Sunday, May 31, 2009

milf - feasting on fried afterthoughts: part one (1992-94)

What's up folks? Two months ago, I introduced you to a sadly defunct Buffalo power-trio, milf, by way of a split 7" they shared with Tugboat Annie. Through their early-to-mid-90s run, they produced two albums ha ha bus (1994), antidope (1995), a pair of singles, the aforementioned split 7," and a slew of demos and comp tracks. This is the first installment in a three (or perhaps four) part series, that will examine milf's various cassette-only and short form releases, all of which saw an exceedingly limited run.
As I expressed in my post of milf's split 7" with Tugboat Annie, one record scribe likened the trio's music to a Husker Du 45 played at 33. Though not the most spot-on summation, milf dispelled a sinewy, distorto guitar sprawl with jawdroppingly tuneful sensibilities that bands from the Queen City have not replicated before or since. When they were "on," milf were the greatest thing you ever heard in your life - period. Dynamics were a biggie, and so were indelible, penetrating hooks, which wrapped themselves around your cranium with an anaconda-like grip. Per an essay on their Myspace hovel:

In their time, they were compared to an incredibly diverse list of bands including (but certainly not limited to) Fugazi, Dag Nasty, Husker Du, Sonic Youth, Cheap Trick, The Beatles, The Posies, Sugar, Swervedriver, and on and on. milf's members were true lovers of music…music of all kinds, and that was reflected in the music they made.

For this installment, I'm treating you to a four-cut 7" ep, issued on Cash Cow Records in 1993, dubbed Feasting on Fried Dough, which offers some of their finest moments ever committed to tape, including "Sell Out" and "Face." Up next is their very first demo tape, New Skin, which likely had a run of 500 copies, if that. Though most of these five tracks were eschewed from their setlist by the time they got to their Fried Dough ep and ha ha bus!, the genius gears were clearly being set into motion. Capping this set off is "Up Yours," their humble contribution to a locally released Goo Goo Dolls tribute cassette. The tribute tape which I speak of came with a Goo Goo Dolls board game, but that's neither here nor there. In the liner notes regarding the song, milf note:

We slowed it down a bit, hoping to add a little of our personality to our seemingly derivative style of suburban sloppy punk-pop.
If the vinyl pops and tape hiss have got you down, fear not, because roughly half the songs here were made available on a limited run milf cd of demos that I'm going to post for the last installment of this series.
Enjoy, and be sure to look for the second module coming in early June. To tide you over, make a point to read Matt Barber's mindblowing milf essay
Feasting on Fried Dough 7" ep (1993, Cash Cow)
01. sell out
02. face
03. bridget fonda
04. wave

new skin tape (1992)
05. scrambled tv
06. certain people shouldn't lie
07. headspin
08. hair bitch
09. liberated amish lasses 
from Nothing Compares to Goo v/a tribute tape (1994)
10. Up Yours 

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Jigsaw Seen - Shortcut Through Clown Alley (1990, Skyclad)

L.A.s The Jigsaw Seen arrived at the tail end of the Paisley Underground movement, but unlike Rain Parade and The Three O'clock, they didn't garner as much notoriety. Profoundly unfortunate, because their debut LP, Shortcut Through Clown Alley, is a sophisticated psych-pop treasure, laced with sublime, Roger McGuinn-informed guitar fills, well placed flourishes of Farfisa organ, and ambitious songwriting. The effect is startlingly akin to the Mersey Beat endebted XTC side project, The Dukes of Stratosphear, and more recently the work of fellow L.A. scenesters The Sugarplastic. Shortcut...evokes the vibe of a loosely strung together concept piece, which it may or may not be, only adding to it's charismatic mystique. There's no definitive centerpiece here, but the winsome "Jim Is the Devil" was striking enough to be issued as a single in it's own right, shortly before the release of the album. Incidentally, my copy of Shortcut is slightly blemished by a scratch that effects the first couple rotations of this very track, but conveniently, in 2007, Little Hits blog posted the song as well (sans the rest of the album), which is still available for the taking.

Incidentally, The Jigsaw Seen would bring forth their signature song in 1991, in the shape of "My Name is Tom," featured on the ep of the same name that was thoughtfully reissued in 2006. The band have been recording/performing intermittently since their late '80s inception, and their website linked above is well worth exploring, if only for plundering the MP3s of a BBC session.
01. Pillar of Salt
02. Can Andy Come Out and Play?
03. Where You're Goin'
04. Jesus of Hollywood
05. These Are the Days
06. Jim is the Devil
07. Sebastian Kane
08. Under Par
09. Cordially Invited - December
10. Jezebel

Friday, May 29, 2009

Kpants - Charmless (1994, Grinning Idiot)

Four kids, straight outta Eugene, Oregon...that for better or worse, didn't go particularly far. Background info is pretty limited on this troupe, save for a blurb I uncovered on this graying outpost of cyberspace:

Nu power pop, with liberal doses of R.E.M., Jonathan Richman, and total, stoned inspiration. Check out their album, Charmless, on Grinning Idiot, and pray they make it up here soon. Few do what they do better.

Hmm, not sure if I entirely espouse that assessment. Seems to me, Kpants (supposedly the "K" is silent) had their collective eyeball not on Athens, GA, but a little bit further to the northeast in Chapel Hill, NC, with Charmless' punkier inclinations ringing of Archers of Loaf, albeit more linear. There's some considerably hot moments here, mostly occurring in the initial portion of the disk. Charmless' penultimate cut, "Best Kissers" name-drops the likeminded Best Kissers in the World, another worthy study for the Wayback Machine if you get the opportunity. In short, Charmless is no masterstroke, but not without it's charms. 
01. Light Sprinkle
02. Bookworm
03. Forehead
04. She's Got You
05. Sonic Ripoff
06. Lunchpale
07. Pie Song
08. Stare Off
09. Ants
10. Should We Cut It?
11. Best Kissers
12. Love Theme From Kpants


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Splitting the Difference # 19 - Polvo/New Radiant Storm King (1994, Penny Farthing)

Behold, two bands that should need no introduction - at least in a perfect world that is. Chapel Hill, NC and Amherst, MA indie kids, brought together by the wise business sense of a record label in Arizona, circa 1994, arguably at the creative peak of the two conglomerations involved. As far as I know, none of the four cuts that appear hear have made it into the digital age, which is kind of hard to believe, especially from Polvo's end of the stick, but I digress. You can relive the excitement of the first Polvo ep that I posted in December here, not to mention one of New Radiant Storm King's more stirring albums over this way. Enjoy.

New Radiant Storm King
01. Back Door
02. Hey Baby
01. Two Fists
02. All the Cliches Under Broadway

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Anastasia Screamed - Laughing Down the Limehouse (1990, Roughneck)

Just as much of an acquired taste now as they were when they first surfaced in the late '80s, Boston's Anastasia Screamed nevertheless made a relatively immediate impression on me with "Searcher no. 9 (Song 16)" a cut from this very album that I was exposed to by the grace of college radio. Even by obscuro standards, this Beantown quartet (who ironically didn't boast any females in their lineup) were sheer unknowns nationally, despite distribution through Dutch East India Trading. Well, I suppose you want to know what they sound like before taking the plunge. Mouthpiece/focal point Chick Graning possess the same worn-in, raspy timbre Peter Searcy of Squirrel Bait became legendary for. Though his guttural croon is nearly impossible to forget, Graning's cohorts are a much looser, ramshackle bunch, flailing about like so many flannel-flyers from points due Northwest. Glorious feedback squalls, not to mention extra enthusiastic percussion, put them right up there with Dino Jr at times, and to a lesser extent the demi-psych meanderings of SST-era Screaming Trees. By today's standards however, new schoolers would likely deem Anastasia Screamed a really sloppy "emo" band, due in no small part to Graning's maudlin vocal theatrics. A/S delivered a second album, Moontime, along with several eps and singles. They also contributed a Television cover to the Pipeline! WMBR radio comp I posted this March.

Graning would go onto the higher profile Scarce (and have a near-death-experience to serve as that band's compelling back story, which you can read about here). Click the A/S hyperlink above to learn about what pursuits the other band members followed.

01. Beautiful
02. Lime
03. Disintegration, Yesterday
04. The Skidder
05. Violet
06. Searcher No.9 (Song 16)
07. Tide
08. Parts of Us
09. Tricked Into Feel
10. Shade
11. Samantha Black
12. Notown


Monday, May 25, 2009

The Wooden Soldiers - Hippies, Punks and Rubber Men (1987, Absolute a-go-go)

The Wooden Soldiers’ warm resonating jangle is bound to evoke comparisons to REM, but I think the Feelies would be more appropriate, especially when you take into account that like the Feelies, the Soldiers were also residents of upstate New Jersey. Lots of poppin’ bass here, courtesy of one Paul, who dovetails well with one Greg’s dexterous fret-play. Principally, Hippies, Punks… is rhythmically inclined, and at moments lyrically frivolous (e.g. “Pitchfork”), but not heavy handed on either front. Whether they intended it or not, the Soldiers were tailored for left-of-the-dial outlets, but wouldn’t sound out of place at any given backyard barbeque either. I believe this album appeared on the now defunct Feelin’ Kinda Froggy blog, but this is my own rip. Scroll down a ways on this here website for more sounds by the Wooden Soldiers.

01. My First Garage
02. Henry David Thoreau
03. Amnesia
04. The Highway Talking
05. Pitchfork
06. Commercial Avenue
07. Up on a Mountain


B-Time - Taking Trains ep (1987, Top)

The lack of a major label contract didn’t inhibit this overlooked D.C. quartet from gleaming a healthy, spit-shined sheen, thanks partially to producer/engineer Rob Schnapf (who would later offer his services to Beck, The Vines, Elliott Smith, and more recently Nine Black Alps). On Taking Trains, B-Time exude six brisk pop tunes, brandishing clean, buoyant guitar leads, a la early Toad the Wet Sprocket and Crowded House, albeit packing a little more street cred. “Could It Be” and “For Someone” are incessantly fetching, with the remainder of this ep not trailing far behind. Pop gold.

01. Taking Trains
02. 9th Out of 10
03. For Someone
04. Been Down
05. Could It Be

06. Christine


Friday, May 22, 2009

Various - Blatant Doom Trip - a Tribute to Guided By Voices (1998, Simple Solution)

Roughly two months ago I posted a thing called Scalping the Guru, a homegrown, 1996 Guided By Voices tribute tape on Kelp Records, featuring predominantly Canadian acts. Blatant Doom Trip, released a couple years later, is inarguably more formal (albeit a bit on the lo/mid-fi tip itself), and has the roster to prove it. Nepotism is rampant here, with groups like Cobra Verde, Gem, and Swearing at Motorists all containing in their line past or future GBV alumni (Doug Gillard comes courtesy of those first two, Don Thrasher the latter). Local H's "Smothered in Hugs" appears here on the heels of that band's gold selling As Good As Dead, a convenient selling point to be sure. Thurston Moore and Steve Shelly hold the keys to Male Slut who tackle a real obscurity, "Stabbing a Star," plus there are also contributions from the relatively renown Portastatic, Lotion, and New Radiant Storm King (the last two "cheating" so to speak with tunes that had already appeared on singles). Best of all, since Blatant Doom Trip was minted in '98, the material covered within is drawn from GBV's halcyon era. There was talk around 1996 of yet another GBV tribute to see the light of day, with an even higher pedigree lineup including Bob Mould and Sebadoh, but twas not to be. Nevertheless, at least we have this, and BDT is pretty damn impressive at that.

01. Cobra Verde - Striped White Jets
02. Male Slut - Stabbing A Star
03. Chapter 18 - Matter Eater Lad
04. Gem - My Impression Now
05. Rally For Japan - Rubber Man
06. New Radiant Storm King - I Am A Scientist
07. Shove - Melted Pat
08. Local H - Smothered In Hugs
09. Earnest - Back To Saturn X
10. Resolve - The Future Is In Eggs
11. Real Lulu - Postal Blowfish
12. O-Matic - Motor Away
13. Swearing At Motorists - Volcano Divers
14. This Busy Monster - Gleemer (The Deeds Of Fertile Jim)
15. 84 Nash - Hot Freaks
16. Gem - Kisses To The Crying Cooks
17. Portastatic - Echos Myron
18. Lotion - Quality Of Armor


Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Stone Roses - The Ultimate Rarities (1983-89)

Word got out a month or so ago regarding a greatly expanded 20th anniversary edition of the Stone Roses eponymous debut to be coming down the pike this summer. Indeed, it was confirmed exactly two weeks ago that the "Legacy Edition" of the Stone Roses would be hitting the streets on August 11th in a variety of configurations, most notably including a disk of "lost demos." (You can peruse a full tracklisting via Pitchfork). Upon hearing this joyous news I was promptly reminded that I had tucked away a fan-curated assemblage of entirely unreleased Stone Roses demo and rehearsal recordings.

While some of the tracks in the roster of the "demos" portion of the deluxe-ified reissue may overlap with what's included in this post, the vast majority of these puppies are apparently not being brought to market. Cool. Even cooler, the music itself, with a lineup including alternate renditions of all the singles generated by said album, album tracks, b-sides, and then some. What comprises the "then some" you ask? How about two takes of a jangly jewel left on the cutting room floor called "Sun Still Shines?" Almost as cool, another diamond in the rough, "Heart on the Staves," (which later appeared in another take on the eventually-to-be-official "boot" of early Roses studio tracks, Garage Flower). There is also the unspeakably scarce early rehearsal cut "Boy on the Pedestal," that I barely saw a mention of on a recent Google plundering.
Still not licking your chops? Well, this collection rounds out with two cuts from the pre-Roses outfit The Waterfront, who included John Squire, Ian Brown, and Mani in it's lineup. Hardly prodigious, but given they were youngsters at the time, I think we owe them a little slack. As for the "classics," we get a very spare, acoustic work-in-progress of "She Bangs the Drums" (presumably Ian solo), and quite revelatory renditions of "I Wanna Be Adored," "Elephant Stone," and "Waterfall," among many others. In short, a veritable windfall of Savage Young Roses - the genesis revealed if you like! If this doesn't tide you over til the reissue, you can also partake in an ongoing series of podcasts regarding the album that started it all.

01. I Wanna Be Adored
02. Heart On The Staves
03. Tell Me
04. This Is The One
05. Boy On The Pedestal
06. All Across The Sands
07. Hardest Thing In The World
08. Sun Still Shines
09. She Bangs The Drums
10. Waterfall
11. Hardest Thing In The World
12. Elephant Stone
13. Sun Still Shines
14. Going Down
15. Sugar Spun Sister
16. Waterfall
17. Shoot You Down
18. She Bangs The Drums
19. Waterfall
20. Made Of Stone
21. This Is The One
22. Elizabeth My Dear
23. (On A Beach In) Normandy
24. When The Wind Blows

1-3: Piccadilly Radio sessions 24/03/85
4: Strawberry Studios, Stockport, 1985, 3am (first ever take)
5-8: Rehersals, Chorlton, Manchester, 18/03/86
9-10: circa '86
11: Demo, Yacht Club studios, Bredbury, Manchester 1986
12-15: Chorlton, Manchester, 12/12/86
16-17: Demos, Manchester Late '87
18-21: Suite-16 Studios, Manchester May '88
22: Battery Studios, London Jan '89
23-24: Demos 1983. Pre-Roses band called The Waterfront who included Squire, Mani & Ian. Kaiser is singing as Ian didn't turn up.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Wood Children - Shopaholic (1989, Demon)

No biographic info to be found online regarding this utterly "lost" UK combo from the late '80s. So far as I can tell, Shopaholic was The Wood Children's second album, released a year after their debut, The God's Must Be Crazy. Gotta hand it to them for resisting the temptation to jump onto any of the convenient bandwagons of the period (Madchester, shoegazer, etc). Instead, I could envision these lads sipping from the same watering hole as the Family Cat and (early) Soup Dragons. Shopaholic can make for an slightly inconsistent listening experience, but recommendable overall, especially when they put their heads together on riveting, up-tempo nuggets like "Pollute My Heart" (also released as a single), "Heroin(e)," and "Golden Mine." This CD also tacks on four numbers from the Kids Global Village Idiot ep.

01. Fine By Me
02. Talk About Yourself Again
03. Vat of Tea
04. Mannipple
05. Can't Stand The Sound Of My Own Voice
06. Pollute My Heart
07. Epitaph For Miss World
08. Worlds Apart
09. Heroin(e)
10. Golden Mine
11. You Cheated Me
12. Heart of the Matter

from Global Village Idiot ep
13. Sell My Soul
14. Tribe
15. Aieroplane
16. Maybe Mood


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Lynyrd's Innards/Nation of Wenonah (Wynona Riders) split 10" (What Else, 199?)

Thought it would be appropriate to follow up the Lynyrd's Black Flag tribute with another record they're on. This was a split 10" with their Cali buds Nation of Wenonah (actually the Wynona Riders slightly incognito). As was the case with their B/F renditions, Lynyrd's Innards don't brake for the speed bumps, pounding out furious, albeit fun, two-minute blasts of take-no-prisoners hardcore, including an unlikely cover of Adam Ant's "Stand and Deliver." Great album sleeve parody as well.The Riders don't fare nearly as well on their half of the bargain. By the time they got around to this split 10," their sophisticated, uber-melodic brand of popcore took a backseat to raw, cranky aggro-punk, espousing none of the key ingredients that made their early singles and J.D. Salinger LP so flabbergastingly infectious and incisive. The best of the bunch here is their stab at Bikini Kill's "Rebel Girl.

Wynona Riders
01. Adolescent Disaster
02. Bang Bang, Orangutan
03. Corrupted
04. Rebel Girl

Lynyrd's Innards
05. 20 GOTO 10
06. Sodapop
07. Ad Nauseum
08. Kitty Problem
09. Stand and Deliver


Lynyrd's Innards - Black Flag covers ep (Harmless, 1999)

If you're a Black Flag fan, better get downloadin'. Lynyrd's Innards are a scrappy as-all-get-out Chi-town punk outfit who've released three albums (1999's You're Wreckin Me being their finest half-hour), and this one-off tribute to the mighty Black Flag. The circumstances on how this record came about are all in the liner notes which I've scanned in with the music files. It was recorded live in studio, with Mat Arluck of local power punks Deminer as the special guest vocalist. The Innards tear through eight B/F classics here, not quite outdoing the originals, but coming surprisingly close. Incidentally, this disk was limited to a nice even 204 copies (vinyl color breakout in the liners). Enjoy (or not).

01. Rise Above
02. Jealous Again
03. Depression
04. White Minority
05. Revenge
06. Wasted
07. Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie
08. Six Pack


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Shortfall - Hooray For Everything (1995, Squirtgun)

If you loved the Doughboys you'll love (or at the very least like) Shortfall, a long defunct southern Ontario four-piece who cranked out a couple albums in the mid'90s. Their debut, Hooray For Everything, is splendidly derivative in all the right places, especially it's two masterful leadoff tracks, "Morgans Rd." and "Absolute," both of which wouldn't have sounded the least bit out of place on Kastner and Co's Happy Accidents platter. Indelible hooks, churning power chords, and a mild semblance of suburbanite angst make Hooray a highly memorable disk. As a bonus, I'm also tacking on "Drive," a track recorded for their followup album, It's a Miserable Life. You can check out a video for "Drive" on the band's Myspace page linked above.

01. Morgans Rd.
02. Absolute
03. Waitin
04. Dark
05. The Last
06. Grey
07. Nil
08. Cool Cliche
09. Take It
10. Rusted Bones


Friday, May 15, 2009

Muler - 20th Century Masters: The Singles Collection (1993-98)

In a nutshell (BTW, can anything really fit into one of those suckers?), Muler were the best band in Rochester, NY during the '90s - considering they released but one full-length, that's saying a mighty lot. With the backing of BMG boutique label Dedicated Records, the quartet's 1997 outing, The State of Play eventually became a routine, coast-to-coast dollar bin find. For shame. Muler's roughewn, yet emotively tuneful indie rock bore a bit of a resemblance to another fave New York band of mine, Lotion. It also didn't hurt that guitarist Kristin Durso packed the kind or roar that made Bob Mould so legendary. And dynamics, boy did these guys know to wield some serious dynamics. Finally, add a sprinkle of sinewy dissonance, and you had something pretty devastating on your hands.

In addition to State of Play was a quartet of singles (and a split 7" with locals Lift) that held up just as well. I've assembled all of them here, however One Base on an Overthrow blog already did a piece on the Deep Elm 7" which you can see here. Among the eleven Muler cuts this post concerns, two of them, "Thrush" and "Share an Apple" were rerecorded for the LP. The "Thrush" 45 on Carbon Records (which may still be available for purchase, as well as their final 1998 7") was released as a regular picture sleeve, and again in a die-cut corrugated cardboard sleeve. Very unique and exquisite indeed. "Ghost Writer" from that '98 single would also appear on Muler's swan song, the motelbibleschool ep, also released on Carbon.

The split 7" mentioned above features two early Muler gems exclusive to it's release. Since I don't have very much positive to say about Lift, I shan't say much else at all, other than the fact that I have included their side of the record for, ahem, posterity. Muler vocalist David Baumgartner would go on to front another Rochester band, The Bird Circuit in the early half of this decade releasing two albums that I know of, possibly more. As often is the case, I apologize in advance for any potential vinyl noise. 

Muler 7" discography:
01. Share an Apple
02. Unashamed
03. On the Rug
04. Slowpoke
05. Thrush
06. Toothfairy’s Favorite
07. Smell
08. Here Comes Nod
09. Ghost Writer
10. Rollerskate
11. Naked Frame
12. Tequila Sunrise
13. Valentine

1 & 2 from Gamma Ray Records 7” (1993)
3 & 4 from Deep Elm Records 7” (1995)
5-7 from Carbon Records 7” (1995)
9 & 10 from Carbon Records 7” (1998)
10-13 Muler/Lift split 7” (1994/95?)


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Juliana Hatfield - live in Toronto @ Lee's Palace 11/18/97

In a nutshell, this is one of the finest live performances I ever failed to attend. Although I had the good sense to attend Juliana's next Toronto show in 1998 (also at Lee's Palace), I found out about this show many months after the fact, by virtue of a belated broadcast on CBC radio 2.

Step back in time a few years, say around twelve. Juliana Hatfield was still licking her wounds after being jilted by Atlantic Records, or more specifically the jilting of her likely never to be released God's Foot album. While according to her recent autobiography, When I Grow Up, the split from "the suits" was actually to her fancy, the retention of the rights to said album was another story. God's Foot, the intended follow-up to her 1995 Only Everything LP, achieved something of a mythic status for awhile, and ultimately, die-hard fans got to hear it with the advent of Napster and such. For this late '97 tour, Juliana was instead campaigning for a new ep on Bar None Records, Please Do Not Disturb, as well a forthcoming 1998 release, Bed. Strangely enough only two cuts from Disturb made it into this set (only one appears here, which I'll explain in a moment).

After Only Everything's lackluster sales, some industry types (namely at Atlantic) were declaring her career dead. Perhaps Juliana's creative zenith had crested in the mid-90s - on record anyway, but this stunning Tuesday November 18th, 1997 performance makes a strikingly compelling case otherwise. I can't put my finger on what it is about this show that does it for me. Certainly her sincerity and gut-wrenching delivery. Without a doubt the track selection, and for that matter perfect sequencing - but there's that certain something that wafted it's way out of her microphone and monitors that evening that I can't convey in words. The set draws heavily from her two Atlantic albums, the aforementioned Only Everything and the Gold-selling Become What You Are, but incidentally two great God's Foot selections, "Fade Away," and "What Have I Done to You," made their way onto the list as well. The crowd is also treated to the rare "Waves," a chestnut from her Blake Babies days ("Take Your Head Off My Shoulders"), and closing things out, a Descendants cover ("Hope")!

There are a couple versions of this show floating around - one the CBC FM broadcast, and secondly, an audience tape of the complete show, featuring an extra couple tracks (including a cover of X's "The Unheard Music"). The latter wouldn't have done this upload justice given it's far inferior audio quality and prolonged song intermissions. Enjoy (or not).

01. I Got No Idols
02. Outsider
03. Fade Away
04. Dying Proof
05. Fleur De Lys
06. Waves
07. What Have I Done to You
08. My Sister
09. My Darling
10. For the Birds
11. Live on Tomorrow
12. Addicted
13. Dumb Fun
14. Spin the Bottle
15. Take Your Head Off My Shoulder
16. Trying Not To Think About It
17. Hope


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Splitting the Difference # 18 - The Ropers/The Tribbles - everyone has a secret daydream... 7" (1994, Brilliant/Giant Pool Balls)

If Velocity Girl, Tsunami, and Unrest were the meat and potatoes of the mid-90s D.C./Arlington, VA indie circuit, The Ropers were the gravy. I was a sucker for their sweetly clanging chords and bittersweet harmonies from the second I heard their 1994 self-titled ep (technically a singles comp from what I recall) on Slumberland Records. Their contribution here, “Sweet Lord I Know,” is presumably from the same sessions as those crackling, early singles (which I may share in the future). Their lone full-length, All the Time is still available (on wax at least). A criminally overlooked beacon of their era.

I have no background info, nor was I able to find any online regarding the mysterious Tribbles. Since this single was a co-release Richmond, VA based Brilliant label and the German Giant Pool Balls imprint, they may indeed have been a Deutschland export, but sonically, these guys were indie Anglophiles all the way. My best guess is that they were from the States, so I’ll leave it at that, save for anyone that can respond with their exact locale. "Mercury" is a heady slice of flange-heavy dream-pop, while the accompanying "Liberty 5-3000" is as lucid and shimmering as a pristine lake sunrise.
A. The Ropers - Sweet Lord I Know
B1. The Tribbles - Mercury
B2. The Tribbles - Liberty 5-3000

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Johnny and the G-Rays - Every Twist Reminds (1980, Basement)

My initial glance at this strangely iconic sleeve suggested that I could appropriately sandwich this album between my 20/20 and Shoes LPs, if not, next to the Feelies or Talking Heads at the very least. Not so in fact. Toronto's Johnny and the G-Rays to a certain extent predicted such rootsy purveyors as The Del Fuegos and Green on Red, who would follow in the ensuing years. Frontman Johnny MacLeod works out his inner Tom Verlaine, on the opening, and furthermore standout cut, "Trying to Chew My Head," but the quartet's Television-cum-Velvets dabblings are the exception not the rule on Every Twist Reminds. On the other side of the coin, Johnny and the boys aren't wont to be tethered to a bar stool either (though they kick up some serious dust on rockabilly-ish hoe downs like "It Can't Be Right" and "Who Scared John"). Definitely not a band to judge by their jacket sleeve.

Every Twist... was released on Basement Records, a relative of the Attic label that issued the Numbers Add Up LP around the same time. Axe handler Harri Palm and skinsman Bent Rasmussen would eventually materialize in the Diodes. Click the hyperlink in the introduction for a detailed and fun filled biography on Johnny and Co. According to Palm's Myspace page, Every Twist... was remastered last year, and available for purchase on CD via Palm.  You can message the band via Facebook for ordering info.
Update:  You can now buy the reissue of Every Twist... on Bandcamp.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Brave Nu Disk World - Propaganda - Calling on Moscow ep (1980, Epic) & New Musik - Straight Lines ep (1980, Epic)

Epic Records may not have been responsible for the advent of the 10" record, but they made a respectable attempt to popularize the format simultaneously with a clutch of edgy modern rock acts in 1980. The label coined the series as Nu Disks (not so new when old 78 rpm records were 10" too, but anyway). It included installments from Propaganda, New Musik, and the Continentals, but the crown jewels in this micro-roster were the already established Cheap Trick and their Found All the Parts 10" ep (its four tracks later appended to the 2006 reissue of All Shook Up), as well as The Clash's legendary odds and sods disk, Black Market Clash (also reissued, not to mention significantly expanded). Now, onto the bands at hand.

Propaganda weren't the first or last outfit to usurp said four-syllable moniker, but all ubiquities aside, this Brit four-piece, originally going under another likely band name, The Passengers, deliver quite the sharp ep here, Calling On Moscow, with it's title track taking the cake. Propaganda's approach is fairly pedestrian by today's standards, exuding vague likenesses to The Knack and even the Kinks, not to mention a myriad of like-minded UK power-pop combos of the era. They later released a self-titled album that's free for the taking here.

The comparatively more prolific New Musik hung out on the electro-pop end of the new-wave spectrum, releasing this ep, and four albums. Helmed by one Tony Mansfield (future producer of acts like the B52's and Naked Eyes), New Musik's polished, yet slyly cerebral tack earned them the underground hit "They All Run After the Carving Knife" in 1981 (not included on Straight Lines). If this ep is to your liking, you can learn about, and hear a whole swath of New Musik at this thoroughly excellent location. The aforementioned Continentals ep has been thoughtfully documented right here.
Propaganda - Calling On Moscow ep
01. Two Lovers
02. Cowboys Alone
03. Calling on Moscow
04. Something About You (I Don't Like)
New Music - Straight Lines ep
01. Straight Lines
02. On Islands
03. Living By Numbers
04. Sad Films
Propaganda: Hear
New Musik: Hear

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bleached Black - s/t (Relativity, 1987)

I originally learned of Bleached Black via the excellent and sadly departed Feeling Kinda Froggy blog. If memory serves me correctly, the little write-up that went along with it dropped a comparison to Husker Du. That wasn't completely off the mark, but this Connecticut trio didn't quite perform at the whiplash tempos Bob Mould and Co. were wont to indulge in. Bleached Black was released in 1987 on a high profile indie label of the era, Relativity Records, ostensibly sans any significant promotion (after all, I just learned of them 22 years after the fact). Nevertheless, B/B had a simple, but satisfying penchant for slightly left-of-center, indie guitar rock, wielding a pitch-perfect balance of jangle and durable power chords. Trouser Press had these kind words to say:

With crisp sound (production by Lou Giordano) and abundant tunefulness, Bleached Black is an excellent full-length debut. "I Was in Your Life," "Chelsea" and "Circuitry Spiders" typify the band's characteristic mix of energetic drive, alluring harmony vocals and modulated guitar roar. Bleached Black are honing a viable audio personality and seem able to write well enough to make even better records than this.

Get it from Amazon

Friday, May 8, 2009

Silversun Pickups - some rarities (2006-09)

For me, Silversun Pickup's two albums to date, Carnavas (2006), and Swoon (2009, duh) bore a couple of things in common. Both were built on a foundation of amped-out, post-Corgan guitar rawk. It's likely you've reached that very same conclusion, but as far as my earholes were concerned, these albums also left me wanting something else - more. Thankfully there were some leftovers, but you had to dig for them, even with the ubiquity of online file trading and blogs like this one.

Prior to Carnavas, and for that matter the 2005 Pikul ep, Silverlake, CA's finest sons (and daughter) assembled a four-song demo, which from what I can tell was not made commercially available. It contained a quartet of tracks that would be reworked for Carnavas and Pikul, including the 'breakout hit' "Lazy Eye."

In conjunction with the release of Carnavas, was a 7" single that came with the vinyl version of the album that included two non-lp tracks, "Table Scraps" and "Mercury." I believe these two also appeared on certain import CD versions of the album. "Mercury" was also available as a b-side to the "Future Foe Scenarios" 7", also an import from what I can gather.

Fast forward to the present year. In a very unpublicized move, certain indie stores gave away a download code to purchasers of Swoon, to access "bonus tracks." It turned out to be only one bonus track, the righteously heavy "Ne Plus Extra," which was unfortunately mixed at a righteously, ear-splittingly, over-modulated level, almost marring the song itself, save for lowering the volume beforehand (which I strongly advise). Additionally there's another Swoon extra, "Currency of Love," a bonus song to purchasers of the Itunes incarnation of the album. All tracks discussed here can be downloaded in one fell swoop below.

01. Dream at Tempo 119
02. Kissing Families
03. Booksmart Devil
04. Lazy Eye
05. Table Scraps
06. Mercury
07. Currency of Love
08. Ne Plus Ultra

1-4 2004 demos
5 & 6 from Carnavas bonus 7"
7. Swoon Itunes bonus track
8. Swoon download bonus track


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pete Donnelly (The Figgs) - Another Day on You (1999)

I had a request for this when I posted the The Figgs Ginger cassette about a month ago. Precious few know about this extremely limited edition (50 copies so the story goes) solo tape cut by Figgs bassist/songwriter Pete Donnelly. For a release of this format and scarcity, the fidelity is surprisingly excellent. More rewardingly, the ten cuts within aren't bedroom experiments or tossed off "extras" that didn't make the cut for any given Figgs album. I dug a little deeper on this tape, and here's some info I gleaned from article that appeared on Donnelly's Myspace blog in a early 2007.

If you're one of the lucky ones, you might have an old and most-likely, well-loved copy of Pete's solo album (the originals were cassette only, and limited to 50 copies – sorry folks!). The 10-song cassette entitled, Another Day On You, was released in 1999, after the Figgs relationship with Capitol dissolved. Pete was living in Providence at the time, and thinking of ways to reinvent himself and keep afloat at the same time. Song to song, Another Day On You comes off as a very personal and reflective album; even if it was never meant to be its own permanent release. There's almost a scratchy, frenetic energy and even a pained sound to Pete's vocals on these songs that remind me of a mod Rod Stewart – a cooler, mod Rod Stewart – who's gone through a LOT. And the songs themselves, are almost bridge-like in extension of the ones written and played with The Figgs.

"What is this love about? / Is it just a game? / This could be our way out / I want to break / Yeah I know that this is love / 'Cause I have you on my side / I've gotta feel you in my blood / I'm rushin' all the time / We're rushin' all the time …" ("Rushing All The Time", Pete Donnelly)"

I made them because I was going through this thing where I was like 'I'm going to start doing some solo shows to try to make some bread.' I was like, 'What am I doing, I'm getting in debt here.' You know; what's my life all about? Partly, I wanted it to be impermanent too, because I had reservations about the material…it's all stuff that was never completely realized. They're just, you know; sketches, ideas. Putting it on a cassette was kind of like saying, 'Hey, this stuff isn't to be displayed as a real permanent work of art,' It's just kind of like a, I don't know – a view of what I've been up to. I think that every once in a while, I get this feeling I'm going to put together all the music that I've recorded over the years – you know, release a double-CD, probably put some of that stuff on…and there were a few tracks that didn't fit on the cassette."

Can we look forward to a solo Pete Donnelly record? "It kind of gets back to the unfortunate reality of the dollar. One of the goals of mine is to find more time to be creative on my own. I have so little time, whereas when I was younger, you have too much time – and you scare and you explore yourself and your own psyche in your own studio or whatever. And, yet, Another Day On You is such a home recording record, that "Rushing All the Time" is from a studio in Conshohocken [PA] as a matter of fact. But you know, it's really personal because of the state of mind that you're in when you're alone, and by yourself… You're much more vulnerable than when you're working with other people."

By the way, one Mike Viola guests on a cut here, but you'll have to download the tape so you can take a gander at the sleeve notes to find out which track specifically.

01. Behind The Train
02. The Place Is Packed
03. Rushing All The Time
04. Another Day On You
05. guitar instrumental
06. Under Blankets
07. All Your Empty Memories
08. Letters to Friends
09. Shooting Away
10. Erased

Now on Bandcamp.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Poster Children - Clock Street CDS (1993, Creation)

I really can't speak for most Poster Children fans, but for my proverbial "money" their last truly phenomenal album was 1993's Tool of the Man. I could extol on why I think the Kids kind of lost it shortly thereafter, largely by gimmicking-up their act, but I'll spare you. With that out of the way, this scarcely distributed CD single (or ep, take your pick) usurps no less than three Tool of the Man outtakes for it's b-sides, making it the perfect companion to the LP. "Everything Burns" and "Outside In," exhibit those wonderfully skittish, yet nimble chords that you've come to know and love from the P Kids since day one, while "Matter Crush" is decidedly more downcast, possessing a plodding backbeat and the strangely tuneful moxie of mouthpiece/axe-slinger Rick Valentin. You can enjoy some earlier Poster Children uploads here and here.

01. Clock Street (edit)
02. Everything Burns
03. Matter Crush
04. Outside In


Splitting the Difference # 17 - Fastbacks/Meices (1995, Gearhead)

This 'lil slab of wax is nothing short of a barnburner. The long-running (and now sadly defunct) Seattle denizens The Fastbacks get their punk on in a big way here, rampaging through three UK Subs covers within the span of a mere five minutes! As intense as anything you're likely to hear this side of a Dead Kennedys or early Bad Religion record. The Meices, who we've previously discussed here, careen their way down Remake Road as well, delivering a blaring, hyper-distorted treatment to the Sonics cult-classic, "She's Waiting." Something tells me the meters in the studio this ditty was tracked at bleed well into the red. Truthfully, the Meices overdo it, but their enthusiasm is without peer.
01. Rat Race
02. I Live in a Car
03. Telephone Numbers

Meices - He's Waiting


Monday, May 4, 2009

Brown Lobster Tank - Our First Album (1994, Boring)

Southern Cali’s Brown Lobster Tank (their moniker later truncated to The Tank in response to a potential lawsuit) were to Big Drill Car what Badfinger was to The Beatles – a protégé band, albeit the stakes and expectations were considerably more modest for BLT than Pete Ham and Co. Furthermore, this release was even recorded and mixed by Big Drill head-hanco Mark Arnold. Like their pop-punkin’ forbearers, the quartet had their antecedents in the hook-addled skate-core rock originally formulated by the Descendants. And that's a good thing.

As the title of this cassette-only release denotes, this is Brown Lobster Tank’s debut salvo, however it functions more as glorified demos for their second album, Tooth Smoke, on Dr. Strange Records, which reprised the bulk of this tape's ten cuts in rerecorded incarnations. Arguably, the most notable selection on Our First Album is a leaves-nothing-to-the-imagination tribute to "film" titan Ron Jeremy, supposedly inspired by a dream (dare I presume, um, a soggy one)? Incidentally, Jeremy provided a voice-over to the new and improved Tooth Smoke version of the song that bears his namesake. Now that’s class. The remainder of this tape offers significantly more relatable, post-adolescent themes, and in general is a lovingly raw, start-to-finish corker.

I’m also appending an eleventh song, “Fluffy,” a priceless paean to the trials and tribulations of alopecia. This track appeared on the 1996, Pogo, Strut, Slam, Swivel + Mosh comp

The post-Tooth Smoke Tank released their next album There is No “I” in Band in 1999, and the belated follow-up,
Remodel in ’07.

01. Bah
02. Fubb
03. Ron Jeremy
04. Buzzer
05. Homebrew
06. Sunshine
07. Bebo
08. Beautiful Loser
09. Smoking Is Cool
10. C.H.I.X.
plus: Fluffy


Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Reactions - Cracked Marbles ep (1986, Homestead)

Cleveland's Cracked Marbles weren't the biggest contenders in the Homestead Records stable. Not by a longshot in fact, but that didn't stop them from creating this wholly admirable ep, exuding a fevered, guitar-centric palette falling somewhere between the Feelies and the Smithereens. The trio's bio humorously opines:

In an era where dogshit REM-alike tunes are flooding our turntables, the Reactions have already clocked in with two of the ‘80s coolest indie singles, in “Tomorrows Time Today” and “I Want You” (the later is included here).
The Reactions indeed were not REM sound-alikes, but not completely removed from those sonic environs either. Six very strong cuts with nary a dud in the bunch. Would love to know if there's anything else floating around by these fellas aside from this record and the aforementioned singles.
01. Cracked Marbles
02. I Want You
03. Flowers and Tears
04. Don’t You Care
05. Tell Me
06. Don’t Look Back