Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Self - Codename: Spivey (1996, Three Day Hero/Offtime)

Not to be confused with major label band Self, this Self hailed from Columbia, SC and debuted/parted ways with their lone full length Codename: Spivey.  I thought this would be a relatively appropriate follow-up to Screaming Broccoli.   Self melded the fastest and catchiest facets of contemporaries Face to Face, Green Day, and Zoinks! and upped the ante just a bit higher resulting in something even more infectious.  True, Spivey may lack the studio veneer of any of the aforementioned but the amount of hooks these guys packed into some forty minutes is absolutely head spinning. This 16-track juggernaut was released in 1996 on Three Day Hero Records, and was picked up in '98 by a label with a little more clout, Offtime Records.

Incidentally, Self often gigged with another ace South Carolina punk-pop act of their era, Cletus who featured the legendary Johnny Puke on the mic.  

01. Apology
02. Luke Perry Genius
03. Negative
04. Too Punk for Prom
05. Drake
06. Restraint
07. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
08. Try
09. Nermal
10. Resume
11. Brown Eyes
12. Chores
13. Hell-On
14. Afterschool Special
15. Paper Route
16. Your Love (Outfield cover)

Pay what you desire on Bandcamp

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Screaming Broccoli - s/t (1987, Ruling Factor)

If this isn't a misanthropic punk record then I don't know what is.  Born and bred in the wilds of Vermont, Screaming Broccoli were a trio of adolescents waxing on women, political unrest and corn (okay, "Maize").  Sounds like the intermingling of various lower-rung SST Records bands of the era.  S/B certainly strive for something approaching tunefulness, and come close to achieving it on the closing "Good Old Days."  There's a Beatles cover that kicks off side two, and of course, the gotta-love-it album jacket.  Apparently, there was also a Screaming Broccoli single for "Lets Bury Bob" containing a b-side entitled, "(I Made Love To A) Vulcan."  I'm sure these fellows are doctors and lawyers now.

01. Screwball
02. Let's Bury Bob
03. You
04. On a Sunday
05. Good Idea
06. Eleanor Rigby
07. Maize
08. Fashion is a Virtue
09. Knucklehead
10. Good Old Days


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Grand Champeen play the Soul Asylum songbook - live @ 7th St. Entry, Minneapolis 4/14/06

In March of 2009 when I offered up Grand Champeen's out-of-print debut, Out Front By the Van, I spoke of  them as a "Whiskeytown cum Soul Asylum sonic amalgamation."  When they toured for their next and finest album, Battle Cry For Help, I attended a couple of their shows.  In fact, in the midst of one of those gigs I thought it couldn't hurt to yelp out a request for say, a Soul Asylum cover.  They could have ridiculed me.  They could have ignored me.  Or, they could have played a damn Soul Asylum song...and luckily, they obliged.  I want to say "Cartoon" was the title in question, but don't hold me to that.  It turns out my suspicion of Grand Champeen worshiping at the alter of Pirner & Co. was confirmed many times over to a very lucky Minneapolis crowd in the spring of 2006, when they proceeded to do their best impersonation of a Soul Asylum tribute band for close to two hours.  Now, you might say why put on such a production for the very town Soul Asylum reside in?  In short, G/C stuck to the band's earliest material (i.e. the Twin/Tone and A&M albums), virtually as if Soul Asylum called it a day after they released And the Horse They Road in On.  These days, we're blessed if the real McCoy plays anything at all prior to Grave Dancers Union.  Even in the twin cities, Grand Champeen came to the rescue to fill a very prolonged void. 

This show is culled from an audience tape, but a decent one at that.  The track list speaks for itself.  Perhaps this was just a one-off gig, but if that's the case, to see and hear such an unlikely concept come to life must have been a colossal treat.

01 All the Kings
02 Tied to the Tracks
03 Closer to the Stars
04 Easy Street
05 Crashing Down
06 Marionette
07 Can't Go Back
08 Sometime to Return
09 Chains
10 Broken Glass
11 Sun Don't Shine
12 Stranger
13 Long Way Home
14 Spinnin'
15 Never Really Been
16 Standing in the Doorway
17 Nowhere to Go
18 Made to be Broken
19 Freaks
20 Be On Your Way
21 Cartoon
22 Heavy Rotation
23/24 medley


Friday, August 27, 2010

Reeve Oliver - Baldachu ep (2004, Redroom)

Until I get a chance to digitize more vinyl and/or treat you to a live show, I thought I'd follow-up my Reeve Oliver post from a couple years ago.  To pull a few quotes from my write-up for the trio of self-released eps I shared, Reeve Oliver are a power-trio from San Diego specializing in LOUD, riff-roaring power pop that in my opinion nearly outdoes much of their ever-lovin' contemporaries, specifically Weezer, Foo Fighters, and Superdrag. Singer/guitarist Sean O’Donnell coincidentally recalls Kevin Ridel of Ridel High/AM Radio renown. Reeve Oliver was initially a solo vehicle for O’Donnell, but he eventually teamed up with drummer Brad Davis, and more notably, Otis "O" Barthoulameu, helmsman for the vigorous San Diego punk-pop act, Fluf.  The band's self-titled long player dropped in late '04, but in addition to the aforementioned eps was the commercially issued, six-cut Baldachu , featuring a pair of album (incl my favorite, "Want Burns") plus four songs exclusive to it's release.  Baldachu has sold out, but thanks to modern technology you may listen to it in it's entirety at your leisure. 

01. Want Burns
02. Young and Dumb
03. Thriller
04. Imposter
05. Waste It
06. Madachu

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Singles Going Single #141 - The Queen Annes 7" (1983, Queen Anne)

I recently bought a 7" lot of a couple dozen bygone indie singles on Ebay for twenty-some odd dollars, and this little doozy was virtually worth that sum all by its lonesome.  Seattle's Queen Annes (borrowing their moniker from a district in their hometown) specialized in warm, resonating power pop with Anglophile influences like the Records, Rich Kids, and perhaps a modicum of Badfinger too.  "I Thought of You" with it's wailing flourishes of harmonica and deftly crafted mid-tempo stride exudes the passion and lustre of the instant classic that it fully amounts to, and as if that number weren't sufficient enough, the b-side, "This is That" almost equally impresses.  Beatfortwo blog did a feature on this 45 almost three years to this day, and although the song links are not operating, it does provide some biographical data on the quartet:

James Gascoigne, Kip Phillips, Tom Oconnell and Kip Phillips grew up together in Bellevue – Washington, formed The Queen Annes in 1980 dissatisfied with punk rock. But this single oozes punk and rock, great drums beat, harmonicas and guitars and guitars. Their only vinyl release recorded at Triangle Studios -Seattle- under the watchful eye of engineer Peter Barnes. They also released one other track on vinyl on Green Money's "Monkey Business" compilation in 1985. The band disappear, to reform in 1994 and release two albums  for his own reformed independent label, Q. and A. Records.

A. I Thought of You
B. This is That


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Andersons! - Separated at Birth (1998, Lime Vinyl)

The Andersons! brand of linear, yet effective power pop didn't get me particularly jazzed up at the time their debut, Separated at Birth graced my stereo when I was revealed to me it in the early 'aughts, but much like fine wine it's aged well.  For those of ya'll with a weakness for Poptopia/IPO pop n' roll circa the late '90s, or for that matter appreciated the Big Deal Records hit parade from the same era, L.A.'s Andersons! are a no brainer, particularly this disk which is currently out of print.  Bassist/mouthpiece Derrick Anderson (whose surname might be assumed in this instance) was also involved in another band of a similar mold, Chewy Marble.  I would be remiss if I didn't mention that one Robbie Rist (here as "Robbie Anderson") was another integral part of the Andersons roster.  BTW, the backing guest vocalist on "Symbiosis" is none other than the Muffs Kim Shattuck.  Enjoy (or not), but I'm pretty confident you will.

01. In This World
02. The Truth is Out
03. Retro Girl
04. My Life Still Sucks (In a Bad Way)
05. Hey Coelacanth
06. From the Get-Go
07. You'll Get Yours Yet
08. (I'm in Love With A) TV Girl
09. Laid Back and Logical
10. Symbiosis
11. Defensive
12. Bluebird
13. Big Trucks and Old People
14. untitled hidden track

Now available on Amazon Downloads.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

R.I.P. Chris Sievey (Freshies) - Big Record + 7" (1986, Cordelia)

You might say I was inexcusably late to learn that Chris Sievey (aka Frank Sidebottom) frontman for the should-have-been-pioneering British power-pop act The Freshies had died of cancer on June 21 of this year, shortly after being diagnosed.    

Sievey made a name for himself in the '80s as the paper-mache costume-adorned alter ego known as Frank Sidebottom, a favorite of British comedy television, but whose career had run it's course some time ago.  Prior to this somewhat bizarre metamorphosis, he turned the head of John Peel in the late '70s via a self-released Freshies single.  The Freshies made modest mainstream inroads with the gimmicky, but endearing "I'm In Love with the Girl on the Manchester Virgin Megastore Checkout Desk" in 1981 (later changed to "...Girl on a Certain Megastore Checkout Desk" for reasons that are probably obvious).  This led to a major label contract and many more Freshies singles, but no full length to speak of.  Nevertheless, bristling and harmony-laden jewels like "Wrap Up the Rockets" and "Tell Her I'm Ill" were the stuff of genius.  Alongside "I'm In Love..." another key single concerned an elusive Teardrop Explodes record ("I Can't Get 'Bouncing Babies...").  Ultimately they were all but forgotten of in the UK after fizzling out in 1984, and made barely a ripple stateside.  In fact none of their singles were released in North America, nor was the profoundly flawed but still necessary 1996 anthology on Cherry Red Records, The Very Very Best of...Some Long and Short Titles.  I say profoundly flawed in regards to Cherry Red's decision to master about a third of the compilation from excruciatingly crackly vinyl in lieu of seemingly lost master tapes - that and a real shoddy editing job in spots, plus the decision to go with the revised version of "Im in Love..." instead of the more winsome original.  A full length Freshies tape, All Sleep's Secrets was issued in 1979, but no one has come forward with a copy as of this writing.

Prior to his ticket to stardom a la the Frank Sidebottom character, Sievey wrote and recorded regularly as a solo act, releasing several singles, some unspeakably rare cassette albums (that usually go for a minimum of $100 on Ebay) and this album, Big Record.  On Sievey's solo material, the often punky overtones that made the Freshies such a succulent treat had subsided, in favor of a mellower singer/songwriter tack.  Given its faintly baroque touches and idiosyncrasies, the overall tenor of Big Record hovers in the soft-pop realm, with British new wavers the Korgis being perhaps the closest comparison I can offer (not that comparisons are needed mind you).  The epic-length, 23-minute "More Red Indian Music" occupies the entirety of side two, though in practice is hardly grandiose.  Catchy enough though. As the sticker on the album jacket indicates, this record came with an accompanying single that I've padded on as well.    

Whether Sievey's Big Record puts you in a tizzy or not, the Freshies in all likelihood will. For the uninitiated, you can acquaint yourself with them here and here.  If you're already sold on the Freshies and have familiarized yourself with the "hits," blogger Mr. Obscure has prepared a tribute blog to the band, and more specifically has assembled a collection of tracks culled from the Freshies Razz Records singles releases that makes a great companion to the The Very Very Best of... compilation noted above.

01. Something's Burning
02. Will You Remember
03. So She Sais
04. Christmas 41/Life With the Lyons
05. Here Comes Your Day
06. Slip/The World Song
07. More Red Indian Music

plus: bonus 7"
A. Baiser
B. Last


Pocket Genius - s/t ep (2000, Boss Tuneage)

Recently had a request for this one.  Hailing from Minneapolis and featuring at least one Porcelain Boys alumni in their lineup (namely drummer Jason Knudson), the pop-punkin' Pocket Genius laid down some tracks in the early '00s for this ep, and a full length, Tundra Rock, released on the venerable British label Boss Tuneage.  The band went on hiatus not longer after these recordings, but regrouped in 2009 for some gigs.  Pocket Genius don't quite harken back to the rather genius themselves Porcelain Boys, but instead rock out a la Big Drill Car, not to mention a bevy of admirable, but barely known "popcore" acts like Alligator Gun, Huffy, and G-Whiz.  The band blogs (albeit infrequently) but their Myspace page is a little more revealing, and reports that the band is working on new material

Since this disk appears to be available from a couple of notable digital online retailers I'll probably be leaving this up for a limited amount of time.

01. Reband
02. Courtesy Flush
03. Don't Say
04. My Fingers
05. Covered
06. Three hour Mark
07. Tweener
08. Bird


Friday, August 20, 2010

Singles Going Single #140 - The Bent Backed Tulips (Dramarama) 7" (1994, Eggbert)

The short story: Bent Backed Tulips was Dramarama incognito, circa 1988.

The long story: As the legend goes, when Dramarama were set to track their third album, Stuck In Wonderamaland (featuring the brilliant should-have-been-hit "Last Cigarette") head honcho John Easdale arrived to the studio with nearly a box sets worth of material written.  Problem was, their label at the time, Chameleon Records, wanted a record of a more traditional length, and ultimately, that's what they and the band's adoring fans received in the form of the aforementioned Stuck...  The outtakes were not left on the cutting room floor however, at least not until 1994, when the band sanctioned the release of them under the alias, The Bent Backed Tulips ostensibly to avoid any legal wrangling with their previous labels.  Released as a 20 track CD on Eggbert Records, titled Looking Through... the great "lost" Dramarama album finally made it to market, at least in the US, but that's another story. 

Coinciding with the issue of Looking Through... this single was released, featuring the rip-roaring LP scorcher "Tie Me Down," and it's exclusive flipside offering a reading of Morrissey's solo chestnut, "The Last of the Famous International Playboys."  It's a damn fine interpretation at that, reminding you once again why you fell in love with Moz in the first place.  While the single may not be available at this point, the Looking Through... album is, directly from Eggbert Records in fact, and quite possibly through iTunes and the like. 

A. Tie Me Down
B. The Last of the Famous International Playboys


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Animation - Loud Day ep (1984, Vital)

Westfield, New Jersey's Animation had the good fortune of having their ep, Loud Day, produced by Pat DiNizio of Smithereens renown.  Not bad for a band just getting on it's feet, although that key production credit apparently didn't jettison Animation to household name status.  The quintet's amiable, ringing guitar rock wasn't overly derivative of any of their contemporaries, but the neuvo-psychedelic flourishes of organ that crop up occasionally make a case that Animation may have partaken in the work of some of their West Coast Paisley Underground contemporaries.  "Where it Rains All Days" is my sure-fire pick for instant gratification here, but a run through the Velvets "What Goes On" is nearly as satisfactory.   Check out the band's Myspace page, conveniently linked above, for more tuneage. 

01. Hide & Go Seek
02. Grandfather Clock
03. That's the Way It Happens
04. Where It Rains All Days
05. What Goes On


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Push Push - Can't Wait (1988, Tone-Cool Records)

Shopping for obscure vinyl is a wonderful past time, and Bleecker Street Records in New York is a good pitstop.  While I was there a few weeks ago I stumbled upon this record by the Boston-based Push Push.  Without much prior knowledge on them, I unearthed up with this useful commentary from New Wave Outpost:

Roots rockers Push Push had a major (and majorly-overplayed) Boston area hit in '85 with "This Kind of Love." Originally only released as a radio tape and promotional video, it became commercially available years after the fact on their lone album "Can't Wait" (Tone Cool, 1988 - released early '89) -- by which point, nobody cared anymore. Frontman Dennis Brennan has since gone solo with a number of albums under his belt. His (very different) solo version of "This Kind of Love" can be downloaded on iTunes and the like, but as far as I can tell, the Push Push original can't be.    

I think the "roots rock" mention is a bit of a misnomer.  In fact, they were certainly less rootsy than hometown contemporaries the Del Fuegos.  Otherwise Push Push had vague commercial/AOR appeal a la Translator and the like.  Some nice jangly action permeates "I Taught Her Everything She Knows" and "Step By Step," and I really enjoy the band's self-titled song that closes Can't Wait out.  As mentioned in the notes above, singer/guitarist Dennis Brennan has issued solo material that you can update yourself on at his website, plus the discography section sheds some additional light on the Push Push album that is yours for the taking at the click of a button.

01. I Taught Her Everything She Knows
02. The Deacon Beach
03. This Kind of Love
04. Never Enough
05. Step by Step
06. Can't Hide
07. Love and Misery
08. Love Is
09. Mask
10. Push Push


Eddie and the Hot Rods - "Do Anything..." update

Update 8/10/10: The new version of my tribute to Eddie and the Hot Rods is up, featuring two more covers of the classic "Do Anything You Wanna Do," by Greg Kihn and Swedish punks 23 Till.  A big thanks to Angelo over at Power Pop Criminals blog for creating artwork for this project!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Eddie and the Hot Rods "Do Anything You Wanna Do" - An appreciation of, plus 18 interpretations.

I'm sure I must be someone, now I'm gonna find out who.

Cheap Trick "Surrendered," Superchunk lobbed everything they had at 'the man' in "Slack Motherfucker," and dare I say Twisted Sister simply "Weren't Gonna Take It" for a single moment longer.  Rebellious, three-chord (and then some) anthems have been around almost since the dawn of rock and roll itself, but as for the aforementioned, throwing some ambivalence, self examination, or social critique into the mix can turn what would be a routine tongue lashing into something downright enlightening and empowering. 

Needless to say given the header of this post, I hold "Do Anything You Wanna Do" in extremely hard regard, but it was more that lured me to Eddie and the Hot Rods now indisputable signature song than it's philosophical connotations.  Culled from the Hot Rods Life on the Line album (which I believe was their second) some may have taken "DAYWD" as yet another anthemic/anarchic "punk" single in the mold of "God Save the Queen" or any representative period piece by such obvious contemporaries as the Clash or The Damned.  Ultimately, Eddie and the Hot Rods were deemed to be more of an unusually aggressive pub-rock band, and as such weren't painted into the corner with the broad brushstroke of punk. All genre-zation aside, alongside the yearning and angsty subject matter, what help make this number such a prize, is it's melodic allure.  To my noggin,' the verses that absorb "DAYWD" pack an even stronger collective hook than the chorus, which is an anomaly for most songs - punk, pub, or otherwise.  In essence, were it not for the adept, tuneful prowess of singer Barrie Masters this mighty song would bear a mere fraction of it's rapture.

Better yet, alongside the immediate, knockout melody comes the (likely unintentional) espousal of fundamental concepts concerning existentialism, nihilism, and even dadaism - all conveyed in digestible and relatable everyman terms.  Wow.  Though not an outright "fuck you" or kiss-off so to speak, the song is nonetheless written from the perspective of someone serving notice to the naysayers and contrarians in his/her life that they're determined to buck the daily grind in pursuit of something that's a true reflection of themselves - and furthermore, anyone within earshot should consider following suit.

With that whole dissertation out of the way, it's apparent "Do Anything You Wanna Do" struck a chord with many of other folks other than myself, and whenever a song this monumental comes along I'm wont to excavate as many interpretations of it I can find, and in this case I found about sixteen, including a live version by it's original architects Eddie and the Hot Rods.  This is a self-assembled collection spanning various bit rates and sources, with participants ranging from Soul Asylum, Manfred Mann, Michael Monroe (of Hanoi Rocks), Ted Leo, The Flashcubes, Huw Gower (of The Records) amidst a variety of relative unknowns.  Hope ya like.  If anyone can help me find a version of this song that that the Greg Kihn Band did on one of their live albums please feel free to share. 


Hot Tip - Stop All Motion (1981, Attic)

Way back three years ago when this thing of mine called Wilfully Obscure kicked off, I introduced some of you to a long departed Toronto band, the Numbers, and more specifically their debut Add Up for the upstart Basement Records imprint. Technically that debut would be their only album, at least under the Numbers moniker.

For reasons unbeknownst, not to mention barely understood by me, Basement Records mutated into Attic Records in 1981, and with the label revision, the band opted to re-sign with Attic under a new name, Hot Tip.  Not an inappropriate move I might add, because although the Numbers and Hot Tip were dyed-in-the-wool power-popnics the original incarnation of the quartet possesed a slightly more angular tack than Hot Tip's ever so subtle radio-friendly gleam.  Furthermore, H/T took their cues from a pool of more traditionalist forerunners like The Records and Pezband, and managed to update their panache to propel them more in league with say, The Cars.  Unfortunately Tip only lasted for a pair of singles and the Stop All Motion album, which listening to in hindsight impresses enough to have earned it's rightful slot on the Shake Some Action - Ultimate Power Pop Guide Top 200 LP honor roll.  Too bad this jewel slipped through the cracks.

01. Teach Me Something
02. Father I Know
03. My Shoes
04. Friends
05. Eyes Are Blue
06. Fast Boys
07. Bridge to Manhattan
08. Stop All Motion
09. Hard to be Me
10. Never Look Back


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Singles Going Single #139 - Buzzsaw Frizzbees 7" (1990, Drilltone)

If it's not abundantly clear just from a cursory glance of the rather butchered picture sleeve, this 7" was previously in the possession of a radio station (most likely one of the college campus variety).  Sorry about that, but if you're willing to shell out a few dollars you might be able to obtain a cleaner copy (and perhaps a clearer conscience, but more on that in a moment).  The Buzzsaw Frizzbees were an Ipswich, Mass trio who had a solid command of the intricacies, and for that matter, majesty of power pop.  Three songs comprise this wax, and nary a second is taken for granted.  The mid-tempo, steady as she goes "Angels Sent Me" is quintessential, Teenline compilation style guitar rock that can stand toe to toe with anything the Smithereens and Diodes ever pumped out.  They up the ante a tad on "Pretty Soon," wherein a Ramonesy, Road to Ruin-era thrust invigorates the proceedings to maximum effect and enjoyment, while the comparatively slow-burning flipside "Won't Take Long" actually takes the longest of all three numbers here. 

Click on the hyperlink above to be ushered to the Frizzbees makeshift website, which will provide info on how to obtain your own copy of the record (limited supplies available no doubt), as well as CD-R featuring these songs as well as ten or eleven more.

A1. Angels Sent Me
A2. Pretty Soon
B. Won't Take Long


Singles Going Single #138 - The Dugans 7" (1994, Paint Chip)

This scrappy lil' quartet made some waves in the Albany, NY area back in the mid-90s, and these two tracks are stirring examples of their distortion-ridden punk pop.  Both songs were committed live to two-track, and boy does it ever sound it.  The Dugans were quite reminiscent of  Mercyland, an unrelated Athens, GA band I dedicated some space to a few years ago.  As for the Dugans themselves, they made at least one compilation appearance that I'm aware of, and a split single with the Young Fresh Fellows. 

A. Suckerpunch
B. Darlene


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Math Bats - Bat Day ep (198?)

Here's an obscurity that truly lives up to that lofty pedigree.  The front of the jacket bears not a single word, the back merely states the group's moniker.  No insert, with the tracklist confined strictly to the record labels, which also list a production/engineering credit to former Zero Boy/Datura Seed Paul Mahern.  Not another shred of info, no pics, copyright date, nothing.  Zip, zero, squat, bupkis. To cut to the chase, the Math Bats were a mystery band of the highest order (which of course spells grist for Wilfully Obscure). Fortunately, the ever useful Indiana Music Archive online has a listing for, and MP3s by the band, who were apparently situated in the environs of Indianapolis.  Records As I Buy Them blog has a few words to parse on this ep, and cites The Bodines and Slint as potential Math Bats influences, but save for the bouncy opener, "Guessing Games" I would argue that they gravitate more in the direction of brooding, '80s Midwest indie acts like Breaking Circus and Bloodsport.  While we're at it, five bucks says these guys wore out a copy or two of Unknown Pleasures.  Some light "goth" undercurrents are at play here as well, but I don't suspect anything too deliberate.  If this ep gets your joint rockin', head over to the Indiana Music Archive linked above for songs from an unreleased second album.  The ep is there too, but these rips were taken straight from my vinyl copy.  So there.

1. Guessing Game
2. Another Day
3. Samoa
4. Lost Today
5. Heat and Dust
6. Made to Melt


Monday, August 9, 2010

Orange Humble Band - Down In Your Dreams ep (1999, Half a Cow)

Ok, here's the skinny.  The Orange Humble Band was a collaborative effort between Darryl Mather (half of the creative force behind Australia's jangle-pop wunderkinds The Someloves, as well as a former Lime Spider), Ken Stringfellow of Posies/Big Star renown, and Mitch Easter, Let's Active leadman and producer extraordinaire.  While not a full-time proposition for anyone involved, OHB was technically based in Australia, but their debut album, Assorted Creams was gestated at Reflection Studios in North Carolina in 1996.  Mather had written the album, virtually in it's entirety, before the involvement of Ken and Mitch.  The ensuing Assorted Creams was recently regarded as one of the most crucial power pop albums of all time, even cracking the top-ten of the Shake Some Action - Ultimate Power Pop Guide album list. 

The group's revered lineup speaks for itself, and although Assorted wasn't as thoroughly revelatory as some might purport, it housed some of the finest songs the genre had to offer in the '90s including the deliriously indelible "It's Rainin' Like Soft Fun," "Can' Get What You Want," and "Down In Your Dreams," the last of those songs being spun-off as the title track of this ep which featured an additional four non-LP nuggets.  OHB issued a follow-up in 2001, Humblin' (Across America), and you might say that Down in Your Dreams was issued to tide over fans who couldn't get their fill of Assorted Creams).  Incidentally, Power Pop Criminals shared Mather's original 1994 demos for Creams a few months ago, and is worth investigating whether you've been acquainted with the album itself or not. 

01. Down In Your Dreams
02. All Wrapped Up
03. Telegram for Cindy
04. Jet's Gone
05. Step on the Gas


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Good Question - Thin Disguise (1986, Sur)

You're clearly forgiven if you mistook the name of the artists that crafted this platter as Thin Disguise, but in fact that's the LP title, and it's makers are in fact Good Question.  Though they're pictured as a quartet on the back of the album jacket (and actually recorded with two more fellows), to many of you Good Question's lineup may as well begin and end with frontman Van Duren, a classicist pop singer/songwriter responsible for his much lauded solo debut, Are You Serious? in 1977. 

A denizen of the '70s Memphis music scene, who was not only in cahoots with Big Star's Chris Bell and Jody Stephens, Van Duren went so far as to audition as a guitarist for Big Star, but ultimately that wasn't in the cards.  By the mid-80s, Van Duren's McCartney-cum-Emitt Rhodes aplomb had taken a back seat, and his new vehicle of choice was Good Question.  Thin Disguise boasts the plush, airwaves-groomed sound of it's era, gunning just shy of Casey Kasem’s weekly honor roll, while managing to keep much of it's fragile credibility on the same page as it's rather obvious commercial aspirations.  There's some faint new-romantic gestures cropping up on "Girls In Uniform" and "The Couple Most Unlikely," but Thin Disguise is at heart a hook-savvy, but meticulously polished '80s pop/rock record that didn't have the corporate backing to accord it with the en masse push that would have made all the effort worth it.  The album was reissued in 2001 on the Japanese Airmail label with five bonus tracks, but I have not been able to avail myself of a copy.

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Carnival Season - Misguided Promise: Carnival Season Complete (1984-89) - (2010, Arena Rock) - a brief evaluation

The MP3 blogosphere has been pretty good to me.  Without it's advent, not only would I be unable to share some of the sweetest (and scarcest) songs in my collection, I might not be able to partake in the bounty made available gratis by thousands of hobbyists like myself.  In fact, without such revelatory pit stops on the information highway as the ever essential Power Pop Criminals, I might not have caught wind of a long disbanded quartet of Birmingham, Alabama heshers (i.e. long hairs) going by the name of Carnival Season.  So impressed was I by the album shared on that blog (which I'll get to in a moment), I was inspired to track down some of their other records.  In short, some pretty serious C/S fandom had taken hold, and in a more perfect world, these guys who have been plucked from obscurity for a band bio-pic instead of Anvil.

Initially spelled Karnival Season during the most nascent phase of their career, the Tim Boykin-led four-piece looked like metal heads, and certainly had the chops and adeptness to rock like said hair farmers at any given moment, but instead the boys opted to trailblaze an unbeaten path in their native deep south, taking considerable cues from Twin/Tone-era Replacements and, whether they were conscious of it or not, The Nils.  Their earliest set of demos were produced by Tim Lee of Windbreakers renown, but the meat and potatoes of Carnival Season's brief catalog (collected in it's entirety on this handy disk), was their 1987 album Waiting For No One, produced by none other than power-pop meister Tommy Keene - a huge blessing in itself, not to mention being coupled with the group's inherent talent.  Unfortunately the defiantly titled Waiting... stiffed, and a national tour in 1988 didn't do squat to bolster their profile (though they had coveted opening slots with the Mats and Meat Puppets during their tenure).  Carnival Season fizzled out not long after their lackluster road trip, but one thing that couldn't be squelched was the flabbergasting melodic, riff-savvy, hard jangled post-punk rock that made it's way onto some very precious tape reels back in the late '80s. 

As mentioned above, Misguided Promise gathers up their meager discography - the eleven-song Waiting For No One (originally minted on What Goes On Records), two eps, a pair of outtakes, and a fun live medley of the Damned's "New Rose and MC5's seminal "Kick Out the Jams."  Tim Boykin would later form the (slightly) more mellow Birmingham power pop congregations the Shame Idols and later The Lolas.  I'm leaving you with the opening salvo from the CD, which coincidentally is the title track of that fine lone album, Waiting For No One, as well as a live cut from a 2007 Carnival Season reunion show.  Buy Misguided directly from Arena Rock, Amazon or digitally.

Waiting for No One
Please Don't Send Me to Heaven (live)


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Best Coast - Crazy For You (2010, Mexican Summer) - a brief evaluation

Nipping at the heals of a year or so's worth of singles and eps, the much ballyhooed indie duo of Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno, who collectively comprise Best Coast, drop their first full length and I'm here to spill a few words regarding it (guess I couldn't spell it out any more clearly than that, huh)?  The album in question, Crazy For You, generally falls in line with the formula established on the group's short-form precursors, consisting of cooing, '60s girl group harmonies amidst a carefully manicured layer of buzzing guitars, but this time the results are hookier and even more immediate.  BTW, the "surf" quotient is de minimis at best, but you didn't hear that from me.

Best Coast ensconce themselves in a lovingly, retro-fitted cocoon wherein bubble-gummy romantic concerns and beach-combed reveries have full reign.  The overall effect is that of a warm, Phil Spector-laced "wall-of-sound" dovetailing with a cauldron-pitched, echoing undercurrent that coincidentally or not has permeated The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, the most recent Beach House album, and sretching back a few decades, the Jesus and Mary Chain’s Psychocandy.  A similar sonic combination has been successfully employed before with '90s-Aughts era, mini-orchestral combos like the Heavy Blinkers and Outrageous Cherry, only in the case of Best Coast the mouthpiece is exclusively feminine.  Regarding those windpipes more specifically, Cosentino bears a vocal timbre that splits the difference between Kim Shattuck of the Muffs and Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star), sans the bratty sneer of the former and the haunting ambiance of the latter. 

Crazy tends to exude a samey feel, particularly when listened to in one setting, but a couple of relatively strident numbers, namely "When the Sun Don't Shine" and "Happy," boast a unique flair of their own.  At the end of the day, Best Coast walk the hype-ridden walk.  Crazy For You can be obtained from all the usual sources: Amazon, Insound, iTunes, and of course your neighborhood record dispensary if you're fortunate enough to have one.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Singles Going Single #137 - Eyesinweasel - tour 7" (2001, Recordhead/Luna)

In between Guided By Voices alum Tobin Sprout's genius 1999 solo album Let's Welcome the Circus People, and 2003's Lost Planets & Phantom Voices, the man in question assembled and helmed a new group, eyesinweasel, featuring members of his previous band, Fig 4, namely bassist Dan Toohey and skin-pounder John Peterson.  The result was a group that bore a penchant for robust "mid-fi" rock and roll that paralleled the song-per-song consistency and studio savvy of the 21st century incarnation of Pollard's ever-shifting GBV lineup. Eyesinweasel made only one proper studio LP, 2000's Wrinkled Thoughts, though a live record was soon to follow.  There were also a pair of eyesinweasel singles, including this very limited 500 copy installment.  It features two tracks taped during eyesinweasel's 2000 tour rehearsals, including a muscular reworking of Tobin's fleeting Alien Lanes composition "Strawdogs" (spelled here as "Straw Dogs"), as well as "Gas Daddy Gas" which originally appeared on our man's debut solo outing, Carnival Boy. Though this was touted as a "tour single" it wasn't released until 2001, and I'm not certain if there even was an eyesinweasel tour that year.  Confused?  Thought so.

In addition to his participation of the upcoming "Classic GBV" reunion tour, Toby has also given birth to a new solo album, The Bluebirds Of Happiness Tried To Land On My Shoulder, available from his website linked above.

A. Gas Daddy Gas
B. Straw Dogs


Singles Going Single #136 - T-Shirt 7" (1996, Priapus)

Naming your band after perhaps the single most ubiquitous variety of clothing in the Western world doesn't always lend itself to say, pertinant Google searches.  So while I can't extol on T-Shirts' origins (the Priapus record label however was rooted in Lawrence, KS) or career outside of this three-cut single, I will say that this co-ed outfit offers slightly dissonant indie rock, occupying the same tuneful airspace as small-of-fame heroes of their era Superchunk, Small Factory, and Wolfie. A simple, but enticing formula if you ask me, though maybe not as immediately endearing as their aforementioned contemporaries.  If anyone has the scoop on T-Shirt, you know the drill.

A1. Decca
A2. Museum
B. In the Red Light District of Your Heart


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Papillomas - Corolla (1995, Hub City)

Had a request for the first album by the Nanaimo, BC-based Papillomas, and here it is.  Corolla managed to stradle the scrappier side of Maritime province bands like Eric's Trip and early-Thrush Hermit, but also had a toehold in the Chapel Hill indie scene of it's day.  Not long after the release of Corolla, the Papillomas bashed out the significantly more sophisticated Twice as Early as You'd Ever Want to Be There and the finale ep, When Years Were Bee Stings in 2001, both of which I shared awhile back (just click on the titles).  Corolla closes shop with an unlisted and very amateurish stab at Loverboy's "Working For the Weekend."  You have been warned.

01. Hub City
02. Corolla
03. Better Than You
04. Piece of Corn
05. Raiffe Hollisater Sings
06. Superpopstar
07. Next to Near
08. Butterkid
09. Yeah...
10. Working for the Weekend
11. Ted Nugent's Spine
12. Tater Gem
13. Working For the Weekend

Amazon's got it.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Chameleons UK - Strange Times demos (1986)

Not too many hours from this hour (about 44 as of this writing) my little mind was irretrievably blown away by a Mark Burgess performance at the Bell House in Brooklyn, NY, which closed-out Big Takeover Magazine's 30th Anniversary Festival  Accompanied by four young(er) guns, Burgess and his crew tightly and efficiently blazed their way through roughly fifteen Chameleons classics with an intensity that equalled, or in my opinion even trumped that of his original band of yore in their '80 heyday.  When I initially saw his name on the lineup a couple months ago, I assumed he would be performing all by his lonesome, bearing only a twelve-string acoustic guitar at most.  Boy, was I in for quite a mind fuck that night.  It will no doubt go down as one of the finest and most captivating performances witnessed in my life.  If you're signed up on the bit torrent site, Dimeadozen, you can hear if for your own ears in fact. 

Since I'm still so buzzed from that riveting gig, I've decided a Chameleons post is warranted, specifically the demos for their third and final platter with their original Thatcher-era lineup, Strange Times.  More lucid, grandiose and measured than it's predecessor albums, Script of the Bridge and What Does Anything Mean Basically?, Times was nonetheless as visceral as '80s rock came - commerical, "alternative," or otherwise.  You're treated to twelve tracks here (with "Time" being divided up into two parts), including the iconic "Swamp Thing," and my favorite, "Ever After."  Speaking of Chameleons demos, the 2009 deluxe reissue of What Does Anything Mean includes a bonus cd of nine demos specific to that album. Find it on Amazon.

The storm comes...or is it just another shower?

01. Seriocity
02. In Answer
03. Time (pt. 1)
04. Time (pt. 2)
05. John, I'm Only Dancing
06. Tomorrow Never Knows
07. Inside Out
08. Paradiso
09. Tears
10. Caution
11. Ever After
12. Mad Jack
13. Swamp Thing