Monday, May 31, 2010

Humans - Happy Hour (1981, I.R.S.)

With a band name that acknowledges a concept as lofty as our very species, you might expect a grandiose gesture or two from the Santa Cruz based Humans. Not so. In fact, this long defunct five-man troupe resided on the blunter side of the cutting edge, but not without packing some bite on such standout selections as “Lightning,” “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” and “You Don’t Wanna Know.” The Humans opted to lick at the fringes of the early ’80s new-wave movement without jumping into the fray full bore, and as such they weren’t particularly distinguishable from many of their likeminded hopefuls. Even so, you’d swear that some of the aforementioned titles on Happy Hour were somehow quintessential of the era. Not a bad effort, save for the artsy closer, “Obituary” that draws the album to a rather unraveling coda. Apologies in advance for all the annoying pops and surface noise.

01. Get You Tonight
02. Lightning
03. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
04. Change
05. Foreign Culture
06. Invisible Man
07. Waiting at the Station
08. You Don’t Wanna Know
09. Lost Control
10. Obituary


Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Cavedogs - Joyrides for Shut-ins (1990, Enigma)

To make the great American pop album, you have to be the great American pop band. Boston's Cavedogs were just that, and outside of a few thousand true believers, their tale was an all too familiar one of misguided record label priorities and sheer mainstream ignorance. But as for the music itself, it couldn't have been better. A little over two years ago, I shared a Cavedogs 2001 "fanclub" release of sorts called Fall Back In It, a hodgepodge of unreleased rarities, demos and live cuts, delivered in the guise of a faux radio program, rife with goofy and animated dialogues. While Fall Back In It was the dessert, I had yet to serve up the main course, which I'm attending to at this very moment.

After a locally released single and a clutch of tapes sent to various Beantown radio outlets, the Cavedogs signed to Enigma Records (and soon after Capital), and in 1990 got down to brass tacks with renown producer Ed Stasium to conceive the aforementioned "great American pop album," Joyrides for Shut-ins. Almost entirely on par with their recently elevated left-of-the-dial peers Matthew Sweet, The Posies, and the Smithereens (and kinda sounding like a prodigiously brilliant amalgamation of all three) The Cavedogs Rickenbacker-laced power pop was deftly executed and eminently catchy. There was a video for "Tayter Country," and "Baba Ghanooj" was a local radio favorite, but at large, Joyrides.., and moreover the band itself, weren't afforded adequate exposure to achieve the breakout success they sincerely deserved. The public's loss and our gain I suppose, but a hell of a band to fall by the wayside. The follow-up to Joyrides... was the equally winsome 1992 Capital Records release, Soul Martini. Cavedogs bassist/mouthpiece Brian Stevens would cut a solo album in 1996, Prettier Than You.

01. Tayter Country
02. Leave Me Alone
03. Bed of Nails
04. Proud Land
05. What in the World?
06. Right on the Nail
07. Step Down
08. Baba Ghanooj
09. Calm Him Down
10. Taking Up Space
11. La La La
12. In Tayter Valley (unlisted track)

Now on Amazon.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Singles Going Single #127 - The Edsel Auctioneer 7" (1992, Decoy)

The Edsel Auctioneer were one of a zillion bands that made a not-so-hot first impression on me during the '90s, but having the pure dumb luck of finding their records and cds in many a bargain bin, I was apt to give them another spin. Wouldn't you know it, after some fifteen years, this Leeds, UK four-piece have redeemed themselves with no conscious effort on their part. Brandishing a fashionably noisy streak, Edsel Auctioneer glaze these two tracks in a gently downcast veneer, hinting every so slightly of Dinosaur Jr, but even more so could pass for a slower, more somber Superchunk or Squirrel Bait. "Slough" also appears on their Simmer album, which I may upload in full at another time. If you want to catch up on the group's backstory and peruse a exhaustive discography, go no further than Old Fart at Play blog (scroll about three quarters of the way down).

A. Slouch
B. Egg Neck


Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Well Wishers - Post Modern Romantic (2010) - A brief evaluation

A little under two months ago I deluge of albums by a defunct and woefully overlook power pop aggregation dubbed the Spinning Jennies. Helmed by frontman Jeff Shelton, the band sputtered out shortly after the turn of the century, but soon thereafter he continued his act with the none-too-dissimilar Well Wishers. They (or perhaps more accurately he, considering Jeff performs virtually all instruments on here) are offering up their fifth album, Post Modern Romantic. With an admiration for such godhead luminaries as the Posies, Sugar, and for that matter most of the Not Lame Records roster, The Well Wishers have those almighty three chords squarely in their crosshairs, with a hook-savvy penchant for swiftly intermingling the crunch and jangle quotients. Those of you already following the trajectory of Jeff's endeavors will find that Post Modern doesn't deviate from the recipe I just laid out in the previous sentence, but devotees of the Well Wishers and Spinning Jennies aren't likely to take issue with that. Furthermore, for the uninitiated, this is as representative an album as any to jump aboard. A crankin' cover of The Nils 1985 punk artifact "Fountains" makes for a sweet surprise, amidst Jeff's ten originals. Buy PMR here or at CD Baby.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Carmine - Carpe Patio Flounder (1994, Velvet Dwarf)

Even though these somewhat non-descript, post-grunge schleps from Atlanta, GA didn't make music that was quite worth writing home about, Carpe Patio Flounder's inclusion on this blog was inevitable if only for it's centerpiece, "Mitch." Who would have guessed that such an unassuming paean to a found pet turtle would be so terrifically endearing, not to mention anthemic? Well, at least to this set of ears, Carmine penned an alt-rock ditty for the ages. The trio's net presence is less than ubiquitous (with perhaps only this 1996 article providing a few pertinent clues written after the band had relocated to Seattle), but after engaging in some brief Latin translation, the album's moniker roughly means "seize the suffering fish." And speaking of suffering, this disk has it's share of clunkers, some goofy ones at that, but in addition to the aforementioned "Mitch," the boys also go a long way in redeeming themselves with the hooky, riff-addled ""Your Biggest Fan," and "I Relate," a sincere and tuneful stab at balladry (or reasonable facsimile thereof). By pure coincidence, frontman Jeffrey Barnes recalls the golden throat of Meices/All Systems Go head honcho Joe Reineke and that guy from Love Battery.

01. Empire of the Air
02. All Men
03. Mrs. Jones
04. Car Crash
05. Irrelevant Elephant
06. Mitch
07. Tim
08. I Relate
09. Your Biggest Fan
10. High Speed
11. In the Void


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Agitpop - Po-Town Tea Party ep (1989, T/T)

It's about time I got around to doing a post on the humble Poughkeepsie, NY trio known as Agitpop, and from what I can surmise, this might be the only chunk of cyberspace I'll ever dedicate to them, as their back catalog is back in circulation, at least digitally. The Agits were one of the quirkier acts on the Twin/Tone Records roster, and an acquired taste at that. The loosest comparison I can conjure up is fIREHOSE. Like Mike Watt and Co, these crafty downstate New Yorkers offered agile playing chops within a mildly, jazz-informed post-punk construct. Mouthpiece John DeVries does not possess the sweetest set of lungs, but his scratchy timbre suits the band's unique modus operandi just fine. This promo-only ep coincided with their fourth album, Stick It! The a-side, "Forget Me Not" is a comparatively mellow LP cut, while the other side of the Frisbee offers two exclusive covers, both undeniable classics - Gang of Four's Entertainment! scorcher "Not Great Men," and Cream's bittersweet "Badge." Stick It! is still available from Twin/Tone (only on burned CD to my chagrin, but better than nothing) as well as the preceding Open Seasons album. Two earlier Agits albums, Feast of the Sunfish and Back at the Plain of Jars can be snatched up on iTunes and Emusic. Agitpop's Myspace page has info on some recently recorded material, though it's not entirely clear if it's for sale yet. Some new songs are up at any rate. Finally, Trouser Press has a few things to say about the trio's discography. Enjoy (or not).

01. Forget Me Not
02. Not Great Men
03. Badge


Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Square Root of Now - Bent Around Corners (1987, Parallax)

I was thoroughly intrigued by this albums spiffy jacket, so last year, when I stumbled upon Bent Around Corners by The Square Root of Now I took a gamble, and fortunately it panned out. A trio based out of Jackson, Mississippi with definite wave and new romantic tendencies, Square Root recall a cornucopia of period bands, most notably the Three O’Clock, Glass Moon, early Tears For Fears, and Talk Talk among others. Abstract titles like “If Motif; Why Wagon,” and “Tundra Stuff,” belie relatively plush production. Web-wise, there’s very little background info available on the Square Root, but frontman Dan DeWeese has passed on, and a Facebook page has been set up in his honor. Oddly enough, you can find the album lyrics there as well.

01. Between the Light
02. Compile Your Love
03. If Motif; Why Wagon
04. Lunge Into Serious
05. Ceramic Angels
06. After the Rain
07. Tundra Stuff
08. Honndakanaya
09. Silly Spender
10. Count Me In
11. Bent Around Corners

Go here.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

30 Amp Fuse - Saturday Night At The Atomic Speedway (1997, Dedicated)

Thought this would be appropriate in following up my Punch Wagon post from yesterday. I name-dropped a chap by the name of Mike Smithers, who played bass in that short lived John Davis fronted trio. From what I can tell, he never migrated to any of the various Superdrag lineups, but he did go onto 30 Amp Fuse, a rather vigorous, rip-roaring punk-pop crew who released three albums during the late '90s, Saturday Night... being the first. If you're familiar with some of Superdrag's faster numbers (e.g. "Slow to Anger," the gale force opening salvo from Industry Giants) that should give you a rough idea of what 30 Amp has in store. Additionally, this disk was produced by none other than Bill Stevenson and Stephen Egerton of Descendents/All acclaim, so that should provide you with yet another hint. Killer stuff.

Incidentally, John Davis is briefly reunited with his aforementioned Punch Wagon alum, Mike Smithers on track 4, "I Fall Down." And speaking of reunions, 30 Amp Fuse are gearing up to come out of retirement and play a show on July 9 at Barley's Taproom in Knoxville, TN, with Davis in tow.

01. Punk Virtuoso
02. Love is a Catch 22
03. Stereogram
04. I Fall Down
05. Sleeping With the Enemy
06. Whatever It Was
07. All Day Afternoon
08. Tilt-a-Whirl
09. For You
10. Perfect Hindsight
11. Blastin' Room
12. Over the Hill
13. Truth Hits Hard
14. Down Down
15. Sound on Sound
16. Sound on Sound (reprise)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Punch Wagon (pre-Superdrag) - demo (1993)

This is one for all you Superdrag die-hards in the audience (I'm sure you're well aware of who you are by now). There's not much info out there to glean on Knoxville's Punch Wagon, aside from a few essential facts ripped straight from an online Superdrag bio:

Singer/guitarist John Davis, drummer Don Coffey, Jr., and bassist Mike Smithers had previously started a band called Punch-wagon. After recording a five-song demo and performing four or five shows, the group disbanded.

Quite the robust back story, eh? Most fans at all acquainted with any Superdrag precursor groups are more likely familiar with The Used, than Punch Wagon. The Used (later expanded to Used to Be) featured in their hallowed lineup two future Superdrag-alum, Tom Pappas and Brandon Fisher. Unlike Punch Wagon, the Used left a little bit more on the studio reels, eventually resulting in a semi-posthumous CD, Shameless Self Destruction. As with Superdrag, it's John Davis fronting Punch Wagon, which by default makes them the more representative of these two predecessor bands. That being said, Punch Wagon didn't quite possess the empathetic tenor and deft musical chops Superdrag would soon become known, and dare I say revered for. The five songs involving this demo (my digitized files thereof, surely culled from a third of fourth generation cassette I might add) are more flattering than one might expect, though hardly the grail-like find I had been hoping for. "Liquor," the one song here that eventually carried over to Superdrag, suffers from some painful volume fluctuations and glitches. There's no telling how many first-generation copies of the Punch Wagon tape (the spine of which is depicted on the sleeve of the S'drag 4-Track Rock double CD compilation) are floating around, but unless the band was gracious enough to sell them at their shows, good luck on ever laying your hands on an original specimen. BTW, John Davis also had a brief solo thing going even prior to Punch Wagon called The Broken String Band, which I might share at a later date if it seems to warrant any interest (hint: leave a comment).

01. Liquor
02. My Guru Died
03. Jesus
04. Parallel Universe
05. Next Time


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

J Church - Arbor Vitae (1995, Honey Bear)

J Church's fruitful and prolific run by and large peaked at the time of Arbor Vitae's release in 1995. Produced by Frankie Stubbs of Leatherface renown, it was their third LP overall, and the first to be issued on the band's (i.e. singer/guitarist/visionary/ex-Cringer frontman/sole continuous member, Lance Hahn's) in-house label, Honey Bear Records. It spawned two singles, "Your Shirt," and "Racked," though neither made it anywhere near a Billboard chart. Arbor Vitae is one of their finest albums, and overall definitively representative of what they had to offer. A virtual pop-punk entity unto himself, Lance intermingled the maelstrom of late-era Husker Du, with a thoughtful, twenty-something songwriting aptitude that was at once easily relatable but in no small way profound. His was a truly singular voice, tragically silenced in 2007 due to complications with kidney disease. Literally dozens and dozens of records were released during his nearly two decade long tenure Click on the first hyperlink above to find out all you need to know regarding Lance Hahn and his rotating roster of pals and gals collectively and fondly known as J Church.

01. Cigarettes Kill
02. Racked
03. Drinking Down
04. Church on Fire
05. Your Shirt
06. Disposed to Feminity
07. Contempt for Modesty
08. Swallow
09. Smoke in My Face
10. Waiting on the Ground
11. Mr. Backrub
12. Stinking Seas
13. untitled (hidden track)


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Singles Going Single #126 - Forty - Lightswitch 7" (1995, Big Top)

Ok, here's more arcane, six-string-shredding indie rawk for your (hopefully) appreciative eardrums. Truthfully I am unaware of Forty's locale, but given this single is on Big Top Records, the Boston, MA area might be a safe bet. And wouldn't you know, the moment this trio busts out of the starting gate, they let out a walloping axe squall via the leadoff "Shrug," quite reminiscent of one J. Mascis. Forty up the ante with some rather savage heaviness throughout their Lightswitch 45, falling a notch or two shy of their Seattle contemporaries. The "hooks" are coaxed out in strenuous fashion...but at least they're conveyed in some capacity, and in my book that's what counts.

A1. Shrug
A2. Sonora Webster
B. Cun't, Can't and a Happy Home


Monday, May 17, 2010

Dewey Defeats Truman - The Road to Nowhere Maps ep (2002, Has Anyone Ever Told You?)

Dewey Defeats Truman were a great and probably now defunct San Diego band whose records not only got lost in the shuffle generally speaking, but amidst my only personal collection as well. In fact, this vivacious indie-rock threesome are right on par with the most capable work of likeminded combos The Promise Ring, No Knife, Skiploader, and Not Rebecca. So why haven't I graciously waxed on DDT previously? In a word, visibility. Were it not for the music rag I wrote for at the time (and thankfully, continue to do so), I would likely have been ignorant to them altogether. Given my overwhelming stash of cds and vinyl, these guys unfortunately tend to garner minimal play at my house/in my car/on my MP3 player, but it's due to no deficit of talent on their part. Hopefully you'll be able to to give this ep the TLC and attention it deserves. Here's the review I penned for Big Takeover magazine:

To say we haven’t had an overabundance of indie-guitar rock bands over the past years would be like saying Enron has a dearth of paper shredders. Yet just when you’ve sworn this kind of stuff off, Dewey Defeats Truman are likely to reel you back in. Their cleverly (and confusingly) titled debut mini-album B-sides, Rarities and Outtakes, played out like a warm-up compared to this scintillating EP, which find this San Diego trio in a better place, effortlessly whipping out fevered, jangle rock numbers like “Sound Surrounds,” and “Damaged Goods,” without being overtly melodramatic (i.e. “emo”). Fans of Lotion, Not Rebecca and Jebediah should make a beeline for this.

The disk B-sides, Rarities and Outtakes, I referenced above is just as recommenable as this ep, and may still be available at a reasonable fee from Silver Girl Records.

01. no more joy
02. sound surrounds
03. fly below the radar
04. damaged goods
05. pencil fight
06. die remora

Now available through Bandcamp

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Negro Problem - Their General Suave Guys Request 7" box (1996, Pronto)

Before I proceed, try not to get too weirded out by this outfit’s seemingly outrageous moniker. The Negro Problem are not only more than ethnically friendly, frontman Stew (Mark Stewart) is African American. In fact, my only reservation in sharing this very hard to find three 7” box set is the frustrating amount of vinyl static that populates some of these songs. Released in 1996 via Pronto Records, the same label that put out a similar 7” box for the Sugarplastic (and from what I understand Possum Dixon), Their General Suave Guys Request features early incarnations of songs that would be reworked for their masterful debut LP, Post Minstrel Syndrome, one of the signgle most dazzlingly sophisticated post-power pop records of the 1990s.

In the world of TNP, arresting wordplay, surrealism, and an avalanche of hooks to die for often dovetail with none-too-obfuscated social commentary, but when all is said and done it's Stew's incredible set of lungs that define the band in a most sublime way. If you're at all impressed with you hear, Post Minstrel... is an absolute must, and TNP's followup, 1999's Joys and Concerns is nearly as crucial. In 2002, a third TNP album, Welcome Black, was released and throughout the '00s Stew would pen several solo albums, Guest Host being my favorite. In recent years Stew has followed theatrical pursuits, quite successfully I might add.
01. The Meaning of Everything
02. Repulsion
03. Camelot
04. Sabrina Drill
05. Submarine Down
06. Heidigger in Harlem

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Various - The Patio Collection (199?, Smilex)

Recently had a request for this rather oddball compilation from the mid-90s, showcasing a bevy of up-and-crumbling California indie bands. If I recall, I'm pretty confident it was Sugarplastic's contribution to The Patio Collection, "Ways to Save Face," that suckered me in. BTW, that song also appeared on the 'plastics debut Radio Jejune, and to this pair of ears it sounds like the identical version. I've gone on at length about them before on these pages, so I suppose I need not do that again. Truth be told, the latter portion of this comp unravels in a pretty big way, but not before offering a few saving graces from Tanner's angular aggro-punk, Culty Smothers' fleeting, Sentridoh-esque acoustic goodness, Half-Sister's boisterous indie-rawk and the slacker leanings of Hugh. There are a couple of more relatively known quantities chilling out on the Patio, namely A Minor Forest and 3-Mile Pilot, but a myriad of no-names rule dominate here. Smilex, the label that gave rise to this collection has a Myspace page, with info on the sequel to this comp, Patio Collection Vol. 2.

01. Rrope - West Tone Song
02. Culty SmothersOh
03. Sugarplastic - Ways to Save Face
04. SevenFortySevenEarth
05. JackassTibet
06. Fleabag - Up & Down
07. Hugh - Church of José
08. Tanner - Slightly Calculated
09. The Polar Goldiecats - Minuet in Squirt
10. A Minor Forest - 3 Long Piles
11. Half SisterSplitzville
12. 3-Mile Pilot - The Piano Titanic
13. Don Knotts Overdrive - Electric Treechrome Disco Girl
14. Mars Bonfire - Serpent Coil
15. The SplatzGary
16. MindcandyHead
17. Clancy Pearson4:09
18. Foil - Drowned Out


Friday, May 14, 2010

Spiral Jetty - Tour of Homes (1986, Incas)

Happy Friday folks. This is going to be a slightly hasty write-up, but in a nutshell, Spiral Jetty were a Jersey City, NJ trio existing from the '80s-'90s, who on their debut LP (actually mini-LP) Tour of Homes, had the very good fortune of The Feelies Bill Million and Glenn Mercer manning the production board. Tour of Homes finds Spiral Jetty very much in league with the Feelies ragged, vigorously-strummed variety of six-string spillage, with Crazy Rhythms being an almost bluntly obvious influence. Spiral's spin on things is subtly darker in tenor I might add, but not detrimental to anything. I may be sharing a CD retrospective on these guys in the near future, but in the meantime, head over to Perfect Sound Forever to read a thorough history on the band.

01. I Swear
02. Baltimore
03. Andy's Attuc
04. All of This
05. Going to Marseilles
06. It Doesn't Matter Anymore
07. East Berlin
08. Tour of Homes
09. Something Will Come


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Singles Going Single #125 - Sixteen Deluxe 7" (2000, Speakerphone)

Austin's Sixteen Deluxe were a coed indie quartet with a decent local following, but despite signing to Warner Brothers in the late '90s for their sophomore album Emits Showers of Sparks, they never translated to a nationwide audience. Their zesty stripe of guitar-pop will appeal to those appreciating the sonic sprawl of Silversun Pickups, with a distortion-inflected wink and a nod to such female fronted alt-rawkers as Magnapop and the Primitives. I believe "To Find What's Waitin' For" was rerecorded for their 2000 album, Vision Take Me Make Me Never Forsake Me, while the sharp-as-a-tack flipside, "Burning Leaves" is proprietary to this single.

A. To Find What's Waitin' For
B. Burning Leaves


Dynamic Truths - Understanding is Overrated (2010, Little Black Cloud) - a brief evaluation

Well before Merge Records became the tastemakers they are today, jettisoning much of it's roster into the Top-10 Billboard album chart and whatnot, the label's pre-2K era reputation hinged on such comparative heavy hitters as Superchunk (the house band for those of you not in the know), that band's associated offshoots like Portastatic, as well as unrelated acts like Polvo, the Magnetic Fields, and Neutral Milk Hotel. During the '90s Merge would release a one off single by virtually unknown acts, (many of whom would sadly remain as such) including Richmond, Virginia's Dynamic Truths, an offshoot of some slightly more prominent area forerunners, specifically Coral, Honor Role, and Fudge. I shared DT's lone Merge Records entry two years ago, a 1998 single which was never followed up by a full-length until a good twelve years or so after the fact. Enter 2010 and a fifteen song assemblage of the group's recorded legacy, Understanding is Overrated, released in a scant quantity of *gulp* 250 copies, and available 'til it's slim supply runs out from Merge.

Featuring both songs from that aforementioned gem of a single, with it's remaining thirteen selections being culled from 1996-99 recording sessions, Understanding is Overrated hones in on DT stitching together the dissonant, noisenik maneuvers of it's antecedent groups (particularly Coral and Honor Roll) with a heightened tunefulness that wandered into the environs of Portastatic, Sonic Youth, Mission of Burma, and the Verlaines to name a few. Something of a perfect indie-rock storm if you will.  I would encourage you to make a beeline to Merge's online retail outlet if you don't want to miss out on this one.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Singles Going Single #124 - Piedmont Charisma 7" (2001)

On "Red, Black, Khaki," Asheville, NC's now departed Piedmont Charisma demonstrate their skillful fusion of clangy, rhythmic post-punk, a la Talking Heads and Gang of Four with an updated, 21st century aplomb that really shines through. Love the crisp, prominent percussion on this one. On the the other side of the fence we have the Wire-y "Carheartt Cologne" and a quick, art-damaged slice o' psychosis called "Family Emergency." A sweet picture sleeve doesn't hurt either. Piedmont committed more material to tape than this single, which you can read more about on their Myspace destination.

A. Red, Black, Khaki
B1. Carheartt Cologne
B2. Family Emergency


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tryad - On Call (1982)

As long as this blog is in operation we'll continue to celebrate bygone bands that by virtue of their vintage expiration date, managed to fly well under the radar of Google. I give to you Chino, CA's Tryad a rather arcane band who slide straight into our rarified obscuro realm. Recorded only ten weeks into their tenure, it's not specifically evident on On Call what would become of Tryad past this nascent album. Ten songs banged out in approximately 23 minutes with nary a power chord, mohawk, or any like-minded cliche in sight. Truth is, this trio played it relatively straight down the middle, but not without igniting a few firecrackers in the guise of their lead-off pitch "Call Me Back," and a few songs later, "Don't Blink," both of which sound like lost AOR/power-pop classics. Here are some liner notes taken from the lyric sheet:

You may wonder why a virtually unknown band from Chino California would record their first album after performing together for only 10 weeks. Simple. From the very beginning of Tryad’s conception their versatile style promised to be ever changing and unpredictable.

On Call attempts to capture that initial burst of contagious harmony and elusive raw talent that demanded so much attention so soon in their careers. Listen to the words. Feel their spirited energy. The album is a song itself.

01. Call Me Back
02. Right Now
03. Real Life
04. Don’t Blink
05. And Then I’ll Know
06. Lucky
07. Getting in Tune
08. No Fighting
09. On Call Reprise
10. Leave It All Behind

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Velvet Elvis - s/t (1988, Enigma)

Received a couple requests for this album since I posted a less well known anthology of Velvet Elvis' earlier material before they made the jump to Enigma. Per the intro to that previous feature I did:

Lexington, KY's Velvet Elvis were one of a bazillion college-radio bands in the '80s to record for local record labels despite brandishing the quality befitting of a national, or for that matter international audience. Think "indie," "New South," dB's, Let's Active (who's Mitch Easter contributes on a track here), and even a little Tom Petty-esque jangle.

Several songs from their debut LP, What in the World turn up here in revised versions, all produced and tracked under the watchful eye of one Mitch Easter. Now if that's not a trademark of quality, I sure in hell don't know what else is.
01. When it Comes
02. I Got Everything
03. Privilege
04. This Could Be
05. Something Better
06. Something Happened Today
07. Ambition
08. Take It If You Want It
09. What in the World
10. Second Best
11. Don't Tell Me Stories
12. Over and Out

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Singles Going Single #123 - Dando, Lee, Petersson, Schwartzman "Dead or Anything" b/w "Love Song" (2001, Trifekta)

In 2001 a minor miracle occurred by way of this one-off single, featuring four legendary collaborators: Evan Dando (Lemonheads), Ben Lee, Tom Petersson (Cheap Trick), and Jason Schwartzman (of Phantom Planet and Rushmore renown). It's a roster that quite frankly speaks for itself, and it's shame that only these two songs were born out of it. Evan handles vox on "Love Song," and I believe it's Ben Lee that joins him on the mic for "Dead or Anything." Enjoy.

01. Dead or Anything
02. Love Song


Singles Going Single #122 - Kid With Man Head - Awful, Terrible, Horrible Head 7" (1995, Black Pumpkin)

Here's some more New Jersey goodness to follow up my Element 101 post from last night. If at all possible, try not to let the rather atrocious sleeve scare you off. Like Element, Kid With Man Head hardly had anything in common with home-state luminaries like Springsteen or Bon Jovi. These rather gnarly popcore punks were more likely groomed on such small of fame acts like Big Drill Car, Descendents and perhaps even the Porcelain Boys. In addition to this very solid 45, I'm also sharing a link to their 1991 demo, featuring one of my all time favorite "surf" songs "Blue Groove." That mighty ditty was rerecorded for KWMH's 1997 longplayer, Flapjack Hairpiece, which you can ostensibly still purchase from the label that issued it, Onefoot Records. BTW, does anyone know if the Mr. Potatoe Head Chainsaw Massacre disk is still available?

A. Don't Like You
B. Sand in My Hair

1991 demo
01. Blue Groove
02. untitled
03. Look to the Sky
04. Sucks to Wait

Get both here.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Element (101) - Future Plans Undecided (1999, Burnt Toast)

Falling somewhere between an unassuming, bubblegum-punk album and a mini-masterpiece, Element 101's 1999 debut, Future Plans Undecided has been an indispensable part of my soundtrack for the better part of a decade. Led by the honey-soaked tongue of Crissie Verhagen (now Crissie Gleason), this defunct Verona, NJ (or thereabouts) quintet made it onto my radar with their subsequent 2001 LP, Stereo Girl via the catchy-as-all-get-out "To Whom It May Concern." I was motivated enough to do a little backtracking, and discovered Future Plans... a couple years after the fact. The album originally came to light on Burnt Toast Records when the group was simply going by the moniker "Element." Tooth & Nail Records bought the rights to Future Plans... a number of months later, reissued it with refurbished artwork, administered a slightly different track sequence, and a new remix that was so negligible it's nearly impossible to detect the differences between either incarnation. By the time Tooth & Nail sank their proverbial claws into the record, the band expanded their name to Element 101, most likely to differentiate themselves from a myriad of other bands named Element. I've decided to share the original version, if only by virtue of it's sheer unavailability. Now that we've gotten all the mechanics out of the way...

If saccharine is your thing, the quotient thereof on these twelve cuts will almost certainly send you into sugar shock. Future Plans is positively drowning in an ocean of delirious melody and harmony, the likes of which you probably haven't heard within the span of a fleeting half hour. I've never encountered another singer who doles out hooks quite as unremittingly as Crissie. There's no denying it, she makes this album the sparkling and bejeweled treasure trove that it is. Crissie is backed up by a crew of four boys who often deliver their parts at such breakneck speed that one would mistake the pummeling guitar lines for any given NOFX album, yet this seemingly awkward dichotomy somehow falls into place. Thematically, Future Plans is perhaps one of the most straightforward albums in my collection. Nothing oblique or esoteric here in the least, rather a plethora of post-adolescent ruminations from a young women crossing the threshold of maturity, but still quite vulnerable to romantic turbulence. Lots of self-realization at play here as well, best emoted on "So Unpredictable," and "A Galaxy Apart." "Preconceived Notions" and "Jersey Never Seemed So Long" are worth their weight in hook-addled gold as well, the latter being an essential part of any Garden State roadtrip soundtrack. I apologize in advance for glowing so conspicuously about this disk, and while there are plenty of albums I've shared on here that outdo this one, I've forged an affinity with Future Plans Undecided like no other. In closing, it would probably be fair to say this album made a bigger impression on me than it's very own architects. That's pretty nuts, but a must listen nonetheless.

01. Between Now And Then
02. A Galaxy Apart
03. In My Heart and on My Mind
04. Leaving Me Before The Spring Semester
05. So Unpredictable
06. Keeping Secrets
07. Jersey Never Seemed So Long
08. Preconceived Notions
09. Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid
10. Only in Pictures
11. Some Chances Are Worth Taking
12. You Never Cease to Amaze Me


Sunday, May 2, 2010

R.I.P. Will Owsley (1965-2010) - live Newark, NJ 2/21/99 + The Semantics - Powerbill demos (199?)

Yesterday, I was informed by one of my readers that Will Owsley (more commonly referred to as simply Owlsey) died this past Friday, April 30th, the result of an apparent suicide in Franklin, Tennessee. Before going any further, you can read some pertinent articles here and here, while Power Pop Criminals blog has dedicated a post as well.

Owsely's endeavors involved performing as a touring guitarist for Amy Grant, but more notably to the pop/indie-rock contingent (like myself) he released a pair of solo albums in the '00s, and was the frontman for the utterly overlooked Semantics, a trio who's music rivaled that of Jellyfish and Jason Falkner.

The Semantics had the misfortune of being under contract to Geffen Records in an era when flannel and bludgeoning power chord rock reigned. Though it's rumored that Ben Folds was part of the Semantics lineup, that's nonsense, however he did sit in for a few demos, and was the one who introduced Owsely to bandmate Millard Powers. The Semantics had a prominent Beatles connection by way of enlisting Ringo Starr's son Zak Starkey to play, you guessed it, the skins. In 1993 the trio recorded an album for Geffen, Powerbill, that was ironically shelved altogether in the States, but found eventual release in Japan in '96. Powerbill is downright required listening for aficionados of '90s guitar pop, and although it's long been out of print, it does pop up on Ebay occasionally, but more conveniently is available for download from Look What the Twat Dragged In blog. With it's bright, chin-up tenor, you'd hardly guess from the album that Owsley was as vulnerable as he tragically was. The same notion goes for his two solo forays, Owsely in 1999 and The Hard Way, five years later, that as with Powerbill veered toward the shiny power pop of Jason Falkner, The Grays, Tories, and to a lesser extent, The Rembrandts. Pop Fair blog is hosting a collection of "lost" Semantic/Owsley songs that are easily up to par with the man's officially released catalog.
Submitted for your approval is a live 1999 Owsley performance in Newark, NJ in support of his self titled solo album. As a bonus, I tacked on a poignant cover of Jeff Buckley's "Last Goodbye" from another concert. I'm also sharing five demos of tracks that would be rerecorded for the excellent Semantics album I raved about above. Rest in peace friend.

Live Newark, NJ 2/21/99
01. intro
02. Oh No, the Radio
03. The Homecoming Song
04. Coming Up Roses
05. Uncle John’s Farm
06. Zavelow House
07. Sonny Boy
08. Sentimental Favorite
09. I’m Alright
10. The Sky is Falling
11. Good Old Days
12. Class Clown
plus: Last Goodbye (live Jeff Buckley cover)


The Semantics - Powerbill demos 
01. Sticks and Stones
02. Future for You
03. Glasses and Braces
04. Johnny Come Lately
05. Coming Up Roses

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Public Image Ltd - live @ the Astoria, London 9/28/87 + two John Lydon interviews (1986 & 2010)

Judging from who I normally write about in this lil' corner of cyberspace, you might be surprised to learn that Public Image Ltd was one of the key bands that indoctrinated me into the world of sub-rosa rock and roll. Thinking back to those numerous mornings in 1987 when I was gearing up for school, MTV treated my eyes and ears to PiL's rather manic video for "Seattle," the single for their freshly released Happy? longplayer. It wasn't long thereafter that I found an even bigger revelation in singer John Lydon's (Rotton's) more infamous career debut with the Sex Pistols. I combed through both the Pistols and PiL's catalog with rabid vigor and delight, and quickly discovered the latter of those two aggregations had a far deeper trove to plunder. But let's face it, PiL had been off everyones radar for the better part of two decades, but in early 2010, when word went out that the band had recently reformed (albeit with a significantly retooled lineup - Wobble-less I'm afraid) and were going to be touring North America this spring, my ears naturally pricked up. What better way to get psyched for this tour (well underway, I might add) than by revisiting a vintage concert from what I consider to be the band's most entertaining and substantive era. The 1987 London, Astoria show I'm sharing was in support of the aforementioned Happy? Featuring nearly twenty numbers, the set list is fairly reliant on Lydon and Co's more "pop" oriented albums, but does stretch back to First Issue, and more specifically, the seminal "Public Image." It's a respectable audience recording with a couple of brief glitches, but moreover a generous and satisfying setlist.

Lydon is renown for his scathing opinions and acerbic wit just as much as his albums and live performances, if not more so. The man's interviews are an entertainment medium unto themselves, wherein an unprepared or intellectually offensive "journalist" is shaken down and chastised in the most hilariously brutal and eloquent manner possible. In addition to the Astoria show, I'm offering a pair of interviews, one from 1986 and one from last month. For better or worse the first one, sourced from vinyl as part of the Lip Service magazine interview series isn't particularly revelatory of caustic. Quite casual in fact, though Lydon's voice has been sped up a notch for no apparent reason. The second interrogation, from April of this year, comes courtesy of the zany and restless Nardwuar (The Human Serviette) who painstakingly deluges Lydon with a laundry list of trivial inquiries and anecdotes. Does our man lose his cool? Have a listen and find out for yourself.

Public Image Ltd., 9/28/87

01 Save Me
02 Rise
03 Seattle
04 Allah
05 FFF
06 Open and Revolving
07 Low Life
08 Home
09 Rules and Regulations (cut)
10 Rules and Regulations (cont)
11 Hard Times
12 Fat Chance Hotel
13 Timezone (World Destruction)
14 Angry
15 The Body
16 Round
17 Public Image
18 Holidays In The Sun
19 This Is Not A Love Song (cut)
20 This Is Not A Love Song (cont)
21 Religion


Lip Service interview (1986): Hear
Nardwuar interview (2010): Hear