Monday, August 31, 2009

V/A - The Best of the Radio Tokyo Tapes (1987, Chameleon)

Radio Tokyo was a famed L.A. recording studio that enjoyed it's heyday during the 1980s, at which acts from Jane's Addiction to the Bangles laid down classic tracks. Owned and operated by the late Ethan James (an ex-member of Blue Cheer as well) the popularity and reputation of Radio Tokyo Studios and the artists that recorded there inspired three vinyl compilation LPs released throughout the '80s. The Best of... culls together 20 songs that appeared on these records, some entirely exclusive to these compilations.

Given the locale and the period, there are several Paisley Underground luminaries that take up residence here, including The Rain Parade, Long Ryders, The Three O'clock, and The Bangs (later the Bangles, although their contribution is 30 second jingle for a local entertainment rag). Outside the Paisley scene there was plenty of other local indie talent that made a pit stop to Radio Tokyo as well - The Minutemen, 100 Flowers, Savage Republic, Wednesday Week, The Last, Shadow Minstrels, and one of my fave unheralded acts of the time, Pop Art. And what would any various artists disk be like without some music from everyone's favorite Jewish lesbian folk-singer, Phranc.
01. The Minutemen - I Felt Like A Gringo
02. The Long Ryders - Still Get By
03. Alisa - Silent Scream
04. Savage Republic - Mobilization
05. Animal Dance - Under Pulse
06. Linda J. Albertano - S.O.S
07. The Three O'Clock - All In Good Time
08. 100 Flowers - The Long Arm Of The Social Sciences
09. Bay Of Pigs - The Fat Lady Sings
10. The Last - It Had To Be You
11. Shadow Minstrels - Oh Senorita
12. Phranc - My Favorite Women Newscasters
13. 17 Pygmies - Chameleon
14. The Bangles - No Mag Commercial
15. The Beef Sisters - The Hermit
16. Rain Parade - Saturday Asylum
17. Wednesday Week - I Hate Lying To Mom
18. Pop Art - In My Hands
19. Fibonaccis - Purple Haze
20. Cindy Lee Berryhill - Headin' For The Border Line

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dresden - Misadventure (1982, Fall Out)

Pretty standard synthwave on our hands here from a Canadian quartet named after the beleaguered German city. Don't know exactly where in Canada they originate from, but Vancouver, BC might be a good bet, given this is where Misadventure was recorded. Wouldn't surprise me, as they seem to tread lightly in the footsteps of another Vancouver keyboard crew, The Pointed Sticks. Dresden's mouthpiece Tim Bowes doesn't exactly have the pipes to set the world afire, so I wouldn't get too psyched. I'm picking up some occasional shades of Magazine here as well, which is always a good thing. Their remake of "Eve of Destruction," is a tad absurd, but note-for-note, definitely more reverent than the Dickies pillaging of the song. Enjoy (or not).

01. Yet to Come
02. Living Nowadays
03. Briangrip
04. Armchair Generals
05. Dreamland
06. Cycles
07. Looking for a Job
08. Heart of Desire
09. Freedom
10. Eve of Destruction
11. Civilized


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Outrageous Cherry - Stereo Action Rent Party (1996, Third Gear)

Outrageous Cherry are a superlative, retro-fitted psyche-pop revival band, hailing from the Detroit, MI area. They've been kicking around since the early '90s and have most recently released their ninth album, Universal Malcontents. Check out their Myspace page for a full discography. One of their finest moments is actually an all covers affair, Stereo Action Rent Party, which I am presenting here in it's entirety. Released in a limited edition of 2000 copies in '96, the album was a super huge treat for O/C fans, but you didn't necessarily need an appreciation of them, so much as the myriad of bygone artists they pay tribute to including: The Smiths, Brian Eno, The Beach Boys, 10CC. Television, Leonard Cohen, Scott Walker, and Petula Clark. Classy taste to say the very least. As Allmusic so accurately points out:

By not including any list of who recorded the original versions anywhere inside the CD booklet, the group makes each song completely their own.

A great orchestral bent to a couple of tunes here, including their rendition of Petula Clark's "Sign of the Times," which pretty much outdoes the original. Can't necessarily heap the same praise on some of the selections that follow it, but Outrageous Cherry nevertheless do adequate justice to everything they revisit here. Enjoy.
01. Sign of the Times
02. Days
03. Qui Peut Dire?
04. Song from the Bottom of a Well
05. Wonderful
06. Boy Child
07. I’m Not in Love
08. Chinese White
09. Miss X
10. Ring Around the Moon
11. Reel Around the Fountain
12. Some of Them Are Old
13. Lonesome Heroes
14. Make the World Go Away

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Beauty Constant - Like the Enemy (1987, Forehead)

As long as I keep unearthing vintage gold like this smashingly impressive platter from Beauty Constant, this blog will continue to occupy it's little slice of cyberspace. Found this one at the always-worth-the-trip Jerry's Records in Pittsburgh a few months ago. Right from the starting gate, the opener "Ed's Anthem" sounds as vital and visceral as anything on say, the Lemonhead's Lovey, or the Nils self-titled album. Just plain absolutely killer indie-guitar rock, with a totally riveting hook. And while the rest of Like the Enemy can't quite muster as much instant gratification, there are several moments that that come damn close. Too bad there were no promo inserts to accompany my copy of Like the Enemy, but via a quick Google search, I learned that bassist Sandy Smallens eventually went onto (slightly) bigger things in Too Much Joy. Really appreciate Chihoe Hanh and Steve Folta's guitar chops here, approximating a mixture of Bob Mould and Peter Buck. More recently, it appears Folta has recorded music under his own name, which you can download here. Enemy is a really cool left-of-the-dial find, with some sharp Rickenbacker bite from the sounds of things. If anyone can shed any more light on Beauty Constant don't be a stranger.

01. Ed's Anthem
02. Under the Gun
03. Like the Enemy
04. Catching You
05. Fortunately
06. It's One Life
07. Second Minor One
08. Site to See
09. Thursday Night
10. Send a World Apart


Splitting the Difference # 26 - The Gwens/Breezy Porticos (2001, Happy Happy Birthday to Me)

First off, I apologize for all the pesky snaps and pop, but hey, we're talking about vinyl here - and very limited wax at that. 500 copies. Sold out from my understanding, making it a prime candidate for a Wilfully Obscure redux. Denver indie kids Breezy Porticos were my incentive here, especially after falling in love with their Keep It Crisp CD from 2005. Dare I refer to them as "post-twee?" Probably the most accurate genre-fication I can come up with, vaguely recalling Poole, Small Factory, and of Montreal. Two exclusive cuts here. The latest and greatest from the Porticos, These Record Highs can be obtained here. Check out the press section of their website for further enlightenment.

Regarding The Gwens, the band they share this split with, my firsthand knowledge is sorely lacking, but I was able to locate an online discography for them. Not a bad pairing with the Porticos, but the Gwens are a little more distortion savvy, a la the Wrens. Am assuming they are defunct, but they did release an album that is still available from Insound.
Breezy Porticos
01. Gee Your Math Looks Great
02. Breaking Away
The Gwens
01. Skin 'n Bones
02. Chemical Man


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Saturnhead - Introducing...Arizona's Thin Mistake (1997, Resolution)

Ok, so here we have 43 songs clocking in at around a grand total of 58 minutes. No, this isn't the product of some frantic hardcore brigade, or even a frivolous, tossed-off audio experiment. Saturnhead was the brainchild of a very prolific Vancouverite lad named Terry Miles, who had the good fortune of Guided By Voices' Bee Thousand falling into his lap a couple years before he hemmed together the three dozen-and a half tracks that comprised his jewel box debut, Introducing...Arizona's Thin Mistake. And he did it virtually all on his own I might add. While Robert Pollard and Tobin Sprout's early-to-mid '90s aesthetic may have seemingly been the principle germ for Terry's inspiration, Introducing's... fidelity isn't quite as lo as one might expect despite the vast majority of this disk being committed to 4-track. Truth be told, GBV's melodic sensibilities imbue only but a fraction of the songs here (with the title track and "Perfect Bliss Again" evoking the most obvious antecedents). Granted, titles like "Hail the Binkeepers" and "A Fast Airship Gazebo" would turn Pollard the greenest shade of envy, but while Terry's brand of songcraft may share his predecessor's brevity the creative process is demonstrably different. Introducing... does lose a little steam as it winds to a close, but there's comparatively little chaff to be separated from the wheat as they say.

Terry would record another Saturnhead album, Saturnhead, CA,which followed a more conventional (and in my opinion less engaging) path. In 2000, our man christened himself with a new assumed moniker, Ashley Park for a series of releases, but these days, Terry has made a name for himself via Cinemanovel, his independent film company based in British Columbia. As another quick aside, prior to his solo work, there was Cinnamon, a power pop band he fronted, who one enthusiastic listener likened to as "The Canadian Redd Kross." Maybe an upload of that one a little later, if another blog hasn't caught up to me already that is. 


Painted Birds - Green and Peaceful World ep (1987, Absolute-A-Go-Go)

I initially learned of these New Jersey college radio types through the now defunct Feelin' Kinda Froggy blog, and without much legwork on my part, found a near-mint condition copy of the Painted Birds ep, presumably their only release. Some nice strummy indie-pop here, taking their cues from the usual array of suspects: REM, Dream Syndicate, Feelies and a myriad of others, sans any of the irony and obliqueness. The label that released Green and Peaceful World, Absolute-a-Go-Go, put out yet another ep in 1987 by a likeminded outfit, The Wooden Soldiers, who as it turns out earned themselves an unpload just three months ago on these pages. You can read a Wikipedia article on Painted Bird's founder, Brad Morrison, which also delves further into the Absolute-a-Go-Go label, as well as other projects he's been affiliated with.

01. Green and Peaceful World
02. Mexico
03. Natasha on a Rainy Day
04. Someone Else's Dream
05. I'll Be There
06. Running


Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Wind - Living in a New World (1986, Midnight)

The Miami based Wind's debut album, Where It's At With the Wind, from 1982 has long been regarded as a low-key power pop classic amongst such tastemakers as Jordan Oakes and Kurt Loder (the latter of the two happening upon the trio in a New York City elevator shortly after it's release). The Wind sadly failed to make any commercial headway and burned out in the mid-80s, eventually launching singer/guitarist Lane Steinberg's, follow-up act, Tan Sleeve, but not before releasing this second album in 1986 on the New York indie imprint Midnight Records.

Where It's At... was utterly red, white, and Mersey all over, with the early Fab Four being heavily employed as the template, but by the time they got around to Living in a New World, their Brit Invasion punch was spiked with the fresher, stateside leanings of the dB's and the Bongos. Dare I say this is the superior record? Sure I do, and with sprite jangle treasures such as "Something Tells Me," and "Happy to Know Her," who could argue with me? On a more frustrating note, when I bought this disk, I didn't know that the best song here, "Wake Up" had some rather pronounced scratches indelibly etched into the wax. If I come across a cleaner copy, I will gladly do a re-rip. BTW, one of the Wind's other finest moments was a track called "House On Fire," that came out on a 1984 ep, Guest of the Staphs. That ep and Where It at... were released in unison in 2002 on CD courtesy of Jordan Oake's Yellow Pills label. Additionally, Where It's at... was reissued this year on vinyl.
01. Living in a New World
02. Good News, Bad News
03. Something Tells Me
04. Apricot Drive
05. Nothing's the Same
06. More or Less
07. Wake Up
08. Happy to Know Her
09. Can't Say No to You
10. Stuck
11. Dying to Be Different
12. Sushi Bar
Now on Bandcamp

Monday, August 17, 2009

V/A - Another Damned Seattle Compilation (1991, Dashboard Hula Girl)

Back in 1991 when this disk saw the light of day, I would have bought damn near anything adorned with the Mudhoney moniker affixed to it. They were my primary motivation for obtaining this long out of print location-specific Damned tribute album, and as often is the case with compilations, I got a lot more than I bargained for including a greater appreciation of the band it was dedicated too. Mudhoney's lightning fast redo of "Stab Your Back," satisfied as much as I had anticipated, but I was even more floored when Flop's rendition of "Disco Man" came blasting out two songs later. Skin Yard's tackling of "Machine Gun Etiquette" erupts with whiplash fury from second one and doesn't relent one iota thereafter. Killer. Nirvana and Soundgarden may be absent here, but much of Seattle's indie creme de la creme is present and accounted for - The Posies, Fastbacks, Love Battery, Gas Huffer, and Young Fresh Fellows (the latter appearing twice, including their choice of "Life Goes On," an obscurity from the Damned's not oft heard Strawberries album). Virtual unknowns lost to the mists of time like Freak, Big Satan Inc, and Whitey do fine takes of "Antipope," "Melody Lee," and "Wait for the Blackout," respectively. Lots of Damned, Damned, Damned and Machine Gun Etiquette material is covered here, but lesser known albums (like the aforementioned Strawberries) are represented too. Most amazingly, who would have guessed in '91 that the Damned would still be cranking out records and touring?

01. The Purdins - 1 of the 2
02. Young Fresh Fellows - Fan Club
03. Coffin Break - Love Song
04. Skin Yard - Machine Gun Etiquette
05. Gas Huffer - Suicide
06. The Accused - Neat, Neat, Neat
07. Love Battery - I Just Can't Be Happy Today
08. Motorhoney - Psychomania
09. Freak - Antipope
10. Flop - Disco Man
11. Hammerbox - New Rose
12. Derelicts - Born to Kill
13. Gruntruck - Nasty
14. Mudhoney - Stab Your Back
15. The Posies - Smash It Up
16. Big Satan, Inc - Melody Lee
17. Whitey - Wait For The Blackout
18. Fastbacks - Hit Or Miss
19. Young Fresh Fellows - Life Goes On


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Local Operator - singles (1979, Virgin)

Last January, I posted the sophomore album, The House of Love, by a late'70s/early '80s British post-punk act called Jo Broadbery and the Standouts. Only thing was, that "second" album was actually the first legitimate Broadbery/Standouts record, while the previous disk, Jo Broadbery and the Standouts, was originally issued as Pushing Out the Poets by his full-fledged band Local Operator. In that post, I delved into the possibilities as to what prompted the name change, which you can view at the House of Love hyperlink above.
Before Local Operator's Pushing Out the Poets hit the shelves, two singles were released on Virgin Records. While the LP is a little taughter and focused, the four tracks spread across these sharply dressed 45s provide ample evidence of Broadbery's seamless fusion of Elvis Costello's classy, poignant songcraft with the demi-reggae leanings of The Clash. Case in point, the song "Law and Order," which wouldn't sound out of place played in between Joe Strummer and Co's "Pressure Drop" and "Police and Thieves." Speaking of Clash songs, the theme running through L/O's "Law and Order" is a hell of a lot more gripping than breaking rocks on a hot day. "Pressure Zone" from the other single (which features a neat fold-out sleeve) is incessantly catchy as well. I'm also including a live version of "Law and Order" from a relatively obscure British comp, The Moonlight Tapes, in which Jo Broadbery sets the table by laying into prime-minister-to-be, Margaret Thatcher. If you like what you hear, download the first Local Operator/Jo Broadbery and the Standouts album here.
1st single
A. Pressure Zone
B. The Untouchables
2nd single
A. Law and Order
B. All We're Gonna Get
from Moonlight Tapes comp: Law and Order (live)

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Wondermints - covers/demos (1988)

A lot of you Wondermints and/or power-pop aficionados in general have already been acquainted with a plethora of demos and rare tracks cut before the band's self-titled debut, courtesy of some outstanding uploads posted on Power Pop Criminals. Between the Mintsmania! and Our Music is Blue & Green With Purple Flashes "boots" there are over 40 songs to revel in - damn near enough to fill a box set...yet there was more. In 1988, the Mints cut a little under a dozen cover tracks by the likes of Pink Floyd, The Doors, Pretenders, Monkees, the Hollies, tv themes, and more that weren't widely circulated, if at all. Well, here you go. I won't give away anything more, however, topping things off is a stunning, totally unreleased original, "No One's Girl," brandishing the appeal of early Marshall Crenshaw, with a bit of a mid '60s flair as well. I don't have a band roster for this particular session, but who cares - it's the Wondermints!

01. See Emily Play
02. I'll Be True to You
03. All I Really Want to Do
04. Kid
05. Bus Stop
06. Outer Limits theme
07. Touch Me
08. Everybody's Talking
09. Tuesday Afternoon
10. Lost in Space theme
11. No One's Girl


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Beat Temptation (Tim Lee/Windbreakers) - Concerned About Rock Music? (1985, Big Monkey/Homestead)

The bio for this album states quite plainly that despite the fact that Tim Lee of Windbreakers fame is the key figurehead in Beat Temptation, it's not to be considered a side project. Appropriate considering B/T were put under their own separate umbrella, because they really are an entity unto themselves, if only for the somewhat annoying saxophone wails, courtesy of Robin Sutliff, that puncture so much of the proceedings here. Without giving away too much about this eclectic set, Beat Temptation are at essence a college rock outfit, and certainly shouldn't alienate Lee fans, with the jangly "Bad Sermonette" being of some consolation to pop traditionalists. Side A closes out with a woozy, boozy medley of "What Goes On" and "1969," but I still contest that the sax accompaniment mars more than it embellishes.

01. Some Name
02. The Talk
03. Amnesia
04. What Goes On/1969
05. Fuzztone
06. On Your Mark
07. Bad Sermonette
08. Oh No! Not Love
09. Better Than You


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Radio City "North Sea" 7" (1993, VHF)

Nope, this isn't the same late '70s power-pop hopefuls Radio City (who btw recently enjoyed a reissue on Radio Heartbeat Records), rather an entirely different group from the Clinton-era. I have no pertinent background details or dossier to offer you on these, rather a blurb found here that describes them pretty well:

Dense layers of overdriven guitar, indie guitar rock, like Dinosaur Jr circa "Bug" but without the drip singing. Yeah lots of low in the mix vocals. "North Sea" is as tight as a gnats ass and twice as catchy. There's some enticing freakouts, during "Bent", which is held together with some solid drumming.

Tight as gnats ass. Now that's what I call classy praise. Seriously, "North Sea" is pretty fucking good, with a little flange flung onto that heaping pile of Mascis riffola, as noted above. Can anyone fill me in on these guys? No insert in the sleeve, save for a paltry catalog. 
A. North Sea
B. Bent 


Splitting the Difference # 25 Coffin Break/The Figgs 7" (1992, Negative Feedback)

Coffin Break and The Figgs are something of an unlikely combo for a split single, in regards to both genre and proximity. Granted, "Let Me Have It," cut in 1992, presumably for the Ginger sessions finds the (then) upstate New York quartet raising a little more of a raucous then usual. The jagged little squelch of feedback in the opening seconds leads into a treble-happy, two-and-a-half minute slice of pogo-pop as only the Figgs know how to cook up. Of course, I've extolled on them a few times on these pages, so I'm a little biased.

Truth be told, at the time of this release Seattle's Coffin Break were also of significant interest to me. Their side, featuring "Drain" is a taught exercise in thrashy punk rawk with a vague metal tinge to drive the point home. Concise and punchy as-all-get-out, but a trifle too amelodic for all you "pop fanatics" I might add.
A. Coffin Break - Drain
B. The Figgs - Let Me Have It

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Paul Collins (The Nerves, The Beat) & John Wicks (The Records) - 2009 Fall tour details - plus two vintage live sets to get you stoked!

Sometimes the most ingenious combinations truly are the most obvious ones, and the pairing of Paul Collins and John Wicks for a joint tour is an absolute no brainer. Call 'em the other John and Paul if you catch my drift. As prime movers for power pop innovators The Beat and The Records respectively, Paul and John set the world afire more than they'll ever know, even though the world at large may not know or for that matter overtly appreciate them. This dynamic duo kicked their careers off separately in the mid '70s, with Collins igniting the fuse in L.A. with The Nerves, and Wicks setting off some fireworks of his own in the Kursaal Flyers. As thoroughly respectable as those combos were, especially the Nerves, the horizon would gleam even brighter when they embarked on their aforementioned subsequent projects. With the Records, Wicks and Co. penned some of the genre's preeminent anthems in the indelibly melodious shape of "Starry Eyes" and "Hearts in Her Eyes." As for the Paul Collins Beat, "Rock 'N Roll Girl" and "Walking Out on Love" would become mantras for lovelorn punks the world over.

Fast forward to 2009. With both men having recently released solo albums, but drawing smaller audiences than their late '70s/'80s halcyon period, Wicks and Collins explored a burgeoning live forum for touring songswriters and musicians - the "House Tour" circuit. This rather self explanatory performance phenomena has worked well for established artists like Pat Dinzio of the Smithereens and Mark Eitzel of American Music Club. With this new modus operandi in mind Paul and John kicked their tour off in May 23 a bar called the Thunderbird Cafe. Ok, that was a slightly unorthodox way to commence a house tour, but the remainder of those dates, from what I understand were held in more residential environs.

The gigs went well enough to prompt more joint shows this fall, however most of the US tour dates will feature Paul Collins only. If you're in Italy or Spain, you have a better chance of catching the duo in action (all gig info provided below), with some potential French dates to be added. And don't forget those Power Pop Kings dates in October in Spain featuring Wicks, Collins and Eric Blakely.

Since a lot of you on both sides of the pond can't make it to these dates, I empathetically offer a pair of live shows from 1979, one from debut album era Records, and the other from debut album-era Paul Collins Beat . Enjoy. Check back, as I may be adding some video clips to this post. And one more thing. Go to Power Pop Criminals to partake in a live session John and Paul did for WFMU's Cherry Blossom Clinic show. The next joint tour date date is at:

SU 8.23.09 McCabes Guitar Shop 7 PM
Paul's Fall West Coast DatesOn September 11 Paul Collins sets out on his early Fall West Coast Tour with The Avengers and Pansy Division. John Wicks may join Paul for a date or two. The schedule is as follows:

SA 9.11.09 Seattle, WA @ The Funhouse
SA 9.12.09 Portland, OR @ Dante's
SU 9.13.09 Medford, OR @ Musichead
TU 9.15.09 Sacramento, CA @ Fire Escape
WE 9.16.09 Santa Cruz, CA @ The Blue Lagoon
TH 9.17.09 Oakland, CA @ The Uptown
FR 9.18.09 San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
SA 9.19.09 Santa Ana, CA @ the Galaxy (w/ John Wicks)
SU 9.20.09 Echo Park, CA @ The Echo (w/ John Wicks)

TU 9.29.09 Bresia, ITALY @ Lio Bar (
WE 9.30.09 Cesena, ITALY @ Club to be Confirmed
TH 10.01.09 Roma, ITALY@ Club to be Confirmed
FR 10.02.09 Thiene, ITALY (VI) @ Yourban (
SA 10.03.09 Placenza, ITALY @ Madly Pub (
SU 10.04.09 Domodossola, ITALY (VB) @ Oste live (
SA 10.10.09 Viveiro - Teatro SPAIN - (Paul Collins & Eric Blakely)

Power Pop Kings Tour (John Wicks, Paul Collins, & Eric Blakely):

TH 10.15.09 Bilboa, SPAIN @ El balcon de Lola
FR 10.16.09 Madrid, SPAIN @ El Sol
SA 10.17.09 Valencia, SPAIN @ wah wah

Remember to check
here for the latest concert info. Onto the bootlegs!

The Records - Live at the Palladium, Dallas 1979, KZEW broadcast
01. Paint Her Face
02. All Messed Up and Ready to Go
03. Insomnia
04. Hearts in Her Eyes
05. Vamp
06. Girl
07. Girls That Don't Exist
08. The Same Mistakes
09. Affection Rejected
10. Have You Seen Her
11. 1984
12. Rock & Roll Love Letter
13. Teenerama
14. Starry Eyes

Paul Collins Beat - Jabberwocky's, NYC 12-15-79
01. Rock 'n Roll Girls
02. I Don't Fit In
03. Little Suzie
04. I Will Say No
05. Different Kind of Girl
06. Don't Need to Lie
07. You Won't Be Happy
08. Walking Out on Love
09. Workin' too Hard
10. Across the USA
11. Work-a-day-world
12. On the Highway
13. Don't Wait for Me Tonight
14. I Will Say No 

The Records: Hear
The BeatHear

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mark Gardener (Ride) - Live & The Knitting Factory, New York (2003)

Tonight I learned of the passing of one of my aunts, who for the better part of the past two years fought a valiant effort against cancer. Naturally, in moments like this I tend to enter a contemplative mode. This excellent solo acoustic recording from former Ride frontman Mark Gardener is one of my all-time favorites, and it while it hardly qualifies as part of my "misery soundtrack" (for lack of a better term) it's nevertheless a sobering and consoling performance, at least to this set of ears. Tracked from an April 2003 gig at New York's fabled Knitting Factory in lower Manhattan, the fourteen-song set was released in a hand-numbered run of 1000 copies, and was a precursor to Gardener's debut (and at this point lone) solo album, These Beautful Ghosts. It isn't so much the setlist that imbues Live @ the Knitting Factory with it's transfixing charm, rather Mark's utterly crisp, sincere, and lucid delivery. Up until hearing this, I never would have guessed that the loud, gauzy cocoon that enveloped Ride's early recordings would translate so well in an acoustic setting, with nary an iota of passion lost in the process. What you get here are roughly half Ride/half solo Gardener compositions, that somehow intertwine seamlessly and empathetically by way of one man and one guitar. Not to be overlooked by anyone. I believe this disk was posted on another blog a couple years back, but this was ripped from my own copy (#349) at a higher bitrate, and I've included complete sleeve art as well.

01. intro
02. What You Get
03. Beautiful Ghosts
04. From Time to Time
05. Chrome Waves
06. Magdalen Sky
07. Vapour Trail
08. Twisterella
09. To Get Me Through
10. Dreams Burn Down
11. Snow in Mexico
12. Drive Blind
13. interlude
14. Turn
15. In a Different Place
16. Leave Them All Behind


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cameraface - After the Scream (1988, Incas)

Late '80s Connecticut outfit, Cameraface sport a myriad of hats on their After the Scream mini-album, with frequent forays into demi-goth and howling post-punk rock. In fact things get so diverse here Scream plays more like a various artists collection, then the unified thought of any single entity. The quartet eventually pin the tail squarely on the donkey in the shape of side two's lead-off track, "When It Gets Dry," bristling with pop smarts and sinewy energy, recalling era acts like Carnival Season, and such exemplary 415 Records groups as Wire Train and Red Rockers. The next song in, "Glass to Shade" follows in familiar footsteps but doesn't quite bare as an immediate hook. It looks like original copies of After the Scream may still be available through the page linked above. Hot rockin' video action below.

01. Working Papers
02. Meet Them
03. Image
04. Good Bye Cattle
05. When It Gets Dry
06. Glass to Shade
07. Long as the Day


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Various - Ten of a Kind: Presented by CMJ (1988, RCA)

1988 was a good year for music, especially of the modern rock contingent. I'll spare you my laundry list of stellar examples from that year, but as it turns out, the now legendary College Music Journal, in all their infinate wisdom patched together a compilation of the ten best unsigned picks they could find. Needless to say, Material Issue are the boys done good here, checking in with what would become one of their signature tunes, "Valerie Loves Me," (yes, it's the same version on International Pop Overthrow). As impressive now as it was then, maybe even more so. Side A kicks things off in fine three-chord fashion with Little Rock, AR's Gunbunnies, quickly followed up by equally capable basement rock of Boston's Titanics (who would soon garner a record deal with Taang!). Ten of a Kind actually features three more Massachusetts hopefuls, Lazy Susan, Circle Sky, and Kid Crash, the latter taking the cake as Ten of a Kind's fiercest participants with their AC/DC cum quasi-punk panache. LaBlanc's spit-shined power ballad "Turn to Me" would have more appropriate for the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, and frankly, is something of a drag here. "King' and Queen's," courtesy of Raleigh, NC's Distance is effective but not quite modern guitar rock, while Paul K. & the Weathermen, who would go onto something resembling indie success in the mid-90s, deliver the rockabilly tinged "My Knife." And a good time was had by all...

01. Gunbunnies - The Emancipation of Helga (She's Not a Number)
02. Titanics - Clown Down
03. Lazy Susan - Faith Has No Other
04. Raging Fire - The Marrying Kind
05. Lablanc - Turn to Me
06. Kid Crash - Contact
07. Circle Sky - When the Life That I Lead Doesn't Lead Anywhere
08. Material Issue - Valerie Loves Me
09. The Distance - King's and Queen's
10. Paul K. & the Weathermen - My Knife


Monday, August 3, 2009

Orange Glass - Interstellar Interstellar (1996, Squirtgun)

Even for hardcore aficionados of '90s maritime indie-rock, Interstellar, Interstellar by Moncton, New Brunswick's Orange Glass just may have slipped off your radar. If this trio seems to be seeped in the same distorto-laden, lo-fi sensibilities of say, Eric's Trip, it probably won't surprise you to learn that frontman Ron Bates was also a member of the post Eric's Trip project, Elevator to Hell. Possessing a keener pop awareness than Elevator, Orange Glass were more in league with The Hardship Post, and for that matter early Sloan. Though they recorded primarily from 1994-96, O/G were relatively prolific, pumping out three singles, three CDs and a couple of tapes. On Interstellar, they were paired down to a duo with Chris Flanagan manning the percussion, and Bates handling all else. "Knock Wood" finds Bates proudly peeling off Mascis-y squalls of unruly feedback, but it's where the hooks meet the fuzz on "Wait a Day," "Saturn and the Moon," and "Em Pulse," that will have you scrambling for the repeat button. For further listening enjoyment, you can partake in a hypothetical Orange Glass "mix tape," courtesy of Milquetoast Brigade.

01. Saturn and the Moon
02. Wait a Day
03. Nashville
04. Knock Wood
05. Cosmic Pilot
06. Calm, Cool
07. Flashing Yellow
08. Parkbench
09. Iscandar
10. Corner
11. Fate
12. Em Pulse
13. Are You in Love With Me/Interstellar

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Grays - live at CBGB's 4/20/94

The Grays at New York's infamous punk club CBGB's? While not an outright oxymoron, the combination is a little confounding nevertheless. Last year when I posted the Grays Companion, a fan-curated compendium of non-lp tracks and acoustic cuts, I was thoroughly unaware that this live recording even existed. For a quick backgrounder on the Grays, here's a quip from my commentary on the aforementioned Companion:

Falling somewhere between a launching pad and a showcase for gifted singer-songwriters Jason Falkner (formally of Jellyfish and The Three O' Clock) and Jon Brion, The Grays were a four piece, filled out by bassist Buddy Judge and skins-man Dan McCarroll, who after their demise in 1995 were regarded as something of a cult legend in power-pop circles.

Perhaps what makes this CBGB gig so ironic is the fact that The Grays hung out on the gentler, radio-tailored side of the pop spectrum - but than again I have to remind myself of all the non-punks that graced the recently put-to-pasture Bowery stage, including Springhouse, Lush, and Yo La Tengo. The Grays released all but one album, 1994's Ro Sham Bo on Epic Records, and Falkner and Co. treat the crowd to a healthy six LP cuts here, as well as covers by the Monochrome Set ("She's Frank") and The Move ("Blackberry Way). We're also offered a little insight into what Jason Falkner's 1996 debut album, Author Unknown, would hold on "Eloquence." This is a good (not great) audience recording, with the occasional audio drop-out, so please bear that in mind before indulging. Would also like to give credit to the folks that run this splendid Jason Falkner fanpage for assembling the artwork. 
01. Everybody's World
02. Same Thing
03. Eloquence
04. Oh Well Maybe
05. Oh, Nevermind
06. He's Frank
07. Nothing Between Us
08. Nothing
09. Not Ready Yet
10. Is it Now Yet?
11. Blackberry Way