Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pep Lester and His Pals - Jack-O-Lantern Moon 7" ep (1984, Iridescence)

In the waning hours of Halloween 2010, I thought it would be fitting to share this curious 45 (though technically only the sleeve art and "October October" make a tangible reference to the holiday).  Let it be known, there is no Pep Lester, at least as far as this record is concerned, but there is however Jad Fair who performs on three of the four tracks, with a bloke named Phil Milstein fronting and writing for this collaboration, which in total involves the efforts of thirteen individuals (not performing as an ensemble on any given "song" mind you). summarizes Milstein's career as such:

Tape manipulator, collagist, solo musician (as Pep Lester), member of Mommy, 7 or 8 Wormhearts and Uzi. He also played with Cul De Sac on their debut album Ecim in 1992.

Milstein's qualifications aside, any project involving Jad Fair is bound to be a little grating or askew, and this is no different.  Jack-O-Lantern Moon is a-melodic as fuck, art-damaged avant noodling that can only pass for rock and roll in the loosest sense of the term.  Standup bass, theremin, and toy xylophones, oh my!  Akin to a Sonic Youth side project, or the band Stump.  A nifty passage from "October October," "Who needs drugs when we have the fall?" helps sum up the group's crooked aesthetic. 

01. Do It Yourself
02. Nothing for Granted
03. October October
04. Rebby


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fingers - Video Games ep (1982, AXO)

Power pop!  Now this was a worthwhile purchase.  Came across Video Games on Ebay a few months back and snatched it up sound unheard, instead putting total faith in the seller's comparisons to Shoes and another band or two from the same era.  Shoes they ain't, but the Fingers gesture their furthermost extremities in the direction of 20/20, Off Broadway, The Bats (US), and dare I even suggest Rick Springfield?   At any rate, I'm certainly impressed, and like any band worth it's salt. they save their most potent number for the grand finale.  "I Wanna Be Like You" exhibits an irresistible punky thrust that naggingly recalls the Knack's "Good Girls Don't."  There are a handful of Fingers videos on YouTube, one of which I've pasted below.  An utter and unmistakable product of it's era.  Guitarist Dave Medford has evidently departed this mortal coil.  

01. Video Games
02. Don't Call Me
03. Hold Out
04. She Won't Dance
05. Dangerous Life
06. I Wanna Be Like You

Friday, October 29, 2010

Playground - Bent, Lost or Broken (1994, Habit)

Though I have little to no background info on the Davis, CA based Playground, this album is nonetheless a more than noteworthy footnote in Cali punk-pop history.  Now that I think about it, there was mention of them in a blog entry from last year, namely the Misfit Heartbeat double 7" compilation they contributed to, circa the early/mid-90s.  Playground's formula was linear and lean roaring guitar rock, set to a reliable mid-tempo pace.  Aficionados of the Boston's Moving Targets will discover some more than striking similarities on Bent, Lost or Broken, but given Playground's locale of a modest town in northern California, something a little more obvious likely rubbed off on them, say like Husker Du or Sugar.  There's definitely some Mould-ian sensibilities running through these eleven tracks, but nothing too overt to signal any wholesale derivativeness.  Playground had at least two singles that I know of, which will likely be the subject of a forthcoming post.  Until then, enjoy (or not). 

01. Exhaust
02. Paradise Lost
03. Madrone
04. When Everything is Said and Done
05. Something Has to Give
06. Gravity
07. Just Once
08. Miles Away
09. Drift
10. Maim
11. A Game

Now on Bandcamp with a bunch of other releases.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Atlantic/Pacific - Meet Your New Love (2010, No Sleep) - a brief evaluation

With a roster boasting the alumni of such cult-favorite post-hardcore troupes as Texas is the Reason and Rival Schools, Atlantic/Pacific are a mini-supergroup of sorts, comprised of two not so super well known proprietors, specifically Garrett Klahn and Ian Love of the aforementioned groups respectively.  Actually, toss in a third guy, John Herguth of the shamefully overlooked House and Parish, and voila, it's trifecta time, but if it's a slam-bam power trio you're licking your chops over you better run for that drool rag.  Rhythmically limber, subtly executed, and unmistakably insular, Meet Your New Love is a radically different beast than the former achievements it's architects lay claim to, lending itself more to the tenor of any given Spinanes album than your favorite Samiam or Jawbreaker platter.  

There's something inherently contemplative wending it's way through Atlantic/Pacific's pensive and often empathetic notions, particularly the ones invoked on the first half of New Love. For followers of Klahn's and Love's past endeavors, the sonic innovations here, hushed and textured as they may be, are bound to be a bit startling.  By mid-album, starting with "Picture Perfect," the tempos gracefully advance into higher gear, and Klahn's and Herguth's harmonies begin to solidify, albeit gradually.  In fact, the latter portion of the record comes bristling to life with bolder, more pronounced instrumentation, with the chief highlight being  "The Latest," a song that plays out like Oasis' should've been follow-up to "Wonderwall," coupling as a sweet throwback to Garrett's Brit Pop-ish, late '90s outfit, the New Rising Sons.  

As goes the chorus in "Darling Disappear,"  Meet Your New Love is in a nutshell, "Easy enough to obtain/harder than most to explain," and though it may take a few spins to truly adhere, the beauty is that no familiarization of the much more vigorous antecedent bands A/P's members sprang from is required to appreciate it.  Hear for yourself by streaming "Patterns" and "Some Weary Valentine" over here.   

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Recess Theory - "They Would Walk Into the Picture" (1999, Take Hold)

Florida's Recess Theory harken back to an era, not so long ago, when emo was still a basement/VFW hall movement, and moreover, far less derided than it is today.  In short, they got to the party before the mainstream gatecrashed it, and that in itself is reason to be nostalgic about "They Would Walk Into the Picture."  RT logically borrowed a thing or two from such period aggregations as Mineral, Braid, and a host of entries that set up shop under the Caulfield Records banner, if that means anything to you.  They Would Walk... is indeed yearning and endowed with a reasonable amount of angst, but stops well short of the genres all too typical trappings.  It also doesn't hurt that they knew their way around a hook or two.  In addition to this mini album, the band shared a split ep with the considerably more popular Further Seems Forever.  Recess Theory would later reroute their musical course considerably, and carry on as Legends of Rodeo in the 21st century.

01. St. Peters Square
02. To Be an Anchor
03. Philadelphia or Reading
04. No Van Gogh
05. Weatherman
06. Spring Formal
07. Couples Only
08. They Would Walk Into the Picture


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wool - 20th Century Masters: The Singles Collection (1991-94)

With an amped-out synthesis of punk, grunge, and some tasteful alt-metal maneuvers, Wool struck an immediate and eminently powerful blow to this set of eardrums.  Their 1992 Budspawn ep was a a fixture in my car's tape deck for many months, yet at the time I was unaware of the quartet's back story.  Remember Scream, the D.C. hardcore band that Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic usurped Dave Grohl from just in time to record Nevermind?   It turns out that the nuclei of Scream, mouthpiece Peter Stahl and axe-wielding brother Franz Stahl transplanted themselves to L.A. in the early '90s and laid the building blocks for the decidedly more bludgeoning and righteously heavy Wool.  The aforementioned Budspawn was issued by London Record's boutique imprint External to little fanfare, at least in my corner of the world, but prior to which came a pair of singles, Mayday and "Little Darlin'" b/w "Medication."

Fast forward to 1994, and the release of Wool's Box Set (which in fact was merely a traditional single disk album).  Despite some occasional stoner-ish meanderings, Box Set was largely cut from the same cloth as the ep, boasting some fairly accessible (i.e. grunge friendly) material including "Kill the Crow," and the walloping, groove-ridden "Superman is Dead." The first of those two cuts was released as a single by Bong Load Records, which included a cover of the Sonic's legendary garage romp "The Witch" as the b-side.  In conjunction with Box Set was a three cut, vinyl-only 7" also on Bong Load, featuring what I would assume to be three session outtakes.  In any event, the album stiffed, Wool folded a year thereafter, and Franz would go onto greater renown after he was enlisted as a Foo Fighter in the mid-90s.  You can fill in the blanks to the rest of Wool's history at the ever resourceful Myspace.

As a bonus, I'm including the b-side to Wool's second 7" single bearing the song "Medication" dubbed "Marky St. James," which isn't a song, rather a prank call concerning an obnoxious metalhead who has designs on forming a new band.  Lots of luck with that. 

Little Darlin 7" (199?, Fuck You Records)
01. Little Darlin
02. Medication

Mayday 7" (1992, Bong Load)
03. S.O.S.
04. Run-Hide

Kill the Crow 7" (1993 Bong Load)
05. Kill the Crow
06. The Witch

untitled 7" ep (1994, Bong Load)
07. So Many Ways
08. Sister Song
09. Dear Dorothy

10. Marky St. James (b-side to "Medication," London Recs '92)


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Singles Going Single #146 - The Lemons 7" (1993, Lucky)

Like many of their Seattle brethren, The Lemons didn't quite reap the riches of the Emerald City's post-grunge sweepstakes nearly two decades ago, but it wasn't for lack of trying.  In fact, the group wound up with a major record deal, though the resultant album, 1995's Sturdy, wasn't as representative as this single which found the quartet reveling in the street smart, yet accessible purist-punk revivalism of D Generation and the like.   The two tracks on deck here, "Keep Diggin" and "Ugly Stik" are primal, sneering updates of the Lemons obvious antecedents such as the Dead Boys, and remarkably tight and pleasing at that.  Probably nothing you haven't experienced before, but certainly worth a few rotations.

A. Keep Diggin
B. Ugly Stik


Singles Going Single #145 - Pigpen - Tard 7" (199?, Vital Music)

Dare I say this is the most conspicuously tasteless single I've shared to date?  Admittedly, the title track to this three song ep unnecessarily mocks some of the least among us, but if you can get past the rather sophomoric lyrical content you'll discover that New York's Pigpen (later reconfigured as Pig Pen) not only kick it lowbrow, but low-end as well, with ample nods to Flipper and The Melvins.  "Tard" packs an irresistible groove and a wailing guitar solo, while the two flipsides sting with a taught and linear scum-punk pizazz.  As for the depictions of congenital defects that grace the inner sleeve, let's just say they blend in with the territory.  If anyone feels the need to hear their follow-up Prick album I'll consider posting it, but in the meantime you can read this rather spot-on critique.  I should also mention that original copies of this illustrious 45 may still be available from Vital Music.

A. Tard
B1. Tsunami Butt
B2. Alcohol


Friday, October 22, 2010

The Five - s/t (1987, BEM)

Not sure what you're going to make of this one, but thought it was worth a shot.  Hatched in the Pittsburgh punk scene in the early '80s, The Five (who are actually a quartet) moved to points eastward in 1984, namely Boston.  Makes me wonder if they would have opted for Seattle if it was six years later, but I digress.  Helmed by Reid Paley, the band's bluesy, demi-punk formula vaguely lent itself to the rockabilly contingent, but furthermore offered some noir overtones a la TSOL.  If you can get past Paley's gruff set of pipes (think two parts Fear's Lee Ving, one part Jello Biafra, and a smidgen of Glenn Danzig), The Five might hold some promise, and perhaps even a little delight for you.  Problem is for every song that cranks it's way down the right track (say "No Regrets" or "Cut Me Loose") there's a painfully unappealing tune that will have you racing for your iPod's jog dial.  It appears the band still has some sealed copies of the record for purchase, so I'll probably remove the link in the near future.

01. The Long Haul
02. No regrets
03. All the Way
04. Invocation
05. All Right
06. Pray for Me
07. Sacred Heart
08. The Only Honorable Thing
09. Same to Me
10. Cut Me Loose
11. Fat Lady
12. When Yr Done


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pure Joy - Getz, the Worm (1997, The Great Utopia)

To most people, the name Rusty Willoughby will probably yield nothing more than a big fat question mark above his/her head, and at this point it's bound to stay that way.  As for myself and a small but dedicated fanbase, the very mention of Rusty conjures up two more names: Pure Joy and Flop, two consistently satisfying Seattle bands he played the starring role in, the first intermittently during the '80s and '90s, and the latter primarily in the first half of the '90s.  My most recent Rusty Willoughby post involved Flop's 7" singles, which collected together comprised some fourteen, crunchy n' catchy-as-all-get out punk-pop salvos the likes of which their mainstream contemporaries would have quite the axe to grind to equal. 

Step back a few years to 1989, i.e. Flop's pre-gestation period, when Rusty occupied his time with the aforementioned Pure Joy who had just dropped their first proper album, Carnivore.   Promising as that platter and a preceding ep were, Pure Joy would soon be put to pasture making way for the considerably more visible Flop, who by 1993 scored a (short lived) major label contract via Sony.  It wasn't meant to be, and after a return to their former indie home of Frontier Records, and the 1995 parting shot, World of Today, Rusty would soon rekindle Pure Joy, only this time the buzz that had greeted Carnivore wasn't quite as tangible for it's belated follow-up, Getz the Worm.  For shame, because the record in question (technically PJ's third album considering the release of their pre-Carnivore venture, Unsung) expanded on the group's pummeling power pop of yore by incorporating a slightly looser delivery system a la Built to Spill, which lent itself well to Rusty's wry and occasionally surreal prose, not to mention a singular sense of wit and lackadaisical timbre.  Getz is something of an acquired taste, but if you have the patience (and preferably some familiarity with Pure Joy/Flop's previous material) it's more than worth acquiring.  A fourth PJ album, Gelatin and Bright would make it to market in 2003, and Rusty has occasionally released solo material, most recently 2009's Cobirds Unite.

01. Cell Depletion
02. Traveling is the King
03. Something Strange
04. What Time It Is
05. Ex-Thieves
06. Uninspiring
07. New Days Sum
08. Tea
09. Red Lights Flashing
10. Hold On It
11. Blue
12. Fall of the Lip Biting Queen
13. One Cold Fish
14. Inevitable Day
15. Coveted Space


Monday, October 18, 2010

The Bags - Rock Starve (1987, Restless)

I made the foolish mistake of selling the CD incarnation of this album several years ago on Ebay (drawing a nice profit though), and have wished to this day that I hadn't, however finding a nice, clean LP copy of this in a dollar bin recently was fair compensation.  The Bags were distilled in Boston back in the '80s, blending riff-heavy punk with garagey, blue collar ethos. Their debut, Rock Starve tends to wax frivolous at times, with Crispin Wood and Jon Hardy's vocals a bit too gruff for their own collective good, but the sixteen tracks within are downright durable, punchy and fun.  I'd be remiss if I failed to mentioned that this trio's steady stream of power chords are as fat and plump as the food adorning the album jacket. 

01. Spread it Around
02. Pioneer
03. Warm Words
04. What Do You Want?
05. She's Beautiful
06. Out of My Mind
07. Try It
08. Tailbone
09. Joy Ride
10. Flying Low
11. Trapped
12. Love Sick Diane
13. Nothing to Say to You
14. Lick My Wounds
15. Egg
16. Big Wig


Friday, October 15, 2010

Guided By Voices - Beyond the Bars and Churches (1990s)

I guess you don't need me to inform you that this autumn has been a banner season for Guided By Voices fans, with the "classic" halcyon, mid-90s lineup of Robert Pollard, Tobin Sprout, Mitch Mitchell, Greg Demos, and Kevin Fennell reuniting for roughly twenty gigs across the country.  Doug Gillard be damned.  In fact, half of the heavily touted Hallway of Shatter-Proof Glass Tour has come and gone, and yours truly will be attending the Columbus, OH show at Outland Live tomorrow.  It's going to be a capacity crowd, as are many of the remaining dates, but the band has recently launched Guided By Voices Digital, an online repository for the bulk of the GBV catalog, including concert recordings from the tour in progress, available for a nominal fee of course, so even if you can't see them live in the flesh you can at the very least live vicariously.  Didn't have that option back in '95, did ya?

In 2007 and 2008 I shared two fan-curated bootleg compilations of GBV outtakes, miscellanea, and the like, To Trigger a Synapse, and The Carefree Kitchens Are a Blast, respectively.  Many of you did in fact find these to be a blast, and in conjunction with the tour in progress, I'm unleashing yet a third, like-minded compendium dubbed Beyond the Bars and Churches (it's title swiped from a lyric in "Taco, Buffalo, Bird Dog, and Jesus" if I recall).  This time around there's not a great deal of quality studio material, and in fact Beyond... yields little that's revelatory in that regard, yet it's a downright fun listen, chockablock with anecdotal interview segments, tv performances, concert banter, numerous random live cuts, and even a Guess Who cover - almost all of which is culled from the band's heyday, which I'm more than happy to revisit as I'm sure you are.  Also be advised of the two GBV tribute albums I've been hosting, Scalping the Guru and Blatant Doom Trip, and be on the lookout for at least one more tribute collection on here before years end.  Dig in!

01. NPR interview 1  
02. Motor Away (demo)
03. NPR interview 2
04. Mannequin's Complaint (alt vers)
05. NPR interview 3
06. Gold Star For Robot Boy (live with intro count)
07. NPR interview 4
08. Gee, What a Bitch
09. NPR interview 5
10. Shakin' All Over (live Guess Who cover)
11. NPR interview 6
12. The Opposing Engineer (Sleeps Alone) (unmixed)
13. NPR interview 7
14. Burning Flag Birthday Suit (live Much Music)
15. chatter
16. My Impression Now (quite mix)
17. talk about recording (Tobin Sprout)
18. My Son Cool (live Jon Stewart)
19. chatter
20. Piano Piece X3 (Tobin)
21. Ambergris (live)
22. chatter
23. Gleemer (tribute by Dr. Atom & The Orbitals)
24. Eat my ass
25. Glad Girls (rehearsal)
26. Bob talks to the kids
27. chatter
28. 14 Cheerleader Coldfront (live)
29. untitled
30. Wished I Was A Giant (live)
31. talk about working with Steve Albini
32. Non-Absorbing (live)
33. talk about Cobra Verde lineup
34. Jar Of Cardinals (live)
35. talk about songwriting (int by Pat DiNizio)
36. Marchers In Orange (live)
37. Wondering Boy Poet (live)
38. Taco, Buffalo, Etc (partial)
39. Matter Eater Lad (live)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

84 Nash - Band for Hire (1999, Rockathon)

Let's see, 84 Nash called Columbus, OH their stomping ground, a city not far removed from Dayton.  In addition to that, two of the groups albums were co-opted by Rockathon Records, and their often obliquely titled songs usually tapped out by the two-minute mark.  It would be a shoo-in to assume that this trio was a prodigy of none other than Robert Pollard and Co.  Guided By Voices sphere of influence is not the least bit lost on 84 Nash, but the same goes for their more distant contemporaries, Superdrag and Eric's Trip.  Band for Hire was Nash's second album, following up 1997s The King of Yeah, also a Rockathon product, and the first non-GBV title for the label at that.  A roughhewn, basement-nurtured aesthetic is baked into this scrumptious cake, and the band stuns with a gale-force surge in the shape of Hire's opening salvo "The Giggle Party." Deeper into the record "To the Equator" and "Cinnamon Block" are equally as satisfying, packing not only a similar, visceral rush, but some considerable harmonies as well.   Here's some more background details on 84 Nash, ripped straight from their Myspace page:

They are 84 Nash, from Columbus, Ohio. Kevin Elliott, Andy Hampel, and J.P. Herrmann have been together since high school in various small towns around Southwest Miami County. Unknowingly their homemade four-track cassettes developed a following in nearby Dayton, winning the ear of other Dayton bands, such as Swearing at Motorists, Brainiac, and Guided By Voices - whose leader, Robert Pollard, made 84 Nash's first proper LP; The Kings of Yeah (1997). It was the first non-GBV release on Rockathon Records. These static-rock soundings were a snapshot of things to come, full of agitated, youthful energy jumping head-first out of the gates. They were let loose upon the world of pop music. Shortly thereafter 84 Nash moved east towards university and the fertile rock landscape of Columbus. Rockathon then released the stellar second record, Band for Hire (1999), to wild acclaim - among the core fanbase of maybe 50 kids in town. However a few things were different this time out. The bursts of frenetic noise became more fully realized songs. Anthems were soon crafted by our action pop superheroes, colored in all shades of melody and sharp hooks. The rock simply rocked more, while the pop became the signature that separated 84 Nash from the rest.

01. the giggle party
02. snacks of wealth
03. i speak in falcon
04. across from actorsville
05. no more phones
06. ice breakers
07. shot bully
08. mao tse tsung
09. invisible
10. i've got 'em all
11. room of steel
12. ur stripes
13. slower version of friends
14. to the equator
15. sandful of hand
16. cinnamon block
17. they cancelled your birthday
18. demon national


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Giant Mums - 7" ep (1992, Quixotic)

There was no dearth of noisy, indie guitar-rawk talent sprouting up throughout the '90s and New York's Giant Mums were another fine case in point.  Making their live debut at the then intact CBGB's, and having a record (this one to be exact) engineered by the renown Wharton Tiers, you'd think those two pedigrees alone would've helped cultivate a thriving fan base, but making a go of it as a rock band in the Big Apple was as daunting for the Mums as any of their peers.  The "Eyedropper" ep would be followed up by another single, and eventually a full length in 1994 (which I truly need to get my hands on).  You can read more on the Mum's discography over at the lovingly preserved Quixotic Records webpage.  Mucho vinyl static permeates the four songs I'm presenting here, and I'm afraid there's precious little I can do about it, but that hardly impedes the crackling energy exuding from the Mum's who often recall the tuneful, lo-fi sprawl of SST-era Dino Jr and some of Swervedriver's woozier ventures, like Raise.  Their Myspace bio, linked above, mentions some demo tapes that were floating around circa this record, but one has to assume they've long been missing in action.

01. Eyedropper
02. Noonday Slum
03. I Wove Myself In
04. Railroad Flat


Monday, October 11, 2010

Lifeboat - s/t ep (1985, Dolphin)

Lifeboat were a Boston based four-piece who inflected their relatively unique strain of power pop with a healthy dollop of jangly guitar leads and measured post-punk maneuvers.  They were labelmates with Tommy Keene, who released some of his early wax on the Dolphin imprint as well.  The leadoff "Bully Up" is a good example of this sonic amalgam, which is informed by Gang of Four and Mission of Burma just as much as Joe Jackson and Elvis Costello.  Moderate employment of synths lend an edgy, and sometimes chilly ambiance to Lifeboat without thrusting things into an impenetrable deep-freeze.  Good record, though it was evidently their last. 

01. Bully Up
02. Family Town
03. Queen For a Day
04. Ruling Class Kids
05. Twelve Hour Drive
06. Let's Get Excited


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Donnie Iris and the Cruisers - The High and the Mighty (1982, MCA)

Heeeeeeeeeres Donnie!  The back of the album jacket credits The High and the Mighty to Donnie and The Cruisers, which leads me to speculate if he assembled a new backing band for this record, his third in fact following up Back on Streets (1980) and King Cool (1981).  The High and the Mighty retains the power pop acumen of those first two platters, but for better or worse eschews some of the sassiness in favor of blatant arena rock aspirations.  Side one is actually quite fun, not to mention effortlessly catchy, including a spirited rendition of the Dave Clark Five's "Glad All Over." Elsewhere, the title track and "You're Gonna Miss Me" are overtly bombastic, with call-out choruses and whatnot.  These particular selections, while still listenable, boast an unmistakable and increasingly thick layer of studio veneer, with pedestrian lyrical content that finds our man preaching to the nosebleeds.  Like Iris' '83 follow-up, Fortune 410, The High and the Mighty failed to make it into the digital era...until now I suppose.  Up for some live Donnie and the Cruisers?  Head over to ALOCACOC blog for your fix.

01. Tough World
02. I Wanna Tell Her
03. Glad All Over
04. Parallel Time
05. The High and the Mighty
06. This Time it Must Be Love
07. Love is Magic
08. You're Gonna Miss Me
It's been reissued!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tall Tales and True - Shiver (1989, rooArt)

This was a nice thrift store find, even though I had minimal firsthand knowledge of this Aussie trio.  The rooArt logo on the CD tray was enough of a trademark of quality for me to make the purchase.  Tall Tales & True were not exactly analogous to any of their comparatively "cutting edge" home country brethren, but instead pursued roots rock to their hearts content, at least on this tight and potent debut album.  Shiver is seeped in American Midwest aesthetics, without any heavy-handed Americana hokeyness to drag the affair down, and suggests this Sydney bunch's awareness of the Del Fuegos and perhaps even Guadalcanal Diary.  For those of you in the audience acquainted with Dreams So Real, Tales mouthpiece Matthew de la Hunty often bears a resemblance to DSR's Barry Marler, and furthermore the first half of Shiver gives that band's Gloryline album a run for it's money.

Per Ian McFarlane's indispensable Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop, TT&T released a number of eps and singles prior to this album.  If anyone has a line on these, especially their self-titled mini-album on Survival Records, I'm all ears.

01. Trust
02. Tinytown
03. The Bridge
04. Song for When I'm Gone
05. Hold On
06. Heart
07. Stranger on the Stair
08. Think of Yourself
09. Passing Out the Chains
10. April


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Outskirts - Heaven's on the Move ep (1985, Glass)

The Outskirts were a Thatcher-era UK quartet who had moderate success with a 1981 single called "Blue Line," which was later faithfully adapted by Let's Active for their rather seminal Cypress album.  At the time of that single (which you can have for the taking over at Consolation Prizes blog) the Outskirts consisted of one guy and three of the fairer sex, including frontwoman Maggie Beck.  Fast forward four years to this ep and the gender quotient of the lineup was even.  The opening "Standing Together" is pristine guitar pop of the highest order, and few songs by artists past or present can exceed it.  Heaven's on the Move coasts downhill from that bristling high water mark, but it isn't so much a matter of inferior material as the Outskirts insistence of employing an often piercing brass and saxophone section, which does little to embellish an otherwise satisfactory template of guitars and drums.  I believe the Outskirts parting shot was yet another ep called Down, which featured a cover of the Standells classic "Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White."

01. Standing Together
02. No Hiding Place
03. Burning
04. Remember Me
05. What Went Wrong
06. Too Bad


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Smith Westerns - s/t (2010, Fat Possum) - A brief evaluation

We're all painfully aware that "there's nothing new under the sun."  Food is a prime example of this adage, though while the list of ingredients our bodies have the opportunity to imbibe is somewhat finite, you can still have a hell of a lot of fun with a mixing bowl and a whisk. Same goes for rock and roll.  So long as the right cooks are stirring the pot, the results can be tasty, albeit not necessarily original, which leads me into introducing Chicago's Smith Westerns.  Adopting a brand of fidelity that consistently fluctuates between "lo" and "mid," this Windy City four-piece choose to pitch their tent on a bedrock of gauzy, garage punk rambunctiousness, with a sonic aptitude that's squarely in league with such contemporaries as Japandroids and Wavves.  That being established, their curriculum thankfully dates back further than the last eighteen months, with heavy doses of Bowie, Swell Maps, and T-Rex likely giving their turntable a vigorous workout. 

On their debut, the Westerns play a strikingly similar card to Portland, OR's sadly departed Exploding Hearts, a top-notch punk-pop outfit who were as unremittingly raw and distortion endowed as these newcomers.  And like the Exploding Hearts, S/W has a penchant for precious sentiments, but they buttress such lyrical concerns with the kind of sleazy swagger evidenced on "Girl in Love." Elsewhere, "We Stay Out" suffers and/or benefits from some vividly murky and warbled effects, but this crew are at their most endearing when they stick to retro-fitted power pop, filtered through a buoyant psyche prism as on "Dreams" and "Be My Girl."  Vocal "treatments" go a long way in defining their shtick as well, but I have to wonder what I'd make of the Westerns if they nixed that rather nagging facet altogether.  Smith Westerns exudes it's fair share of formative foibles, but then again it is a debut - one that hovers slightly above average.  You can be the judge by heading over to Fat Possum Records, or your digital retailer of choice, not to mention taste-testing a sample.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Singles Going Single #145 - Superchunk "Precision Auto Parts 2 & 3" + 1 (1994, Merge)

It almost went against my better judgement to share this single, not so much out of concern about getting slapped on the wrist by the RIAA (technically, the A-side is available as a hidden track on Superchunk's Incidental Music compilation), rather the surface noise on the vinyl is pretty atrocious. Heinous even.  Nonetheless, it's long out of print and the b-side ("Version 3") has yet to be documented elsewhere.  This was Merge Records 50th release, and being the round number and outright accomplishment that it was, it was only fitting to have two wonky remixes of a signature piece from the label's flagship band grace this record.  Both versions feature a portion of the song virtually untouched from the album incarnation, interspersed with markedly out-of-sync ambient treatments, for lack of a better description.  The first half of "Version 3" relies heavily on Mac's vocal track, sans the accompaniment of his bandmates, lending a lofty and surreal vibe to the remix.  Nothing terribly revelatory I suppose, but if you can cope with the excessive static and pops both remixes are if anything an interesting companion to the classic that you know and love. "Precision Auto" was and always will be a deliriously urgent and cathartic call to arms for anyone temporarily blighted with a case of justifiable road rage. 

I don't have to tell many of you that Superchunk are back in action, touring somewhat sporadically for their first album in nine years, Majesty Shredding.  As a bonus, I'm also including an MP3 of a recent interpretation of "Precision Auto" by a group that shall remain unnamed here (and it's not Les Savy Fav).

A. Version 2
B. Version 3

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bivouac - ABC ep (1992, Elemental)

Thanks go out to Duncan who sent me the files for this long forgotten ep.  So forgotten in fact that I hadn't given this British trio a second thought since their 1995 Full Size Boy album landed stateside on Geffen Records...and sadly sank without a trace.  The ABC ep was Bivouac's maiden voyage, but didn't see issue in North America until it's contents were included on the Derby & Joan mini-album released a year or so later on Engine Records.

Bivouac's crankin', guitar-rawk crunchiness nipped at the heels of a pair of notable New England acts of the era, Dinosaur Jr. and Buffalo Tom, but weren't outright derivative.  Had more ears been acquainted with them, these Derby, UK boys would have likely been bullied into the grunge ghetto by mainstream listeners, but not without a fight.  Unfortunately, Bivouac didn't receive enough visibility to enjoy the luxury of being typecast.  Recommended not only if you appreciate their aforementioned US contemporaries, but such like-minded acts from down under as Pollyanna and Screamfeeder.

01. ABC
02. Fishes
03. Stick Stuck
04. Me, Ted & Charles


Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Fans - Mystery Date (198?, Stepp'n Up)

‘80s skinny-tie synth-rock from Buffalo, NY equipped with a singer (Bill Schuh) that occasionally recalls Cy Curnin of the Fixx, though The Fans don’t come close to approximating that bands often insipid cheesiness (granted, I enjoyed “Red Skies” back in the day just as much as anyone).  The Cars, and to a lesser extent the Talking Heads were more the Fans style.  Mystery Date wasn’t quite the hookfest I was hoping for, though it’s stronger moments like “Coming to an End” and “Exquisite Pain” are comparatively speaking quite grand.  Please note, this isn’t the same Fans I presented a single by a couple years ago.  Also, I am unable to find anything resembling a copyright or release date for this disk, but five bucks says this is no more recent than 1984.

01. Body Parts
02. Mind Over Matter
03. Break My Heart
04. Exquisite Pain
05. Boys and Girls
06. Coming to an End
07. Meet Clark Kent
08. Love Me Like a Stranger
09. Mystery Date
10. You Can't Bring Me Down