Monday, January 31, 2011

Truck Stop Love - How I Spent My Summer Vacation (1995, Backyard/Scotti Brothers)

Though I don't recall what particular entry it was under, someone belonging to the band Truck Stop Love posted that I had the proverbial green light to share their music on Wilfully Obscure.  Well, here's a considerable slice of their back catalog.  How I Spent My Summer Vacation was in fact the Manhattan, KS group's lone full length.  It's only been in recent years that I've acquainted myself with their earnest, and sometimes downright raucous strain of Midwest rock, swinging in several directions, including riff-roaring grunge/punk, but even more notably recalling the robust Americana persuasions of Uncle Tupelo and Whiskeytown.  As for ...Summer Vacation itself there ain't a bad apple in the bunch, rather it's just a matter of what you're in the mood for.  This mere paragraph hardly does the TSL justice, so head over here for a more exhaustive biography.  You can also check out their self-titled 1993 ep over at I Hate the '90s blog.

01. You Owe
02. Other Stars
03. Bitter Boy
04. Walton's Mountain
05. How I Spent My Summer Vacation
06. Old Flama
07. U*S*A Dad
08. The Letter
09. Benny
10. Whiskey Waltz
11. Can't Hear It
12. Carolina's Eyes
13. hidden track

Get it free from Bandcamp

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tall Tales & True - s/t (1986, Survival)

Last October when I shared Tall Tales & True's Shiver CD, I mentioned that I was eager to become acquainted with some of the group's earlier records, particularly this self-titled mini album.  Not only did someone lend me a hand, they air-mailed me the actual record along with four more scarce TT&T eps as a Christmas gift, wrapped and everything.  A hearty thanks to the bloke who went to all that trouble (you know who you are)!  I'll get to those other eps at a later date, but the seven-cut Tall Tales & True is what I'm sharing today.  For those of you who helped yourselves to Shiver, you'll be familiar with this Aussie trio's Americanized roots rock slant that was still taking shape on these occasionally twangy and even dissonant tunes.  More San Antonio than Tall Tales native Sydney one might say.  Really nice to hear this. We finally get to hear their nascent recordings and satisfy our collective curiosity (well, at least mine anyway).  Enjoy.

01. Purple and Green
02. Strangers
03. It's Not What You Say
04. Sunshine Man
05. Who Will Buy
06. Wasted Life
07. Hey Sister


Friday, January 28, 2011

Various - Black Brittle Frisbee (1987, Hit City)

Taken straight from the liner notes of the album insert:

Brittle Black Frisbee is in every sense of the word a compilation.  Without exception, every member of the seven bands on this record has had a say in what the project has become.  The scene in Indianapolis is that way though.  Venues for non-top 40 bands are virtually non-existent, but the quantity and quality of bands thrive. 

Well , I'm not sure about the quality quotient, at least in regards to consistency.  Indeed, however, this is an accurate snapshot of the late '80s Indianapolis indie/punk circuit.  BBF was curated in large part by Paul Mahern of Zero Boys and Datura Seeds renown.  The most obvious bait offered on this collection are three tunes from the low-brow as-all-get-out Sloppy Seconds, who would solider on for two more decades as one of the longest running jokes in punk rock.  Pointless is what I say.  As for myself, the real draw here was the otherwise unavailable Datura Seeds nugget of gold  "Eatin' You."  I've featured the Mahern-helmed Seeds on here before, and can best describe them as a sassier and more vigorous spin on Let's Active.  Their Who Do You Want it to Be long-player is a must listen.  Furthermore, if I'm not mistaken, the version of "S&P '69" on here differs from the Toxic Shock single.

Technically from Bloomington, Indiana, you might ascribe Right to Left as the only 'straightforward' pop act on Black Brittle Frisbee, declaring their presence here with measured tempos and insightful songwriting, loosely resembling a quieter REM, or the Posies circa their Failure album.

That about wraps up side two of the album.  Going backwards, the first side is quite a mess, predominately occupied by three rather amateurish, albeit artsy hopefuls - Jot, Modern Vending and Bramble Grit, with the first one of that lot striking me as cheap imitation of the then burgeoning Red Hot Chili Peppers.  Modern Vending's moniker holds more currency than their finished product, and Bramble Grit at their best (say "Alibi in the Nude") would have been a near miss for Homestead Record's roster contemporary to this album.

01. Dusty's Diner
02. Going Bowling

Modern Vending
03. Cicada Baby
04. Hook's Brand Jesus
05. Weigle Moves to Dayton

Bramble Grit
06. Velvet Lipps
07. Alibi in the Nude
08. Hoosier A-Go-Go

Datura Seeds
09. Eatin' You
10. S&P '69

Sloppy Seconds
11. Germany
12. The Men
13. I Don't Want to Take You Home

Right to Left
14. When Company Comes
15. Change the World Around

Mikes House
16. Townshend Nose
17. I'm So Proud
18. Indiana


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Singles Going Single #159 - Olivelawn 7" (1991, Sympathy for the Record Industry)

I had a request for an Olivelawn single, and what do you know, I happen to have one (though this secondhand copy was not partiularly well preserved, and has some pretty painful surface noise to drive that point home).  Although he didn't materialize in the original Olivelawn lineup (this single included) Fender-wrangler Otis "O" Barthoulameu would soon after spearhead fluf.  As for Olivelawn themselves, these San Diego miscreants spewed a righteously heavy noise, out-grunge-ing their most raucous contemporaries up north in Seattle, and posessed the kind of heaving chops that would have wiped the floor of Blue Cheer in their heyday.  If this wax strikes your fancy, their albums Sap and Sophomore Jinx are to be consumed immediately.

A. Beautiful Feeling
B1. Carvin' the Devil's Paintbrush
B2. untitled


Singles Going Single #158 - My Life in Rain "This is Your Ballistic Helmet" 7" (1993, 50%)

Bearing a moniker that just oozes 'emo,' My Life in Rain had always struck me as the runt of the litter of the D.C. scene.  Ultimately, this crew never quite meshed with any of the sub rosa contingents of their day, be it punk, hardcore, or again, emo.  A trio of albums were released during their mid-90s lifespan, but according to this handy discography, the single in question (produced by ex-Gray Matter/Senator Flux figurehead Geoff Turner) was their debut offering.  The three-cut ...Ballistic Helmet is a sturdy slice of hard-strummed, no frills indie-rawk, just not particularly revelatory.

A. Handcuff
B1. Exependable
B2. Lost


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Slumber - demo tape (1995)

Listening to any given song on this cassette makes me ponder if Tsunami's Jenny Toomey made a clone of herself, shipped it off to the Twin Cities (circa 1995) and started a side-project called Slumber.  Yes, Sara Garry, the voice and bass behind this long departed Minneapolis trio is that much of a dead ringer for Toomey, and even if you're not particularly enthusiastic about Tsunami, I think you'll at least side with me regarding the comparison.  Amidst the clangy fret-work and tuneful inclinations is a bittersweet, downer-pop vibe that seems to work wonders on my often pensive psyche.  I'd also recommended Slumber for you Spinanes fans out there.  This was a really sweet surprise, and leads me to wonder if there was any more where this came from.

01. Valliat
02. Sister Sandy
03. Snoop Jane
04. Dan's Song


Monday, January 24, 2011

The Werefrogs - Swing (1993, Ultimate)

Going back aways to the summer of 2008, I shared a nice lil' slab o' wax from The Werefrogs, a downstate New York indie coconglomerate.  What I didn't realize at the time was how much more prolific a discography that had amassed throughout their early '90s tenure, the vast majority I don't have.  In addition to that aforementioned single is this nine-cut album, Swing, issued on the British Ultimate Records imprint.  It wouldn't faze me if some of their other singles and eps didn't bear some mighty succulent fruit, but it would have to stack up to Swing's most exemplary tracks, including but not limited to "Potvan," "Nixie Concussion," and "Green."  The Werefrogs seemed to occupying the same lofty airspace as post-shoegaze cases Fudge and the Drop Nineteens, and elsewhere they brought on the howling guitar melees that Pond were so effective at.  Portions of Swing kinda sag, but it's choicest offerings are downright sublime and rewarding.

01. Jellyfish
02. Doctor Pain
03. Nixie Concussion
04. Lighthouse
05. Goddess
06. Potvan
07. Green
08. Transfigured
09. H. Dumpty


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Juliana Hatfield & Evan Dando @ The Mercury Lounge, NYC 9/30/10

Between the Lemonheads, a Blake Babies reunion gig in 2001, and many, many solo performances, I've witnessed Evan Dando and Juliana Hatfield onstage in various incarnations roughly a dozen times, but I have yet to see them together (and frankly, if you live outside of Boston, you probably haven't either).  However late in 2010, the once romantically linked "alterna-hunk" Dando, and his on again/off again '90s collaborator Hatfield doubled up for a short run of acoustic shows in the northeast.  I didn't have the opportunity to partake in any of them, which is why I was in luck when I found this rather well recorded audience show from the Mercury Lounge in New York on the last day of September.  As was the case with many a cynical outsider at the time, the Blake Babies reunion a decade back was deemed a nostalgia cash-in.  I'm sure the this collaboration elicited a similar reaction, but for those of us who opt to prioritize the music, these shows served as a more than welcome early holiday present. 

Evan and Juliana split the song quotient almost evenly here, though it's Jules who "carries" the show, so to speak, with  a more pronounced effort than her counterpart.  Both eschew a lot of obvious singles and should-have-been hits, and all the better I say, considering there's so little to argue with on this set list, which even dips into a few Blake Babies tunes, including the Earwig-era "Rain." And of course, there's the requisite banter, and a smathering of covers, like the Dead Kennedy's chestnut "Too Drunk to Fuck," and one of Evan's longtime favorites, Gram Parsons "$1000 Wedding."

01. Paid to Smile
02. Choose Drugs
03. Rain
04. Hospital
05. Butterflies
06. Cells (Teenage Fanclub cover)
07. Down About It
08. Waiting for Heaven
09. All My Life
10. When You Loved Me
11. What is Wrong
12. Ride With Me
13. Bottles and Flowers
14. Brain Damage
15. Bit Part
16. Tourist
17. Too Drunk to Fuck
18. The End of the War
19. $1000 Wedding
20. It's About Time
21. chatter
22. Evan
23. chatter
24. Baby Gets High (Madder Rose cover)
25. My Drug Buddy


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Oversoul Seven - s/t (1988, Edge)

Oversoul Seven were an export of Vancouver, BC, Canada, who seemed to be angling towards the left end of the dial (and probably could have were they a bit more savvy), but strayed a few notches shy.  More "modern rock" than "indie" if you get my drift.  This trio weren't nearly as distinguishable as I had hoped to encounter, though ringleader Adam Gejdos vaguely resembles Cactus World News frontman Frank Kearns, vocally that is, but it's improbable that one was ever aware of the other.   The clangy "How Many Times" has some real spark to it.  As for the rest of Oversoul Seven, do things catch fire elsewhere?  Guess there's only way for you to find out.  The band released an ep, Fool Revelation, a year prior to this that I hope to get my hands on soon.

On a sadder note, bassist Len Morgan (the one in glasses) passed away in 1993 at the tender age of 27.

01. Crack
02. How Many Times
03. Nineteen
04. Fool's Gold
05. Superman Pillow
06. Ellis Island
07. Bring Me Round
08. 1 and 1 is 3
09. Simon Says
10. Follow the Leader


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Four Million Telephones - Save You ep (1988, Summerhouse)

Here's yet another obscuro record-type-thing I obtained on Ebay.  Per the sellers description, and from what I was able to glean from the record jacket, my ears were pricked up to hear a long lost jewel in the mold of countless C86 and Sarah Records bands., I don't think so.  Nevertheless, I bid on it, I paid for it, it's mine and I'm going to blog about!

In actuality this co-ed, UK sextet were too complex to fit into that aforementioned realm.  The arrangement of the exuberant title cut recalls The Teardrop Explodes, courtesy of the horn section (actually mimicked by synths) though Four Million Telephones had nothing on Cope and Co.  "After That" maintains some of the momentum, with it's chorus cruising on the wave of a fairly savvy melody.  As for the tracks on side two, I'm still trying to figure 'em out.  Maybe you'll have better luck than me.  Save You is certainly what you would call a "grower."  It appears that FMT had another ep preceding this one. 

01. Save You
02. After That
03. If I Was There
04. This Sleep


Monday, January 17, 2011

Mockers - Culprit and the King (1985, RCA NZ)

I'm probably going to keep this one a little short, as I'm feeling under the weather tonight, and as luck would have it, I don't have much in the way of background details to extol on the Mockers (or for that matter, an actual copy of this album).  From what little I've read, this New Zealand troupe did quite well for themselves during their tenure, borrowing liberally from a myriad of UK wave/power pop acts of the era.  A quick listen to just about any selection on Culprit and the King will provide ample evidence that the Mockers had some serious mainstream radio crossover potential, without all the fluff and excessive posturing.  Catchy too.  I even have some visual evidence for you below.  Incidentally, there is a Mockers best-of available, that is if you live in New Zealand.

01. Friend of a Stranger
02. Phone Call at Midnight
03. Seven Years Not Wasted
04. Casualty
05. A Winter's Tale
06. Forever Tuesday Morning
07. New Day Dawning
08. One Black Friday
09. Another Boring Day in the Amazon
10. Home Again (Miss Toffolesse)
11. Culprit and the King


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Popealopes - Yolo County Line - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly box set (2002) - a brief evaluation

If only every band I was enthusiastic about had the courage and/or the means to release a three-disk, 'warts and all' compendium of radio sessions, comp tracks, demos, and live artifacts.  The contents of the Popealopes DIY, odds-n-sods collection Yolo County Line entails all of the above with a wide range of unreleased and scarce scraps dating from 1985 to the early '90s.  I've explored their first two albums, 1988's An Adders Tale, and the 1990 follow-up Kerosene, in greater detail previously (with the latter still free for the taking), but at the time of that entry I was unaware that virtually three albums worth of archived Popealopes material had been made public, albeit on a very small scale.

To paint Yolo County Line with a broad brush would be both a disservice and an inaccuracy, and the same philosophy would prevail for describing the overall tenor and approach of the Popealopes in general.  Denizens of Davis, CA, the quartet has been hemmed to the lazy and worn-thin "psych-rock/pop" tag in various circles, but theirs is a loose interpretation at best  Save for a healthy dose of Dream Syndicate inspiration, there's nothing paisley about the Popealopes, but the often lackadaisical pace of their songs does sort of lend itself to slacker-esque proclivities, as natural as they may be.  There's are a myriad of covers strewn over the course of this collection, and perhaps they may provide some insight where the band is coming from, including but not limited to "Telegram Sam" (T. Rex), "Pictures" (Galaxie 500), "Happy Nightmare Baby" (Opal), "2000 Light Years From Home" (Stones, duh), and "Crawling Kingsnake" (John Lee Hooker). 

Divvied up into three partitions: The Good ( disk one), The Bad (disk two), and The Ugly (disk three), Yolo County... compiler and longtime drummer John Nelson set out to delineate these near-50 cuts based on quality, but those well versed with the Popealopes will find several songs of merit occupying each disk including The Ugly which contains a demo of a previously unreleased song, the jangle-riddled "Almost Out of Reach" that IMO ranks among their career best!  Speaking of demos we also get a sweet demo of the title track to Kerosene that virtually outdoes the album take.  Gold!  Two in-studio sessions for KDVS radio (UC Davis) are okay, but not particularly momentous, and much of the live material reaches the same conclusion, although those covers are interesting!   One of the group's signature tunes, "Poor Tom" turns up here, namely the version culled from the Out Among the Cows Davis, CA compilation album. There's probably a lot more I could expound upon, but the long and short of it all is that it helps to have an appreciation of at least some of the Popes proper albums before delving into this, but then again, maybe not. 

Copies of Yolo County... are available directly from  John Nelson, who you can email here.  May I also suggest you inquire about obtaining a copy of An Adders Tale while you're at it?  Popealopes tunes can also be procured for a modest fee over on iTunes and Amazon downloads, who are armed to the teeth with MP3s of the rare Slowest Eye album.  There's a nice Facebook page as well.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Brian Eno "Needles in the Camel's Eye" - An appreciation of, plus 12 interpretations.

All mysteries are just more needles in the camel's eye.

This is the second in my "appreciation" series, with Eddie and the Hot Rod's "Do Anything You Wanna Do" from August of last year being the premiere.  It's hard to believe that the first song on the first side of the first Brian Eno album (Here Come the Warm Jets) was so utterly enthralling and sublime that it would literally be all downhill for the man from there, but it was those very heights "Needles in the Camel's Eye" ascended to when it was unleashed on the public in 1974.  Certainly, the remainder of Warm Jets was great, as were many of Eno's solo albums to follow, but that song, is so undeniable.  A dense, three-minute, manicured maelstrom exuding such a visceral rush that I'm still virtually apt to stop dead in my tracks the very instant guitarist Phil Manzaneras paints the entire canvas in one fell swoop with that hyper-hypnotic riff, blissfully unrelenting for the entirety of the song.  And so advanced for it's time I might add, especially considering that even David Bowie didn't concoct anything remotely similar beforehand.  

So far as lyrical analysis is concerned, it's tempting to not even approach it's "deeper meaning," given there's a verse in the song that outright begs "Why ask why?"  The song's title is derived from a Biblical passage that says to the effect:

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Yet "...Camel's Eye" doesn't broach the heady topic of religion at all.  Ultimately, the song is a commentary on the resignation of the absurd and unexplained, and thus reading into it too deeply would be a contradiction unto itself.  Enjoy it for what it is, and if you're anything like me, you might just find it to be in inseparable part of your life. 

Though I haven't included the original studio version, there is a vintage, live incarnation of the song with Brian Eno and the Winkies, alongside renditions by Waxing Poetics, Volcano Suns, Elf Power, The Konks, Mary My Hope, and even '80s goth-rock footnotes Specimen.  Absent is Queens of the Stoneage's version, so my apologies in advance.  If you're still hungry, a quick search for the song on You Tube will generate about a dozen live clips of the song performed by a cavalcade of virtual unknowns.


Friday, January 14, 2011

The N - s/t ep (1981, Hit-a-Note)

It turns out that I've had a record in my possession for some five years that just fetched over $150 on Ebay, namely this one, by the curiously dubbed The N.  I think I scored my copy on Ebay as well, though at a much more affordable fee.  Problem is, my copy wouldn't be valued nearly as much, because a) $150 would be much wisely spent elsewhere, b) no one else would be batshit crazy enough to wager that kind of coin again, and c) the sleeve is in atrocious condition.  In fact, sharing a presentable pic of it on this blog alone required some Photoshop handiwork.  With that out of the way, on their six-song 10" ep released on the Kentucky based "Hit-a-Note imprint, The N try out several flavors of post-punk rock, including an acute stab at power pop in the form of the lead-off "Leave Me Crying."  "Go To Work" has the fingerprints of Gang of Four's skeletal funk all over it, delivered in yankee fashion I might add, while the chorus of "Teenage Subversives" hints at the chimey pop that contemporaries the dB's had recently made their calling card.  Best of all, you can listen to it cost free in perpetuity, so stuff that $150 back into the cookie jar and pass me an Oreo.

01. Leave Me Crying
02. Mayday
03. Aviator
04. Go to Work
05. Teenage Subversives
06. Random Access


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Project Film - Chicago (2010, Tandem Shop) - a brief evaluation

True, familiarity may breed contempt, but in the case of the Chicago-based co-ed duo Project Film, familiarity is very much to the benefit of prime-mover Sam McAllister and his accomplice Megan Frestedt.  Familiar in what regard you may ask?  Let's just say I'm not the first music scribe to liken Project Film to the melancholic stride of Death Cab For Cutie, and furthermore, McAllister's tender timbre to that of Chris Walla.  Coincidence or not, those comparisons are ultimately irrelevant, as Project Film's debut outing Chicago can stand on it's own merits, which are considerable.  The affair commences with the shimmering piano and acoustic lament, "Minneapolis," which also happens to be the locale where both halves of Project Film formerly resided.  Though it's passages evoke a sense of burnout on the part of the city itself, it's inhabitents, or both, the song's sonic template couldn't be more lucid and uncluttered, and ultimately the remainder of Chicago follows suit with a similar tact.  On many compositions, the instruments glide into their respective slots one by one, gradually and unobtrusively, best exemplified by the aforementioned "Minneapolis" and "Motionless."  McAllister's arrangements are subtle to a fault, with tempos and segues allotted more precisely than any metronome or measuring cup ever could. 

Texture is germane to just about anywhere the needle drops on Chicago, and that semblance of texture is no more palpable and affirming than on the acoustic soliloquy "Kapture."  It's hushed resignation bares a glimpse of silver lining, in a similar construct as Nick Drake's most affecting ballads.  Elsewhere, "Art School" and "Cool Kids" flex some electrically endowed musculature with plenty of mid-fi aplomb and warm reverb.  Chicago's longest selection is the six minute "Ink," a somewhat rambling instrumental that would flow better had it been reduced to a briefer intro/outro piece.  In fact, with it's disparate demeanors, intonations and fluctuations, this record as a whole doesn't meld seamlessly from song to song, but instead operates as a malleable patchwork, hemmed together with a loose but pensive subtext that's more often than not hard to resist.  Obtain a hard copy of Chicago here, and from iTunes or the usual online suspects.

The All Golden - A Long Good Friday (2002, Microtone)

It's a damn shame this Buckeye State crew has ostensibly thrown in the towel, 'cos boy, The All Golden knew how to start an album off with a bang!  The leadoff "Your Bad Wires" is an absolutely exhilarating rush that surges and swells on the crest of some very prominent and chilly synth manipulations, recalling the most visceral work of the Wrens, and to a lesser extent Death Cab.  Near-mindblowing, I tell ya, as is track three "Velikovsky," which revels in a like-minded, dense deluge of sonic glory, packing another stupefyingly killer hook into the mix.  From that point on, A Long Good Friday's quality control isn't as stringent, though you'll still be compelled to stick around for the rest of the show which veers from state-of-the-art indie rock a la aughts-era Guided By Voices, to honey-dipped (though not heavy handed) psych-pop, not far removed from say, the High Dials. 

The aforementioned "Velikovsky" was also released as a single contemporary to the album, and as luck would have it, I already dedicated an entry to it in the fall of '08.

01. Your Bad Wires
02. Bright
03. Velikovsky
04. Message to Bernie
05. Northern Lights
06. Tom Collins (Genius Isn't a Mixed Drink)
07. The Water is Rising
08. Sleepwalking
09. More or Less
10. Smoking's the Last Sin
11. Land of Lincoln
12. Halfway Down
13. Innovation in Miniature


Monday, January 10, 2011

Gaunt but not forgotten - Jerry Wick: 10 years gone.

It was pointed out to me by one of my readers that today marks the tenth anniversary of the death of Gaunt lead singer and focal point Jerry Wick.  In a moment I'll address more specifically the music that I'm sharing today, but I thought I would first offer these thoughts.  Like most astute Gaunt listeners who lived outside the band's Columbus, OH radius, I became acquainted with the quartet not through their initial volley of locally issued singles, rather the Sob Story ep and the band's first official long player I Can See Your Mom From Here, and from that point I never lost a shred of interest in them.  Bratty and raw, but insightful and relatively tuneful, Gaunt possessed the kind of chemistry (at least on vinyl) that any aspiring punk band would be thrilled to use as a template.  Sonically they were a bristling cauldron of ferocity, angst and volume that was wholly indigenous, yet free of any esoteric indulgences.  On stage they were even more explosive than on tape, and the culmination of any given performance resonated far beyond the temporary case of tinnitus they were so adept at inflicting.

I saw Gaunt twice, and though I had ample opportunity to introduce myself to the band, I passed.  Never had a conversation with Jerry, or so much as submitted a fan letter.  No drooling fanboy adoration here, just a sincere respect for the group's music and down to earth ethos.  Nevertheless, when I learned on January 11, 2001 that he was the victim of a hit and run accident while bicycling home in the small hours of the night before, I was instantly dumbstruck and gutted.  I was the one that broke the news to a number of my friends, mostly via email.  I recall getting home from work that night and scouring the web for any more info on the circumstances of his death, looking for a 'chatroom' or a 'thread' where I could share my thoughts.  I did find a site where I was able to leave condolences for his family, and I left it at that. 

To the credit of his surviving bandmates, they've had the decency and integrity not to cash-in on his passing with posthumous albums, dvds and so forth, though any Wick related material left in the vaults would be a welcome noise to my ears.  It was my understanding that Gaunt had already parted ways after their third album and major label bow, Bricks and Blackouts failed to catch fire in the post-grunge/nu-metal ether of it's era.  I've read from multiple sources that Wick was dissatisfied with the production of the album, and was still smarting from the experience two years on.  At any rate, Gaunt left behind a robust recorded legacy - and an almost entirely respectable one at that, even if there were few Gaunt converts after the fact.

I have about five or six Gaunt singles to compile digitally at some point.  In fact, someone already did, but the audio quality IMO is sub-par.  Instead, I'm sharing four rare Gaunt songs the band posted on their Myspace page in 2006.  Additionally, I'm also including a Bricks and Blackouts-era promo ep containing a demo version of "Maybe in the Next World," and the slow lament, "The Last Waltz," a session outtake.   BTW, there first ep, Whitey the Man has long been available on Wilfully Obscure.

Myspace tracks (2006)
01. Paranoia (1987 demo)
02. Chump (Whitey the Man outtake)
03. Two for Flinchin' (Turn to Ash outtake)
04. Valentine (Whitey the Man outtake)

WB promo ep (1998)
01. 97th Tear
02. Pop Song
03. Maybe In The Next World (demo)
04. The Last Waltz


Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Fumes - 20th Century Masters: The Singles Collection (1991-96)

The '90s produced no shortage of rip-snorting, take-no-prisoners, dragstrip punk bands who existed well outside the fringes of grunge and traditional hardcore, but nonetheless possessed the fervor of those firey strains of rock 'n roll.  Key among them were New Bomb Turks, (early) Supersuckers, Zeke, and Nine Pound Hammer.  You can safely tack on Spokane, WA's Fumes to that coveted list.  Helmed by one Dee Farmin and spanning the better part of the Clinton-era, The Fumes played up dysfunctional, blue-collar motifs without over-exaggerating them, and spawned three brutally scalding albums in the process: Knock Out the Axis in 1993, Self-Appointed Guardian of the Machine from '96 and Pure Bad Luck arriving two years later.  The brunt of their most crucial recordings are enshrined in that trifecta of barnburning platters, but I'll be damned if their bevy of 7" eps didn't offer some equally potent scorchers as well.  This nifty assemblege of (mostly) non-LP tracks has been a long time coming, and I could kick myself for not relaying them earlier.   

Chronologically ordered, these eighteen numbers chart the Fumes progression from garage hooligans to booze laden speed-demons, who never got their due at any period during their tenure.  And speaking of libations, like fine wine the Fumes improved as they aged, becoming all the more assaulting, not to mention downright fun.  That being said, their later singles were the most convincing, as exemplified by the barreling energy exuded on "Soil," "Flamethrower" and "Depression."  I might also offer that if you've got a hankering for the Dwarves, the sixteen-second  "Sister" could easily pass for a Blood, Guts & Pussy outtake.  Now that takes talent.  The fellas close things out with a faithful rendition of AC/DC's "Kicked in the Teeth Again." This compilation is a good indoctrination into the world of the Fumes, but their aforementioned albums are essential (and most likely available for dirt cheap on Amazon and  You can download the Self- Appointed Guardian... disk here. After the group disbanded, Dee parlayed his luck into the none-too-dissimilar Dee Farmin Army, though I'm unclear if they had any proper releases to speak of.

01. Ways to Enjoy Life
02. Bent
03. Genie
04. Steel Belted
05. Something Else
06. Past Out
07. Something
08. Gun in Your Face
09. Shucking Shells
10. Soil
11. Sister
12. Muscle Cars, Rocker Chicks & Cigarettes
13. Robot Attack
14. Depression
15. Head on Collision
16. Flamethrower
17. Eastside Story
18. Kicked in the Teeth Again

1-4 from Ways to Enjoy Life 7" (1991, eMpTy)
5-8 from Tossin' Plates and Forks 7" (1992, eMpTy)
9-11 from "Shucking Shells" 7" (1995 or '96 - no date, 4000 Holes)
12-15 from Spine Tingling Excitement! 7" (1995, eMpTy)
16-18 from "Flamethrower" 7" (1996, Trench)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Singles Going Single #157 - The Weaklings "Motorvatin'" 7" (1996, Junk)

Not only am I big aficionado of covers and remakes, but I'm also huge on album art parodies, and wouldn't you know it, Portland punks The Weaklings deliver both on this sweet little 45.  If the racy sleeve (yes, it's exactly what you think it is) strikes you as familiar, you're probably acquainted with Hanoi Rocks, or more precisely the back cover of their Oriental Beat album, of which this single is an absolutely perfect mock of!  I abandoned hard rock and metal right before I set off for college, but Hanoi Rocks '80s catalog still holds up remarkably well, and as coincidence would have it, The Weaklings put their spin on my song of choice from Oriental Beat, "Motorvatin." Rejecting much of it's melodicisim, but fortunately not the anthemic swagger, they pull it off...though just barely.  The flipside features renderings of two Clash chestnuts, "Janie Jones" and "Clampdown," which are a more suitable fit for the Weaklings, but far from a substitute for the originals. 

A. Motorvatin'
B. Janie Jones/Clampdown


Friday, January 7, 2011

Jacob's Mouse - No Fish Shop Parking (1991/92, Blithering Idiot/Frontier)

Jacob's Mouse were a raucous, noisenik contingent hailing from the boondocks of Britain who largely went unnoticed, or to put it in more colorful terms were metaphorically trampled by all the Madchester, shoegaze, and Brit-pop trend-hoppers who were making a headlong dive for Glastonbury and Reading mosh pits.  The grunge grunion of the era might have taken to this flailing trio had they been more melodically, or more bluntly, musically inclined. "Twist" is the choicest morsel No Fish Shop Parking has to offer, with it's bruising, angular slide guitar riff, not to mention something resembling a damn decent hook.  Bootstrap blog claims this ranks with The Pixies, but surely that's a bit of a stretch, albeit a vaguely similar aesthetic.  There was a follow-up album, I'm Scared, as well as some singles and other short form offerings, but Jacob's Mouse failed to generate a buzz in the States and seemingly sputtered out altogether by the mid-90s.  The US reissue of Fish Shop... tacks on two bonus tracks.  You can partake in some further opining of the band here and here, plus they're posthumously Myspace friendly.

01. Tumbleswan
02. Twist
03. She Is Dead
04. A Place to Go to
05. Carfish
06. Caphony
07. Justice
08. The Vase
09. Ghetto Queen
10. Company News

I've opted not to share this anymore, as NFSP (the original eight-song version) is now available for purchase on Bandcamp, as is their first EP

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Humidifier - Gazer 7" ep (1993, Meat)

When Humidifier's Gazer ep (and to significantly wider visibility, their 1997 album Nothing Changes) made it onto the radar of indie rock geeks like yours truly, the popular misconception was that since the band's lineup featured bassist Jim Wilbur of Superchunk, Humidifier were naturally an offshoot of the now veteran Chapel Hill quartet.  Not so.  In fact, Humidifier pre-dated the Chunk by at least a couple of years, and put their roots down in Connecticut, not the Tar Heel state.  Gazer was released in '93, two years after Wilbur teamed up with Mac McCaughan and Co., but the fact that Humidifier bore a considerable resemblance to that quartets scrappy, mid-fi recording aesthetic didn't hurt in marketing the record.  Recorded in 1991, the Humidifier lineup consisted of Wilbur on bass, Denis Savkiner on percussion, John King on lead vox and guitar, and Annie Hayden on backing vocals.  King and Hayden would further their indie credentials in Spent, who would issue two full lengths on Merge, among some other short-form releases.

A six-piece serving of noise-pop manna, Gazer's conciseness isn't merely economical, it's damn near dizzying to boot, with the tuneful romantic quandary "Nicotine" being it's most notable moment, chockablock with a rock-solid hook, and as you might guess, numerous smoking metaphors.  There's a fairly exhaustive Humidifier fanpage with audio content that you can browse to your heart's content, and check out the link to Nothing Changes above for further enlightenment.

01. The Clothes You Left
02. Seven Hours
03. Flinging
04. Nicotine
05. Kickstand
06. Pool


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Flies - Get Wise (1984, Homestead)

The Flies were denizens of Massachusetts (quite possibly Boston) who caused a minor raucous with this album and a subsequent ep.  Nat Freedberg sings in a semi-nonchalant Dylan-ish drawl, which he conveys at a rapid fire-clip on much of the first half of Get Wise.  At heart, The Flies had their collective feet firmly anchored to the garage, but it's Freedberg's ringing, melodically penetrating fretboard runs that imbue "Something Wrong With Me," "Put All That Behind Me Now," and "I've Got Something" with something especially sweet and succulent.   In fact, ditch the vocals, and the Flies almost sound like a prequel to Chicago's unrelated Eleventh Dream Day.  Renditions of the Stones "2000 Light Years From Home" and Carl Perkins "Everybody's Trying to be My Baby" (popularized by the Beatles of course) could pass for Flies originals were it not for the lyrics, truly putting a unique spin on them.  Click the Get Wise link above for Robert Christgau's assessment of the album.  BTW, Freedberg would later become a Titanic, and in the '90s part and parcel of the Upper Crust.

It wasn't until I finished converting this wax into ones and zeros last night that I discovered that Down Underground blog is hosting Get Wise as well, plus their Get Burned ep.  This rip is taken from my own personal copy.  They refer to Get Wise as an ep, but with ten tracks I beg to differ.  Not to split hairs or anything.

01. Put All That Behind Me Now
02. Endless Summer
03. She'd Be Lost
04. Jesus Christ
05. 2000 Light Years From Home
06. All Hung Up
07. The Only One
08. Something Wrong With Me
09. I've Got Something
10. Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Look What You Don't Know... 2010: The Year in Rear View - Top 20 album list and more.

It may shock some of you, this retro-fitted blogger partakes in music past the mid-90s.  Plenty of it in fact, as evidenced by 2008 & 2009 year end rundowns.  Much like those years, there was a modicum of challenge in tabulating twenty albums from this year that I felt truly enthusiastic about.  As was the case with Passion Pit's stunning 2009 entry Manners, 2010 had a far and away front runner via Ben Folds collaborative LP with High Fidelity author Nick Hornby titled Lonely Avenue.  Hornby reportedly did all the lyrical legwork, while Ben masterminded the compositions, though you'd swear on a stack of bibles moon-high that the character sketches and oddball vignettes populating Lonely Avenue was the trademark prose of Ben himself.  The album doesn't rest on the strength of the songwriting alone, rather Ben's sublime melodies bolster Avenue with a vitality that hasn't been so utterly consistent since the first two Ben Folds Five platters.  And don't get me started on how viscerally intoxicating the ballads are.     

Speaking of intoxicating, The Drums and Hooray for Earth gave us some slyly updated techno-pop, and it's damn shame that the buzz surrounding the first of those two outfits was so fleeting and ineffective.  Adam Marsland's impromptu, banged-out-in-a-day Hello Cleveland was occasionally frivolous, but by and large packed some serious staying power.  Killing Joke came through with their best album in some twenty years, and a reinvigorated Superchunk didn't miss a beat on Majesty Shredding, arguably outdoing some of their late '90s albums.  Gavin Guss, formally of Tubetop issued his solo debut in 2010, Mercury Mine, and one of the only notable pure power-pop records on my list, slighty edging out a band he derived considerable inspiration from, The PosiesAmusement Parks on Fire continued their amped-out, post-punk onslaught on their third album, Road Eyes, with London's Male Bonding following suit.  Once again, it was a real banner year for Sub Pop, who gave us LPs by Beach House, Retribution Gospel Choir, Happy Birthday, and the aforementioned Male Bonding...

...BUT what about a dozen of my once reliable standbys that released new albums year: The Thermals, Damien Jurado, Someone Still Loves Your Boris Yeltsin, Ted Leo, Rogue Wave, Band of Horses, Manic Street Preachers, Two Hours Traffic, Pete Yorn, Interpol, Rooney, and even Tobin Sprout?  Yes, they all hit the shelves, but considerably shy of the dartboard as well.  In years past most of the aforementioned would breeze into my top-20 album roll quick as an eyelash, but 2010 was the year I had to gauge otherwise.  Though generally better than tolerable, the offerings from these once consistently satisfying crusaders were regrettably less than stimulating or outright sub-par...and by and large not even deserving of a worthy mention.  These folks disappointed the hell out of me, and I  hope they can rekindle some of their former moxie in the years to come.  Ok, bitchfest over.  Boy, that was cathartic

But wait, there's more!  I've also tabulated a list of my favorite 20 songs of the year, though not necessarily ranked in order of preference.   As with the albums, there was a glaringly obvious fave song of the year as well, courtesy of an upstart Perth, Australia duo, Tim & Jean.  Presumed prodigies of Passion Pit, and with only a pair of publicly released tunes to their name (an album is to follow this year) Tim & Jean's "Come Around" is an immediate and mesmerising Casio-fueled blast, bearing an irresistible groove and a blue-eyed savviness beyond their years.  A bit out of character for the music I pimp on Wilfully Obscure, but try it on for size and you'll become a convert.   I won't be shocked if some of you want to hurl the book at me for some of my song picks, but then again I've never been one to cater to hipsters.  There's a lot of overlap between my album and song lists, but that's often how it works out. 

I haven't even had the chance to touch upon my suggested reissues for 2010, but when I can catch my next breath later this week I'll try to share some pertinent links and online reviews.  Thank you class of '10. 

Top 20 albums of 2010:

01. Ben Folds & Nick Hornby - Lonely Avenue (Nonesuch)
02. The Drums - s/t (Island)
03. Motion City Soundtrack - My Dinosaur Life (Sony)
04. Adam Marsland - Hello Cleveland (Karma Frog)
05. Amusement Parks on Fire - Road Eyes (Filter)
06. Best Coast - Crazy for You (Mexican Summer)
07. Male Bonding - Nothing Hurts (Sub Pop)
08. Superchunk - Majesty Shredding (Merge)
09. Burning Hotels - Novels (Miss Press)
10. The National - High Violet (4AD)
11. Beach House - Teen Dream (Sub Pop)
12. Gavin Guss - Mercury Mine (self-released)
13. The Depreciation Guild - Spirit Youth (Kanine)
14. Killing Joke - Absolute Dissent (Spinefarm)
15. The Posies - Blood Candy (Ryko)
16. Hooray for Earth - Momo ep (Dovecote)
17. The Besnard Lakes - Are the Roaring Night (Jagjaguar)
18. The Gamits - Parts (Suburban Home)
19. Joey Cape - Doesn't Play Well With Others (self-released, online)
20. Happy Birthday - s/t (Sub Pop)

Bubbling under:

The Ultimate Fakebook - Daydream Radio is Smiling Static
The Lives of Famous Men - Marigold Maxixe ep
Retribution Gospel Choir - 2 (Sub Pop)
Small Black - New Chain (Jagjaguar)
Rogue Wave - Permalight (Brushfire)
Robert Pollard - We All Got Out of the Army & Moses on a Snail
Ghost Shirt - Domestique (Anyway)
Smith Westerns - s/t (Fat Possum)
Teenage Fanclub - Shadows (Merge)

15 Riveting Reissues (in no particular order)

Thrush Hermit - Complete Recordings box set
REM - Fables of the Reconstruction deluxe ed. (Capitol)
Weezer - Pinkerton deluxe ed. (Geffen)
Carnival Season - Misguided Promise: Carnival Season Complete (1984-89) (Arena Rock)
Kimberly Rew - The Bible of Bop
Finger - Still in Boxes (Second Motion)
Tommy Keene - You Hear Me - A Retrospective 1983-2009 (Second Motion)
Green - s/t (Lion)
Black Tambourine - s/t (Slumberland)
Bad Religion - LP disocography box set (Epitaph)
Power of Dreams - Immigrants, Emigrants and Me deluxe ed.
The Vaselines - Enter the Vaselines (Sub Pop)
The Nils - The Title is the Secret Song (Real Big North)
Steve Kilbey - Monsters 'n Mirages box (Second Motion)
The Bodines - Played (Cherry Red)

Top 20 singles/songs: (in no particular order, except the first five)

Tim & Jean - "Come Around"
NOFX - "Cokie the Clown"
Ben Folds & Nick Hornby "Belinda"
Drums - "Skippin' Town"
Japandroids - "Younger Us"
Ted Leo & the Pharmacists "Gimme the Wire"
Killing Joke "In Excelsis"
Project Film - "Kapture"
Hooray for Earth "Comfortable, Comparable"
Bad Religion "Avalon"
Apples in Stereo - "Hey Elevator"
Doleful Lions - "Deadbeat at Dawn"
Pains of Being Pure at Heart - "Say No to Love"
Parachute Musical "No Comfort"
Kings of Leon "The Immortals"
Weezer - "Where's My Sex?"
Adam Marsland "The Night I Bought Mickey Dolenz a Beer"
Posies "The Glitter Prize"
The Lives of Famous Men "Cartographers of Little Renown"
The Mary Onettes "The Night Before the Funeral"