Sunday, January 31, 2010

Defenestration - Dali Does Windows (1987, Relativity)

Remember the Chainsaw Kittens, that slightly off kilter '90s alterna-punk band from Oklahoma with the singer who dabbled in cross dressing? Sure you do. They gave a rather indifferent world some tremendously grand music, especially their first two albums, Violent Religion (1990) and Flipped Out in Singapore (1992). These were righteously heavy and melodic platters of the first order, but it turns out that leadman Tyson Meade was cranking out material equally as substantive and satisfying prior to the Kittens in an outfit called Defenestration. By virtue of the now defunct Feelin' Kinda Froggy blog, I present to you Defenestration's Dali Does Windows, which is noted as being their second and final release. Very much in the same vein as the Chainsaw Kittens, Dali... makes for a compelling precursor to Meade's slightly more renown outfit, albeit a tad less frenzied. Think a less self-absorbed Morrissey fronting Cheap Trick, with some occasional violin thrown in to keep things interesting. At the very least, a must hear for Chainsaw Kittens fans.

01. Tripping Drag Queens
02. Moneywagon
03. I Must've Been You
04. Takes A Few Days
05. Bedlam Revisited/She Has No Soul
06. Watch The Hearts Break
07. Cars In Trees
08. D. Y. Wanna (Bubblegum)
09. Back On The Ranch
10. Misplaced Messiah (1965)


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Oznerol - s/t ep (1985, Made In Space)

Before delving too far into this record, I owe a hearty thanks to my buddy A. who supplied all music files and artwork. Were it not for his generosity, this post would be as blank as a blind man's stare. The focal point of the curiously named Oznerol was Lorenzo Buhne, onetime bassist for The Dickies, and to my knowledge beer-breath punkers Fear as well. In more recent years, he's pursued a solo career. From what little I've been able to glean on Oznerol, this rather ingenious ep was a one-off affair. The four songs here don't particularly lend themselves to Buhne's punk pedigree, rather the kind of early-80s MTV wave/power pop that might receive airtime in the wee-hours of the morning. Buhne's passionate, yet somewhat high-pitched vocal timbre, coupled with light keyboard flourishes imbue "I Can't See Nothin'," and the even more winsome "I'm Waiting" with a fun, breezy fervor, without sacrificing one iota of integrity or songwriting aplomb. In short, this is pretty damn impressive. If anyone has any further info on this disk, or better yet, has an original copy they're willing to unload (though I don't understand why anyone in their right mind would) please get in touch.

01. I Can't See Nothin'
02. She Needs Love
03. I'm Ready
04. True Love


Friday, January 29, 2010

The Wynona Riders - 20th Century Masters: The Singles Collection (1992-93)

Why, Nona? Well, by now, everyone and their goldfish learned of the passing of famed writer/recluse J.D. Salinger who departed on January 27th, some fifty years after he decided to drop out of the publishing world, and by and large, rest on his laurels. For me, Salinger wasn't just synonymous with The Catcher in the Rye, but also two other names: Winona Ryder, and the entirely unrelated band The Wynona Riders. For me, the tie-in with Salinger, the actress, and the band was a no brainer. For you, perhaps, dear reader, not so much so, therefore I'll explain.

Any scholar of the somewhat "fallen" actress Winona Ryder is well aware of her affection for Salinger's writing - so much so that she pointed out to one Rolling Stone scribe that she owned first editions of his entire catalog (something like four books from what I recall). Fast forward to 1989. Ryder was riding high on the crest of her successful starring roles in Beetlejuice, Heathers, and Great Balls of Fire. This was also the year that a scrappy but ultimately ingenious East Bay punk-pop band swapped the "i" in her first name for the "y" in her surname, and proceeded to use it as their crafty moniker for the better part of the '90s. Another Bay Area band of note, Green Day, was in the early stages of hogging the spotlight, but the Wynona Riders, who also flew the flag of suburbanite angst were equally as catchy but ten-fold more sophisticated, not to mention a lot more diverse. On the heels of a demo tape and this slim batch of singles, not to mention lineup changes in the early '90s, the Riders were already branching out into other projects and were about to pull the plug on the band entirely. Not so as luck would have it. Instead, in 1994, the band decided to re-record pretty much their full repertoire (in vastly improved fidelity) for an essential but overlooked album on Lookout Records, J.D. Salinger. that was released the next year. The album jacket was a picture perfect mock of the color scheme and font that adorned the paperback version of Catcher in the Rye.

Though the Salinger album would have been an obvious choice to share here, upon doing some quick research I discovered that not only had the album received the blogger treatment elsewhere, but was commercially available through a bevy of digital retailers. Instead, I opted for their 7" catalog - two eps, and a split 45 with Jolt, who I profiled a couple years ago. Along with another Cali crew, Big Drill Car, The Ryders captivated my senses like few bands before or since, and these records aren't a bad way to acquaint yourself with their unique stripe of punk. Previously, I've shared the Riders split 10" ep with Lynyrds Innards. Up for more? There's also two Riders' spinoff projects that I've blogged about, Latter Day Saints and Toyboat featuring lead-Rider, "Skip." I might add more to this later, but for now, onto the music:
Send In the Clowns ep (Iteration)
01. Drowning
02. Rescue
03. No One Ever Listens
04. No, You Suck

Some Enchnted Evening ep (Lookout)
05. Childhood Game
06. Pack Rat
07. Catfish Discipline

split 7" w/ Jolt (THD)
08. Juicy Fruit jingle
09. Squirrel Happy
10. Downtown


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cod Lovers - French Plums (1990, Ceilidh)

More long lost Swedish indie pop. I wasn't hip to Cod Lovers when this came out some twenty years ago, but listening to it today I wish I had been. There's nothing particularly seismic about French Plums, just loud, jangly rock sung in English with a discernible Scandinavian accent. Solid tunes, and quite the propulsive rhythm section too. Here's a portion of their bio, courtesy of Myspace:

The band formed in late –88 in Norrköping, a seaport city of Sweden, following a Christmas party gig at the Rockslottet, the leading local rock club at that time. The response was so overwhelming that the lads decided to go on with it. After a few more explosive gigs they soon gained the interest of their friend Ola Hermanson and his record label Ceilidh Productions. The single Best Friend was released, media coverage was soaring and the band played the Hultsfred festival in 1990. In the winter of that year, the album French Plums came out.

Cod Lovers parted ways in the mid-90s, but reunited for two gigs the next decade. There may be new music to come, plus a re-release of French Plums on iTunes, but until then you can listen to it here.

01. Mary Gogo Round
02. Pretty Things
03. She's So Sad
04. Close to You
05. Bye Bye Pain
06. Best Friend
07. French Plums
08. Kill the Time
09. Yellow Pills
10. Love Across the Ocean
11. Shatter the Harmony


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Rooney - three early eps: Deli Meats, Plug It In & Mastedonia (2000-2002)

With an arresting melange of Blue album-era Weezer crunch and the sophisticated swoon of the Beach Boys and ELO, Rooney had me under a spell with their 2003 self-titled album. True, they were on a major, and admittedly, they seamed to lure a disproportionate amount of young women to their concerts, but the sun-kissed L.A. quintet had talent to burn. Power pop fans seemed to overlook them (or were too embarrassed to overtly express any devotion), but they had enough admirers to nearly push Rooney to gold status. As for me, the eleven songs that encompassed that disk were simply not enough, and I was determined to get a second helping before their sophomore LP, Calling the World, would belatedly drop in 2007.

By the grace of file sharing platforms like Soulseek, I was in luck, not to mention in for a treat. Prior to signing to Geffen, Rooney had three self-released demo eps under their belt, Deli Meats, Plug It In, and Mastedonia. To this day I own not one of them, nor have I had any success in tracking them down. In fact I've merely seen thumbnail images of the sleeve art. MP3s will have to do for now, and with the exception of the occasionally glitchy Deli Meats tracks, these are by and large satisfactory. All of ep #3, Mastedonia would be transplanted to their first album in roughly the same incarnations. Deli Meat's "Blueside" and "Losing All Control" would also be recut for the album. The remaining seven songs spread across these incredibly rare disks were never revived or recut for subsequent releases, which means we (and Rooney) have them all to ourselves. I may have more Rooney to share in the future, from this period and beyond. By the way, the newest Rooney product is a tour-only ep, Wild One.

Deli Meats ep (2000)
01. Meltdown

02. Turn Yourself Away
03. Blueside
04. Find Myself
05. Losing All Control (Mellow Song)

Plug It In ep (2001)
01. The Floor

02. Why?
03. It Goes to Bed
04. No Wait

Mastedonia ep (2002)
01. If it Were Up to Me
02. Popstars
03. Losing All Control


Monday, January 25, 2010

Lionel - You Don't Look Like You Sound (1996, Music Masters/BMG)

This one is going to be a little offbeat for Wilfully Obscure, but here goes. Late last week I was immensely dismayed to learn that progressive talk titan Air America Radio had abruptly ceased live broadcasting and was filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This immediately translated into a lot of things for yours truly, perhaps most notably the jettisoning of morning talk-show host and entertainer Lionel. No, not Lionel Richie, nor any sort of representative for the toy train company, just plain, eponymous Lionel (though his assumed moniker on Facebook is that of Lionel Lipshitz). As for his birth name, I'll let Wikipedia do the talking on that matter.

Hardly a dyed-in-the-wool liberal ideologue, our man is not reluctant to call both sides of the aisle into question – and 99% of the time he’s precisely on the mark. Quite simply, Lionel was a killer antidote to morning-drive shock jocks, possessing lacerating wit and humor, as well as a passionate and scholarly appreciation not merely for politics, but cinema, literature, health, and contemporary pop culture in general. Did I mention that he’s also a walking/talking, unabridged dictionary, who on a daily basis dispenses the kind of sophisticated vernacular that would make mincemeat out of any given word-of-the-day calendar? Solid gold. A true one in a million talent, and I certainly hope The Lionel Show resurfaces on the airwaves again in the near future.

Prior to his 2007-10 tenure on Air America, Lionel initially launched his talk show in career in Tampa, FL, and by the mid-90s was lured to host his program on the more prestigious New York radio outlet, WABC 770 AM. Though I was altogether unaware of Lionel until he landed on Air America's doorstep, I soon learned that contemporary to his gig with WABC was his own comedy album of sorts, the 1996 issued, You Don't Look Like You Sound. As one might venture to guess, it contains several on-air sketches, but the meat and potatoes of the disk consists of his hilarious stand-up comedy routines (assumedly not a regular stint). A former trial lawyer, Lionel's experiences in the court room provided ample grist for stand-up material, and he delivered like a pro. Particularly amusing is his "disquisition" laying out the unlikely series of events that it would have taken to prove that O.J. Simpson was "framed" for the double homicides of his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her partner Ron Goldman. The album was a one-off project and is likely to remain as such.

More recently, Lionel published his first book, 2008's Everyone's Crazy Except You and Me...and I'm Not so Sure About You: America's Favorite Contrarian Cuts Loose. It's still available from all the usual suspects. Within the slim, 254 page chunk of tree pulp are no less than fifty concise, ADD-friendly rants and anecdotes ranging from the inherent Catch-22 of the First Amendment, to gin-mill (i.e. bar) etiquette, all strung together with Lionel's singular and uncanny strain of tongue and cheek common sense. Enjoy the album, and please investigate the supplied links. Lionel. One name, like "God."

01. Just Wait, They'll Call You
02. Radio Magic
03. Swedish Baseball/Hoodie-Hoo
04. Ed Koch, Stop!
05. Bruce Anders on in an Elevator
06. The Obese Athletic
07. Putting on Weight
08. Psyllium- Elixir of the Gods
09. Ballet
10. O. J. Simpson Changed My Life - The O. J. Suite
11. Colin Ferguson: Trial Warrior
12. Jerry the Masked Bandit
13. The Lineup
14. The Fracas
15. The Unintelligible Witness.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sorry - The Way It Is (1986, Homestead)

Boston's Sorry kicked off their tenure in the early '80s as a rough and tumble hardcore band, but by the time they got around to 1986's The Way It Is, they opted for a decidedly slower pace...and a much more angular attack, a la hometown heroes Mission of Burma and The Volcano Suns. Sonically, Sorry were veritable disciples of those two bands, and ironically enough, bassist Chuck Hahn would later join the Sons. Not a huge "pop" bent here, though "Just Making Noise" is a sweet break from the album's prevailing coarser hue. I particularly enjoy the first song on side two, "Deny," which boasts a slight Husker Du-ish panache. A few tracks later, the band pays tribute to Wire via their rendition of "Ex-Lion Tamer." A live Link Ray cover closes things out (why I have no idea). Lead vocalist Jon Easley passed away in 1998. A full bio on Sorry is available on their Myspace page linked above.

BTW, this joint was produced by the ineffable Lou Giordano. Enjoy.

01. Satellite
02. Mystery
03. Anything
04. Just Making Noise
05. Read This
06. Not Today
07. That's Fine With Me
08. Stop
09. Deny
10. Rise and Fall
11. Far
12. The Way It Is
13. Ex-Lion Tamer
14. In the End
15. 24
16. Rumble (live)


Singles Going Single #103 - Knots - Heartbreaker/Action 7" (1980, Ideal/2008 reissue on 1977 Records)

I never really understood how anyone could justify paying $700 for a 45 of any stripe, but it happens regularly on Ebay, including an original copy the Knots lone wax, originally pressed a solid 30 years ago. The single in question has been blogged about over on the Killed By Death website, but I decided to share my recently reissued copy ripped at a higher bitrate than theirs.

This record, not to mention the band's backstory make for some highly compelling reading in a rather mammoth article located at Attacking the Beat blog. The short version is that the Knots were a born and bred New York City punk crew, making a very competent go of it in shadow of such local heroes as the Ramones and Heartbreakers. The band called for a pressing of 1000 copies of this disk, but something was egregiously lost in the translation to the record pressing plant staff who pumped out ten times the originally requested amount. Most never saw the light of day and remain unaccounted for. Even lead Knot Joey Pinter swears that he doesn't possess a copy himself. The band eventually caught the ear of Steymour Stein of Sire Records, but for a variety of reasons (explained in the Attacking the Beat story) no further music from the Knots materialized. The reissued version was released in 2008 on 1977 Records, and has since sold out.

Despite their obscurity, both "Heartbreaker" and "Action" are two of the classiest, most sneering quintessentially genius punk songs of the Knots' era, rife with brisk tempos just a few notches shy of hardcore. Numerous comparisons can be made, most obviously the Dead Boys, and less obviously the Germs, but the Knots unintentionally predated the buzzsaw assault of bands ranging from White Flag to the more recent Marked Men. Check out the aforementioned Attacking the Beat article for the whole story.

A. Heartbreaker
AA. Action


Thursday, January 21, 2010

China Shop - Atomic Notions ep (1981, Condensed)

I might only be leaving this one up for a couple weeks folks, so grab it while you can (will explain in a moment). New York's China Shop pushed the "avant" envelope as far as one could without encroaching into bona fide No Wave territory (translation: experimental while still loosely resembling rock music). Atomic Notions evokes the urban, congested vibe of New York City from every pore - cosmopolitan, but grimy and even a little surreal to boot. When this came out in '81, it would have made for an ideal soundtrack to a self-guided walking tour of the Bowery on say, a steamy 89 degree afternoon.

My favorite selection here is by far and away "Kowtow," with it's swarmy brew of ominous chords, warm rhythms, and Juan ‘Naux’ Maciel spoken/barely sung vox. Elsewhere, the dissonant but strangely infectious "Monkey Talk" and "If It's New" are well informed by Gang of Four’s funk inclinations. All four tracks here all turned up on an a recent web-only reissue of their catalog, 21 Puffs on the Cassette, which I happened to review for Big Takeover magazine a few years ago. Here are some excerpts:

Fueled with warbled-keyboards and funked-up rhythms, China Shop’s weirdo groove fell somewhere between art-damaged post-punk and utter amateurish capability. 21 tracks here absorb this generous retrospective, and just like snowflakes you never get two alike. This kooky crew took up a few semesters at the Gang of Four school of syncopation (dropping the Marxist rhetoric), loosened Wire’s stiff neckties, and took a page or two from Talking Heads, and funky stateside contemporaries The Big Boys, and even Prince. Some of the more promising moments like the appealing “Kowtow” and “Atlantis” could pass for no-wave classics from a parallel universe...
So sayeth I. Since the 21 Puffs... collection is still readily available for online purchase via the link above, if you enjoy what you hear consider plunking down a few dollars and support the band, albeit nearly three full decades after the fact.

01. Monkey Talk
02. Walk on Lightning
03. Kowtow
04. If It's New

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Nevermen - Monitor (1988, self released)

Thanks to the used vinyl bins at Record Theatre in Buffalo, I've been on a lucky streak as far as finding totally obscure, vintage titles like this one by the Ontario based Nevermen. This quartet recalls austere, but tuneful eighties post-punk acts like the Comsat Angels, Lucy Show, and to a lesser extent the Chameleons. Furthermore, the guitars drip with the same sweet, clangy vibe the Northern Pikes were wont to offer on their earliest releases. For all I know The Nevermen may very well have been ignorant of some, or even most of the aforementioned, nevertheless they produce some real beauts on Monitor, like "Across the Room" and "Living in the Past" (the latter thankfully not the Jethro Tull classic schlock staple). Things peter out a bit on side two, and I couldn't exactly blame you for leveling the notion that Monitor is eons from groundbreaking, but overall I still find it pretty blissful.

01. Real Life
02. Across the Room
03. The Wa;tz
04. Waiting for the Rain
05. Living in the Past
06. She's Got Me
07. Burning
08. Cacophony and Dance (Silver Crown Cement Mix)


Monday, January 18, 2010

Singles Going Single #102 - Facts About Israel 7" (1994, Torn Chord)

I recall someone namedropping this band in the comments portion of one of my posts from last year. As luck would have it, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon this wallet-friendly, three-song single. Facts About Israel were a co-ed, noise-addled quartet of indie kids, that may have hailed from from Virginia. So said Telegraph fanzine about this disk:

Small Factory shares reefers with Pavement and steals Aerosmith's tour bus.

Whoever penned that blurb must have have imbibing some reefer himself, at least pertaining to the Aerosmith part of the equation. The standout selection here, "Off Red" (which even caught John Peel's ear) is indeed Malkmus-y, but more specifically a woozy, tremelo-enhanced slice of lo-fi fuzz rock for the ages.
A1. Sewing
A2. Cock Rock
B. Off Red

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Shepherds of Hot Pavement - s/t (1993, Bing)

This is one of those albums I've been saving for a rainy day, though ironically, we haven't had a drop of precipitation all weekend. Atlanta's Shepherds of Hot Pavement were yet another find I made at my college radio station some seventeen years ago. Not many places online have much to wax about this atmospheric indie trio, who fall squarely in the sonic realm of Springhouse and vintage Catherine Wheel. The seven songs situated here are awash in the perfect melange of curtailed feedback and clean, echoing fretboard-runs, topped off by TL Lange's graceful vocal aplomb. If you were enthusiastic about my previous features on Edsel, Rotator Cuff and Majesty Crush, the Shepherds will be of notable interest to you. If anyone can enlighten me anymore on these folks, don't be a stranger. Some bloody splendid stuff here. Hopefully there's more than this all too fleeting mini album floating around out there.

Some live footage of the band can be experienced via a facebook video stream. Also, it turns out that drummer Chandler Rentz plays in the more current, Snowden, who I would also highly recommend.

01. Gut
02. Bind
03. Rafter
04. Trapeze
05. Ish
06. Cairn
07. Wing


Friday, January 15, 2010

The Johnsons - s/t (1986, Plush)

Just to avoid any confusion, this is not the same Johnsons from Pennsylvania who released the totally unrelated but highly recommendable Break Tomorrow's Day LP. With that out of the way, I have next to no background info to offer in reference to the self-titled Johnsons album I'm sharing, other than their assumed locale of Venice, CA given the quartet's mailing address on the back sleeve. The eight songs here loosely fall under the classification of sarcastic demi-punk, a la The Brains and the A's, should any comparisons be made at all. An adept cover of the Dead Boys "(I Don't Wanna Be No) Catholic Boy" is something of a highlight here, as well as the punchy original "Apparently Lied." I have no idea if any other releases succeeded The Johnsons, but it would have been interesting to hear how these guys progressed.

01. She's a Butcher
02. Modern Maturity
03. Apparently Lied
04. Kill That Girl
05. (I Don't Wanna Be No) Catholic Boy
06. Bad Tonight
07. National Noise
08. Gore


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Poole - Supermerica ep & Loon ep (1994/95, spinART)

To get some idea of what Poole sounds like, first listen to a couple of those old Dion albums your mother has stashed away in the attic. Add a little of Husker Du's guitar grinding melodicism, and add a dash of vocal harmony stolen straight from the Beatles, and you might get the general idea. - The Georgetown Voice.

Since I could hardly put it better myself, I let someone else do the talking, if only for a couple of sentences. The Buke, VA based Poole were one of my favorite suburban D.C. guitar pop bands of the '90s, recording three full lengths for one of the preeminent indie labels at the time, spinART records. Despite the blue background and snowflakes that adorned the jacket of their debut album, 1995's Alaska Days, Poole couldn't have introduced themselves with a more buoyant and sunnier entrance. I should also note that the quartet was a superb fit for the spinART roster, considering another loud, jangly pop band, Lotion were fitting labelmates. Though I like to think that Poole's third and final album, Among Who We Shine might be their finest hour, Alaska Days is typically the fan favorite. Most listeners however are likely unaware of two short-run promotional ep's sent to radio and print media outlets to promote Alaska, which included rare compilation tracks, an interview, and whatnot. I've included both of them, Supermerica and Loon, in their entirety with source info for each song. For a more detailed bio, check out Poole MySpace page linked above, as well as a thorough 1999 article originally published in Tidal Wave magazine.

Supermerica ep (1994)
01. Supermerica (LP version)
02. Smiley Mr. Lion (from Wyatt’s Torch compilation)
03. In My Ears (from Pop Licks 7” compilation box)

Loon ep (1995)
01. Loon (LP version)
02. Can’t Go Back (from Homage Descendents tribute comp)
03. interview (conducted by David Daley of
Alternative Press)
04. Car (live 9/25/95 for WHFS Dave’s Garage show)


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pollyanna - Junior Rock (1996, Mushroom)

Here's my latest offering from one of Sydney, Australia's finest '90s rockers, Pollyanna. Junior Rock combines two of the band's early eps, Fordgreensilverocket (1994, tracks 2, 4, 7, 9, 10) and Junior (1995, tracks 1, 3, 5, 6, 8). These were the precurors to their two albums I've previously shared, Long Player and Hello Halo. Enjoy.

01. Pale Grey Eyes
02. Fordgreensilverocket
03. Grover Washington
04. Truck
05. Salt Your Mouth
06. Cows Crossing
07. Frail
08. Seam
09. Killer

10. Kiss My Sister


Monday, January 11, 2010

Jellyfishbabies - The Unkind Truth About Rome (1990, Pathetic Romantic/Lone Wolf)

A couple weeks ago, I was listening to a podcast of the Rabid in the Kennel radio program, featuring none other than the band Sloan. Hosted by Jack Rabid of Big Takeover magazine renown, the discussion turned to Sloan's favorite modern rock bands from yesteryear. One named that popped up was the Jellyfishbabies (who's moniker I've also seen separated as two words, but for our purposes I'll go by the spelling adorning the album jacket). I had yanked a copy of their second album, The Unkind Truth About Rome from a Toronto record store bin not too long and decided to jog my memory as to what this long departed band hailing from the same city were all about.

Mouthpiece/axe-slinger Scott Kendall and his four cohorts were near-expert musicians, lending the Jellyfishbabies a certain amount of credibility that many of their wet-behind-the-ears contemporaries sorely lacked. The ten tracks that occupy ...Rome span a disparate gamut, with several forays into pensive ballads, vaguely reminiscent of Toad the Wet Sprocket, to blustry rockers like "Wild Cows" and the title track. The album satisfies the most however on such riff-endowed, happy mediums as "Girl in the Window" and "Alba." Evidently this was to be the 'Babies swan song. Dare I say this was also released CD?

01. Alba
02. The Unkind Truth About Rome
03. Abbott
04. The Gibbet Song
05. Wild Cows
06. Greycoat Orchestra
07. Girl in the Window
08. The Erlking
09. Berlin is Just a Dream Away
10. 63 Misery Avenue

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Singles Going Single # 101 - St. Johnny "Scuba Diving" 7" (1995, Geffen)

I suppose it was bound to return at some point. When I initially began the "Singles Going Single" series back in 2007, I intended to write up and post 100 singles within that year. I didn't quite eke the last of them out until early '08, at which point I concocted another series, this one dedicated to split 7"s called "Splitting the Difference." I was planning to bring retire that serial at the 50th entry, and thus far I'm only up to 35 or so. I may return to it at a later time, but since what I've offered thus far in the series hasn't exactly piqued your curiosity I thought I'd go back to something a little more enticing. Hopefully this second phase of "Series Going Single" will result in at least one 7" a week minimum, but I doubt I'll be closing it out before 2011. On to number 101.

St. Johnny were a feedback-ish, somewhat dissonant, but tuneful indie rock quartet from New York, releasing some really hot 45's (conveniently compiled as the High as a Kite album for Caroline Records in 1993) before signing to Geffen for two albums, Speed is Dreaming in 1994, and Let It Come Down a year later. Speed is Dreaming, much like those early 7"s really lit a fire under me, but they retooled themselves in the mold of Beck to far less memorable impact on the followup. This single was released in tandem with the transitional Let It Come Down, and though the A-side doesn't always float my boat, the two flipsides are worth checking out. First comes a prolonged, albeit pleasant acoustic rendering of the Welcome Back Kotter theme of all things. It's followed up by St. Johhny's sleepy spin on the show tune standard, "My Funny Valentine." Incidentally, both of these b-sides are about four and a half minutes long apiece, but were somehow squeezed onto the same side of the single, yet play at 45 rpm - a feat I have yet to see repeated on any other 7" I've come across. Weird. I apologize in advance for some of the painful pops and snaps. Lot's more can be read about (and perhaps heard by) St. Johnny via Old Fart at Play blog.

A. Scuba Diving
B1. Welcome Back, Kotter
B2. My Funny Valentine

Saturday, January 9, 2010

VA - Pure British Pop for Raw People Vols. 1 & 2 (1999, no label)

By the late '90s when I was still unearthing this thing of ours called "power pop" I had already acquainted myself with many of the basics - The Undertones, Nick Lowe, The Records, Rezillos, etc. Some more, dare I say "obscure" specimens from this late '70s/early '80s heyday were screaming to be added to my playlist. The problem was, I wasn't quite sure where to turn next. By the grace of the internet, I learned of these two vinyl-only compilations, right around the turn of the millennium, and boy what I treat I was in for.
Before going further, I should mention that these are technically bootlegs, with not even a fictional record label taking credit for them. Secondly, the packaging differs slightly with Vol. 1 specifying basic release info for each track, while Vol 2 is devoid of any song notes whatsoever. Ultimately, it's the music that matters, and for a homegrown release (assumedly culled from the original 7" singles handsomely depicted on the respective album sleeves), the audio quality is impeccable. Each of the two disks feature a cut from The Freshies, one of the best bands I can think of that I've neglected mentioning on this blog. Neither "Fasten Your Seatbelts" or "Johnny Radar" quite does them justice, but are alluring nonetheless. Sticking with Vol 1 for a moment, I was introduced to the bristling, second-wave era punk of Seventeen, featuring a pre-Alarm Mike Peters. I never quite followed up on some of the other gems I was enamored with on here, but The Squares, Pinpoint, and Strangeways were worth their weight in 45-karat gold as well. A Who cover by The Pleasers doesn't hurt either.

Onto the second volume. The standout track here is a no-brainer. The Letters' "Nobody Loves Me" is a riveting, jangle-inflected punk-pop stunner for the ages, wasting not one nanosecond of it's fleeting two+ minutes. If there's a better song that's been produced within this genre I have yet to hear it. Some of you might be familiar with the second participant in on this comp, The Dazzlers, who I featured here this past November. The Young Ones (not the clowns from the UK TV series of the same name), The Donkees, and the keyboard-enhanced Tunes offer some seriously winsome single sides as well. As for the "mystery track" that closes out side two, I'm inclined to let it remain just that. All in all, the little known Pure British Pop for Raw People compendiums are remarkably consistent and rewarding.
Volume One:
01. Strangeways - Wasting Time
02. Invaders - Girls in Action
03. Seventeen - Don't Let Go
04. Paranoids - Stupid Guy
05. The Secret - Night After Night
06. The Smirks - Ok UK
07. Protex - I Can't Cope
08. Pinpoint - Yo Yo
09. Pleasers - The Kids Are Alright
10. Freshies - Fasten Your Seatbelts
11. The Jags - Woman's World
12. The Squares - No Fear
Volume Two:
01. Protex - A Place in Your Heart
02. The Dazzlers - Lovely Crash
03. Tonight - Money That's Your Problem
04. The Rentals - I've Got a Crush On You
05. The Young Ones - Rock 'n Roll Radio
06. Freshies - Johnny Radar
07. Neon Hearts - Popular Music
08. The Tunes - She's My Girl
09. The Lookalikes - Can I Take You Home?
10. The Letters - Nobody Loves Me
11. The Donkees - Listen to Your Radio
12. mystery song
Volume OneHear
Volume Two: Hear

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ozma - Songs of (In)Audible Trucks and Cars (1998)

Chances are if you're hip to this southern Cali quintet, you're a fan of Weezer. Essentially starting their career as loose proteges of Rivers Cuomo and Co, and later opening for them on their 2001 tour, Ozma paved modest inroads for themselves amongst a small but dedicated legion of fans. If you need to acquaint yourself with the guys (and girl) you need not wander much further than their Myspace page (linked above) and a very useful and thorough Wiki bio.

Before Ozma made themselves known to the world in general with their first proper full-length, Rock and Roll Part Three (the title of which was swiped from a lyric in the song "Iceland"), the band DIY'd their way into the hearts of local fans with the 1998 cd-r release, Songs of Inaudible Trucks and Cars. From the Wiki article I referenced above:

In early 1999, they (Ozma) released Songs of Inaudible Trucks and Cars, a collection of demos and live tracks, released on home-made CD-Rs and later republished in slightly different form as Songs of Audible Trucks and Cars by

What I'm sharing with you folks this evening is the latter version of this rather nascent release, featuring eleven slices of buzzing, Casio-friendly mid-fi rock, that occasionally strives to the echelons of Weezer's fabled Blue Album. Still going, Ozma have released four albums since Songs of Audible..., including their latest and most proficient effort to date, 2007's Pasadena, (yep, the band's hometown).

01. Lorraine
02. Just Tell Me When
03. Rain of the Golden Gorilla
04. Maybe in an Alternate Dimension
05. Los Angeles
06. Flight of the Bootymaster
07. Im My Amp Had Wheels
08. Shooting Stars (live)
09. Natalie Portman (intro)
10. Natalie Portman (demo)
11. Iceland
12. Baseball (live)

Now offered on Bandcamp

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Feelies (aka Foggy Notion) play the Velvet Underground, 5/14/83, Hoboken, NJ

I suppose this one is pretty straightforward. From day one, the Feelies had pronounced aesthetic antecedents with the Velvets, making this covers set a logical and delightful pairing. Staying faithful to the original VU arrangements (to a fault at times) this is quite literally the closest the youngsters in attendance at this Maxwells show would ever come to witnessing the legendary band in question. Even bassist Brenda Sauter accurately evokes Nico's tone-deaf vocal signature. The Feelies also throw a solo Lou Reed cut into the setlist, "Kill Your Sons." This is an audience tape (not mine), but a crisp recording capturing all the warmth and reverb the Feelies dutifully conveyed on this rare occasion. Gold.

01. I'm Waiting For The Man
02. White Light/White Heat
03. Here She Comes Now
04. There She Goes Again
05. Run Run Run
06. I'll Be Your Mirror
07. Cool It Down
08. All Tomorrow's Parties
09. What Goes On
10. Kill Your Sons
11. Sister Ray
12. Foggy Notion

Monday, January 4, 2010

Green On Red - "Rev. Luther" promo 12" (1989, Polydor)

I don't think I've ever brought the topic of Green On Red up on Wilfully Obscure, save for maybe a comparison, save for maybe a passing comparison. For my money, only G on R's first two eps really moved me (those and perhaps their much lauded Gas, Food, Lodging album on occasion). Still, I sprang for this promo 12" ep when I ran into it at a local shop a few days ago. The feature cut, "Reverend Luther" is from their pretty pitiful (IMHO) This Time Around LP, a disk that reeked of far too much corny twang for any self respecting indie rocker. But wouldn't you know it, the flipside to this glorified single is worth the trip, namely for a pair of Neil Young and Crazy Horse-indebted live cuts "16 Ways" and "Hair of the Dog" (not the Nazareth song of the same name). Topping things off is the studio outtake, "Broken Radio," a plaintive, if not slightly sarcastic Americana ballad.

A. Reverend Luther
B1. Hair of the Dog (live)
B2. 16 Ways (live)
B3. Broken Radio


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Play the Siren - Learning From Las Vegas (1987, Target Entertainment)

Boy is this one tricky to pin down. There's definitely a "wave" vibe permeating Play the Siren's overall shtick, but there's more going on here than that. Two vocalists are credited on the back sleeve of Learning From Las Vegas, Chris Russell and Brad Rim, one of whom has a marked falsetto. The relatively straightforward ballad "Don't Let it Get You Down" possesses a keyboard line ripped straight from Procal Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale," but since it works so effectively I'm not complaining. Whether intentionally or not, "Queen Anne's Lace" and "Black Man in Moscow" work in some '80s Fleetwood Mac tendencies, sans the excess. A soothing run through of John Barry's "Midnight Cowboy" closes out an intriguing, if not a little unfocused album that I have no regrets picking up. Great sleeve art on this one as well.

01. And As the Roof Comes Down
02. The Glow
03. Black Man in Moscow
04. Pink Little Elephants
05. Don't Let it Get You Down
06. Success
07. Criticize!
08. Thomas Paine's Pamphlet
09. Queen Anne's Lace
10. Midnight Cowboy


Saturday, January 2, 2010

The culminaton of a story and a goodbye session: My favorite albums of the decade from hell.

It's all too convenient to say that the '00s was the weakest decade for rock music. As someone who operates a blog dedicated to the sounds of the good 'ol twentieth century it makes such a claim all the more viable and tempting. I will say this however. Back in December of 1999, eons before this page sprouted up, I put together a list of my 100 favorite albums of the '90s, purely to disseminate among my friends and peers. In that decade, and ditto for the 1980s, there were roughly 200-300 quality albums that could have realistically vied for one of those coveted top-100 spots. This time out, I absolutely struggled to come up with 100 worthy titles. Ultimately I didn't, but I'll come back to this dilemma in a few moments.

The aughts were not about trends, at least as far as I was concerned. Though many were represented, to this set of ears this was the first decade of my existence that was devoid of any bona fide genre-breaking. Just as it's convenient to proclaim the music of the past ten years was comparatively inferior, another wholesale realization was that virtually everything dispelled in the post-Y2K era entailed: a) an obvious throwback; b) a rehash; c) a nifty melange of multiple genres of yore, or perhaps more overarching, technological advancements applied to any of the three variations I just rattled off.

For me, the appeal of music in the past decade often pivoted on what struck my fancy during the '70s, '80s, and '90s. This was also the scenario for a lot of people I'm acquainted with, but unfortunately, many of them took the lazy way out and subconsciously (or not) ceased exposing themselves to new artists, rather almost exclusively supporting established acts from the century past. The truth is, there was a lot of commendable music being churned out during this rather miserable ten-year span, but given the noticeable dearth of innovation, the bulk of it went in one ear and out the other...or was dismissed entirely. And as much as I'm loathe to admit it, I'm as guilty as anyone else I'm referring to out there.

After you take a gander at my 90 or so picks, I know what a lot of you are bound to be scratching your head over. Saves the Day? Dashboard Confessional? Owl City? The Juliana Theory? No less than all three Motion City Soundtrack albums? Even a Fall Out Boy disk? All these out-of-place monikers on a best-of the decade list from a chap that fancies utter obscurities from the golden age of college radio? Yet some, if not all of the aforementioned and their associated ilk outlined in the list below bestowed some of the finest pop songs and albums of this decade that will resonate with me for many more to come. These were hardly guilty pleasures (though at first they certainly felt like it). In fact the aforementioned were the lifeblood of my soundtrack over recent years.

As to why I cut the cord at 95 albums instead of 100, I believe that over the next couple of years (perhaps beyond) I'll find another five albums at least from the '00s that I haven't stumbled upon yet. Instead of "dropping" albums from this list as more preferable ones make it into my stereo and MP3 player, leaving things open-ended with built-in placeholders seems pretty logical - something I failed to do with my 1990s album list, but I digress. Anal and self-indulgent as hell, I know...

In parting, I thought it would be appropriate to provide a little critique and backgrounder for my number one pick of the decade. Around 2005 or so, a lot of you may have caught wind of an intercontinental, slightly raunchy blues/folk duo known as The Kills. Additionally, even more of you are probably familiar with The Dead Weather, a side endeavor of Jack White. The link between these two groups is one Alison Mosshart (who opts for the assumed name of VV when in Kills-mode). As it turns out, I have been following Allison since the mid-90s when as a teen/early-twenty something she was fronting a fledgling indie pop-punk crew based in Vero Beach, Florida called Discount. By the time they got to their third and final album, Crash Diagnostic, they weren't merely "fledgling" anymore - in fact, they had wholeheartedly arrived. Diagnostic was an OK Computer-savvy kiss goodbye and simultaneous kiss-off to the emo/punk scene that bore Discount, soon to be watered down for the masses over the course of the forthcoming decade. Bristling with 13 raw, exposed nerves (i.e. songs), seeped in oblique lyrics, arresting dynamics, not to mention more Fugazi worship than you could shake a stick at, Crash Diagnostic was something of a grower at first, but would soon become an inseparable part of my life. While the facets I laid out in that last sentence comprised the meat and potatoes of the album's aesthetic, the glue stringing all of it together was of course Alison Mosshart's frenzied, about-to-careen-off-the-track vocal aplomb that she has yet to employ in her post-Discount ventures (but I'd say masterminding the album of the decade is enough of an accomplishment). Incidentally, Crash Diagnostic was literally the first release of the year 2000 to fall into my hands, and I would be dumbstruck if you told me at the time that nothing coming down the pike in the next nine years and eleven months would top it. You can listen to the whole thing here. Enjoy, and remember, it's only a list.

01. DiscountCrash Diagnostic (2000, New American Dream)
02. My VitriolFinelines (2001, Sony)
03. Passion PitManners (French Kiss, 2009)
04. Mike ViolaHang on Mike (2003, Sony)
05. The StereoRewind + Record (2002, Fueled By Ramen)
06. The NationalBoxer (2007, Beggars Banquet)
07. Local RabbitsThis is It, Here We Go (2001, Brobdingnagian)
08. Element 101Future Plans Undecided (2000, Tooth & Nail)
09. Panic! At the DiscoA Fever You Can’t Sweat Out (2005, Fueled By Ramen)
10. Sig Transit Gloria – s/t (2000, Johann’s Face)

11. Exploding HeartsGuitar Romantic (2003, Dirtnap)
12. The Lives of Famous Men – three eps: Rehearsal/Modern Love/Sunshine (2007-09, self released)
13. The Strokes – Is This It? (2001, RCA)
14. Dashboard ConfessionalThe Places You Have Come to Fear the Most (2001, Vagrant)
15. Motion City Soundtrack - Commit this to Memory (2005, Epitaph)
16. Saves the DayStay What You Are (2001, Vagrant
17. Amusement Parks on FireOut of the Angeles (2006, V2)
18. The BravesLove and Mercy (2005, Johann’s Face)
19. Fall Out BoyTake This to Your Grave (2003, Fueled By Ramen)
20. The AnniversaryDesigning a Nervous Breakdown (2000, Vagrant)

21. The Doleful LionsSong Cyclops Vol. I (2000, Parasol)
22. Ben KwellerSha Sha (2002, ATO)
23. Paul WesterbergStereo/Mono (2002, Vagrant)
24. Rooney – s/t (2003, Interscope)
25. The Mary Onettes – s/t (2007, Labrador)
26. Nada SurfLet Go (2002, Barsuk)
27. Hey MercedesEverynight Fire Works (2001, Vagrant)
28. Ben FoldsSongs for Silverman (2005, Sony)
29. StewGuest Host (2000, Telegraph)
30. Taking Back SundayWhere You Want to Be (2004, Victory)

31. The LillingtonsThe Backchannel Broadcast (2001, Panic Button)
32. Kings of LeonOnly By the Night (2008, RCA)
33. Phantom PlanetThe Guest (2002, Sony)
34. Motion City SoundtrackI Am the Movie (2003, Epitaph)
35. Mike ViolaJust After Dark (2005, Good Morning Monkey)
36. Jack’s MannequinEverything In Transit (2005, Maverick)
37. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – s/t (2009, Slumberland)
38. ElliottFalse Cathedrals (2000, Revelation)
39. Damien JuradoGhost of David (2000, Sub Pop)
40. FM KnivesUseless and Modern (Empty, 2003)

41. Motion City SoundtrackEven if it Kills Me (2007, Epitaph)
42. Ben FoldsRockin’ the Suburbs (2001, Sony)
43. Tugboat AnnieThe Space Around You (2000, Big Top)
44. Emm GrynerThe Summer of High Hopes (2006, Dead Daisy)
45. The Juliana TheoryEmotion is Dead (2000, Tooth & Nail)
46. This Is Me Smiling – s/t (2005, The Vinyl Summer)
47. Mew…and the Glass Handed Kites (2005, Sony)
48. Owl CityOcean Eyes (2009, Universal)
49. The BravesThat’s the Hot Part (2002, Arms Reach)
50. Taking Back SundayTell All Your Friends (2002, Victory)

51. Fiona AppleExtraordinary Machine (2005, Sony)
52. The Marked Men – s/t (2003, Dirtnap)
53. Dashboard ConfessionalThe Swiss Army Romance (2000, Drive-Thru)
54. Cockeyed GhostLudlow 6:18 (2001, Karma Frog)
55. CruiserweightSweet Weaponry (2005, Doghouse)
56. Bad AstronautHouston, We Have a Drinking Problem (2002, Honest Don’s)
57. Lightweight Holiday – s/t (2003, Porterhouse)
58. Amusement Parks on Fire – s/t (2005, Filter/BMG)
59. Pedro the LionControl (2002, Jade Tree)
60. Lifetime – s/t (Fueled By Ramen, 2007)

61. Hot Hot HeatElevator (2005, Warner Bros.)
62. The Straylight Run – s/t (2004, Victory)
63. Pete YornDay I Forgot (2003, Sony)
64. Jets to BrazilFour Cornered Night (2000, Jade Tree)
65. Rhett MillerThe Instigator (2002, Elektra)
66. The StryderMasquerade in the Key of Crime (2000, Equal Vision)
67. Reeve Oliver – s/t (2004, Militia Group)
68. Something CorporateNorth (2003, Drive-Thru)
69. Blake BabiesGod Save the Blake Babies ( 2001, Rounder)
70. Graig MarkelHard Grammar (2001, Mag Wheel)

71. Saves the DayUnder the Boards (2007, Vagrant)
72. The 101Green Street (2005, Limekiln)
73. Hellogoodbye Zombies!, Aliens!, Vampires!, Dinosaurs! (2006, Drive-Thru)
74. The Bon MotsLe Main Drag (2003, Mellifluid)
75. Kevin Tihista’s Red TerrorDon’t Breathe a Word (2001, Parasol)
76. ChamberlainExit 232 (2001)
77. Jon AuerSongs from the Year of Our Demise (2006, Pattern 25)
78. MaritimeHeresy & the Hotel Choir (2007, Flameshovel)
79. Band of HorsesEverything All the Time (2007, Sub Pop)
80. High Speed Scene - s/t (2005, Star Trak/Interscope)

81. Someone Still Loves You Boris YeltsinPershing (2008, Polyvinyl)
82. All Systems Go! – s/t (2001, Cold Front)
83. Turin BrakesThe Optimist (2001, Astralwerks)
84. Two Tongues – s/t (2009, Vagrant)
85. DaysleepersDrowned in a Sea of Sound (2008, Clairecords)
86. Mark Kleiner Power TrioLove To Night (2002, Mint)
87. DrugMoneyMtn Cty Jnk (2004, Hybrid)
88. Young SportsmenDeath to Palaces (2007)
89. InterpolAntics (2004, Matador)
90. Red Fox Grey FoxFrom the Land of Bears, Ice and Rock (2007, Afternoon)

91. Schatzi50 Reasons to Explode (2002, Mammoth)
92. House & ParishOne, One-thousand ep (2007 Arena Rock)
93. Steven Mark-WrightPop Motel (2006, Not Lame)
94. Drag the RiverClosed (2002, Upland/Suburban Home)
95. Broadfield MarchersWhen the Lifted Connive (2006, St. Ives)
96-100 ?????