Monday, November 30, 2009

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

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

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


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Drip Tank - Slake (1992, Headhunter/Cargo)

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

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

Friday, November 27, 2009

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

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

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

Grab both records here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Ramrods - s/t (2005)

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


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, November 23, 2009

Private Plain - Godwatching ep (1990, Overwellum)

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

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

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lonesome Strangers - Lonseome Pine (1986, Wrestler)

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

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

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


Friday, November 20, 2009


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

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


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Painted Willie - Upsidedowntown (1987, SST)

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

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

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

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

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


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

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

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

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

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


Monday, November 16, 2009

Hayride - elfin magic (1995, Capricorn)

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

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

Sunday, November 15, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 14, 2009

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fuzzy - s/t (1994, Seed)

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

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

Now on Amazon

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Splitting the Difference # 33 G-Whiz/The Lonely Trojans (1989, Toxic Shock) + G-Whiz - Eat at Ed's LP (1992, TK/Zeno)

Technically this is the 33rd installment of my Splitting the Difference split 45 series, but truth be told, the emphasis here is going to be on G-Whiz (my apologizes to all two of you Lonely Trojans die-hards). Thought this would be a more than appropriate followup to Tuesday's man dingo post, given that 'da Whiz also called the environs of Phoenix, Arizona their home, not to mention that both bands are definitely cut from the same metaphorical "cloth." Not only did G-Whiz wear their influences on their sleeve, they even thanked them (All and Big Drill Car among others) on the back cover of their debut LP, Eat at Ed's. Possessing an eccentric bent truly unto to themselves, these Mesa, AZ desert punks never marginalized melody, even though it often took a minute or so for some of their songs to build to an effective one. Ed's is quite simply a terrific album, boasting ten abstract popcore numbers ranging from the sentimental "Hedges," to the dynamic havoc of "Wednesday," and the pulverizing panache of "Crystallized." 9/10 of the album were ushered into the digital age in 2002 as bonus material for the G-Whiz - The Pop Punk Singles Collection CD on Boss Tuneage Records (later rereleased on Number One Punk). A review of it can be sized up here. All tracks were ripped from my original, strawberry/banana splatter colored vinyl copy. There's also the more recent G-Whiz disk, She Has That Plastic Alternative Indie Emo Punk Rock Mannequin Look!, essentially a reissue of their crucial second album, Hook, originally released in 1994.

The G-Whiz split with The Lonely Trojans comes to us from the legendary Toxic Shock Records label. This was part of T/S's Noise From Nowhere series (whatever that was). Recorded in '89 the Whiz's two cuts found the band straight outta the kennel and eager to strip their collective teeth. "Dine-o-mite" was recut for the band's Hook album. As for the band occupying the other side of the split, The Lonely Trojans were also from the AZ as well, but settled on playing a more conventional brand of roughhewn, riff-savvy power punk, that reminds me very vaguely of the Snuff and early Wedding Present. Had a 12" ep by them that I unwisely put on the market a few years ago.

If you like these G-Whiz recordings, by all means buy the CDs mentioned above. Support the band!

G-Whiz - Eat at Eds
01. Boomerz
02. Pacifier
03. Wednesday
04. Bad
05. Humeral
06. Hedges
07. Weights-n-Lures
08. Hobbies
09. Crystallized
10. Vitamin

split 7"G-Whiz
01. Dine-o-mite
02. Big Adventure

Lonely Trojans
01. The Rolling Song
02. T.P.D.

Get both here.

Monday, November 9, 2009

man dingo - badtouchbecca ep (1993, Plastic Giraffe) + ifive re-up

I recently became aware that the link for man dingo's ifive album, which I posted just under a year ago, has apparently expired or somehow gone defunct. I have re-upped it and included the link below. To boot, I've also decided to share the ep that preceded it, badtouchbecca (all one word). To get the full story on what the Phoenix trio were all about, check my original man dingo post from December of '08. As for all you uninitiated types, man dingo were a quite remarkable "popcore" outfit that carried on with zippy, buzzsaw-punk abandon over the course of two albums, a few singles, and this flawed but ultimately worthy 7-track ep. I say badtouch... is flawed in the respect that it suffers from a very unflattering mix, especially in the percussion department, but otherwise the material is superlative and makes an excellent appetizer for ifive, the aforementioned album that was to follow in 1994 on Dr. Strange Records. The ep's roaring leadoff song "My Stereo," would later be rerecorded for a single that I also shared on here as part of my Singles Going Single series. In summation, if Big Drill Car, The Descendants, and Brown Lobster Tank do it for you, so will man dingo.

01. My Stereo
02. Stumble
03. Wasted
04. Jones
05. Channel 5
06. I Said
07. Hollow

badtouchbecca: Hear
ifive: Hear

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Close Lobsters - demos and such

This October saw the release of an exhaustive Close Lobsters singles compilation Forever Until Victory, on the British Fire Records label. Phenomenal news to me, as I have long considered the Glasgow, Scotland quartet to be by far and away the most consistent, sublime, and gifted outfit ever to arise from the UK' s indie jangle-pop, C86 movement nearly a quarter century ago. Their two proper albums, 1987's Foxheads Stalk This Land, and Headache Rhetoric from the following year have recently been made available via digital outlets, but viscerally indelible 12" and compilation appearances like "Going to Heaven to See If It Rains" and "Firestation Towers," are essential components in completing the Close Lobsters picture.

To help fill out that image even further is this 20-track collection of CL demos (and possibly radio session appearances) that span the course of their brief mid-to-late '80s tenure. Not sure who curated this set, but I had the good fortune of finding it on Soulseek a few years ago. The bitrate is a mere 128 kbps, and the material was obviously sourced from cassettes, but nevertheless these embryonic (and often low-fidelity) sketches lay out a compelling and often fascinating blueprint for a score of sprite, ringing pop tunes that would eventually be given the full studio treatment. A couple tracks here would be retitled for official release ("Don't Worry" = "Violently Pretty Face"; "Promise Me Back" = "In Spite of These Times"), and furthermore, there may be an entirely unreleased song or two in this collection as well (I'll leave you to figure that out for yourself). If this isn't enough to whet your appetite, you can also obtain the contents of a CL radio session from '88 that I made available on Wilfully Obscure earlier this year. To bone up further on these guys, their Wikipedia entry is quite useful in addition to their above linked Myspace domain.

BTW, if any of you are hankering for music in a similar, albeit modestly updated vein, I can recommend you none more suitable than New York's very own The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and their thoroughly engaging self-titled album.

01. Don't Worry (later Violently Pretty Face)
02. Firestation Towers
03. Just Too Bloody Stupid
04. All the Little Boys and Girls
05. Promise Me Back (later In Spite of These Times)
06. Pimps
07. D.D.R.I.N.
08. A Prophecy
09. I Take Bribes
10. Sewer Pipe Dream
11. I Kiss the Flower in Bloom
12. What is There to Smile About?
13. Mirror Breaks
14. From this Day On
15. Loopholes
16. Lovely Little Swan
17. Knee Trembler
18. Nature Thing
19. Say Hello, Wave Goodbye
20. Float On

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Touchables - More Than a Glimpse ep (1983, Extinct)

Yet another mystery band, seemingly immune to the vast pervasiveness known as the World Wide Web (or more precisely, search engines). Not a bad $1 bin pick though. The Touchables (presumably from the L.A. area given the label addy) were a trio of well scrubbed youngsters equipped with the basic wherewithals of mainstream wave/power-pop. Sounding ever so slightly dated for 1983, the troupe's most memorable morsel here is "For Love," vaguely summoning the jubilant strains of the Suburbs classic "Love is the Law" (sans the horns). As for the John Denver retread? Not as bad as you might think. If anyone knows the specifics on the Touchables, fill 'er up in the comments.

01. Workin' on the Take
02. For Love
03. Leavin' on a Jet Plane
04. My Doll Baby Came Back


The Dazzlers - Feeling Free (1979, Charisma)

Just discovered this one very recently, and sad to say don't own an original. Hailing from Cambridge, England, The Dazzlers may not have been key figureheads during the late '70s halcyon era of UK power-pop/pub-rock, but their timing couldn't have been better. What would appear to be their lone album, according to the discography courtesy of The ModPopPunk Archives, Feeling Free is brimming with highly appealing, if not a tad straight-laced guitar pop colored with shades of The Yachts, Keys (the Brit Keys that is), and a little Kursaal Flyers as well. De minimis info is available online regarding the band, however Little Hits blog duly noted the magnificence of what is arguably Feeling Free's apex, the incessantly hooky "Lovely Crash." According to the 45 Revolutions Vol 1. record guide, prior to forming the Dazzlers, guitarist Bobby Harper had a brief stint with the Clash, and had also done time in bands featuring the likes of a pre-stardom Billy Idol and separately, Mark Knopfler.

01. Crying Shame
02. Feeling Free
03. Just a Fantasy
04. Too Much of Everything
05. Phonies
06. You're an Island
07. Lovely Crash
08. Feeling in Your Heart
09. Oh Last Night
10. I Know All About You
11. Heartdrop
12. No One Ever Knows


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Remember Maine - The Last Place You Look (2002, LLR)

Before William E. Beckett got his neuvo pop-punk on with flash in the pans The Academy Is... (formally The Academy) there was Remember Maine. Essentially a solo acoustic precursor to Academy, Beckett seemingly became enlightened by Dashboard Confessional just prior to committing The Last Place You Look to tape. With a well-worn copy of The Swiss Army Romance tucked under one arm, and a six-string under the other, Beckett just went with it and wailed out ten melodically charged ballads that proved to be nearly as cathartic as anything his mentor, Chris Carrabba, was dishing out at the time.

I tend to cringe when taking this CD off the rack, given that I mailordered a copy straight from the man himself who never made good on his end of the deal (I eventually found one on Ebay years later). I hope he spent those ten dollars well. So much for him being a sensitive emo guy...but don't let that stop you from downloading this.
01. Eastbound Traffic
02. Streetsigns and Sidewalks
03. Don't Mess With Texas
04. Waiting Up
05. The Hunt Club
06. Forever Ended Today
07. Broken
08. Winter Park, Colorado
09. The Gap Effect
10. Act 3, Scene 4


Monday, November 2, 2009

Splitting the Difference # 32 - Corduroy/The Meices (1994, Volta)

Neither of these Bay Area denizens from the past decade are rookies to Wilfully Obscure, but if they're new to you, here's an excellent little slab 'o wax to road test 'em for yourself. Corduroy were profiled here last October, or more specifically their Lisp ep and Dead End Memory Lane anthology. Led by the raspy-as-all-get-out Wade Driver (formally of cowpunks The Hickoids), Corduroy cultivated a colossal amount of feedback and minor chord mayhem, fully on par with SST-era Dino Jr. Both of their selections here can also be found on the aforementioned Dead End Memory Lane CD, but this single features a different version of "Just My Way," perhaps the bands signature song.

Career-wise, The Meices were ten-fold more illustrious than their mates on the flipside, due in no small part to holding down a major label recording contract during the mid '90s. The pile-driving pop-punk trio from 'Frisco didn't quite make the inroads they should have, but I suppose they didn't have the "cute" factor going for them, unlike another more cuddly power trio from their neck of the woods that need not be named. "Sister," appearing here in demo form was rechristened as "The Big Shitburger" for inclusion on their London Records debut, Tastes Like Chicken. A really convenient, radio-friendly marketing decision right there. That tasty little nugget is followed up by a live rendering of A Flock of Seagulls' "I Ran." You can hear a smattering of early Meices singles, made available from this very blog.
01. Just My Way
02. Sump 'n Good
The Meices
01. Sister (demo)
02. I Ran (live)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Santa Clan - Taking Liberty (1986, T-STOFF)

Here's another (semi)worthy entry to add to the ever-heaping no-name pile. Let's see - a Berkeley, CA post-punk trio who go by silly assumed names like Gern Hudnutt and Yolo Slew. The "Clan's" presumably one and only album, Taking Liberty, plays like the dark side of the coin of hometown mates Translator and Wire Train, eschewing some of the 'wave' trappings in the process. Second track in on side two, "Disatisfaction" (misspelled deliberately or not, on both the sleeve and record label) is about as tuneful as Santa Clan get. Dare I say this record is a bit brooding? Time to draw your own conclusions...and if you're so inclined, original copies may still be languishing on the shelf at Subterranean Mailorder.

01. Nameless
02. Miss Jackson
03. Oldster
04. Red Door
05. American Guru
06. Excuse Me
07. Disatisfaction
08. Awannabe
09. Pussy Willo