Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Given to fly...

Guess where I'll be for the next few days?  See you back here early next week.

Big Takeover magazine 30th Anniversary Festival in NYC July 30 & 31!

I would be completely and totally remiss if I failed to inform you of an immensely cool and damn-near monumental concert series going down at the Bell House in Brooklyn, NY just two days from now!  I should've posted this earlier, but better late than never.  Big Takeover magazine is 30 friggin' years old and editor, publisher, and all around arbiter of "music with heart," Jack Rabid is celebrating by curating a two-day event brimming with many BT faves including ultra rare New York performances from The Avengers, For Against, Jon Auer of the Posies, Paul Collins, Flower (pre-Versus), Channel 3, Mark Burgess of the Chameleons UK, Don McGlashan of the Mutton Birds, and even Jack's own Springhouse!   Click on the flyer to your left for the whole lineup, and visit the Bell House events page for show times.  If you're in the Tri-State area and can spare an evening (or preferably two) come out this Friday and Saturday.  Again, sorry for not alerting you of this earlier folks!

The Lienkes - Brothers By Choice (1982, Digi-Comm)

While I may never figure out the correct pronunciation of this presumably L.A.-based set of skinny-tiesters, that's not about to stop me from sharing this.  As The Lienkes album title suggests, there are indeed a band of brothers in this quartet, three sharing the surname Lienke (Roger on guitar and mic, Tom handling bass and vox, and keyboardist Tupper), with drummer Gary Lopac rounding things out.  As for the tunes, how does blue-eyed pub rock strike your fancy?  One listen to the revved up and rollicking Rockpile-esque "My Vexation" and "Nuclear Rage" will give some credibility to that oddball genre-zation.  Side two (tracks 8-13) aren't as peppy, but still rewarding, nipping at the heels of the Style Council, and even flirting with oldies slow dance ballads.  In short, not your average power pop/skinny tie affair.

01. Safety First
02. She's Not Disgusted
03. Ernestine
04. My Vexation
05. Without You
06. Los Angeles
07. Nuclear Rage
08. Looking for Religion
09. Hard Dirt
10. Phantom in the Night
11. Get Even With Your Love
12. Teenager
13. Step By Step


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rapture of the Deep - Under Quabbin ep (1986, Incas)

Given this was an Incas Records release, I was expecting a record chockablock with jangle.  You've heard the phrase "sight unseen?"  Well, I bought this "sound unheard" so to speak, and as often is the case in these scenarios, I was in store for something that deviated from said expectations.  Turns out Rapture of the Deep's specialty was typical synth/guitar rock of their era, leaning slightly left of center.  Under Quabbin isn't particularly dancey...or gothy...or cheesy, which is a relief considering that I spent the better part of twenty dollars on this.  The Massachusetts quartet's prime mover David Wildman. possesses a vocal timbre reminiscent of Peter Murphy, and to a lesser degree Steve Bays of Hot Hot Heat.  "Waiting" is by far my pick from the record, however the band cut a video for the leadoff track that you can view below.  Enjoy (or not).

01. Madame Nothing
02. Waiting
03. Watching the Fireworks
04. Down in the Subway
05. Pink Sheets


Monday, July 26, 2010

Midnight Oil - Head Injuries demos (1979)

Indeed, here's a name that has not been brought up before on these pages.  Considering I've probably dedicated posts to some 500 other bands over the past three years, it's would be safe for you to assume Midnight Oil aren't a top-tier favorite of mine, but their second release, 1979's Head Injuries is a notable exception.  Roughly a decade before they made apolitical rock fans aware of the plight of the Aborigines and received ad nauseam video-play on a still music-based MTV, Peter Garrett and Co. were pumping out socially astute songs for their own independent Powderworks label.  Their self-titled debut mini-album from 1978 was a fetching enough warm up, but was short on the assertiveness they would bring to the fore on Head Injuries, a veritable quantum leap by comparison. 

Armed with muscular, post-punk guitar leads and adopting a brasher axe to grind, Injuries would serve as a potent template for the Oils future recorded missives, though as a Yank I'm not sure if I'm comprehending the full gist of the themes raised within, esoteric as they sometimes are.  In short, I hardly feel a sense of empowerment, political or otherwise from listening to these demos, or the proper album itself, but the punchy riff-rock thrust of "Cold Cold Change" and "No Reaction" do illicit a sort of fevered urgency, that if anything else compels me to crank up the volume a few notches.  The variations between these crisply recorded demos (two entirely separate sets of them at that) and the finished product are slight to moderate.  The most notable outtake (that coincidentally leads both groups of demos off) "Don't Wanna Be the One," is a surging, organ-driven rocker that would later be re-cut for their next long-player, Place Without a Postcard.  Eight of these sixteen demos (with some overlap mind you), would bump 'n grind their way onto the commercial release of Head Injuries, which is still available from Amazon, and is a must have if any of these embryonic artifacts make an impact on you.

Demos #1
01. Don't Wanna Be The One
02. Cold Cold Change
03. Back on the Borderline
04. No Reaction
05. Naked Flame
06. Bus to Coogee (early vers of "Section 5 (Bus to Bondi)")
07. Koala Sprint

Demos #2
01. Don't Wanna Be the One
02. Section 5 (Bus to Bondi)
03. Profiteers
04. Eye Contact
05. Cold Cold Change
06. No Reaction
07. Koala Sprint
08. Back on the Borderline
09. Stand in Line


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Venus Beads - Black Aspirin + Transfixed ep (1991, Emergo)

A couple years ago when I broached the topic of the UK-based Venus Beads, or more specifically their first and only proper album, Incision, I offered that for a band trying to make a name for themselves in Britain's thriving indie scene circa 1990 that they were stuck behind a rock and a hard place. Actually try between a phony, acid-laced Madchester psyche revival movement, and a relatively sublime but sometimes too heavy-handed shoegazer "place."  Yep, lots of adjectives there, but I digress.  The Venus Beads imbibed virtually neither flavor of Kool-aid, insteading opting for something a little more austere - and just as amped-out as My Bloody Valentine I might add.  On their follow-up mini album to Incision, the seven-song Black Aspirin is largely derived from the same sackcloth, with elements of such pedal-hopping country-mates as Mega City Four and the Jesus and Mary Chain sewn into a sonically dynamic fabric.  Lyrically speaking, "Does God Shoot Dice" is as insightful as anything you were likely to hear from say, Billy Bragg at the time. The Venus Beads made nary a dent stateside (save for bargain bins), but thanks for to the long put to pasture Emergo label (a division of Roadrunner Records) the band's catalog was made available in North America.  The CD version of Incision also tacked on the Beads 1990 ep, Transfixed, which I've included here as well.

I know some of you are looking for the Venus Beads first single "Day of Nightmares."  I have a copy, but unfortunately it's thoroughly worn out and not very presentable, even as far as MP3s go, but once a replacement is in hand there will be no stopping me. 

01. Reckless Hope
02. End of the Line
03. Blood Orange
04. Does God Shoot Dice
05. Funnel Web
06. Chloroform
07. The Lesson

Transfixed ep
08. Heaven and Back
09. One Way Mirror
10. Wold on a Chain
11. Cold Inferno

Now on Amazon.

Drunken Boat - New Pop ep (1991, Blast First)

Drunken Boat were a New York quintet who were active in the early-to-mid '90s, but failed to catch on, even to hep, left-of-the-dial connoisseurs.  The New Pop ep peaks hard and fast with the song of the same name - a taught, treble-punk ass kicker that packs a bodacious amount of thrust and verve into it's scant two minutes.  Scintillating and sizzling.  The remainder of New Pop pales tremendously, veering off into artsy, abrasive tangents with mouthpiece Todd Colby strangely evoking the screechy vocal aplomb of Kim Gordon, and to a lesser extent Mark E. Smith.  A rather subdued reading of the Young Marble Giants "Salad Days" winds this affair up.  Better records were to follow, including Ruby Falls in 1992.  Colby would later branch off into poetry, and like yours truly, he's embraced the blogosphere

01. New Pop
02. Shut Up
03. Hogwash
04. Rabbit
05. Salad Days


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Teardrop Explodes - live 3/7/81, Left Banke, Mt. Vernon, NY

This week marks the release of a very tricked-out and vastly expanded deluxe edition (I'd say three CDs is sufficient) of the Teardrop Explodes seminal (in some corners anyway) debut, Kilimanjaro (yes the one with the zebras on the cover).  It's currently available only as an import sad to say, but I'd try Amazon in the UK for the quickest gratification and a more competitive price.  As for myself, I'm not in possession of a copy, and even if I were, I suspect Julian Cope and his accomplices wouldn't be to keen on me sharing it gratis.  Instead, I'm treating you to an FM broadcast of a 1981 Teardrop Explodes show recorded on their first American trek.  Kilimanjaro had been out for a good year or so, and as such many classics-to-be make an obligatory appearance in the set, but the Mt. Vernon crowd also got a preview of the band's next album, Wilder.  "Treason," "Sleeping Gas," and "When I Dream" are all present and accounted for, and save for some slight radio static here and there the sound is impeccable.

01. Like Leila Khaled Said
02. Reward
03. The Thief of Baghdad
04. Sleeping Gas
05. Passionate Friend
06. Suffocate
07. Poppies in the Field
08. Ha Ha, I'm Drowning
09. Treason
10. Screaming Secrets
11. When I Dream
12. encore applause
13. The Great Dominions


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Singles Going Single #135 - Science Kit Madagascar 7" (1996, Magic Eye)

Hailing from Baltimore, MD (or thereabouts) one might assume Science Kit's brand of pensive (i.e. "smart") yet deftly crafted indie-pop caused less than a raucous even on their home turf.  That's fine with me though, as I'm usually a sucker for bands that opt for a modest aesthetic.  Hushed vocals and mathy, but generally accessible arrangements thrived under the Science Kit microscope, with faint similarities to such period clang-gangs as Edsel and Rotator Cuff.  In addition to some split singles and comp appearances, S/K released a full length. 7 Times Around, in 1998, which I may get to when I deem fit.  For the time being, raise your beaker to this.  Btw, sorry for all the irritating surface noise.

01. Madagascar
02. Segue #12
03. Bride of Chimes
04. Film Score


2 Line Filler - Trash tape (1993)

2 Line Filler (later spelled as Two Line Filler), led by Matt White were a quasi-straightedge hardcore band from Ontario, who over the years evolved their craft into something significantly more melodic.  This transition took place in the mid-90s, not unlike their more celebrated contemporaries Jawbreaker and Lifetime.  One might say TLF's second (and sadly final) album, 1995's Listener, was their equivalent to 24 Hour Revenge Therapy and Hello Bastards. Like those fabled melodi-core touchstones, Listener showcased both a quantum leap in musical development and boasted a bevy of indelibly catchy songs with stirring empathetic overtones.  Prior to Listener was this five song demo, wherein the band began to set the table for their overlooked masterpiece. "Can't Break My Pride" was eventually adapted as "Brake" for the Listener album.  Since the aforementioned LP is still available through all the usual digital outlets, I'm not at liberty to share it, but I did sneak in the reworked version of "Can't Break My Pride" if only for the sake of perspective.  Some more scarce TLF material could appear on these pages sooner than you expect. 

01. Sorry
02. Can't Break My Pride
03. It's Time
04. Leave
05. Theme

plus: Brake (from Listener cd)


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Red Herring - Stiffy (1989, Elixir)

I'm not really sure how a twenty year-old record by a Philadelphia indie band drifted it's way across the border and landed in a Toronto record store bin, but hey, stranger things have happened.  Nil is available regarding the history of Red Herring, at least via standard search engines and such.  Punchy, up-tempo guitar rock was the name of R/H's game and for a band who only made it as far as a homegrown local label, Stiffy stacks up fairly well.  Save for a few extraneous guitar solos and a couple rudimentary missteps, Red Herring's strongest moments, like "1611 Hayworth," "Time For Change," and "Monster" will satisfy palettes with an appreciation for Soul Asylum, early-Buck Pets, and perhaps even the Georgia Satellites.    

01. Guilt Cleanse
02. Monster
03. The Loser
04. Up Against the Wall
05. Time for Change
06. Tie Dye Stupid
07. Sinstru Talmen
08. Tryin' Too Hard
09. Surrealistic Futon
10. Mood Swing
11. 1611 Hayworth
12. Generic Conception
13. Whitie's Nouveau Dream


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Killjoys - Onenight and a Morningafter (1999, Shoreline)

Over the course of 2009, I shared all three studio albums by the Ontario based Killjoys, a thoroughly ignored band in the States that was nonetheless responsible for some of the most irresistible punky power-pop of the '90s this side of the Lemonheads.  Taking into consideration that so many of you enjoyed the aforementioned LPs (Starry, Gimmie Five and Melos Modos), and since I need another day or three to tend to digitizing more vinyl, I decided to post the Killjoys final offering, a live album cut on April 16, 1998 at the Rivoli nightclub in Toronto. It contains songs from their entire catalog (albeit a brief one at that), and for those of you familiar with their studio recordings, it will come as little surprise that they're an equally if not more appealing proposition as a live act.   In addition to a dream setlist, Onenight and a Morningafter ironically closes things out with an unreleased studio cut, "Andy Roach."  In the sleeve notes, the band extols:  "Songs are like soliders.  You send them out to suffer scrutiny, praise or ridicule, to live or die, knowing there'll be more on the way."  But unless the Killjoys have the good sense and motivation to reunite, this disk will remain the final word.

01. Dana
02. Low
03. Honesty Mistake
04. I've Been Good
05. Look Like Me
06. Anyday Now
07. Sally Won't
08. Sandalwood & 50
09. Soaked
10. Exit Wound
11. Today I Hate Everyone
12. Rocketsleep
13. Rave + Drool
14. Andy Roach


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sunday Cannons - Red to the Rind ep (1988, Tastee)

Denizens of the Baltimore, MD area, Sunday Cannons seemed to have collegiate indie-rock coursing through their collective bloodstream, during a very robust era for the genre as a whole I might add.  God bless 'em is what I say, especially for boasting the smarts and craftsmanship to poke around the edges of a wide array of their contemporaries, including but not limited to Guadalcanal Diary, The Three O'clock, and Senator Flux.  Oodles and oodles of resplendent, ringing guitars (credited to the lead tag-team of Mike Lane and Ed Neenan) in no small part endowed the Sunday Cannons with an eminently bold and gleaming presence.  As for the subject matter concerning the six-song Red to the Rind, the prose runs the gamut from surreal, to ponderous, to unintentionally silly.  The following verse from "Your Kingdom...for you" is an exemplary case in point:

Simian behavior is all the rage
It gets us off the street back into our cage
We wear these suits and never act our age

Um...yeah, but it nevertheless sounds really good.  Rock and Roll and Meandering Nonsense blog was apparently sharing this ep last year, but the link has since become inactive.  In short, I ripped this directly from my own personal copy.  Enjoy (or not)

01. Friends Become Flowers
02. Clouds
03. Peter Pan Days
04. Slower Train of Thought
05. Coping With Change
06. Your Kingdom...for you

This has been reissued with bonus content here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Singles Going SIngle #134 - Elevator 7'' (1993, Warner's Brother)

Straight-up, three chord bash 'n pop here courtesy of a Somerville, MA (i.e. suburban Boston) trio.  Having monikered themselves after an inanimate object, and a fairly ubiquitous one at that, pulling up any vital stats on Elevator is practically a fools errand (though I did come across a brief reference that claims the band was a side project of Beantown ska-sters Bim Skala Bim).  No ska here though, rather more in the vein of Finger (who I recently featured), and early Figgs.  The A-side is aces, particularly the rip-roaring "Eleven."  The lazier "It's Allright" never exceeds past a slow boil, but hey, two out of three...

A1. Timothy
A2. Eleven
B. It's Allright


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Gloritone - Cup Runneth Over (1998)

I throw the term "left of the dial" around a little too much, so here's an album that runs a bit contrary.  This rather pummeling power trio were gestated in the mid-90s in the parched desert sands of Tempe, AZ, and with their airwaves-ready debut, Cup Runneth Over being co-opted by the likes of RCA Records, you 'd think Gloritone might have gained a sizable toehold.  Not. Taking a more traditional (albeit LOUD) rawk-n-roll route, Gloritone didn't sound out of place amongst the Foo Fighters, Fig Dish, and to a lesser extent Summercamp.  Cup Runneth Over doles out the hooks in colossal grandeur, packing more melody into keepers like "John Wayne," "9 Summers," and "Cut My Heart" than many of their peers' entire albums.  Bitchin' stuff folks.  At any rate, the album came and went, as did their tenure with RCA, but a follow-up, Fainter Farther Still appeared in 2001, and is available in ones and zeros from iTunes and Amazon, as well as physically from the latter.  Get it.

01. Halfway
02. John Wayne
03. Never Not
04. Broken Arrows
05. 9 Summers
06. She Was a Good Thing
07. Speed of Sound
08. Cut My Heart
09. Flying Kites
10. When Grey Skies Come
11. Last Rites From The Coffee Table
12. Walking Dead

Now on Amazon Downloads.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Flop - 20th Century Masters: The Singles Collection (1990-95)

For a blog that's been up and running for a good three years now, an assemblage of Flop's plethora of singles is long, long overdue.  Flop were situated in the absolute right place (Seattle) at precisely the right time (the first half of the '90s), yet the existence of this fine quartet was utterly lost on any "self-respecting," flannel clad trend hopper of the era.  

A spinoff of another local outfit, the equally as enticing Pure Joy (who I dedicated some quality cyberspace to last year), Flop were helmed by one Rusty Willoughby, the focal point and lone carry over from that group.  Flop's Kurt Bloch produced debut, Flop and the Fall of the Mopsqueezer arrived on Frontier Records in 1992.  While all eyes at the time were glazed on the Pacific Northwest for the next wave of grunge superstars to emerge, Willoughby and Co. were inclined to follow the sonic template laid out by the Buzzcocks, not Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer.  Mopsqueezer lent Flop to a far wider audience that anything Pure Joy released, but overall their national reputation was slight at best, despite their next album, 1993's Whenever You're Ready being taken under the wing of Sony Records.  The majors leagues had little to offer them, and they were pitched back to Frontier for their third and final LP, World of Today in 1995 to little fanfare. Willoughby's wry, enlightened wit set Flop well outside the punk-pop pack of Green Day and the like, but much like hometown mates the Fastbacks and Young Fresh Fellows, the band failed to make mainstream inroads.

Before and in between their trio of albums were some bang-up eps and singles, often bearing material just as crucial as their LPs, including telling covers of Sweet, Devo, and Jam classics.  Presented are all the 7" singles that I'm aware of, including a five-song ep for Munster Records that featured a pop-up, gatefold sleeve.  A concise but intriguing Wiki article on Flop can be read here, while their albums are readily available from the usual host of online MP3 merchants. 

The Losing End 7" ep (1990, Lucky Records)
01. The Losing End
02. Somehow
03. Dissipate
04. Fucking Thing

We Are You 7" ep (1992, Munster)
05. I Told a Lie
06. Hello
07. Anne
08. Tomato Paste
09. Doll

Drugs/Action 7" (1991, Dasboard Hula Girl)
10. Drugs
11. Action (The Sweet)

Scene 1, Act 1 7" (1995, Super Electro)
12. Scene 1, Act 1
13. I Am a Potato (Devo)
14. The Place I Love (The Jam)


Friday, July 9, 2010

Splitting the Difference # 39 Mitch Mitchell's Terrifying Experience/Illyah Kuryahkin 7'' (1996, Arena Rock)

This is a followup to the Terrifying Experience single I posted here a little under a month ago, although on this vinyl pairing, Mitch Mitchell (of Guided By Voices renown) decided to expand the group's moniker by incorporating his own name into it.  All in the pursuit of marketability I suppose. No harm done.  On their side of the 45, Mitchell and Co. lead things off with the rugged, punky riff-roarer "Friday Night Fights," that is all too brief.  It's swiftly followed up by the droney, blues stomp of “Big City.” Adorning the flipside is a clangy slice of tuneful, yet meagerly recorded indie guitar rock, courtesy of one Illyah Kuryahkin (an assumed name for New York-based lo-fi dabbler Dean Wilson) that would do fans of early Monsterland and Belreve pretty damn well. It isn't clear if Wilson is currently making music (in a similar mold or otherwise), but you can investigate some of his other Clinton-era recordings, including Count No Count, over on Amazon.  

A1. MMTE - Friday Night Fights
A2. MMTE - Big City
B. Illyah Kuryahkin - Takin a Train


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Various - Hotel Massachusetts (1994, Chunk)

Been meaning to get to this one for awhile now (a recent request from one of our readers provided a pretty good excuse).  Although the album notes don't make any specific reference to it, the common thread running through all the bands that contribute to Hotel Massachusetts is that at one time or another, they graced the stage of the now shuttered Bay State Hotel in Northhampton, MA.  With the exception of the intro piece, "Invocation," the recordings on this comp are strictly studio endeavors, and wouldn't you know it there's no shortage of creme de la creme indie guitar rock (predominantly of the "mid-fi" variety I should note). Sebadoh, Zeke Fiddler, Home, Tizzy, Hoolapopper, Fuzzy, and New Radiant Storm King all fit under that gloriously teaming tent filled with more talent than you could shake a crab cake at (I've hyperlinked some of the aforementioned that I've previously dedicated space to on this blog).  Adding local fixtures Lyres to the mix only makes Hotel Mass an even more well rounded who's-who of the mid-90s Massachusetts scene.  Virtual unknowns The Unband, Skinner Pilot, and The Maggies show some potential as well.  The Silver Jews (yes, the Pavement spinoff) turn the lights out with a limp, not to mention truncated remake of R.EM.'s "Good Advices."  Per the commentary on The Chunk Records Story over at JM Dobie's blog, the cassette version of Hotel featured extra tracks.  I suppose that means most of us aren't getting the complete story.

01. "Invocation"
02. Sebadoh - Skull
03. Zeke Fiddler - Half Baked
04. New Radiant Storm King - Phone Call
05. Home - Sunday
06. Lumber - Hooked
07. Lyres - I'll Make It Up To You
08. The Unband - You're No Boy Wonder/Nothing You Can Do
09. Skinner Pilot - Traces Of Alignment
10. Tizzy - Miss America
11. Queer - I Love You Girl
12. Ray Mason Band - Falling Down
13. The Veronica Cartwrights - Frog
14. Angry Johnny and the Killbillies - Nuclear Man
15. Fuzzy - Four Wheel Friend
16. Steve Westfield - Alone at Last
17. Hoolapopper - Stolen
18. The Dots - Miami
19. The Maggies - Ten long Years
20. Miss Reed - Believe You Me
21. Squeek - I Should've Sued
22. Philth Snack - I Like My Life
23. Silver Jews - Good Advices


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Various - "Free 5 Track EP" featuring The Mighty Lemon Drops, Bodines, World Party (1987, Chrysalis)

I'm not really sure if this one has a proper title or not, but when I was flipping through some choice vinyl at a local secondhand record dispensary a couple names on the front sleeve of this compilation screamed out to me, namely The Mighty Lemon Drops and The Bodines. two key figures in the British C86 indie, jangle rock movement that I can't seem to get enough, even some 24 years after the fact.  Both groups originally appeared on the NME magazine C86 cassette compilation, and they are united once again on this wax.  The live version of the Lemon Drops "Take Me Up" may very well be exclusive to this disk, and following suit the Bodines give us a concert variation of "Back Door," a track culled from their Played LP, which really could really use a reissue.  World Party, the muse of former Waterboy Karl Wallinger contribute an organ-driven slice of psyche revivalism, "World Groove," which I believe eventually ended up as a b-side on one of the Private Revolution singles.  In regards to Westworld, who lead this whole thing off, if you can't say anything nice...

From what little I'm able to glean about this mysterious compilation, it was given away free with "RM" magazine.  Feel free to make any corrections in the comments.

01. Westworld - Bubble Bo Diddley
02. Bodines - Back Door (live)
03. World Party - World Groove (Do the Mind Guerrilla)
04. The Mighty Lemon Drops - Take Me Up (live)
05. The Mighty Lemon Drops - Out of Hand


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tommy Keene - You Hear Me - A Retrospective 1983-2009 (2010, Second Motion) - a brief evluation

With three decades invested in a music career that has to date spawned roughly a dozen albums (counting b-sides and rarities comps), I’d say Tommy Keene is deserving of an anthology outlining his finer efforts, and fortunately that time has beckoned. You Hear Me, A Retrospective 1983-2009 is a double disk summary that clocks in at around 2 ½ hours boasting 41 tracks spanning his early ‘80s eps for Dolphin Records to his relatively high profile years on Geffen, and all the way up to his most recent studio venture, 2009’s In the Late Bright.

A jangle-meister to the Nth degree, Keene has always had a razor sharp panache when it comes to embellishing sweet chords with gritty distortion, and this robust formula has informed his songs seemingly from the first day he ever grasped a six-string (most likely a Rickenbacker).  Over the years he has not made any wholesale attempt to reinvent himself, and though his "if it ain't broke" strategy has yet to earn him chart domination or widespread cult status, time after time Tommy Keene delivers consistent records.  The veritable four albums worth of material that populate You Hear Me is chronologically sequenced, but it need not be considering our man's sonic palette and linear approach has deviated so minimally over the years.  The bulk of his better known songs are all present and accounted for - "Places That Are Gone," "Paper Words and Lies," "Run Now," and what is arguably his signature piece "Nothing Can Change You," which has even been covered by the Goo Goo Dolls.  There are several deep album cuts infiltrating this set as well, but not much in the way of previously unreleased material, save for a live take of "Long Time Missing" (the incisive leadoff track to 1998's Isolation Party), and an acoustic version of "Black and New York." Nevertheless, You Hear Me offers plenty of music that has been unavailable for years, and is an ideal launching pad for those that need to be acquainted with Keene's repertoire.

If it's TK rarities you're looking for however, there's still time to pre-order this collection directly from Second Motion Records, which will also entitle you to a a bonus digital collection of ten unreleased works (including live and demo material). 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Dads - s/t (1984, Estate/CBS)

Here’s one of the most overtly “pop” records I’ve shared in quite awhile (though the “power” quotient is demonstrably present at times). In fact, you’re not likely to happen upon a song quite as giddy and sprite as The Dads opener, “Rhythm Master.” Denizens of the Richmond, VA area, The Dads managed to ink a deal with CBS Records in the mid-80s, only to have their sole LP all but plummet onto deaf ears, due in no small part to a seemingly indifferent label promotion staff, and a Quiet Riot-hungry public. For the full scoop look no further than the Dads facebook site for an exhaustive backgrounder. As for the album and the music enshrined within, the band had second thoughts almost immediately after the recording sessions. Committed to tape under a strict deadline, the bio concedes that The Dads was a rush job, and furthermore wasn’t representative of (you guessed it) the quartet's live act. Nevertheless a small legion of fans found themselves endeared to it, and for a group that seems to have been inspired by the likes of The Rubinoos, Glass Moon, and even the Plimsouls, it’s a cinch to understand why. Polished but incessantly catchy and smart, The Dads was forged in a mold not far removed from Candy’s Whatever Happened to Fun.  Simply put, a great listen.

In a profoundly startling and tragic turn of events, Dads bassist/co-lead vocalist Bryan Harvey and his entire family were murdered in a New Years Day 2006 home invasion. The bio linked above mentions the incident, but greater details can be obtained here. Harvey was also a former member of House of Freaks.

01. Rhythm Master
02. Imagination
03. Wonderworld
04. Radio 101
05. I Heard the News
06. Amnesia
07. Do What You Wanna
08. Man With Machinery
09. Souvenir
10. Four Walls


Singles Going Single #133 - Jon Auer "23 Below (freezing)" 7" (1999, Houston Party)

I believe this man's credentials speak for themselves.  This single contains two exclusive tracks: the bittersweet, tension-ridden "23 Below (freezing)," and the reflective, acoustic comedown "Ballad of a Tolerant Destination."  Word has it there's a new Posies album in the can, scheduled to drop later this year.  It's a bit unlikely at this point, but a few copies of this single may still be available through Houston Party Records.

A. 23 Below (freezing)
B. Ballad of a Tolerant Destination


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Viola Peacock - This Way to the Alley Where They Eat Your Heart ep (1995, Bedazzled)

Viola Peacock were an Ann Arbor, MI trio who were typecast as shoegazers, but beyond the requisite plumes of woozy feedback and gauzy tremolo that typify the genre, they were a pretty damn fine indie rock band at heart.  Like another Michigan outfit from the same era, namely the late, great Majesty Crush, Viola Peacock were equally as concerned with song-structure as atmosphere, if not more so.  An even closer comparison would be Milwaukee's defunct Sometime Sweet Susan, who I profiled a couple years back.  VP also issued a full length, The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter, which I'll get to at a later date, but for now, soak in this ep.

01. Eating Her Eyes
02. Colder
03. Nothing's Beautiful
04. Giving My Head to Her
05. All Discussions End
06. She Stops the Clocks
07. Postscript: Landscape With Car Crash