Thursday, September 30, 2010

Carl Rusk - Blue Period (2000, Beathaven)

Originating in the mid-80s, a celebrated but little known California trio dubbed The Nashville Ramblers turned more than a few heads with their only publicly issued song, "The Trains" (though let it be known, the band never officially broke up, and have performed live as recently as last year).  That beautiful, revivalist slice of Meresybeat pop initially came out on an obscure British compilation in 1986 that just a scant few were familiar with, however it received greater availability once it resurfaced on Bomp Records 1996 The Roots of Powerpop compilation, as well as the Children of Nuggets box set courtesy of the anthologizers at Rhino Records in 2005. 

At the turn of the millennium lead Rambler Carl Rusk issued the winsome, albeit brief solo disk that I'm sharing today.  The ten songs (including a couple of minute long interludes) comprising Blue Period are as one might guess a sizeable progression from the Ramblers jangly jewel, the aforementioned "Trains," though "Grains of Sand" revists that Mersey terrain with retro-fitted inflections of steel guitar.  Elsewhere, "Raspberry Way" wafts it's way into the orbit of the Wondermints, and the stark and spare acoustic ballad "Dance With Me" haunts in much the same manner as the Posies Dear 23 and Big Star's Third/Sister Lovers' more contemplative moments.  Rusk's readings of ELO's AM radio staple "Can't Get It Out of My Head," and Nick Drake's "Fly" dovetail well with his original material.  Just wish there was more where this came from, and I'm sure you Ramblers aficionados would concur with me on that.

01. Can't Get It Out of My Head
02. Raspberry Way
03. Fly
04. Orch.
05. Grains of Sand
06. You Breathe and Dream
07. Everyone
08. Time
09. Caroline
10. Dance With Me


Monday, September 27, 2010

Paul Collins Beat, 20/20, Sinceros & more - Live! at The Palladium, NYC 12/17/79

Okay, so I've been throwing a lot of no-names at you lately, some of which I've had mixed opinions about myself.  I figure it's high time to dip into the archives and present to you a bona fide classic.  I don't have any formal info to share regarding this concert, aside from the banter provided by the WNEW djs who hosted (and at some point broadcasted) this event featuring four red-hot up-and-comers on the CBS Records roster: The Beat, The Sinceros, 20/20, and the little spoken of Bruce Wooley & the Camera Club.  I don't believe any of these performances are presented in their entirety, save for perhaps the Sinceros, who were in the midst of a US tour, visiting from the other side of the pond.

If re-enacted by the original participants today, this gig would have been just as much of a treat as it certainly was some 30 years ago.  Needless to say this is a thoroughly astonishing lineup capturing all four combos in their prime, although in power-pop circles only 20/20 and Paul Collins & Co are the ones that are consistently revered to this day.  We're treated to the best of the best from The Beats' seminal debut album, and although 20/20's set is pared down to a mere three songs, they pick the ones that truly matter, including the genre-defining, "Yellow Pills." As some of you may know, Bruce Wooley was responsible for penning "Video Killed the Radio Star," not the Buggles, who of course had significantly better success with it.  Finally, this concert serves as solid introduction to the Sinceros, who's The Sound of Sunbathing album has been recently reissued.

There are numerous announcements here proclaiming that the 1980s were just two weeks in the offing (true that).  The crowd at the Palladium that evening could only guess what the ensuing decade had in store for them, but I'm sure this show in itself was nothing short of a revelation.  It was a concert fit for the gods...and the gods all came. 

The Beat
01. Rock n Roll Girl
02. I Don't Fit In
03. Walking Out on Love
04. Working Too Hard
05. Across the USA
06. Work-a-Day-World
07. Don't Wait Up For Me
08. Look But Don't Touch

The Sinceros
09. Something Happening Now
10. I Still Miss You
11. Wow Oh Oh
12. Count the Beating Hearts
13. Disappearing
14. Not ANother Little White Light
15. Good Luck
16. Take Me to Your Leader
17. Walls Apart

18. Yellow Pills
19. Remember the Lightning
20. Tell Me Why

Bruce Wooley & the Camera Club
21. I'm the Clown
22. You Got the Class
23. Video Killed the Radio Star
24. Clean Clean


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Twice Shy - All the Right Noises (1987, Mad Rover)

Seemingly informed by U2's The Edge (check out the spidery fretwork that infiltrates "Haven't Seen You), as well as certain residents of Athens, GA, the first half of All the Right Noises makes a decent case for recommending Twice Shy, but elsewhere things get a little passive.  Mouthpiece Dana Moran possesses a croon not unlike Cactus World News’ Eoin McEvoy, and even feigns a bit of a Brit accent while he’s at.  Some faint noir inclinations crop up here and there, but these fellows are kind enough to spare us of any gothic morass.  Noises... is recommendable, even if Twice Shy's moniker is often all too suitable.

01. All the Right Noises
02. Haven't Seen You
03. Happy Hour
04. Girl Next Door
05. Apart of Me
06. Nightmare Town
07. The Flame
08. Jealousy
09. Your Children
10. Off White

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Miles Dethmuffen - Clutter (1994, Rainbow Quartz)

Clutter is the second, and from what I can discern, final album from the Massachusetts quartet known to the world at large as Miles Dethmuffen.  I Shared their Nine-Volt Grape platter last year, which I was fairly enthused about, and though Clutter pales by comparison it's still worth a spin if such likeminded co-ed outfits as Christmas (the band) and Atlantic Records-era Eleventh Dream Day got your juke joint rockin'.  The prose is wordy, and the arrangements mightily robust, just not terribly remarkable...though they were definitely onto something with "Hope I Don't Spend All My Money on Liquor."  Here's what Trouser Press had to opine on Clutter.

The band's long-time-coming sophomore LP, Clutter, however is somewhat of a misstep. While not bad by any stretch, Clutter has a darker demeanor; the once-sprightly sound suffers from John C. Wood's monochromatic rock production. Still, the album features some of the shiniest jewels in the Dethmuffen crown: Linda's anthemic "Loveman, We Love You" and the perky-but-sad "Sleeping Bag" (both dating from '92 Kolderie sessions), as well as Ad's plaintive "Hope I Don't Spend All My Money on Liquor."

01. Nothing Weak
02. Sleeping Bag
03. Hurt On
04. Hope I Don't Spend All My Money on Liquor
05. Popdowns
06. Loveman, We Love You
07. Flat-Chested Girl
08. Mermaid Drowning on Dry Land
09. Weathervane
10. Clutter


Friday, September 24, 2010

Singles Going Single #145 - Kodiak "Emotional Rail" 7" (1998, One Louder)

Apparently there are/were a couple of bands named Kodiak making the musical rounds, but I'm pretty confident this Kodiak is extinct.  In addition to this 1998 single, I know a self-titled album was released the same year, on the UK-based One Louder label, and I'm assuming that's the locale this quartet hailed from as well.  Splitting the difference between tense post-hardcore punk and a tuneful indie-rock, I wouldn't be shocked if Kodiak were enlightened by such across-the-pond wonders as Jawbox, and perhaps gazed due northwest to Sweden's Fireside and Norway's Beezewax.  "Emotional Rail" is the keeper, with it's two b-sides exhibiting some gnashing, hair-trigger stops and starts, with plenty of hard-boiled abrasiveness to go around.

A. Emotional Rail
B1. Little Star
B2. Burning Bridges


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Singles Going Single #144 - Space Needle "Panic Delaney" 7" (1996, Zero Hour)

This nearly fifteen-year old 45 may not be Space Needle's crowning achievement (I'd actually recommend starting with the Voyager and/or The Moray Eels Eat the Space Needle albums), but the cacophonous, sonic sprawl that is "Panic Delaney" is indicative of their noisier, 4-track inclinations.  Distorto-rawk to the hilt.  The flip, "Outta My Face" starts out with a benign acappella portion, but soon reveals itself as an unraveling, improvised ballad, that wouldn't sound out of place on a Guided By Voices outtakes record. 

Space Needle (who actually hailed from New York, not Seattle, home of the actual Space Needle tower) would be a launching pad for a couple of relatively "traditional" indie rock outfits, Reservoir and VarnalineFor more Space Needle details that I simply don't have time to delve into, read their robust bio over on MyspaceMy Life as a Mixtape blog did a piece on this single as well, but the links are down. This rip is from my own copy.

A. Panic Delaney
B. Outta My Face


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pot Valiant - Transaudio (1994, Iteration)

And to think I made multiple attempts to trade this one in a few years back.  Good thing it was rejected from all those stores, because it gave me the opportunity to revisit and appreciate it.  There hasn't been much uttered on Albany, CA's long defunct Pot Valiant if only for the fact that by the time Transaudio saw the light of day, the web had yet to fully blossom.  Replete with ringing, and dare I say even spooky guitar chords, and a whip-smart sense of dynamics, the quartet were clearly groomed on the likes of Seam and Flower (later Versus, but you already knew that).  In fact the lead off cut, "Nugget Killer" subtly recalls Flower's "Torch Song."  In a nutshell, PV deliver a superb fusion of dense, downcast post-punk with poignant melodicism.  Though I can't emphasize the pervasiveness of Seam on these guys, by the mid-album "This Heaven Has Bars," Pot Valiant noodle around with mathy textures a la Slint, which eases in nicely to the more docile second half of Transaudio.  I'm pretty certain that somewhere I've stockpiled a pair of Pot Valiant singles, which I may get to later, but in the meantime you can bone up about one of them here.  BTW, as the brief bio on their Myspace page (linked above) notes, that the group was initially called The Vagrants, and released a single on the iconic (and insolvent) Lookout Records.

01. nugget killer
02. tapir
03. oar
04. low dexterity points
05. this heaven has bars
06. sick
07. going
08. last sun
09. untitled (unfinished)

Will Bandcamp work for you?

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Few - s/t ep (1986, Criminal)

I got suckered into this one by the simple but effective record jacket (albeit marred by the radio station call letters) - that, plus the fact that it was a mere $3 investment.  Got just about my moneys worth.  The Few, presumably based in New York as this is where the label was based and the ep recorded, were a fairly non-descript pop quartet with wave/power pop tendencies, and vocals that recall Neil Finn.  I could do without the horns (courtesy of the Urban Blight Horns) on "Where's the Fire," but "Grownup" and "Romance" have their charms.

01. Grownup
02. Romance
03. Where's the Fire
04. Mrs. Charles


Various - The Iowa Compilation (1987, South East)

This unassuming compilation with exceedingly ill-advised cover art from America's heartland belies a strikingly consistent assemblage of bands the other 49 states were completely ignorant of.  Thus far, there have been previous entries for three of The Iowa Compilation's participants on this blog - Full Fathom Five, the Dangtrippers, and the Hollowmen, all of whom subscribed to roughhewn, left-of-the-dial guitar rock.  Claude Pate up the ante even more with the riff-roaring "My Turn," while the grungey and relatively renown House of Large Sizes would have made a superb fit for Sub Pop's late '80s roster, at least based on what I hear on "One and Half On a Hill."  Moveable Feast and The Shy Strangers are almost as much as the aforementioned.  This compilation and it's successor, It's Another Iowa Compilation - Uncharted Territories, were also made available on Nothin' Sez Somethin' blog, but this is from my own static and pop-ridden rip that you can download in one fell swoop.  Sorry in advance for all the pesky surface noise.

01. Drednex - Sally Anne
02. The Hollowmen - Never Ending Ceiling
03. Full Fathom Five - Why Their Faces Are So Worn
04. Dangtrippers - Sidewalking
05. Claude Pate - My Turn
06. House of Large Sizes - One and a Half on a Hill
07. Cursing Birds - Popey Sally
08. Shellgame - The Dam Has Broken
09. David Brooks - Music Boy
10. The Shy Strangers - Heat Ray
11. Moveable Feast - Teddy Through the Grass
12. The Eclectics - When I Was Young
13. Four Million - War and Peace

Friday, September 17, 2010

Male Bonding - Ruff demos & Bratwell Sessions (2009)

A raw, riveting and raucous surprise came steam barreling full-din-ahead out of London, England this year in the form of Male Bonding, who's full-length debut, Nothing Hurts was issued on Sub Pop this past May.  Fitting squarely in the same rapid-fire, distorto-punk camp as Wavves and Japandroids, MB's inspiration delves back significantly further, specifically to Bug-era Dino Jr. and the feedback-addled sprawl of early Sonic Youth. Before I address the music that concerns this entry, here's a quick assessment of Nothing Hurts that I recently penned:

Any group that liberally picks from the low-hanging fruit of SST Records halcyon, 1980s harvest (namely Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr.) is a champ in my book.  London’s distortion-prone Male Bonding hem together noisy jams with pummeling delivery, and some surprisingly thoughtful melodies.  The band doggedly subscribes to lo/mid-fi aesthetics, with echoey vocals and profoundly booming acoustics, not far removed from the their contemporaries Wavves, who are also charting an upward trajectory. Thought it offers some calmer respites amidst the clamor, Nothing Hurts is sheer noisenik manna for the ages. For you Vivian Girls fans in the audience, they contribute background vox to the album closer “Worse to Come.”

I know little of the band's discography pre-Nothing Hurts, but I did find some demos and rehearsal sessions that I assume were cut last year, if not 2008. Both feature a smattering of alternate, work-in-noisegress cuts that would be curtailed slightly for the album, and some unreleased material too. Bitrates vary, but the Bratwell Sessions sound exponentially better than the Ruff demos. Make of these what you will.  

Ruff Demos
01. Hatred
02. Pumpkin
03. Years Not Long
04. Staring at My Problems
05. Some Power Issues
06. Lick Him With Fists
07. Pirate Key
08. Fail
09. Dino
10. Paradise Vendors (rehearsal)

Bratwell Shed Sessions
01. Pumpkin
02. Years Not Long
03. One Door Closes Another Door Closes
04. T.U.F.F.
05. Full Bonding
06. Lick Him With Fists
07. Advert

Ruff Demos: Hear
Bratwell Shed SessionsHear

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pollyanna - Didn't Feel a Thing (2000, Longshot/Shock)

I believe this is the only other Pollyanna album I have yet to share, and I'm rectifying that right now.  How a band of this caliber and consistency slipped through the cracks in their homeland, let alone who never enjoyed having any of their releases see the light of day in North America is yet another unsolved mystery.  Yep, these Aussie indie kids who sport a melancholy streak on their final outing, Didn't Feel a Thing, could teach today's young crop of hopefuls a thing or two about the art of real songcraft.  There's an air of maturity, not to mention sobriety, coursing through Didn't Feel... and as such it sometimes lacks the visceral power chord wallop of previous albums like Hello Halo, but is still entirely recommendable if you liked the other Pollyanna albums I've shared, or for that matter Buffalo Tom's Red Letter Day.

01. Anchored
02. Particular People
03. Elevators
04. Particular People (reprise)
05. Beestung
06. Rebound Girl
07. Left Centered
08. Grey Street Rollercoaster
09. Fisticuffs
10. Scenester
11. Firesale


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Kilkenny Cats - Hands Down (1986, Coyote)

I must not have cared for the Kilkenny Cat's twangy performance in Athens, GA Inside/Out when I saw it on VHS nearly twenty years ago, but after long resisting the band, a reasonably priced copy of this album came into my hands.  Unlike Dreams So Real, another second-rung Athens band, who also released an album on Coyote Records in '86, the Cats didn't have the advantage of hiring Peter Buck as producer.  While some crisply ringing Rickenbacker frequently permeates Hands Down, mouthpiece Tom Check has a tendency to sing in a weak characterization of Michael Stipe, though I'm assuming it's not out of jest.  Plenty of gritty goodness abounds in the guise of "Thinking Fire," "Far Reaching Sign," and the throbbing title track, but this platter has some clunkers too (e.g. "Country Junk" more than lives up to it's title).  I suspect the Cats were still cutting their teeth on Hands Down, but according to Trouser Press they would only release another ep before disbanding.

01. Night Fall
02. Shakin' in the '60s
03. Morning Song
04. Edith Setwell
05. Thinking Fire
06. Carousel
07. Hands Down
08. Country Junk
09. Far Reaching Sign
10. Tatterman
11. Sister Sin


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Singles Going Single #143 - Venus Beads 7" (1990, Decoy)

By popular demand I present to you the Venus Beads debut single.  My share of their Black Aspirin and Incision disks touched off multiple requests.  I was reluctant to share it at first, as the audio quality was a bit sub-par.  It was pointed out that I may have mistaken my assumed "worn out" copy of the single for an insufficient recording job on the band's end.  Still can't say for sure, as the side with "Heartless" on it looks a bit scuffed, and there's snaps and crackle aplenty.  If I come across a superior copy I'll be happy to make an upgrade.  If you've enjoyed what I've posted by them thus far I wouldn't let that scare you off.  "Day of Nightmares" is particularly good, recalling early Mega City Four.  They don't make 'em like these anymore...

A1. Day of Nightmares
A2. Heartless


Saturday, September 11, 2010

seade - (perf) (1996, Grass)

Now this is what I like to call head music for the rest of us.  Baltimore's seade (pronounced "shade") were yet another fantastic Grass Records signee that didn't have a prayer in gaining national prominence.  Too lengthy to be deemed an ep, but just shy of full length status, (perf) commences with "Soulful" a billowy, amped-out piece that finds the band wandering around the sonically expansive troposphere that their often grandiose contemporaries Hum and Failure were wont to inhabit.  seade soon drift back to earth and treat us to a perfect album sides worth of dense, enthralling guitar rock, reminiscent of Swerevedriver, Iowa's underappreciated Head Candy, and to a lesser degree the Doughboys cicra Crush.  Some disparate influences at play here, but trust me, it works brilliantly.  So far as I can tell the only other recorded matter that exists by this long defunct quartet is a 7" for "Kool-Aid Mustache" and some comp tracks, one which you can stream here along with (perf) itself, or you can download the album via the link conveniently provided below.  

seade frontman Jack Osiecki died of a sudden asthma attack in 2001 at the tender age of 29.   

01. Soulful
02. Watered Eyes
03. Resurrection Mary
04. Going Away Present
05. Hospital Window
06. Kool-Aid Mustache
07. Big Blues


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Singles Going Single #142 - Kid Champion 7" (1994, Mint)

Have had this one in my collection for ages, so I'm surprised I haven't posted it sooner.  Anyway, Kid Champion's three-song 7" appears to have been their only commercial release and has the distinction of being one of the earliest endeavors for Vancouver's now fairly renown Mint Records label. 

A Vancouver, co-ed four piece with a female mouthpiece, Kid Champion kept it humble and quintessentially indie, not unlike one of my other favorites from the same era, Belreve.  The downcast lead-off track "Jacklyn and Chantel" boasts a mild dream-pop inflection with sweet, chiming guitars.  "Gigil" is a busy instrumental, and the b-side "Adam's Newts" is all hazy, clangy, and gloriously oblique.  Viva '90s, mid-fidelity indie-pop!

A1. Jaclyn and Chantel
A2. Gigil
B. Adam's Newts


Incomplete Monday - I Am (1985, Silent)

Sort of run-of-the-mill DIY post-punk from a quartet of Garden Grove, CA denizens.  Not your average southern Cali band.  Vague goth/noir tendencies crop up here and again, and when they get the hankering to rock out they're not far removed from Beneath the Shadows-era TSOL.  The guitars on "Lost Sunday," my song of choice here, recall the fret-work of For Against's Harry Dingman, but that's where the comparisons end.   Not much info to be had about Incomplete Monday... My apologies for the vinyl static that no amount of record cleaning solution could seem to improve.

01. Fiftyfive
02. Green on Red
03. Boyfriend Girlfriend World
04. 30 Seconds to Zero
05. Lighter Side of a Nightmare
06. Lost Sunday
07. Enquirer
08. Free Cowboy Hats


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Junk Monkeys - Bliss (1993, WB/Metal Blade Modern)

Hey.  Been on vacation, which means I haven't had a chance to rip any vinyl (although did bring a hefty new stash of vintage wax that you'll be hearing in the near future).  I've gone on at length about Detroit's Junk Monkeys, quite possibly the finest ride to roll off the Motor City assembly line since the Stooges, though from the sound of things they were more Pleased to Meet Me than Raw Power

Bliss was the Monkeys last album, and one of the most neglected titles to carry the WB logo.  I still go for their previous disk, Five Star Fling, but this comes in at a close second.  If you like the last couple of Mats albums and/or late '80s Soul Asylum, dig into this.

01. I Got Fear
02. All in a Day
03. Idle Up
04. Satisfied
05. Rag
06. Frayed
07. And it Caved In
08. Teacup Song
09. Bliss
10. Day Away
11. Edison
12. Brighter Days
13. Shine

Amazon does it again.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Perfect - Seven Days a Week (1997)

After the Replacements dissolved on July 4, 1991 in Chicago's fabled Grant Park, bassist Tommy Stinson (who along with frontman Paul Westerberg was the only other continuous Mat during the groups sordid tenure) still had to eat, if you know what I'm getting at.  His next meal ticket was a rollicking and fitting successor to the Replacements called Bash & Pop who's 1993 platter, Friday Night is Killing Me, turned out to be their last.  A noble effort, but not much of a commercial smash.  A couple years on, Stinson relocated to L.A. and sought to forge a more "Perfect" union.  Aided and abedded by bassist Robert Cooper, guitarist Marc Solomon, and the eponymously monikered skin pounder Gersh, Perfect was born, and a 1996 ep dubbed When Squirrels Play Chicken was conceived via Medium Cool/Restless Records. Perfect's muscular power pop, was no "replacement" for Minneapolis' fab-four, but consistently satisfying in their own right. 

Met with critical acclaim and a slowly blossoming fanbase, Stinson and Co. had even higher hopes for the debut Perfect full-length, Seven Days a Week.  With a slightly altered lineup which found Stinson back on bass guitar but still on lead vocals, 7 Days a Week was tracked in 1997, but due to shifting priorities with their label, the album was shelved and never released in it's original configuration.  2004 finally saw the release of most of these tracks on a slightly retooled version of Seven Days a Week, rechristened as Once, Twice, Three Times a Maybe, courtesy of Rykodisc Records.  So what of the original version of the album?  It's rumored that a few advance copies of the CD that were printed up had actually made it's way into the ether, but the MP3s I'm presenting strike me as being derived from a low generation cassette.  Much has been talked about the absence of a track called "Peg Song" on the official Rykodsic release, but my version of Seven Days... features yet another song that didn't make it onto Once, Twice..., namely the excellent "Don't Look Down."  Other bootleg versions tack on tracks from a 1995 Stinson solo performance at the Uptown in Minneapolis.  The mixes here deviate slightly from those on the posthumous '04 release, so perhaps the real incentive is the inclusion of "Peg Song" and "Don't Look Down."  Once, Twice, Three Times a Maybe is still available from Amazon (physically and digitally), and likely from iTunes as well so if you like what you hear consider spending a little green and support Perfect!

01. Turn it Up
02. Better Days
03. Little Drum
04. Seven Days a Week
05. Me
06. Making of an Asshole
07. Catch Em Where They Land
08. Thing I Call My Life
09. Don't Look Down
10. Flap
11. Yap Yap
12. Peg Song

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Crime - Crash City USA ep (1985, Sur)

This one's a no brainer.  This is what I call classicist power-pop to the nth degree, particularly the resplendent "Behind Those Eyes" which could go head to the head with the best of The Pezband, Spongetones, or Shoes.  "Trudy's Got a New Boy" is also as about as quintessential as the genre gets.  The reminder of Crash City USA is actually quite rollicking, sporting an unmistakable celebratory fervor.  The Crime were a Memphis quartet with no apparent ties to Big Star or the like, but co-producer Jack Holder was a Bluff City pop scenester from the early days from what I've read.  I'm sure these guys have more of a back-story, but all I could find was this lil' blurb:

The Crime ruled Memphis new wave in the early '80s. In those days, everyone had a skinny tie and a Rickenbocker, but not everyone could write a song. Those that could often never left their parent's garage. The Crime did it all - killer harmonies, ripping guitar leads, and panty-littered stages. 

Apparently members later formed a spinoff band called The Everyday Parade who you can bone up about by going to their Myspace page. 

01. Donna Lee
02. Trudy's Got a New Boy
03. Crash City
04. Lighten Up
05. Behind Those Eyes
06. Mad About You