be lumped in with the C86'ers, but far more linear than the Madchester burnouts nipping at their heels, The Prudes were quite simply a highly adept band that slipped through the cracks. None of their records (namely this LP produced by the late Adrian Borland, and a handful of singles) were released outside of Britain, and regretfully I don't own any original copies myself. Once again, this post was made possible through the generous file traders on Soulseek. If you're craving more, you can hear a non-lp Prudes selection on the blog linked above.

01. Designer Karma
02. You're Changing Into Something That I Don't Like (And So Am I)
03. Powerful Brain (Why Don't You Use It)
04. Never Penetrate
05. Peace Is Milk
06. Your Beautiful Depression
07. Dumb, Dumb, Dumb
08. Surrender Dorothy
09. True Religion
10. Something Tells Me That Nothing's Going To Happen Tonight

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

V/A - Here Comes the Summer: The Undertones Tribute Compilation (1996, Square Target)

Someone recently inquired if I had The Figgs contribution to an Undertones tribute CD they appeared on several years ago. I've decided to fulfill that request and then some, by sharing the disk in it's entirety...and here it is. The Seattle based Square Target Records, who released music from The Deflowers and UFOFU (both featured on this blog and compilation), did a smash-up job paying tribute to one of the most exemplary proto pop-punk bands ever. Not only are some of the best songs from the Undertones repertoire marvelously covered here, the roster of bands paying homage reads like a creme de la creme, who's-who of mid-90s punk/garage rock dynamos: The Queers, cub, The Smugglers, Vacant Lot, The Shambles, and Pluto among others. The first two Undertones albums, 1979's Undertones, and Hypnotised a year later (both recently reissued for the second time) are the ones that most of Here Comes the Summer's participants draw from, and appropriately so (if you're a fan, you know exactly what I mean). If you like this tribute and have yet to hear the originals, go directly to Amazon or your record store of choice for the aforementioned albums, and plunk down some of the best money you'll ever spend.

01. Cub - Here Comes The Summer
02. Pansy Division - Male Model
03. Deflowers - You've Got My Number (Why Don't You Use It)
04. Clay Wheels - Top 20
05. UFOFU - Wednesday Week
06. Smugglers - (She's A) Runaround
07. Figgs - Boys Will Be Boys
08. Vacant Lot - More Songs About Chocolate And Girls
09. Queers - Get Over You
10. Pluto - Girls Don't Like It
11. Milkduds - Mars Bars
12. Shambles - It's Going To Happen
13. Odd Numbers - Teenage Kicks
14. Racetrain - Casbah Rock


The Oysters - Green Eggs and Ham (1985, Taang!)

Were you to buy the 'experts' critique of this record on Trouser Press, you'd probably go away with the notion that The Oysters were little more than a bunch of inebriated, Replacements worshiping hacks. Some 24 years after the fact, I sure and hell am not about to request a breathalyzer test from this Beantown quartet anytime soon, and furthermore, I don't find such a lazy comparison to be accurate. If anything, the Oysters tilt more towards Mat's influenced bands such as The Magnolias, not to mention a long-running local bar band, Classic Ruins, who I introduced you to earlier this year. Hell, these guys even sound more competent than Sorry Ma-era Replacements, but I could do without some of the blues-rock detours like "Ballantine Stomp" and "Make it All Up to You" that recall George Thoroughgood a little too much for my liking. You can entertain yourself with the band's bio on Myspace by clicking the link above. My apologies for all the vinyl static.

01. Reeperbahn
02. On Special
03. Never Promised
04. Make it All Up to You
05. Headache
06. Headhunter
07. Ballantine Stomp
08. Tropic Rock
09. Do You Hate Me?
10. Feel Like a Dope


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Band 19 - Dictate ep (1985, Modern Method)

So far as I know, this was the only record released by Boston's Band 19 (not counting a single that contained the first two tracks on this ep). A scant five songs, but they make each one count. Punchy, reverb-esque rock and roll that would sound right at home on left of the dial outlets like WERS, where on the station's Metrowave program, Band 19 committed to tape this ep's vigorous, riff-rock closer "No Why."

01. Your Eyes
02. Animal Grey
03. When It's Over
04. Don't Want Anymore
05. No Why


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Pan Am Down - Orange Avenue Sessions ep (2009)

Judged purely by the number of downloads accrued, one of my biggest successes to date was an album titled The Mermaid's Parade, by an obscuro shoegazer band from the mid-90s, Ultra Cindy. I posted it in April of 2008, and thus far it's reached almost 500 happy recipients. In fact, exposure to the album on Wilfully Obscure made it's way back to Ultra Cindy-alumni, guitarist Joshua Kraemer (yes, that's him on the left), who is currently involved in a musical project commonly referred to as Pan Am Down. In fact, he was kind enough to submit some of his music to me, some of which I'm posting tonight.

For all intents and purposes, Joshua is Pan Am Down, particularly on his recent solo album, One, featuring the accompaniment of additional musicians on only two of it's ten selections. The largely acoustic-driven album is as stark and contemplative as it is palatable, often capturing the vibe exuded by Bob Mould's earlier solo records, not to mention the unrelated Evergreen Trio, who I featured here a few months ago. For live performances, Pam Am Down is fleshed out with a full lineup, one that apparently carried over to the studio for an extremely limited four-cut ep, The Orange Avenue Sessions. The disk kicks off with the full-tilt, indie guitar stunner "A Walk in the Former Yugoslavia," sounding akin to the best damn thing Sebadoh never got around to recording, circa Bubble & Scrap or Bakery. The remainder of Orange Avenue is quieter by comparison, but equally inviting. In addition to the ep, I'm also tacking on one of my favorite cuts from One, "Tomorrow's Silence." If you like what you hear, the album is readily available on a shiny aluminum disk. You can inquire about obtaining one by dropping Mr. Kraemer a line via Pan Am's Myspace page. Enjoy.

01. A Walk in the Former Yugoslavia
02. Winter Near a Great Lake
03. Sweet Wishes From Afar
04. Seems Like the Times

plus: Tomorrow's Silence (from One CD)


Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Killjoys - Melos Modos (1998, WEA Canada)

Here it is, by popular demand, the third and final studio outing for Ontario's Killjoys. Their Starry and Gimme Five albums went over so well on these pages that I had no choice but to complete the trifecta. Melos Modos was my first exposure to the band, and though I don't think it's holds up quite as the first two Killjoys records, it impressed me enough to immerse myself in more of their music. The album title doesn't seem to have an exact translation, but "modo" is Spanish for "music." "Melos" can't be too far detached from "mellow" (at least I'm assuming), so if the idea The Killjoys were driving at was "mellow music," the title is somewhat befitting in that the album is significantly less frantic than what they'd been doing up until this point. Melos lends itself to more refined, singer-songwriter observations, but still finds the group kicking up a little dust on "Honesty Mistake" and "Lucky Me." The Killjoys by and large matured on the same trajectory as Evan Dando with the Lemonheads. Too bad they only lasted three albums (not counting the live Onenight and a Morningafter that followed posthumously).

01. Perfect Pizza
02. Beckon Call-Girl
03. Honesty Mistake
04. I've Been Good
05. Sandalwood and 50
06. That's All
07. One Goodbye
08. Unpaid
09. Lucky Me
10. Cheerleader Type
11. Weeds and Worms
12. Rocketsleep


Friday, December 4, 2009

Power of Dreams - Slowdown CDS & There I Go Again CDS + 10" ep (1992, Polydor UK)

Last May I posted the better part of the discography of a Dublin, Ireland band called Power of Dreams. To my knowledge, they received next-to-no notoriety on our side of the pond, and fared little better on theirs, but despite toiling in U2's formidable shadow, Power of Dreams vision was equally grand in scope, though far less visible. "There I Go Again," a single culled from their 2 Hell With Common Sense album is a solid example as any of the sweeping, amped-out swath they cut in the early '90s. As was/is so often the case in the UK, multiple formats of the single were ushered to market, with the CD and 10" vinyl version sharing the title cut, and offering three entirely different b-sides. I've decided to offer both of them in their entirety. Alongside a pair of decent originals (one included as a bonus cut to the Japanese version of 2 Hell With Common Sense), the 10" version of this extended single is a lukewarm run-through of the Velvets "Pale Blue Eyes."

I'm also including another CD single from the same album, the equally stimulating "Slowdown," which also houses three non-lp b-sides. The single version of "Slowdown" is a slightly watered down mix of the album version, a move that made no common sense in itself. To check out the complete 2 Hell With Common Sense LP, along with their 1990 debut, Immigrants, Emigrants, and Me, and the 1993 singles collection Positivity, enjoy here. BTW, there's a Power of Dreams Myspace page, listing among other things 2010 reunion tour dates.

There I Go Again CDS
01. There I Go Again
02. Follow (Slight Return)
03. Suburbia
04. Anxious

There I Go Again 10"
01. There I Go Again
02. Pale Blue Eyes
03. The Cross
04. Fall

Slowdown CDS
01. Slowdown
02. Fatherland
03. I Know You Well
04. Sorry

Update 12/21/09: Hate to do this to you folks, but I had a take down requst for these. The good news is that you can buy the There I Go Again cd single on Itunes, and perhaps Slowdown to follow.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Popsicle - Lacquer (1993, Telegram/Soap)

Strangely enough, in the two and a half years since I began this blog, I somehow neglected sharing this jewel of an album from Sweden's defunct Popsicle. Were it not for the fact that they existed just prior to explosion of the World Wide Web, they would probably have at least a modest online presence on the web, but the best I could find thus far was a thorough discography and a Myspace fanpage. Popsicle were an enormously talented power-pop quartet, in league with other commendable Scandinavian outfits like The Merrymakers, Johan, and The Drowners, If you're at all familiar with the output of the Skellefteå-based West Side Fabrication label, especially during the '90s, these guys will be right up your alley.

The near-mesmerising Lacquer was the first of three albums, and I'd be apt to argue it was their finest moment at that. Popsicle wizardly juxtapositioned lucid, buoyant pop with dizzying surges of power chords, (albeit not always in the confines of the same song) hemmed together with a bazillion hooks that set in like India ink. Not unlike the trio of bands I rattled off above, for me Popsicle's most unique facet was a singer (Andreas Mattson) who's pipes bore a significant resemblance to Bernard Sumner of New Order. In fact, if New Order had spilled over into the Poptopia neighborhood for a spell they'd probably sound something like this. At any rate, I can't heap enough praise onto this disk, so enjoy.

01. Hey Princess
02. Popcorn
03. Undulate
04. How Come We
05. Pale Honey
06. Irreplaceable
07. She
08. Template
09. True
10. A Song Called Liberty
11. Bird
12. Sandy
13. Slow

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Even the Odd - s/t (1989, Wanga)

Given the sheer ubiquity of his production/engineering work throughout the 1980s, one is under the surreal impression that Mitch Easter cloned himself to tend to the scores of projects that fell into his lap. Sure, there was REM, Game Theory, and his own Let's Active, but there were a lot of worthy also-rans too like upstate New York's Even the Odd. This self titled collection isn't flush with wall-to-wall Richenbackers, but nevertheless there's still a quotient of jangly vibes informing the trio's penchant for straightforward guitar pop, a la Crowded House and early Marshall Crenshaw. Easter not only engineered this affair, he contributed six-strings to "Cos You're Here," while his Let's Active cohort Angie Carlson sings backing vocals on a couple tracks to boot. All in all Even the Odd is a winning set, though not particularly revelatory. The album was released on CD, but I have yet to come across a copy on that most coveted format.

01. Drowning Man
02. What it Means to Lie
03. Fool in the Dark
04. Mendietta
05. Spilled Milk
06. One X One
07. Cos You're Here
08. Red Tape
09. I'll Wait
10. Devil's Breed
11. untitled instrumental


Monday, November 30, 2009

Retriever - Three Second Stereo ep (1996, Silver Girl)

Placentia, CA may have served as home base for Retriever, but just absorb a few moments from this 10" ep, and you'll likely come to the conclusion that these guys had mid-90s, Chapel Hill indie rock on the brain. The extraneous noise, distorted chords, and barely-there pop sensibilities crop up all over Three Second Stereo, though Retriever weren't particularly plageristic of any of their more renown contemporaries. Though not a crucial artifact of the era, Stereo's seven songs (and one fleeting instrumental) manage to eke this disk over the above-average hurdle. Copies may still be available from Silver Girl Records (and trust me, once you hear the copious vinyl noise that blemish this upload, you might well be motivated to obtain a cleaner copy). The band also issued one of them there CDs, Greatest Moments of Doubt that you can buy here.

01. Fozzies Wrinkle
02. Orange Stripes
03. Twenty Birthdays
04. Cosmos
05. Pen Pal
06. Uncle Benny
07. Capo
08. Collapsing


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Drip Tank - Slake (1992, Headhunter/Cargo)

At some point during 1993, during my stint as a college DJ, a new word entered my vernacular - "Slake," and the album of the same name by San Diego's Drip Tank (formally Tom's Drip Tank) became part of my early twenty-something soundtrack. Bucking the trend of a plethora of co-ed alt-rawk groups of their era, Drip Tank were not cute and cuddly. In fact, when they bore their collective teeth on lacerating punk salvos like "Quencher" and "What the Hell," they were about as approachable as a live chainsaw blade within inches of your jugular vein. In regards to the those two searing album cuts, Exene Cervenka of L.A.'s famed X seemed to have rubbed off on mouthpiece/guitar slinger Julie D to no small extent. Elsewhere, Slake recalls some of Drip Tank's grimier, indie-punk contemporaries on the east coast, Pipe and Picasso Trigger (maybe more on this pair later, esp that first one, but I digress). Lotsa treble kickin' fun on this one folks.

A couple more quick things. Slake was mastered at an embarrassingly low volume, so I took it upon myself to boost the levels a few notches. Secondly, visitors to Wilfully Obscure may recall that earlier this year I shared two separate split singles the band did with fellow San Diego denizens aMINIATURE, that are still up for the taking. BTW, before disbanding, Drip Tank released a follow-up album, Scrawl. Speaking of which, if anyone in the band is reading this, I sent you $4 for that cassette you offered in the liner notes of Scrawl, and you never followed through on your end of the deal. A pity. At any rate, check out their Facebook page for more fun.
01. What the Hell
02. Outside
03. PBJ
04. Quencher
05. Thinking of You
06. 3-Men
07. Sense
08. Feel Cow
09. Mudbogg
10. Pinball
11. Captain Crunch Countdown
12. Miserable

Friday, November 27, 2009

Perfect Daze - Bubblegum ep & Regular Jailbreak ep (1987/88, Vinyl Solution)

Ever hear of a place called Ipswich, England? Neither did I until I very belatedly caught wind of Perfect Daze, a late '80s combo that hailed from that very city. A bountiful CD anthology, Five Year Scratch, was my intro to the band, and made such an impression on these ears that I tracked down some of Perfect Daze's original vinyl editions. So far as I can tell, during their lifespan they only released these two eps, possibly a 7" and some demos. The 22-track Five Year Scratch compilation that I mentioned above managed to overlook a bunch of tracks from this pair of eps, so I thought I'd fill in the gaps by posting them in their entirety.

Brandishing a dense, maelstrom of concussive guitar fire-power, channeled through Marshall stacks and pedals galore, Perfect Daze took some highly refined melodic cues from contemporaries Mega City Four and the Senseless Things, thereby placing them squarely in the category of British bands inspired by such ingenious Minneapolis godheads as Husker Du and Twin-Tone era Soul Asylum. If it sounds like these tunes are inching themselves well into the red, it's probably because they are (or maybe I just got carried away a bit with the recording level when I was making the transfer). Pound for pound, I'd say the Regular Jailbreak ep trumps Bubblegum, but if you're at all inclined to either of them, do yourself a favor and procure a copy of Five Year Scratch directly from the label, Boss Tunege.
Bubblegum ep:
01. Bubblegum
02. Picture of You
03. She Revs Me Up
04. Blue Horizons
05. Luv Ya Till the Bomb Drops
Regular Jailbreak ep
01. Regular Jailbreak
02. The Saddest Thing I Ever Heard
03. This Side of Summer
04. Barstool on the Floor

Grab both records here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Ramrods - s/t (2005)

Not much time for a write-up tonight, but a lot of you seemed to dig the Ramrods Jivin' n Twistin' ep I shared last month. I'm following that up with an extremely limited cd-r of 16 unreleased Ramrods songs, apparentlyrecorded during the '80s. No liner notes are provided to shed any light on the nature of these recordings, which admittedly is a little frustrating, but an online article regarding the group's 2005 reunion gig in Buffalo, NY is the best consolation I can offer. The 'Rods sounded remarkably more professional when they laid down these tracks, but for what it's worth their lone ep was actually more consistent and immediate. Word has it there's more stuff in the vault, but don't hold your breath for a reissue. For now, take a swig of some good ol' working class power pop.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Splitting the Difference # 35 - Sebadoh/Azalia Snail (1992, Dark Beloved Cloud)

Even if Sebadoh weren't your cup 'o joe, this split might be worth investigating if you were at least able to appreciate SST-era Dinosuar Jr - and I'm gonna tell you why. Before Sebadoh really got rolling in the late '80s, Lou Barlow's main gig was as bassist for Dino Jr. Though he didn't make it public at the time, the sensitive lo-fi tape wizard was suffocating under the thumb of one J. Mascis. As you may recall Dino's classic second album, You're Living All Over Me, closed with an awkward, often jarring sound collage of sorts dubbed "Poledo." Interspersed between the song's noisier elements, were some relatively tuneful, albeit warbled passages sung by Barlow, who's vocals really didn't have any presence elsewhere on the album. "Poledo" wasn't exactly an enhancement to You're Living... but was tantamount as a concession by Mascis' to his fragile cohort, according him one fleeting moment in the sun. If you're familiar with this track, you might agree with me that buried deep in "Poledo's" murky, caved-in mix was a muffled cry for help from Barlow. Once emancipated from Dino Jr, after the band's next LP, Bug, Barlow had free reign over his idiosyncratic muse, and of course, his four-track recorder. One of the more melodic fragments from the aforementioned "Poledo" was salvaged from the Dino tarpit and reimagined as "Toledo," leading off Sebadoh's side of this single, which should be instantly recognizable to seasoned ears. Brought back to life with new found clarity, not to mention a juicy hook, Lou Barlow was finally able to complete his thought so that the rest of us could finally get a reasonable grasp of it...all in the span of 90 seconds no less. Too bad that "Toledo" never made it into the digital era, as was the case with the two numbers following it (though Eric Gaffney's "Nice Day..." is a bit of a waste).

Though I was just able to spill a good 300 words on Sebadoh above, I largely have to plead ignorant on Azalia Snail, but I'm sure you can read up a good bit about her, and her extensive back catalog by visiting this website. "St Nowhere" is definitely the more approachable of the two selections occupying Azalia's side of this wax.

01. Toledo
02. Nice Day/Loma Prieta
03. Pete

Azalia Snail
01. Saint Nowhere
02. U.M.O.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Private Plain - Godwatching ep (1990, Overwellum)

During the better part of the '80s, the oblique tongue of Michael Stipe paired with the chimey, reverberating fretwork of Peter Buck seemed to leave an indelible impression in just about every nook and cranny of the United States, and upstate New York was no exception. Albany's Private Plain may not have taken REM's Murmur as a call to arms so to speak (not aesthetically anyway), but the impact that album had in molding the direction of college radio during the era seemed to be the quartet's calling. Ultimately, the five-song Godwatching, suggests more modest influences, like the Miracle Legion alongside a myriad of Don Dixon/Mitch Easter productions, but not over-derivative of anyone. If there are any takers, I think I have a Private Plain cassette ep floating around somewhere that I can post in the future.

01. To You Jane
02. Clowns
03. Garfield Road
04. Medicine Hat
05. Godwatching

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lonesome Strangers - Lonseome Pine (1986, Wrestler)

Here’s one for all you cowpokes out there. The Lonesome Strangers were an early alt-country quartet with a decidedly traditionalist bent, ostensibly hailing from the L.A. area. These boys played it so straight laced, it’s hard to tell if their debut, Lonesome Pine was a sly send-up of their genre of choice or wholly sincere. Founding member Randy Weeks went onto to record several solo albums, and has guested on records by such bona fide country artists as Dwight Yoakam and Chris Gaffney.

It’s Lonesome Pine's livelier offerings that do it for me, namely the introductory dust-up “Don’t Cross the Bad Man,” and “Here Comes the Night,” the latter popularized by Them featuring Van Morrison. Overall, the Strangers were way more Hank and Cash than the Meat Puppets or Tupelo. Finally, word on the net is that the bassist for the Strangers once dated Lucinda Williams. All this dusty, boot-kickin’ cross-pollination, I’m telling ya… Click on the hyperlinks in the first paragraph for more crucial biographical data.

01. Don't Cross the Bad Man
02. Ton of Shame
03. Lonesome Pine
04. Here Comes the Night
05. 8-Ball
06. Hillbilly Music
07. Modern Don Juan
08. The One Who Wore My Ring
09. Walkin' Over Hot Coals
10. Stranger Malone


Friday, November 20, 2009


In keeping with the SST theme for another night, I thought it would be a bright idea to share this. Submitted for your approval, a rather hissy and perhaps Dolby-ized collection of demos, all of which would later be re-tracked for the debut fIREHOSE album, Ragin' Full On. The band came to be after an enthusiastic Minutemen fan from Ohio, Ed Crawford, encouraged the surviving members, famed bassist Mike Watt, and drummer George Hurley to pick up their respective instruments after the tragic death of spieler/axe-wielder in chief, D. Boon. And so it was done, with Crawford volunteering to spearhead the new trio. For the record, Ragin' Full On is not my fIREHOSE album of choice (I'm more of an if'n and flyin' the flannel enthusiast myself), but so far as demos and such are concerned I take what I can get. As mentioned above, this is a slightly painful listen audio-wise, but nevertheless an inside look into the gestation of fIREHOSE's initial recording studio foray. Enjoy.

01. Brave Captain
02. Caroms
03. Chemical Wire
04. Locked-In
05. The Candle and the Flame
06. On Your Knees
07. Things Could Turn Around


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Painted Willie - Upsidedowntown (1987, SST)

I was pleased as punch to learn that the first Painted Willie album, Mind Bowling was reissued on CD (and digitally) this summer. Arguably the runt of the SST Records litter, the Willie's skewed indie-punk struck a chord with yours truly, upon hearing a selection of theirs on The Blasting Concept Vol. II compilation when I was a wee tyke. I shared their debut release, a feeble but scrappy 7" ep back in the spring of '08. By the time the L.A. trio got around to recording their sophomore effort, Upsidedowntown, they had grown a thicker skin and sounded strikingly more taut and assertive, as evidenced by the pulverizing power chords that commence the opening cut, "Mother Nature's Breakdown," as well as several other destinations on the album. Total SST punk with trace elements of the Germs and Dead Milkmen finding their way onto my beachcombing "mental detector," but executed in an overall tenor that was somehow indigenous to Painted Willie. A neat record, save for perhaps the jammy, long-winded "Personality and Style" that occupies the better portion of side two. I call it a cure for insomnia. Here's two cents worth courtesy of Trouser Press:

Upsidedowntown has spiffy cover art and more taut riff-rock songs, this time on such less intriguing topics as "My Seed," "Personality and Style" (thirteen minutes of it!) and "Totem Pole." The playing keeps getting stronger, but the Willies should put out an APB for a songwriter.
01. Mother Nature's Breakdown
02. Upsidedowntown
03. Saturized
04. Totem Pole
05. All Over It
06. Son of the Night
07. My Seed
08. Subject
09. Personality and Style

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Various - There's a Boy Who Lives on Heaven Hill - A tribute to Hüsker Dü (1994, Burning Heart)

This is a quick follow-up to yesterdays post of my Hüsker Dü tribute split 7." First off, I neglected to mention that in 2008 I shared a full-length Hüsker covers album on here called Case Closed? An International Tribute to Hüsker Dü. And I'm sharing yet another one right here, albeit a lot briefer. Released by the Swedish Burning Heart Records some fifteen years ago, there are no household names on the roster, but aficionados of Scandinavian power pop may be clued into Popsicle, who turn in a decaffeinated version of the Warehouse: Songs and Stories favorite, "Visionary." Furthermore, ear-to-the-ground fans of post-hardcore punk will be happy to see that Fireside make an appearance here. There's a Boy on Heaven Hill isn't something to die for (then again what covers album is?) but at any rate, is a respectable testament to Hüsker Dü's appeal outside of North America.

01. Sator - Pink Turns to Blue
02. Merryland - Back From Somewhere
03. Popsicle - Visionary
04. Fireside - Don't Wanna Know if You Are Lonely
05. Ledfoot - The Girl Who Lives of Heaven Hill


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Splitting the Difference # 34 - The Hang-Ups/Vertigo - Dü Hüskers (1993, Synapse)

This one may need a little explaining. Let's go all the way back to 1984. SST Records releases Zen Arcade, the second proper studio album by a Minneapolis' legend in the making, Husker Du. A double LP, punk/hardcore concept record about a kid who gets committed to a mental institution and winds up designing video games, or something to that effect, Zen Arcade was considered by many to be the start of Husker Du's halycon era, if not the finest album in their entire catalog. Fast forward nine years. Mpls indy label Synapse Records has a bright idea - corral 23 indie rock bands from the greater Twin Cities area to cover one song apiece from Zen Arcade, and hem all the tracks together for a song-by-song reproduction of said watershed album. Not an easy feat to orchestrate by any stretch I'm sure, but the job was completed in 1993, culminating in Dü Hüskers: The Twin Cities Play Zen Arcade featuring Arcwelder, Zuzu's Petals, Flour, and Hammerhead among 19 other participants. Though long out of print, the whole shebang has been posted on Milk Milk Lemonade blog along with a thoughtful essay.

In conjunction with the original LP, SST also released in '84 a separate Husker Du 7" featuring a strenuous, vocal shredding rendering of "Eight Miles High," very much in line with Bob Mould's cathartic wailing throughout the Zen Arcade album. Trust me when I say it has to be heard to be believed. It was backed with a live take of the Zen track "Masochism World." Well guess what? As a companion to the Dü Hüskers tribute album, Synapse Records went the extra mile and released a tribute redux of that very single, featuring The Hang-Ups on side-A covering the Byrds classic. Their stab at is a lot more faithful to the original version I might add. On the flipside, one of Amphetamine Reptile Records less noted acts, Vertigo do the honors of covering "Masochism World" live (at the Uptown Bar in Mpls). So there you have it. I've depicted the sleeve of the original Husker Du 45 to your right.

A. The Hang-Ups - Eight Miles High
B. Vertigo - Masochism World (live)


Monday, November 16, 2009

Hayride - elfin magic (1995, Capricorn)

Wasn't quite sure what to think of this album upon it's release in 1995, so I chucked it back into the used bin... only to take a chance on Hayride again, thirteen years later at the bargain basement price of 25 cents (thank you FYE). It's moniker, elfin magic, is bound to conjure up images of those cuddly 'lil Keebler characters. That wholesome scenerio however is quite the antithesis of what this Georgia trio had in store. At it's most convincing, magic delivers crooked, ‘90s indie punk with some tuneful keepers like “Wormbringer” and the title track, but those are the fleeting exceptions, not the rule. As a whole, this affair is a pummeling, vicious, and sometimes sloppy melange of heaving power chords and rapidfire soloing, occasionally slipping into grunge, metal, and classic rock terrain. Local yocal David Barbe, fresh off his stint as bassist in Sugar, produced the album. Sidenote: Barbe helmed the quite excellent Mercyland during the late '80s, who we did a feature on way back when.

More Hayride tuneage can be experienced by clicking the above linked Myspace page, and Beyond Failure blog is featuring an early '90s compilation, Fuel, with three vintage Hayride songs gracing it.
01. elfin magic
02. ackadacka
03. wormbringer
04. a hard deer's night
05. hollywood
06. pleasence
07. sconion
08. brickstretcher
09. zero
10. bit, stung & sucked
11. hard hat
12. the map
13. second skin
14. king phrague

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pluto - 20th Century Masters: The Singles Collection (1993-94, Popgun/Mint/Shake)

Thought I'd dedicate another entry to Vancouver's Pluto, given the positive reaction of their Shake Hands With the Future album that I posted this spring. In an advertisement I spotted for their second album, the eponymous Pluto, the tagline proposed, "Out of this world pop punk." I can't really say that the Vancouver quartet's interplanetary ambitions really surfaced on any given album, or song for that matter, but I wholeheartedly agree with the second half of that estimation. These three independently released 45s preceded or were contemporary to their Mint Records debut LP Cool Way to Feel, which I believe you can still grab here.

If the Buzzcocks and Undertones were treated to a fresh paint job, administered by Blue Album-era Rivers Cuomo it would sound not unlike the six numbers I've laid out for you here. Half of these songs (specifically the A-sides) found their way onto the aforementioned Cool Way to Feel, so if you like what you hear there's more where that came from. For more background info on Pluto, hop on the hyperlinks above. Enjoy (or not).

01. Pretty Little Jacket
02. Rock Candy
03. Deathstar
04. Million and Two
05. Failure
06. It's Only Love (Beatles)

1-2 from Popgun Records 7" 1993
3-4 from Mint Records 7" 1994
5-6 from Shake Records 7" 1994

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ratcat - s/t ep & This Nightmare (1987 & 1989, Waterfront)

Unbeknownst to most people outside of the land down under, Ratcat were for a brief time a bona fide teen rock sensation. Propelled to the top of the Aussie pop charts by the infectious “That Ain’t Bad” in 1990, Ratcat were quickly anointed with “boy band” status by hordes of pubescent fans, mostly girls. The Sydney trio, helmed by Simon Day and featuring an invariably rotating cast of bassists and drummers, may have exuded the approachability of Hanson, but they packed the power-chord wallop of the Ramones (albeit slightly more restrained). This was particularly the case on their early independent releases for Waterfront Records, a self-titled ep in 1987, and their debut long player, 1989’s This Nightmare. Between the sixteen songs spanning these disks, I think you’ll conclude that if anything Ratcat were downright misanthropic, even macabre at times. In fact, the closest they come to being precious was in the guise of their rather unnecessary cover of “I Think We’re Alone Now,” a moment they may have well regretted somewhere down the line.

For my money, This Nightmare is Ratcat’s most consistent album. The aforementioned “That Ain’t Bad” however is perhaps their single greatest achievement, and it’s worth tracking down on their Tingles ep and/or Blind Love album. More albums would follow in the wake of Tingles, but as the groups fanbase waned, they called it a day during the mid-90s. Several reunions and one-off gigs ensued during the latter portion of the decade, and through 2006 by last count. The two records featured in this post were reissued on a now out of print CD compilation, Informer 80:629. For a more thorough account of Ratcat's and Simon Day's career, look no further that this excellent article on RetroUniverse.

s/t ep:
01. Time Bomb (of Hate)
02. Daughter Darling
03. Car Crash
04. I Think We’re Alone Now
05. She’s Gone
06. Radio One
This Nightmare:
01. Go Go
02. Everything is Happening Again
03. True Lust
04. Tonight Today
05. The Killing Joke
06. She’s a Gas!
07. If I Said
08. Feels So Good
09. Baby’s Got a Gun!
10. The Eyeball Mutiny
Ratcat ep: Hear
This Nightmare: Hear

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fuzzy - s/t (1994, Seed)

Fulfilling a request for Fuzzy's debut album. To find out what all the "fuzz" is about, check out my previous dedication to this defunct, co-ed Boston quartet here, or just indulge in the YouTube goodness below.

01. Flashlight
02. Bill
03. Postcard
04. Now I Know
05. 4 Wheel Friend
06. Almond
07. Lemon Rind
08. Rock Song
09. Intro
10. Sports
11. Severe
12. Got It
13. Surfing
14. Girlfriend

Now on Amazon