Monday, October 31, 2011

The Animated - 4 Song EP (1981, Play)

The Animated, presumably from the environs of Los Angeles, kick their 1981 ep off with "Edith C. Sharp," a wondrous synthesis of The Dickies, Mission of Burma and Polyrock (remember them)?  They don't particularly adhere to that recipe for the remainder of the record, but their quirky spin on all the essential facets that made the golden age of punk/power-pop as much fun and adventurous as it was is truly appreciated and warrants your attention.  Just four fleeting tunes hovering around the two minute mark is all we're treated to, which doubly stings when you consider this was pressed as a 33 instead of the sonically preferable 45 rpm that it painlessly could have been (for crying out loud, they had a full 12" to work with).  My copy has a slight warp in it, which seems to create some excess surface noise, but without marring the audio quality of the songs themselves.

01. Edith C. Sharp
02. Plastic Heaven
03. High School
04. Looking at You


Sunday, October 30, 2011


Well, this entry has been a long time in coming.  Given the volume of material I've shared over the past four years some of you are apt to think that with a sizable music library such as mine that I'm already in possession of every release that I've ever possibly wanted.  No, I don't think so.  In reality, my ducks are not all in a row, and in fact I have some pretty important gaps I've been striving to fill for years now.  Below is a list of my top-tier wants - the stuff I look weekly for on Ebay.  That rare cassette demo or scarce 7" that I've never seen let alone been able to listen to.  You get the idea.  All these years you've enlisted me, now I enlist you!  Are you up for the challenge?  The holy grails are as follows:

Big Drill Car – live on WFMU, NJ 10/25/89 (bootleg)*

WolfieNecessary Sailing tape (1997, ltd to 50 copies – yikes!)
Porcelain BoysFetish for Female & Plunge It tapes* (late ‘80s, self released)
Flag of Convenience (F.O.C. Steve Diggle) – The Big Secret tape (poss bootleg)*
Tsunami Cow Arcade tape (1991, Simple Machines)*
Papas Fritas – any official demo tapes*
The Love In – s/t ep (1987, LC Records)
Desperate Hours – s/t ep (1986, March Records –Long Beach, CA band)*
Teeze s/t ep (1982)*
Five Graves to CairoCall to Prayer ep (1984, Sartoris)*
The Blases “All Night Long” 7” (1984)*
Ultra Cindy 7” (199? – will hopefully have more details on this soon, but I think there’s
     only one U/C single out there)*
SoupCruel and Unusual 7” ep (1989, probably released by Very Small Recs)*
The Badgers - In Formation 7”*
Junk MonkeysLive Follies CD (poss bootleg)*
The LeonardsBlister CD ep (1993, Red Planet)*

Here's where there's something cool in it for you.  Should any of you be in a position to sell me these titles outright, I will be as generous and reasonable on the price.  For anyone that can merely help me find my way, I'll reward you (e.g. purchase something you'd like on Amazon, Insound, or elsewhere - perhaps furnish you with an online gift certificate to the store of your choice).  

I'm seeking original, physical copies of everything.  The titles marked with an asterisk denote that I'm more than happy to settle for a cd-r or mp3s.  I should note that the first item on my list, a recording of Big Drill Car's performance on WFMU radio from 1989 is strictly a bootleg.  This was never an official release, but exists purely as a tape passed around a meager number of traders.

A few of these titles are available on Ebay and from sellers through GEMM and Musicstack.  Unless you come across any of these at a reasonable price (say $30-$40 or less) please don't point me in their direction, as I'm not one to capitulate to exorbitant, collector scum prices.  Even though I'm lacking the aforementioned titles I do have pictures of several of them (mostly from Ebay listings I was tragically outbid on).  Thanks for your help folks! Please leave a comment or send me an email (in my profile).

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Exploding Boy - New Generation (1992, Beyond)

Thought I'd share this until I get the chance to rip more vinyl.  Boy, I knew just what I was in for by a quick glance at the cover art.  Rochester's Exploding Boy dealt in the most polished, spit-shined strain of "modern rock" that was going on at the time.  Think a vaguely more AOR Rembrandts, Toad the Wet Sprocket, or even Crowded House and The Ocean Blue if that pair possessed a stronger pedestrian slant.  Not terribly far removed from the I-Rails tapes I've recently shared, but Exploding Boy's commercial aspirations are painfully evident and utterly impossible to downplay no matter how you care to slice New Generation.  Yeah, this entry is going to be something of a credibility killer, but that being said, some of the zestier rockers like "Charity," "Cry Out" and the title track cut the mustard quite capably.  If anything else, these guys dole out a steady stream of plush hooks, an abundance of which call for repeat listens.  Just don't get your hopes up for the Bowie cover.

01. New Generation
02. Charity
03. Close to Me
04. Flashpoint
05. Ziggy Stardust
06. I Want to Be Where You Are
07. Do You Believe
08. Blue Sky
09. Cry Out
10. Forever


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Two Helens - Reflections in Red (Sharko 2, 1986)

Here's one of my more recent after-the-fact-finds.  Twenty-five years late better than never.  Scotland's Two Helens strike me as the kind of band that so many of my fellow bloggers would likely to typecast "darkwave."  More post-punk than all else if you ask me, demonstrably evidenced by "Heaven and Hell's" chilly, throbbing pulse, a la early Siouxsie (though it's a male singer here).  Things get even better mid-album thanks to the doubly more enticing "The Curve," sheering a layer or two of fuzz off The Jesus and Mary Chain's Pyschocandy to sublime effect, with "Write This Letter" inching not too far behind.  The first eight tracks comprise the Reflections in Red album proper, with the remainder apparently taken from a follow-up single.  The biographical blurb below was culled from the notes of a T/H YouTube clip.  My sincere thanks to whomever posted it.

The Band was initially formed by Ian Murray, who recruited Alan Whyte, Mark Dickson and Robert Greenaway. Extensive gigging throughout Scotland led to B.B.C. Radio Scotland play, which in turn led to a deal with local label, Sharko 2. Their debut album, "Reflections In Red" was released in 1986, followed by a single "Silver & Gold" in 1987. The band supported Flesh For Lulu on some Scottish dates. Played by John Peel on his show and also on BBC World Service, the band flourished. For a while things looked superb after charting at home and in Europe. After more exposure and press, the band were offered a Scandinavian tour. However, due to promotional difficulties the tour fell through... a month later, the band split. In 2003, Ian, Mark and Alan decided to reform the band, as a trio. Further experiments by the band as a trio turned out to prove a potent sound, as big as it ever was. RELEASES: "Reflections In Red" (vinyl album, Sharko 2, 1986) "Silver & Gold" (7 inch vinyl, Sharko 2, 1987).

01. Heaven and Hell
02. The Top of a Tall Tree
03. Reflections in Red
04. Cold and Blind
05. The Curve
06. All the Money
07. Spiritual Thing
08. Write This Letter
09. Silver and Gold
10. 15 Rhythm
11. Gun

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dot Dash - Spark>Flame>Ember>Ash (2011, The Beautiful Music) - A brief overview

The relentless volley of clangy chords and mid-fi propensity coursing through D.C.-based Dot Dash's premiere outing, Spark>Flame>Ember>Ash will ring gleefully to anyone within ear-shot who's ever had a taste for organic, Anglophile indie-pop.  Opening a new chapter for alumni of Tree Fort Angst, Julie Ocean, Modest Proposal, and in the case of drummer Danny Ingram, Swervedriver (!) Dot Dash, ironically tend not to stray into the incendiary post-punk neighborhood of Wire, of whom they copped their moniker from by way of that band's jagged 1978 single of the same name.  That doesn't mean that Dot Dash haven't taken a keen gaze across to the other side of the pond, evident by the hefty, walloping guitar surge of "The Color and the Sound," "Alright, Alright," and "No Reverie," rooted in the sonic aplomb of late '80s Wedding Present, and Tony Blair-era hopefuls Boyracer and Beatnik Filmstars.  Ringleader Terry Banks has the vocal panache, not to mention precisely the right range to imbue Spark's fourteen selections with an integrity and spontaneity (the whole album, btw, was tracked in just three days) that bleeds through even to the most jaded of Pitchfork-addled hipsters.  Too updated to be deemed a throwback, Spark>Flame>Ember>Ash exudes the stripe of revisionist dexterity and passion that many of Dot Dash's contemporaries would do well to take note it's simply a great fucking collection of nervy, angular pop tunes. Copies of Spark are available here.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Soft Boys "I Wanna Destroy You" - an appreciation of, plus 13 interpretations.

...And you won't have a single atom left, to call your own...

It kinda went like this.  Back in 1990 me and my Father were on a road trip, driving around Niagara Falls (NY) on a weekend afternoon.  As I would normally do when roaming around new environs, I commandeered the radio dial while Dad concentrated on driving.  Back then was when I began gravitating towards college radio stations.  To cut to the chase, on some left of the dial outlet with less than adequate reception came this song - brash and clamorous, yet equally melodic and compelling.  With the station fading in and out I was concerned we would be out of it's reception area entirely in a matter of minutes, if not seconds, and I was determined to hear the name of it from the DJ.  I successfully persuaded Dad to pull into a parking lot for a few minutes, much to his annoyance, but before long I had the vital stats I needed.  It would be another two years or so until I would hear The Soft Boys "I Wanna Destroy You" again, specifically on Rykodisc's expanded reissue of the band's tour-de-force Underwater Moonlight LP.

A blistering anti-war screed.  Musical catharsis.  Incendiary.  A bona fide, alt-rock anthem.  "I Wanna Destroy You" is all of the aforementioned and then some.  To address the "then some" quotient" consider that the song in question gets to it's rousing chorus before the first word of the first verse is even uttered.  Such "disorder" would  likely be an abomination to traditional songwriters, but Robyn Hitchcock's gamble paid off in ways that few songs before or since have.  Without parsing the lyrics line-by-line (now really, do you think I have that much time on my hands?) it can be tricky to definitively decipher whether "I Wanna Destroy You" aims at encouraging passive resistance, or if throwing something a little more aggressive into the mix is also necessary to yield desired results.  Like so many anti-war/anti-violence songs, the specific conflict isn't mentioned, leaving much to the imagination, conveniently allowing the tune to be employed when an applicable scenario comes to light.  I'm sure we can all think of our fair share of such motifs in say, the last fifty years, or for that matter just ten, but I digress. 

A powerful melody, gut-wrenching delivery, and an undeniably dense, sonic fortitude make "...Destroy..." as eminently intense and anthemic as it is.  Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks so, as this classic Soft Boys calling card has been taken to task by many artists over the thirty-plus years since it's 1980 inception.  Amongst the thirteen versions I'm including in this cobbled together collection is unfortunately the Circle Jerks notably butchered rendering (which in case you didn't know features Debbie Gibson on backing vocals).  Relatively straightforward readings by Yo La Tengo, Comast Angels, The Laureates and Mood Six all compensate enormously.  There are live takes as well, by such not-familiar players as the Surrenders and Australia's Eastern Dark.  As for a couple names you just might recognize, The Replacements recalibrate the lyrics to their liking (or perhaps inebriation) while Coffee Creek (members of Uncle Tupelo and Bottle Rockets) twang-ify the song as they see fit.  Finally, I'm tossing in a live 1980 performance by the Soft Boys themselves, and a legendary 1989 take by Nigel & the Crosses (a conglomeration of Robyn Hitchcock, Peter Buck, Glenn Tilbrook and Billy Bragg).


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Singles Going Single #189 - Blind Dates "Radio" 7" (1984, Savage)

It's not often that I'm enamoured by a band that's so slavishly groomed for Top-40 playlists, but I'm going to make a big exception for Blind Dates if only by virtue of the notion that Top-40 radio in their day was tolerable, if not occasionally enjoyable.  Fittingly enough, a song titled "Radio" occupies one half of this single, sounding like a subtler variation of Hipsway's "The Honeythief" (or maybe it's the other way around considering this single preceded "The Honeythief" by a good three years).  The flip, "Second Hand" is a bit more fleshed out, and incessantly catchy to boot.  Outright great in fact.  From the sound of this wax, Blind Dates had just about everything in their musical arsenal to compete with the likes of Duran and ABC…. though a major recording contract would have probably helped.  You can bone up on the Dates here, and AZ Local blog has a few words to say about the Rhode Island quartet's previous single (though it appears the zshare link is kaput).

A. Radio
B. Second Hand


Friday, October 21, 2011

I-Rails - Unfocused (1987)

By popular demand, I'm here to serve up another helping of vintage I-Rails recordings.   Heading on the backwards trajectory I set into motion in March with the band's "Same Old Me" 45, we're dialing the Wayback Machine to 1987 for the band's second cassette album, Unfocused, which by the way was transferred from analog to ones and zeroes by some close associates to the band.  Without their generosity, time and consideration I wouldn't be able to bring this music to you, so once again, thanks. 

If you've been curious enough to lend an ear to the I-Rails third album, Nine Songs From Nowhere, the ten tracks comprising Unfocused should ring familiar.  For the uninitiated, the I-Rails were the unlikely precursor to '90s one-hit wunderkinds Primitive Radio Gods.  Click on the first hyperlink in this article for more text on the background of this criminally overlooked power-pop trio, or if you'd like a shortcut blurb on the way they rolled, think Toad the Wet Sprocket...with balls.  As for Unfocused itself, it doesn't disappoint, yielding some of the Rails best including the high-strung "No Matter" and "Mercury Don't Understand."  Perfecto.  Enjoy, and bear in mind there's one more tape to come...

01. In Babylon
02. Slings and Arrows
03. Mercury Don't Understand
04. The Worst Song About Jane
05. Still Invisible
06. There Goes Another
07. Beyond the Obvious
08. Stuck in Between
09. No Matter
10. Two Arms


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Papa Sprain - Flying to Vegas ep (1991, H.ark!)

For all intents and purposes, Belfast native Gary McKendry was Papa Sprain, a little known post-pretty-much-everything combo that were taken under the wing of AR Kane's H.ark! Records imprint.  Bubblegum Cage III and Blackened Air blogs had written Papa Sprain up fairly thoroughly in 2009, so this entry isn't going to serve as much of a primer considering most of the legwork has been done, surely by more capable hands then my own.  Came across this one in the used bin at Other Music last year and was struck by the sleeve and doubly more so by the songs it encased.  Since a convenient catch-all description won't suffice for a record bearing such disparate textures and flavors I decided to break Flying to Vegas down track by track below.  Not a huge task given there's only four.  The two blogs linked above are worth visiting, especially Blackened Air which is hosting some other Papa Sprain recordings, including a clutch of demos that are even more enticing than this ep.  All files shared herein were culled from my own rip. 

1. "Flying to Vegas" - Our flight kicks off with three minutes+ of quasi-rapped vocals atop sweet, chiming Cocteau Twins guitar.  An offbeat amalgam that actually flows quite well.
2. "Fizz" - A noise-endowed, yet somewhat non-descript stab at what some might liken to "ambient" or "post-rock."  Less than crucial.
3. "Spout" - A dark, foreboding hinterland where icy fret squalls bump up against sheets of sinewy feedback.  A two way tie with "Vegas" as my favorite moment on this record.
4. "Rich" - We come in for a smooth landing, converging with steady finger snaps and an assortment of ancillary effects, propelled by a mild, bass-laden rhythm track.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Mommyheads - Delicate Friction (2011, Dromedary) - A brief overview

When I was compiling my write up for two Mommyheads reissues this spring (the retrospective Finest Specimens, and an expanded version of their 1994 fan favorite, Flying Suit) I was completely ignorant to the fact that they were recording a new record, their second since their 2008 (or thereabouts) reunion.  Up until those reissues I had nothing invested in the Mommyheads, but encountering their back catalog revealed that yours truly overlooked a veritable indie pop treasure for the better part of two decades.  Frankly, I found myself posing the rather obvious question, "Where had 'mommy' been all these years?"

The 'Heads struck their creative peak mid-90s, boasting lucid, uncluttered sonic motifs with a measured dollop of quirky panache, a la contemporaries the Sugarplastic, and predating what the Shins would be bringing down the pike in a few years to come.  Delicate to a fault the, Mommyheads in the Twenty-first Century are an even cleaner and leaner trio of pop troubadours than past endeavors suggested.  Delicate Friction is still very much the brainchild of the Mommyheads of yore, with an emphasis steeped in the casual ebb and flow of Turin Brakes, thirty-something Sloan, and the more ballad-esque persuasions of Fountains of Wayne.  In short, the boys are maturing and mellowing out just like the rest of us, and even if you're a longtime fan there's nothing to be alarmed about.  The trick will be whether the Mommyheads can lure in a few new sets of ears that have a taste for their ever-increasing refinement.  Three live tracks are bonus-sized, including "Saints Preserve Us" from their aforementioned Flying Suit album.  Delicate Friction is available now from Dromedary Records.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Slaughterhouse 5 - Wide Open (1993, IRS)

Where was this album back in the early '90s when I couldn't get my fill of the Senseless Things and Ned's?  Sure, I had heard of Slaughterhouse 5 in passing at the time, but an obvious opportunity to investigate them failed to present itself, and I didn't give them a second thought until I spotted a very affordable used copy of Wide Open at a local flea market.  Dare I say this thick-accented UK quartet shambolically slotted in as that missing link between the Buzzcocks and Supergrass (then again, some might argue that gap wasn't particularly expansive from the get go).  There's a uniquely jovial flair emanating throughout Wide Open that sets the S/5 apart from the crowded flock of UK punk-pop outfits that were trying to make a dent in the Britpop sweepstakes.  A familiar approach, but with a flavor moxie all their own.  I shan't give anything else away about this disk, but I should mention that the band is selling Wide Open on their website (though the purchase link isn't operational at the moment).  That being the case I plan to leave this once it's available for purchase

01. This is Not Love
02. Inconvenience
03. Right Next to Her
04. Don't Go All Funny On Me
05. If You Don't Love Me
06. Sometimes So Close
07. If She Leaves Me Again
08. Things She Did
09. Pathetic Girlfriend
10. Only to Have You
11. You're Not So Beautiful
12. Don't You Know?
13. The Stupid Ones
14. No More Mr. Nice Guy


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Kinetics - Snake Dance (1987, Etiquette)

Considering that it's received a hair over one hundred downloads, I'm surprised no one left a comment regarding the Kinetics single that graced these pages a year and a half ago.  Suit yourselves, but I couldn't get enough of that 45, and was promptly on my way to securing this album.  I was downright gonzo for the mild 2 Tone undercurrent that informed the songs occupying that 7" ("Hey La La Lee" and "Take a Train," both of which are repeated here).  Snake Dance doesn't overemphasize that pop-ska motif, and in fact it's eschewed altogether on several tracks that would mesh perfectly with say, a 1982-era MTV playlist.  Alas, the Kinetics were far from brash innovators (an accusation to which they would almost certainly attest) but so long as you can get past their rather traditional tack, Snake Dance is a record you'll be returning to more than you might imagine.

01. Snake Dance
02. Shake
03. Cool Water
04. Curtis Walker
05. She's Lost the Beat
06. Big City
07. Tired of Waiting
08. Let Her Go
09. Hey La La Lee
10. Take a Train


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Five Gears in Reverse - Trailer cassette (1998, Montesano)

Back in the late '90s when the Four Dots compilation graced my cd player for what seemed like months, one of the unknown quantities on that disk, Five Gears in Reverse, took up five minutes of glorious space in the shape of their contribution "Apathetic Regimen." Around that time, I learned they had several cassette releases under their belt, but alas, I was too lazy and/or cash strapped to mailorder them.  Conveniently for me, someone was selling a couple of their tapes on EBay earlier this year and I was in luck.  Despite calling Bellingham, WA home base, Five Gears didn't exude any resemblance to the Posies, or hometown boys done good, Death Cab for Cutie.  Nonetheless, they operated squarely in indie pop confines, penning whip smart lyrical observations couple with hooks to die for.  No hipster smokescreen to boot I might add.  If you're looking for a RIYL shortlist, Five Gears would be in excellent company with Zumpano, Thrush Hermit, Pond and even Blue album-era Weezer, judging by the colossal guitar crunch infiltrating "Menage a Trois." A full length cd, You're Not Asking the Right Questions, materialized in 2000.  In addition to Trailer I also have a 5GIR cassette of Christmas songs, but I know there's at least one or two more tapes out there, so if any of you have a line on them please get in touch.

01. Spinning Ellipses
02. About Sound
03. Menage a Trois
04. Dakota
05. Apathetic Regimen
06. Eyesight


Friday, October 14, 2011

Singles Going Single #188 - Hushpad 7" (1997, Goodbye Virginia)

Issued in 1997, but not arriving on my radar until thirteen years after the fact, Hushpad's sophomore 45 (that would be this one) was a pleasant surprise, albeit grossly belated.  I'm still trying to figure out the "pad" quotient of this co-ed Illinois duo's moniker, but the "hush" utterly imbues these two tranquil spins.  "Dear Jenny's" lilting acoustic persuasion recalls Nick Drake's plucked-to-perfection fretwork, by way of Unrest's ballad-esque "Isabel."  "Goodbye Virginia" tinkers with a subtle bossa nova rhythm amidst a motif that's equally as lucid and serene as it's flipside.  In doing my research on Hushpad I learned that they recently made available on Bandcamp an album recorded in 1997, heretofore unreleased, titled For Kites and String, that can be downloaded for a nominal fee.  The a-side to this wax, "Dear Jenny" appears on there, but the remainder of the album features considerably more robust arrangements.  You can acquaint yourself with Hushpad's first single over at Shelflife Records blog.

A. Dear Jenny
B. Goodbye Virginia


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Singles Going Single #187 - Bust 7" (1996, Radiopaque)

Not a shred of info to be found online regarding Bust, a D.C. area trio whose record came courtesy of the same imprint that brought us the Starry Eyes ep (Sarah Shannon/Velocity Girl), and the Guided By Voices/Girls vs. Boys split ep.  Joyce M. Raskin fronts the band with brother Stephen manning the guitar, and a bloke named Silas Green rounding things out on percussion.  From the sound of both sides of this wax, Bust had a firm indie modus operandi, boasting the edgy pop accessibility of Fuzzy, and to a lesser extent Kim Deal.  Throw in a modicum of post-riot grrrl musculature for added effect and you've got a real keeper on your hands.  More irresistible with each listen.

A. Spin Up!
B. I'm Better


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Jason Falkner - Rarer Than Rare outtakes, etc

I would really like to say that I was the one that assembled this collection... but afraid it was obtained it via filesharing many years ago from an anonymous trader.  I owe a sincere debt of gratitude to the original compiler, so if you're reading this please leave a comment! From what I'm able to surmise, this "bootleg" of outtakes, alternate versions, and covers hasn't been well circulated, and if any of these particular versions have surfaced elsewhere they've appeared on other boots, not sanctioned releases.  I'm sure there's more than just these ten cuts kicking around in Jason's back pocket that have yet to see the light of day, but what is here is pretty excellent, including the Author Unknown version of what should have been the title track (ironically, "Author Unknown" wound up on his second album, Can You Still Feel?, akin to how Led Zeppelin's "Houses of the Holy" didn't appear on the LP of the same name, rather it's follow-up Physical Graffiti).  Elsewhere, Jason takes to task a relatively obscure Soft Boys song, and a not so obscure Left Banke signature song (though I like the Dickies remake a lot more).  As far as true blue outtakes go, we're treated to the taut, tuneful "To Love a Hero," and the notably more riff rammin' "Behind These Eyes."  In short, if you have any level of appreciation of the man's '90s solo goldmine, you're about to exclaim "Eureka!" 

01. The Invitation (full version)
02. Author Unkown (first album version)
03. Love Poisoning (Soft Boys cover)
04. Clumsy Grace (unreleased 1991)
05. To Love a Hero (unreleased 1991)
06. Behind These Eyes (unreleased 1992)
07. Crap Out
08. The Hard Way (Author Unknown version)
09. This Will Be Our Year (Zombies cover)
10. Pretty Ballerina (first attempt)


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Brave Tears - Silver in the Darkness ep (1985)

Tracking this down proved to be something of a challenge.  Then again, I suppose the same goes for just about any limited private pressing that's a quarter century old or older.  Speaking purely in terms of artistic approach and sonic demeanor, Brave Tears' Silver in the Darkness ep is no revelation - not by a long shot in fact.  Quite simply, I'm enamored by the tunes.  Unlike so much of the retro fare I'm wont to indulge in, there's really nothing post-punk, post-modern, or post any damn thing about this long decommissioned Anaheim five-piece.  Granted, Brave Tears skirt around the periphery of several indie guitar pop aggregations of their day, and to a lesser extent, '70s AM radio fare, but there's not an iota of "agenda" occupying any of these five grooves, from "Flippin' Through's" buoyant, jangly lilt, to the driving panache of "Jenny's Dyin'" or "The Wait."  I'm flattered to finally have this record in my clutches, and I hope you'll be motivated to give it a whirl at your leisure.  Mark McLay, half of the vocal presence in Brave Tears, has since pursued this endeavor, which I also thoroughly endorse.

01. The Wait
02. Flippin' Through
03. Jenny's Dyin'
04. Shadow Fades Away
05. Baby's Got a Lover


The Hippycrickets - Inconceivable!!! (1997, No Tomorrow)

Not quite as chipper as their namesake might imply (check out the relatively brooding opener "Matter of Time") Atlanta's Hippycrickets turned in this sturdy chunk 'o power pop, circa 1997.  Comparisons to the Beatles, Smithereens and Plimsouls have all been leveled at the feet of this now ostensibly dissolved outfit, and while the depth and breadth of Inconceivable!!! isn't as lofty as any of the aforementioned, The Hippycrickets were if anything else competent and consistent to a fault.  The group's cobwebbed Angelfire (remember them?) page notes that as of 2000 a follow-up album was in the offing, but I don't think any pertinent updates have made since then,  You may remember the Hippycrickets contribution ("Margaret Says") to the Paul Collins curated Pop Matters compilation.  That track also surfaces on here in a slightly altered incarnation. 

01. Matter of Time
02. How Can I?
03. Just Friends
04. Margaret Sez
05. It's Over
06. Fall Again
07. Calling Colleen
08. I'll Try
09. Don't Bother Me
10. I Guess You'll Never Know


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Deserters - s/t (1981, Capitol)

I wouldn't be surprised if this one's been blogged already, but hey it's my rip, and so far as I can tell, woefully out of print.  Starting life out as The Suspects, the Deserters were scooped out by Capitol/EMI Canada in the early '80s, as that label's entry into the wave/power pop sweepstakes.  Commercially, it was a ticket that didn't quite pan out, though it should have been given the trio's approximation of Tommy Tutone and The A's (though the A's hardly hit it big either come to think of it).  At any rate, that general vibe was firmly in place on this debut.  I also give them kudos for pre-dating Thomas Dolby's pedestrian sci-fi motifs, at least by a year or two anyway.  Deserters is actually a rock solid venture, offering some edgy keepers like "No Time for Talking" and "Raining Over France." Elsewhere, "Thought Police" inadvertently name checks a more famous trio they were perhaps drawing a little too much creative inspiration from, at least on that particular track.  These grooves may ring a bit "routine" in hindsight, I certainly don't lay the blame on these guys, what with so many other knock-offs following suit throughout the remainder of the decade.  The Deserters sophomore effort, Siberian Nightlife followed in 1983, and despite some concerted promotional muscle behind it, the group (at that point a quartet) would soon sign off.  The Canadian Pop Encyclopedia (aka Jam/Canoe) has a brief but excellent account of their tenure, that even drops a few hints regarding the Deserters precursor and spinoff projects (speaking of which, you may want to check out Wanka while you're at it).

01. Alien
02. Present Life
03. Americans
04. No Time for Talking
05. A.W.O.L.
06. Innervisions
07. Boys in Berlin
08. Protection
09. Raining Over France
10. Thought Police
11. Take It Away
12. A.W.O.L.

Now available from Amazon.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Preston School of Industry - Live in Chicago 2002 (Monsoon bonus disk)

A reader kindly reminded me that in my 2009 entry for two Preston School of Industry eps, I tentatively planned to post the live bonus CD from their 2004 Monsoon album (make that the Australian import version of Monsoon to be exact).  At long last, voila.  PSoI's main claim to fame was the inclusion of Pavement guitarist "Spiral Stairs" (aka Scott Kannberg) in their lineup.  This 2002 set (apparently an audience tape with audio quality that falls just short of a soundboard recording) was tracked while the band was touring behind their debut, All This Sounds Gas.  Not surprisingly, no songs from the ensuing Monsoon LP made it to the set list, however I did find it a bit odd that ATSG's highlight of highlights "Whalebones" is notably absent.  Spiral and Co. at least compensate with the equally melodic "Falling Away," plus they even toss in "Western Homes," one of his contributions to Pavement's Wowee Zowee record.  Overall a nice set if you were moved by the first Preston album.

01. Monkey Heart And the Horses Leg
02. Encyclopedic Knowledge of
03. Somethings Happen Always
04. A Treasure @ Silver Bank
05. Western Homes
06. Falling Away
07. Idea of Fires
08. Take a Stand
09. To FF


Monday, October 3, 2011

Various - Potential H-Bomb - The Letter "H" folder mix

This is a follow up to a clever (at least my idea thereof) various artists mix I put together last month with artists sharing nothing more in common than the letter "P" as the first letter of their respective monikers.  I explained that on my overloaded hard drive, for almost every complete album I have by an artist, I store just as many random one-off songs by artists I don't have a dedicated folder to.  These random one-offs have been corralled into "letter folders" A through Z. I often forget these particular folders exist, that is unless I feel the urge to hear a specific track.  Occasionally, when my MP3 player has available space, I'll drag one of these 26 letter folders on there to play at work.  Despite the disparate genres that run into each under this first-letter alphabetic scheme, I'm invariably treated to a fun and eclectic listen.  Today I'm going with letter #8.  Currently, the "H" folder residing on my hard drive stores 124 files, but for your amusement, dear reader, I have whittled that down to 15. 

As was the case with the "P" mix from September, I'm not going to spoil the fun with a full track list, but here a few items waiting in the wings, should you opt to take the plunge: A pair of Nick Lowe/Rockpile covers, a few words of wisdom imparted by Howard Zinn, a choice Hanoi Rocks outtake, Muzak-ed Hey Mercedes, a milf cover, and an offbeat Japanese pop nugget.  By the way, if anyone can give me a lead on the Hope Chest song I've included, please give me a shout out, as I'm way eager to hear more.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Miss Lonelyheart - Signal and Response (2002, Molecular Laboratories)

I picked this one up several years ago for a very nominal fee, gave it a spin or two and filed it away for a half decade or so, like I do with way too many albums.  Today I pulled it out of retirement.  Upon doing some research on the apparently defunct Miss Lonelyheart, I learned their discography consisted of far more than Signal and Response, though all signs point to this being their swan song.  From what I've been able to surmise from my online travails, this album found them in a mellower state of mind, stacked up against their preceding full length, Geography.  Nonetheless I'm hearing a healthy dose of aggro indie rock swagger on Signal... pointing to due south, specifically Chapel Hill, NC.   Miss Lonelyheart may not bear the calling card of any particular Merge Records stalwart, but that lauded, regional indie aesthetic goes a fairly long way in coloring this album.  Aficionados of Buffalo Tom and Matt Pond, PA would also do well to get an earful of this Shippensburg, PA trio, who by the way, for this album were scaled down from what was originally a quartet.  Physical copies of Signal and Response may still be available from Interpunk

01. The First Barrage
02. Simple Line
03. On a Train Up a Tree
04. Transmission
05. Recalibration
06. Frontier Settler's Anthems
07. The Notes That Matter
08. Early Morning Runaways
09. Digital Imagery
10. Less Flattering
11. Discard the Three of Clubs