Friday, July 31, 2009

The Sneetches - Sometimes That's All We Have (1988, Alias)

Fulfilling a request here in response to my Sneetches post from last week for their Starfucker and Think Again eps. For a sophomore album, Sometimes That's All We Have is remarkably accomplished, filled to the brim with deftly crafted, classicist pop, informed by the likes of John Lennon and Leonard Cohen. The album is extremely tough to come by on CD. This rip was taken from my vinyl copy.

01. Unusual Sounds
02. Don't Turn Back
03. In a Perfect Place
04. Empty Sea
05. Sometimes That's All We Have
06. Run in the Sun
07. Mrs. Markle
08. Nowhere at All
09. Take My Hand
10. Another Shitty Day
11. You're Gonna Need Her
12. It's Looking Like Me


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Splitting the Difference # 24 - Pitchblende/Swirlies - Working Holidays (November) (1993, Simple Machines) + bonus!

Once upon a time, say 1993, a good-hearted indie label based in Arlington,Virginia had a brash and innovative idea - release a series of split 7" singles every month for a full calendar year, featuring the creme de la creme of the indie pop underground. And so it came to pass, from January to December of 1993, Simple Machines Records followed the clever blueprint outlined above, pumping out twelve split 45's, graced by such period luminaries as Small Factory, Versus, Nothing Painted Blue, Superchunk, and the Swirlies. A funny thing happened when Simple Machines decided to compile all the tracks onto one CD however wasn't enough room for all 24 songs. By sheer coincidence, two of the participants, Bratmobile and the Swirlies opted out of the digital migration. As luck would have it though, I bought the November installment which included the Swirlies, who we've featured here before. It's a damn good thing too because these fractured, heavily-flanged dream-popsters delivered a keeper, "Trudy," that you could only get here. In fact, this minute and forty-nine seconds of whammy bar wonderment would have fit like a glove on one of their early Taang! Records singles, or equally so their Blonder Tongue Audio Baton album. As for the band on the opposite side of the record, Pitchblende, their selection "A Penny For the Guy" did make the CD cut. I was never an aficionado for their dynamic brand of noisenik rawk, but that's just me.

As a bonus for you Swirlies fans, I'm also sharing a downright lo-fi four-song demo they cut in 1991, which features an early incarnation of "Trudy," as well as "Chris R," which would become a relatively popular single side.

Working Holidays November 7"
A. Pitchblende - A Penny For the Guy
B. Swirlies - Trudy

Swirlies - 1991 demo
01. Chris R.
02. Didn't Understand
03. Trudy
04. Crush

7": Hear
Swirlies demos: Hear

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pure Joy - s/t ep (1986, Dwindle); Unsung (rec.1987, released 1995, Flydaddy); Sore Throte, Ded Goat 7" ep (1990, No Threes)

In 1992 I went gonzo for a band called Flop, a Northwest combo I was exposed to via a Damned tribute CD, Another Damned Seattle Compilation (possible topic for a future post). Their rip-roaring remake of "Disco Man" had me scurrying for more Flop pronto, and as luck had it, they had recently released their 16-song debut LP, Flop and the Fall of the Mopsqueezer! Though they hailed from the city that put grunge on the map, the quartet helmed by the singular vocal timbre of one Rusty Willoughby, drew a hell of a lot more inspiration from the Buzzcocks than Black Sabbath, and were all the more refreshing for it too. After Mopsqueezer! came two more albums, the Epic Records minted Whenever You're Ready in '93, and their 1995, barely remembered swan song, World of Today, back on Frontier Records where they started. For all intents and purposes, this post isn't about Flop per se, rather Willoughby's prior band, Pure Joy - an outfit I discovered posthumously, but ultimately found to be just as substantive than Flop.

I'm presenting you with three Pure Joy releases, their first LP (Unsung) and a pair of eps. Starting things off is a four-song, self-titled 12" from 1986, quite possibly issued by the band themselves, as no bona-fire record label is given, rather simply credited to "Dwindle Music." On their maiden voyage, Pure Joy were clearly not punk...or grunge...or new wave...or none of that. There's definitely an indie bent to the ep, often times duplicating the ringing, modern guitar rock laid out by bands like the Church. The overall effect is that of a louder Three O'Clock (remember them?) sans the psychedelia. On this record, Rusty is accompanied on keyboards by his brother, Randy Willoughby. Definitely their most "pop" record, and in a class by itself when compared to their full lengths.

Technically, the first proper Pure Joy album to hit the marketplace was a disk called Carnivore on Popllama Records in 1989, but was actually preceded by an album recorded in 1987 that wasn't released until the mid-90s. That record was Unsung, and while Carnivore is still preferred by a lot of fans, Unsung ain't no slouch, containing some of Pure Joy's purely greatest, like "Calvin and Hobbes" and "Standing on a Bridge." The jangly guitars are thankfully still present and accounted for, but the sonic ante is upped significantly resulting in a thicker, more robust sound.

That leads us to the final Pure Joy release, a live 7" ep, Sore Throte, Ded Goat, recorded as trio in 1989 or 1990 (no exact date specified) at a joint called The Vogue. It features an especially potent version of "Standing on a Bridge" (as mentioned above) along with five more songs, including John Lennon's "Gimme Some Truth," which unfortunately cuts out at the end, because "the tape ran out," or so sayeth the sleeve notes.
Pure Joy reconvened in 1997 with their third album, Getz, the Worm, and again in 2003 for Gelatin and Bright. Rusty Willoughby has also released a couple of solo CDs, most recently Filament Dust, available here. If that wasn't enough Rusty had yet another band making the rounds a few years ago called Llama. In fact, go this page to download a whole mess 'o Llama songs. You'll be glad you did. I hope. More info can be gleaned on Pure Joy over at Lamestain blog.
Pure Joy ep
01. The Attempt
02. Courage
03. Ocean
04. Words Conceal
01. New Psychotic Dream
02. Standing on a Bridge
03. Calvin and Hobbes
04. Essence
05. Deviant
06. Orphan Sky
07. Gun Thing
08. Holocaust
09. Turmoil
Sore Throte, Ded Goat ep
Side A: Jester/Mary the Whore/Division
Side B: Standing on a Bridge/Pieces/Gimme Some Truth
Pure Joy ep: Hear
Unsung: Hear
Sore Throte, Ded Goat ep: Hear

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Soup Dragons - The Sun Is in the Sky ep (1986, Subway Organization)

It was 1991 or thereabouts, and Scotland's Soup Dragons had brewed up a colossal hit with their acid-house reconfiguration of the Rolling Stones "I Feel Free"....and I could give a rats ass. In fact when they quietly disappeared a few years later (along with the rest of the Madchester scene), I'm sure I was subconciously delighted they were off the radar. That was until the mid-90s when I had read in more than a few places that early in their career, the Soup Dragons more or less aped The Buzzcocks.

Hmmm. Being the Buzzcocks fan I was/still am, I decided to do some investigating, within budget mind you. I found a tape of their full-length debut This Is Our Art. Hardly the stuff of Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle, but at least the breakbeats and wah-wah hadn't kicked in yet. I delved a little deeper and investigated their Hang Ten! release, a cobbled together collection of early ep tracks. I was getting a little warmer, but if anything the material on Hang Ten! (some claim this to be their strongest release, btw) was a loose afterthought of the just passed C86 indie pop phenom. It wasn't until the last couple years that I learned of the Soup Dragons pre-Hang Ten! ep, The Sun Is in the Sky. Bingo - or as close as I would come to what I had been pining for anyway. The slightly off-kilter tenor inhabiting "Swirling Round The Garden With You" and "Fair's Fair" did indeed pack some serious crunch, but not so much the firepower I had anticipated. At any rate The Sun... is a fun, respectable DIY record, and a motif that for better or worse, the Soup Dragons would quickly abandon.
01. Quite Content
02. Swirling Round The Garden With You
03. Fair's Fair
04. Not For Humbert

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Trypes - The Explorer's Hold ep (1984, Coyote); Speed the Plough - s/t (1988, Coyote)

Word went out late last week that the first two Feelies albums, the critically lauded Crazy Rhythms (1980) and it's somewhat belated follow-up The Good Earth (1986) will be reissued on Bar/None Records in September. Though this post is hardly devoted to the Feelies, it actually concerns two spin-off bands, The Trypes and Speed the Plough, who's first album I was inspired to dig up this week upon news of the aforementioned reissues.
During that six year hiatus between the first two Feelies albums, The Trypes were formed in 1984 and released one ep to their credit, The Explorer's Hold. To get a grip on The Trypes/STP exact lineage to the Feelies, Trouser Press once again lays it out a lot better than I ever could:

Speed the Plough began as the Trypes, a little-known but continuing band at one point joined by three Feelies (Glenn Mercer, Stan Demeski and Bill Million) on hiatus. Together with John Baumgartner (keyboards), Marc Francia (guitar), Toni Paruta (woodwinds) and Brenda Sauter (bass), they made The Explorers Hold, a placid and introspective 1984 EP. When the Feelies left (taking Sauter with them) to reactivate their band, the remaining threesome recruited new members and became Speed the Plough.

The seven-piece Trypes eschewed some of the spare, ringing guitar pop the Feelies reveled in on Crazy Rhythms, and instead opted for something multi-fold more textured and organic, with detours into heady psychedelia ("Love You Two") and Velvets-y folk ("The Undertow").

Regarding the last sentence in the blue text critique from Trouser Press, Speed the Plough were essentially Feelie-less by the time the released their self-titled debut. In theory, STP could have sonically manifested themselves as the exact same band had the Feelies not been within their sphere of influence. In a near-perfect assessment of the record, Ira Robbins of Trouser Press fame opines: Their eponymous debut is rough around the handsome, rustic edges; although clearly Feelies-influenced (thanks especially to Jim DeRogatis' prim and precise drumming). Rustic indeed, but there's also a contemplative element that imbues this album as well. The band's robust six-individual lineup, coupled with refined, glowing arrangements involving accordions, woodwinds and saxophones, lends itself to a dense, indigenous latticework of sorts, that by and large works to a tee. I have yet to come across this album on CD, and don't own the vinyl incarnation of it either. My rip of this album was culled straight from an original cassette. Not what you would deem perfect fidelity...but what are you gonna do about it?

The Trypes - The Explorer's Hold
01. (From the) Morning Glories
02. Love You Too
03. Music for Neighbors
04. The Undertow

Speed the Plough
01. River Street
02. Verzprem
03. Big Bus
04. Tommy's House
05. Ella's Way
06.Cardinal Rules
07. No Ones's Alone
08. Blue Bicycle
09. Everyday Needs

Update: The Trypes ep has been reissued and expanded.  Get it on wax or digitally.

Speed the Plough: Now on Bandcamp

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Sneetches - Think Again ep (1993, Bus Stop) & Starfucker ep (1995, Bus Stop)

For a blog with an emphasis on indie and power pop, I'd say I'm overdue for a feature on The Sneetches. For a brief overview, Trouser Press, perfectly encapsulates the essence of the band:
Led by singer/guitarist Matt Carges and singer/bassist/guitarist Mike Levy, San Francisco's Sneetches were one of the most tasteful, consistently tuneful pop bands on the American scene. Echoes of the Zombies, Left Banke and Easybeats (they've covered songs by all three) abound; simple, uncluttered arrangements let their like-minded originals' substantial charms shine through.

If you're going to make comparisons, especially of the Merseybeat variety, you can bet The Byrds were just as important inspirational antecedents as the aforementioned, and nowhere is this more evident than on a trio of singles cut for the Bus Stop label, cut around 1990. The Think Again ep (a mini compilation thereof) boasts six solid numbers, kicking off with "...And I'm Thinking," an entirely retro-fitted nod to Roger McGuinn. An equally potent dose of the same magic spills over to a resplendent rendering of The Zombies "She Does Everything for Me." Yet another cover is included here, that of Buffalo Springfield's (Neil Young) "Flying on the Ground."

1994 gave rise to the Sneetches fourth and final proper full-length, Blow Out the Sun. The Starfucker ep (a heck of a lot less raunchy than it's namesake would imply) is comprised of seven outtakes (really demos) from the Blow Out sessions. The British Invasion vibes, as indelible as they are, have to compete with an equal awareness of the dB's, Alex Chilton, and the like. As far as leftovers go, some of these songs were definitely LP worthy. Blow Out the Sun is worth seeking out by the way, as is 1985-1991, a handly distillation of early album tracks and outtakes.
Think Again ep
01. ...and i'm thinking
02. i think it's alright
03. julianna why
04. she does everything for me
05. flying on the ground
06. a good thing
Starfucker ep
01. Watch Me Burn
02. Caroline Goodbye
03. The Fool For You
04. Get Along With Me
05. This Time
06. They Keep Me Running
07. The Dog in You
Think AgainHear
Starfucker: Hear

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Idle Strand - Blackberry Way & Cut and Run (1996, Line)

The Idle Strand were a Minneapolis trio, who put out a pair of albums in the '80s, Blackberry Way & Cut and Run. They were reissued on CD by the German Line Records label, but there's nada in the way of biographical info to be found in the booklet...or online...or anywhere. In fact, even the track list fails to denote where one album ends and the other begins. What we do have are 23 songs, many of them loosely akin to Let's Active and the dB's, circa the latter's Like This LP, though not as alluring. Despite a few misfires, there's still enough of that "New South" sound (ironic of course given the group's subfreezing locale) to make The Idle Strand recommendable.

01. In My Own Room
02. Tonight
03. Don’t Come Back
04. White House
05. I’m Travelin’ (Ma’am)
06. Veronica
07. Thru My Eyes
08. Girl
09. Soldiers on the Street
10. Good Bye
11. We Could Be
12. Tortured Heart
13. Fight
14. You Don’t Care
15. Phil & Don
16. She Loves Me
17. Cactus Crawl
18. Looking at Me
19. On the Line
20. To a Man
21. Shake My Tree
22. My Heart
23. Wasted on You


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Philisteens - Walkin a Thin Line/Your Picture 12" (1983, Radio Free America)

About four months ago I shared one of my more recent "retro" discoveries, the self titled, 1982 album from Albuquerque’s Philisteens. It was a stunning example of ballsy power-pop making a head on collision with the riff-roaring persuasion of punk, and it looks like a lot of you were on board with me. On this brief follow-up, the Philisteens softened their tact, without blunting it - at least not for the most part. More commercially aware, no doubt about it (the pronounced keyboards are a dead giveaway), but it still grinds any of their "modern rock" contemporaries into kitty litter. There are all kinds of snaps and pops here, therefore if I should obtain a cleaner copy an upgrade will be imminent.

A. Walkin a Thin Line
B. Your Picture


Splitting the Difference # 23 Carlisle Sound/Reports 7" (2005, Paper Cities)

If it weren't for in-store listening booths, this 45 would not have made it to my blog, so a big thanks to Last Vestige in Albany. Carlisle Sound are/were a fine Cambridge, MA quartet who's discography may in fact be limited to this split single. Kind of a shame if that's in fact the case, because on "Holiday" they make good use of incessantly ringing fretwork a la such C86 inspired combos as The Close Lobsters and Dentists, while managing not to sound like a wholesale throwback in the process. I suggest they were a fine band on the basis of their neglected Myspace page, which happens to mention:

"The melody's in the music...and we're not gonna lose it." Carlisle Sound began in 2001 at 6 1/2 Carlisle St. Cambridge, MA. Every member of the groop plays in another band that is far more popular than the Sound. Andrew the drummer owns Pants Yell!, Rocco's got Reports, Alex rides the Ponies in the Surf, and Casey is a current member of Major Stars.

The Reports, as name dropped in the little factoid above, grace the other side of this wax. Tough they would become more prolific than Carlisle Sound, "The Hostess" is merely ok slacker indie-rawk, noisy at the beginning, hushed towards the end, and moreover, too non-descript and ineffectual. You can check out a handful of much more proficient Reports tunes on their Myspace page. BTW, since this single appears to still be available through Paper Cities Records, I'm only going to leave this up for a few days. If you like what you hear, you know the drill.

Carlisle Sound - Holiday
The Reports - The Hostess

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Donnie Iris - Fortune 410 (1983, MCA)

As much of an appreciation I have for Donnie Iris today, I think I'd doubly enjoy his music had I not discovered it two decades after the fact. Nevertheless, I'm still pretty enamored with his first couple of solo LPs, Back on the Streets and King of Cool, both brimming with fevered energy and the whip-smart acumen of such singer/songwriter forebearers as Todd Rundgren. For his fourth album, Fortune 410, (never issued on CD to my knowledge) Donnie takes far greater advantage of synthesizers and programed accoutrement's than ever before - hardly a surprise for it's era. Right down to the sleeve art, this is an album decidedly tailored for the digital age - fun, savvy, even a bit robotic, but for all it's innovative modernity, Fortune's glossier chimerical inclinations make for a less organic listening experience, and worst of all, hardly furthered the man's visibility. Nevertheless, this is still worth a spin if Donnie Iris is in general your thing, of if you merely want to indulge in a healthy dose of gratuitous '8os synth rock.

01. Human Evolution
02. Stage Door Johnny
03. Cry If You Want To
04. Tell Me What You Want
05. I Belong
06. She's So European
07. I'm a User
08. Never Did I
09. Somebody
10. Do You Compute?

Back in print!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hollins Ferry - s/t (1977, Port City)

I certainly wish I could say I own this record, however I once again face the options of not sharing this at all, or going with a virtual facsimile I was able to procure by the grace of file sharing platform Soulseek. I learned of Hollins Ferry a few years ago, upon doing a random power-pop search on Ebay. Amidst all the Yellow Pills comps and Matthew Sweet disks, I stumbled upon a listing for this ostensibly ultra-rare LP from Baltimore's Hollins Ferry, yet another in a long line of Wilfully Obscure entries where I have minimal background details to allow me to expound at greater length. As was the case with all the crucial proto-power pop bands of the '70s, this trio were clearly groomed on the Beatles, particularly Paul McCartney's contributions. Furthermore, Hollins Ferry wear a myriad of period influences on their collective sleeve, including Emitt Rhodes, Badfinger, and somewhat less pronounced, Pilot, CSNY, and Big Star circa Radio City. I've decided not to be a spoiler, and will instead let you play "spot the influence" on a song-by-song basis at your leisure, but there are several highlights lurking in the grooves here including "Surprise," '"Too Bad About Sorrows," and the sublime opener "Take My Love." Though not a through-and-through goldmine, this album is special enough to warrant a reissue (not to mention an "Extremely, Highly Recommended" touting from Not Lame Records' Bruce Brodeen). Maybe someday.

An insightful review of the record can be read here, while guitarist Rob Fahey has his own site, but divulges virtually no details on Hollins Ferry, save for a pic of the record sleeve. Fahey found greater success in the eighties with his subsequent band, The Ravyns (featured on the Fast Times at Ridgemont High soundtrack), and continues to perform solo on a fairly copious basis.

01. Take My Love
02. Downtime Menagerie
03. Sparkles
04. Lonely CIty
05. Suprise
06. Love From Above
07. Too Bad About Sorrows
08. Morning Breezes
09. Turn Your Back
10. Patent Leather Lady
11. The Journey
12. Love You Forever

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New Flamingos - In the Pink ep (1983)

The New Flamingos were a Seattle power pop quartet who’s discography, to my knowledge, began and ended with this 1983 ep. Fronted by brothers Jim and David Keller, The Flamingos sported an everyman flair, doling out mid-paced, slightly wave-eqsue rock a la groups like The A’s, an fellow Seattle denizens The Heats. “I’m Not Crying” is my song of choice here, while “Bo Diddley Didn’t Know” oozes with the rootsy vibe that it’s title implies.

Scroll towards the bottom of this page to partake in a non-ep New Flamingos track, “I’m the One.” Jim’s current project is The Fentons.

01. U.S. Dolls
02. I'm Not Crying
03. Bo Diddley Didn't Know
04. Moment of Glory

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Candy Machine - s/t (1993, Skene)

Not only am I fulfilling a request here, I'm also providing you good people with a fitting after-dinner mint to my recent Jawbox odds and sods post. Candy Machine weren't from D.C. (Baltimore actually), but they did have close ties to Dischord and DeSoto Records (the latter label released their third and final album, Tune International). Early on, Candy Machine developed a very indigenous, and frankly "art-damaged" strain of post-punk rock, with their calling card being frontman Peter Quinn, or more specifically his ranty, spoken vox, which were no doubt off-putting to those with a more melodically inclined palette. This is their debut, but they really outdid themselves on their next and most widely-circulated album, A Modest Proposal. A Myspace fanpage (linked above) offers this tidy backgrounder:

In 1990, while ad agencies and record companies in NY and LA were busy scrambling to produce a marketable identity for the youth culture Derrick Buisch (bass), Joseph Heeg(drums), and Peter Quinn(vox) were holed up in the Hat Factory warehouses in Baltimore. Having just lost Jamie Panzer to Austin, Tx, the three decided to hide out from the gluttony of Miller Lite guitarists in order to begin. It wasn't until Daniel Papkin was introduced to the band that The Candy Machine came into full fruition. After 2 self released tapes, DeSoto records put out the Candy Machine cardboard 7" that would get The Candy Machine out into the light of the rest of the country. In 1992, Skene records, through the mastermind connection of Damon Locks (Trenchmouth) released 25, the bands first full length CD. Soon later (Heeg moves to Germany, and Buisch moves to Minneapolis) co-conspirators Lyle Kissack and Forrest French join the band on drums and bass. After the 7" release "Love of Politics, Politics of Love" (SKENE) and a handful of tours, the band and Forrest French parts ways in 1993 making way for Panzer to move back from Austin to re-join the band on bass. This new Machine would soon record and release A Modest Proposal (SKENE) which would soon after be aptly described as "a blueprint for chaos" and thus reflect how the band was stranded in an ice storm in the flooded WGNS studios. Reaching underground notoriety, the reinvented Candy Machine, after touring the US and Canada, decides to leave Skene records to look for a more conducive vehicle for their next release. In 1997, the Candy Machine find themselves back at the eastern seaboard with long awaited Dischord/DeSoto release Tune International maintaining the group aesthetic vision while reinventing themselves again, beyond classification. They continued their saga of a never ending line-up changes with the recruitment of bassist Nat Rabb and keyboardist Chuck Scott before calling it quits the following year. 
01. The Merchant's Square
02. Macrobat
03. A Better Low
04. The Coupling
05. Two Figures
06. The Constant
07. Theme For a Murder
08. Dolphins
09. Louisiana
10. The Colorization of Friction's Head
11. Shining
12. untitled 

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sugarplastic - demo tape (199?)

Almost since Wilfully Obscure's inception, I've gone on and on about one of the finest band's to ever grace the City of Angels, that band being the curiously monikered, slyly XTC-flavored Sugarplastic. With five albums, a 7" box set (Ottawa Bonesaw) and a handful of singles under their collective belt, I thought I had made my Sugarplastic collection complete years ago. Turns out there was a missing piece of the puzzle I had yet to procure. A Sugarplastic "demo tape" made it's way onto Ebay a few weeks ago, and within a few days of making it's way onto my radar the item had been seized by yours truly.

As I may have mentioned in one of previous Sugarplastic posts, the band's first release was in fact the Ottawa Bonesaw box set on Pronto Records. Turns out this was their first official release. The tape in question, coming unadorned with recording details of any sort, includes three songs that would make it onto Bonesaw, the same versions in fact (I'm about 95% sure on this). The real find here is an early version of "The Way This Is," later retooled for their smash-hit Geffen release, Bang, The Earth is Round. The "tape" is a TDK Professional Master Series Sound Master tape, so we're talking some pretty high-falutin' "let's impress the living daylights out of a few potential LA indie clubs that might book us a show or two" stuff going on here. And the rest is history. Maybe I'll get around to sharing the complete Ottawa Bonesaw box one of these days. For now, n-joy.
01. Ottawa Bonesaw
02. The Way This Is
03. Brownly Corderoid
04. Debussy and Me

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Spectres (featuring Glen Matlock) - two singles (1980, Demon/Direct Hit)

Earlier this year, some of you may recall my share of the Rich Kids Burning Sounds CD of demos and outtakes. Rich Kids of course were a British post-punk quartet who’s lineup featuring Midge Ure (pre-Ultravox) and Glen Matlock (former Sex Pistol) seemed to be more heralded than the music contained on their lone LP, Ghosts of Princes in Towers. Turns out when I was doing some fact checking on the Rich Kids, it came to my attention there was yet another outfit from a similar period that Matlock was not only involved with, but apparently fronted as well – The Spectres. Background info on them isn’t terribly robust (with the exception of this highly informative essay), but the vitals are that Matlock, along with four other blokes, including Budgie (of Siouxsie fame), Steve New (a holdover from Rich Kids) and Danny Kustow of the Tom Robinson band, met up in 1979, and recorded all of two singles. Originally billed as The Jimmy Norton Explosion, the soon to be re-christened Spectres also recorded a Peel session and opened for the Ramones in London in 1980. Potential contracts with Arista and Geffen never materialized, as well as the prospect of hiring David Bowie as producer. Ultimately, their pair of 45s were released on indies, Demon and Direct Hit Records, however The Spectres did garner publishing through Warner Brothers.

The best of their scant, four-song oeuvre, in my opinion is the a-side to their debut wax, “Stories,” which features politely whirring keyboards and perky trumpets that go a long way in defining this sprite keeper. Their second offering the “Strange Effect” single on Direct Hit wasn’t quite as striking, but for a moment or two, Matlock’s pipes suspiciously resemble Stiv Bators on said song. Very interesting.
Demon Records 7"
01. Stories
02. Things 
Direct Hit Records 7"
03. The Strange Effect
04. Getting Away With Murder 


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Jawbox - Another Scrapbook of Even More Fatal Accidents (1989-1996)

While they never quite put the post-hardcore punk movement on the map during their run in the '90s, Jawbox were certainly one of the best purveyors of the genre, and perhaps the best in their hometown of D.C. Over the course of four thoroughly recommendable albums: Grippe (1991), Novelty (1992), For Your Own Special Sweetheart (1994), and Jawbox (1996) and a spate of singles and compilation appearances, Jawbox fused together a dissonant, amped-out guitar sprawl with a kinetic rhythm section, fronted by powerful leadman Jay Robbins. Getting their start on the interminable Dischord Records, the band made a surprising jump to a major in 1993, Atlantic, and recorded their two best albums for them despite not having much to show for themselves (or the label) thereafter. The quartet folded in 1997 without much fanfare. This of course is the short story, but for those who've been acquainted with their music, it speaks for itself much better than any blurb can.

In 1998, Jawbox released a CD of rarities, b-sides, and live material, My Scrapbook of Fatal Accidents. It left a few things out however, including an eight-song demo recorded in 1989 that kicks off this fan-curated sequel. The demo features a pair of songs, "Beneath the Wheel" and "Motherlode," that were never rerecorded for any future release. Another Scrapbook... also contains six live selection from their Your Choice Live series split CD with Leatherface, tracks from Atlantic Records promo disks, and Dischord singles. This collection may not be a representative primer for new Jawbox listeners, but it does an excellent job of culling together all that was left on the cutting room floor, and functions as a logical companion to the official My Scrapbook of Fatal Accidents disk, that I believe is still available through the band's in-house DeSoto label.
01. Tools and Chrome
02. Bullet Park
03. Beneath the Wheel
04. Footbinder
05. Consolation Prize
06. Paint Out the Light
07. Motherlode
08. Something Must Break (Joy Division cover)
09. Iodine (demo)
10. Lil' Shaver
11. 68
12. Chump II
13. Thin White Line (Avengers cover)
14. Falk
15. Jackpot Plus
16. Motorist
17. Absenter
18. Chinese Fork Tie
19. Tools and Chrome (cello version, not performed by Jawbox)
20. FF=66
21. Green Glass
22. Tongues
23. Chinese Fork Tie
24. Chicago Piano
25. Motorist
1-8 from 1989 demo
9 & 13. from Atlantic Records promo-only releases
10 & 11. b-sides to "Savory" cd single
12. from Jabberjaw: Good to the Last Drop compilation
14. from Simple Machines singles club 7"
15 & 16. Dischord Records 7"
17 & 18. DeSoto Records 7"
19. from Jawbox on Cello: a Benefit for Cal Robbins by Gordon Withers
20-25. from Your Choice Live split CD w/ Leatherface

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Chune - Burnt (1993, Headhunter/Cargo)

By today's standards (or more accurately, stereotypes) San Diego's long defunct Chune would be regarded as something of a proto-emo relic. True, this quartet did bear the wrought hallmarks of such bygone Caulfield Records bands as Boys Life, but in addition, Chune exuded a math-y finesse, buttressed with dense, broadsiding dynamics that put them squarely in league with Drive Like Jehu and Spavid, the latter of whom I've previously dedicated a post to. Lengthy is a word that's duly apropos for most of the selections on Burnt, but the band falls shy of any ponderous ennui. Chune would deliver an even more convincing follow-up in three-years time, Big Hat, No Cattle, which can be obtained at this fine location.

01. Clauos
02. Mei Brown
03. Turd
04. Johnny Bravo meets the Phantom of the Park
05. C-Lord
06. Pasta Fagioli
07. Magnus


Friday, July 10, 2009

Bum - I Am Superwoman (1994, Munster) & Make It or Break It (1995, Imposible)

Ok, thought I’d follow up my Bum singles post with a couple of hard to find and way out of print albums. If you read my previous screed, I championed Bum’s debut long-player Wanna Smash Sensation in a big way. Well, here are the two albums that followed in Wanna Smash's sadly ignored wake. I Am Superwoman, released by Munster Records in 1994, essentially charts Bum’s fairly smooth transition from hook-savvy pop-punks to something a little more garagey. “I Wanna Be,” an impressive single side, is redone here, as well as “Bent on Being Bent,” originally on Wanna Smash, but appearing here minus the trumpets and car horns. Most of Superwoman’s knockout punches occur on the first side. The album actually made it to CD, but this rip was taken from a sparkling clean vinyl copy, the more available of the two formats from what I recall.

By the time they got around to Make It or Break It, Bum were a far different sounding animal. An eight-song mini-album (vinyl-only from what I can tell), Make It... is a grower, with perhaps only the lead-off track, “O Cookie” resembling those early singles I so revere. A prime example of Bum’s renovated modus operandi is “The Right On Girl,” a throwback to early ‘60s jukebox ballads. As for the “garage” quotient, that’s best evidenced by Make It’s four covers, including a run through the Flamin’ Groovies “Headin’ For the Texas Border,” and “Savage,” originally penned by the decidedly more obscure Fun Things, a late ‘70s Aussie combo that you can investigate by clicking the hyper-link.
I Am Superwoman
01. Your Name Was Next to Mine
02. I Wanna Be
03. Weekend
04. Bent on Being Bent
05. 1983
06. Got Yourself Together
07. Don’t Come Close to Me
08. Raped and Freezing
09. Oh No
10. My Pal

Make It or Break It
01. O Cookie
02. Really Outta Time
03. Savage
04. Vitamin V
05. Disaster Movies
06. Kill
07. The Right On Girl
08. Headin’ for the Texas Border
I Am SuperwomanHear
Make It or Break ItHear

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Church - random rarities

Looks like I may be offline for a couple of days, so to tide you over 'til the weekend, I present to you a self-curated compilation of rare b-sides and the like from one of the greatest Rickenbacker-wielding conglomerations of all time - The Church. Sure, they've had the Aussie tag pinned to them since day one, but these they're all scattered around different parts of the globe. If you're a fan, you know their collective locales are irrelevant. And how about maintaining their core, original lineup of Steve Kilbey, Peter Koppes, and Marty Wilson-Piper for the better part of their three-decade existence?

I've resisted the temptation from dedicating posts to The Church in the past for the simple fact that, thankfully, they've done such a damn good job of keeping their back catalog in print. Not an easy feat for a band with just shy of 20 albums to their credit! Here are a few that got away, so to speak including a crucial early b-side, "Busdriver" the band was (supposedly) too embarrassed to include on any of their recent reissues, as well as "Wardance," an outtake from the Gold Afternoon Fix demo sessions. Lots more b-side gold to indulge in here. Source info for each track is below. Enjoy. 
01. She Never Said (vinyl-only single vers)
02. Busdriver (b-side of Unguarded Moment)
03. When You Were Mine (vinyl single edit)
04. Tantalized (single edit)
05. Unsubstantiated (from Tequila Sunrise sndtrk)
06. Roomful of Diamonds (Radiators cover)
07. Nightmare (b-side of Ripple)
08. Fog (b-side of Ripple)
09. White Star Line (b-side NSEW)
10. Gypsy Stomp (b-side NSEW)
11. Anyway (b-side of Louisiana)
12. Lizard (b-side of Louisiana)
13. Warm Oily Voices (outtake)
14. Wardance (Gold Afternoon Fix demo)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Porcelain Boys - 20th Century Masters: The Singles Collection (1988-90)

Ok, here's the second (and perhaps final) post regarding the second best power-trio to emanate from the North Star State (that's Minnesota for those not in know, like me two minutes ago before I looked up the state's nickname on Google). The dozen 7" and comp tracks assembled here predate the Porcelain Boys official debut album, Away Awhile, which I featured last week. The 'Boys gnarly take on the whole "popcore" thing, as it turned out, proved to be just as gratifying and substantive as the smartest work of their influential antecedents, The Descendants and Doughboys. That's especially true in regards to their five-cut, debut 7 ep, If You Were Real, that kicks this whole shebang off. I'd argue that this, along with what I've heard of their Fetish for Female cassette release, was the best of what their initial lineup of Erik Kaiser, Tom Spence, and Scott Cook had to share with the world at large. Truly endearing, hook-savvy, romantically-frustrated punk-pop at it's finest "Bedtime" not only made it to my turntable, cd-recorder, and MP3 player, but would you believe my answering machine for a period there when I was in college during the '90s! "Fortune Favors the Bold" was inspired by thw cult-classic comic book series, Flaming Carrot.

If You Were Real was followed up by their second single, and last completely unto themselves, "Relive" b/w "Squeaky Clean," two comparatively mid-tempo stunners that continued the Porcelain Boys stringent quality-control. "Brain Train" was featured on a THD-Records compilation 7," the same label that issued both of their singles. As I mentioned in my last P/B post, the trio made their way onto the radar of hundreds, if not thousands of ears who caught wind of the swift, deftly crafted "Sidetrack" which appeared on the Lookout Records 1992 Can of Pork compilation. Unfortuntaely, I think this incarnation of the band had dissolved at this point. I'm closing things out with a trio of tracks culled from the It Came From the Cold tape compilation, which from my guess dates back before any of these releases (maybe 1988 or even earlier - don't own an original myself). It contains an early version of "Week to Week," later recut for Fetish for Female. By the way, if someone can fix me up with an original copy of Fetish, I'll be forever in your debt.
01. If You Were Real
02. Bedtime
03. Someday
04. Problem #1
05. Fortune Favors the Bold
06. Relive
07. Squeaky Clean
08. Brain Train
09. Sidetrack
10. A For Effort
11. Turn It Around
12. Week to Week
1-5 from If You Were Real 7" ep (1989, THD Records)
6 & 7 from "Relive" 7" (1990, THD)
8. from THD 7" compilation
9. from Can of Pork compilation (1992, Lookout!)
10-12 from It Came From the Cold comp tape (198?, Chef Music)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Candy - Whatever Happened to Demos? (1986-87) + live Houston 11/19/85

For you Candy enthusiasts out there, this post should be a real treat. The uninitiated would be well advised to give their lone album, Whatever Happened to Fun a listen here, as it will put these demos and 1985 live performance into sharper perspective. Candy were a mid-80s L.A. quartet who had a penchant for some of the catchiest power pop being made during their era, but were seemingly marketed by their label, Polygram, as part and partial of their city’s fabled glam scene. Despite being armed to the teeth with commercial potential (perhaps a little too commercial for some of you), the quartet was sadly never a high priority for Polygram. Their lyrical themes predominantly spoke of romantic, boy/girl reveries that had to compete with the all too dysfunctional realities of day-to-day city life. The title track to their album would become a cult fave in the years to follow (it was included on Rhino Records 1997 Poptopia compilation), but moreover, Candy served as the launching pad for singer Kyle Vincent’s solo career, as well as Gilby Clarke, who would go onto far bigger things as rhythm guitarist for Guns ‘N Roses.

The two sets of demos included here were recorded post-WHTF, assumedly as bait for a new record deal after the group parted with Polygram. Not too long after their major label fiasco, Kyle Vincent cut four new Candy songs (included here) but shortly thereafter, left the lineup. At this point, Gilby stepped in as mouthpiece, and the band recorded another set of demos (also included here) under this new incarnation. 2003 saw the release of Teenage Neon Jungle, a collection of unreleased songs, live tracks, as well as early demos for WHTF, however it did not touch on anything from the short-lived, Gilby Clarke-helmed era. BTW, both their debut album (which apparently never made it into the digital age), and Teenage Neon Jungle, are unspeakably scarce these days, fetching good money on Ebay. To sweeten the pot, I’m also tacking on a soundboard recording of a 1985 gig in Dallas, TX, where Candy performs eight originals, as well as rendering of Reginald Kenneth Dwight’s “Crocodile Rock."

1986 Demos with Kyle Vincent (original lineup)
01. Number One
02. The Girl I Love
03. Matinee
04. Champagne (end fades out)

1987 demos with Gilby Clarke on vocals
5. Sound Of A Broken Heart
6. Dance America
7. M.O.N.E.Y.
8. Everyday Is Saturday Night
9. Johnny Was An Angel
10. Change The World
11. Goodbye Goodtimes
12. My Favorite Star

Liberty Hall Houston, TX 11/19/85
01. Weekend Boy
02. Kids In The City
03. Turn It Up Loud
04. Electric Nights
05. American Kix
06. The First Time
07. The Last Radio Show
08. Crocodile Rock
09. Whatever Happened To Fun

1986/87 demos: Hear
Live in Houston 11/19/85: Hear

Major problems - everyone please read this, and reply if you can help!

Ok, maybe not major problems, but yesterday I upgraded to the latest version of MS Internet Explorer (v. 8) and upon doing so, I am not able to cut and paste any text into the text field, whether it be from another website or a Word doc. In fact, the "paste" function is completely greyed out. A few individuals, myself included, have posted to Blogspot's help forum (would copy and paste the URL, but per above, not an option at the moment). This is apparently a user-wide issue, but Blogspot has yet to formally acknowledge it as such. The few replies to my post and others, is to circumvent IE 8 entirely and use Firefox, which really isn't a solution, so much as a work-around. Nevertheless, I gave it a shot. I started writing my text in the "compose" section as normal, but as soon as I hit "publish post," I was greated with a slew of HTML errors, even though I didn't use any HTML tags. So...I deleted the whole thing, typed in a three-word sentence, without bold-facing, italicizing, etc, and was again greated with a huge HTML error when I attempted to publish.

Next, I uninstalled IE 8 altogether, reinstalled version IE 7, and was unable to open a browser window (actually, it flashed up for a nano-second, before disappearing). Never experienced anything this frustrating or confounding on Blogspot before. I use the cut/paste feature for copying URLs, which can often be lengthy, not to mention some occasional text from relevant websites. If anyone can help, please do so, but DO NOT merely suggest that I go with Firefox instead. For the time being, it's not an option for me. Also, is it possible to email a Blogspot administrator? No sign of an address on their site. There has to be some way to fix this on their end


Friday, July 3, 2009

Wash - 1991 demo

Don't know a god-darned think about this rather unidentifiable, but wonderfully scrappy dream-pop outfit. I found Wash's eight-cut demo on my peer-to-peer platform of choice, Soulseek, just a few weeks ago, and although I tend not to post artists sans any background info, I'm making an exception here. Since I'm not detecting any British accents, genuine or faux, my best guesstimate is that they're Yankees. My radar is honing in on vaguely atonal female vox, an inviting air of melancholia, and an overall sonic aptitude that suggests the initial batches of Ride and Lush eps were of great significance to this mystery band. Definitely a lil' wet behind the ears, but after all this is a demo, not to mention fledgling terrain for the genre as a whole. Quite frankly, Wash are pretty good. They're pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good. If anyone can fill me in on any of Wash's vital stats, don't be a stranger.

01. Spread (Yourself)
02. Orangeboat
03. Greenhouse
04. Fractal
05. Chlorine
06. Palid Virtue
07. Pool
08. Drivel