Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pivot - Oscillator 7" ep (1993, Eating Blur)

I picked this bad boy up during my Maximum Rock n Roll days circa the mid-90s.  I have no significant background info to offer on Pivot, other than the correspondence address on the inner sleeve which points to Vacaville, CA, a town in between San Francisco and Sacramento.  Post-hardcore punk was their speciality, the stripe that hadn't intermingled with emo, at least not on these four tracks.  Some faint socio/political themes crop up intermittently, but truthfully, you won't feel a thing.  The commencing "Drain" churns out a sturdy, Helmet-like grind.  Gots to love those taught, lockstep riffs.  Pivoting to side two (sorry, couldn't resist), the Oscillator ep hits a more tuneful, not to mention speedier stride on "Pawn to Shell" and "She."  Enjoy (or not).

01. Drain
02. 60 Clicks
03. Pawn to Shell
04. She


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Various - Vehicle 7" (1995, Shute)

Given my affinity for half of the bands occupying this wax (Edsel and Trusty) it's a wonder I didn't share this comp ep ages ago, which features four not-so-prominent D.C. area indie hopefuls.  Whoever at Shute Records sequenced this record had the right idea, pairing the more abrasive Holy Rollers and Corm on one side, and the aforementioned much more palatable duo on the other.   I never had much of an inclination to the Rollers and that goes double for their contribution, "Sunshine" a botched grunge experiment so to speak.  Corm are pretty unremarkable as well - think Unwound by way of some of the lower rung AmRep acts of the period.  I've had no shortage of praise to heap on Edsel over the years, and "Suits Me Fine" is cause for even more - a hazy, tremolo-kissed pop nugget that bears all the idiosyncratic trademarks, evidenced on their Everlasting Belt Co. album from two years prior.  Trusty close things out with one of their finest moments.  "Bus Stop" isn't the Hollies song of the same name, rather a deftly crafted punk-pop composition of their own creation, bearing a sly juxtaposition or two.  Listening back to my rip of side two, I'm hearing some excessive vinyl noise that I might be able to correct should I ever get the motivation to re-digitize Vehicle at some point. 

01. Holy Rollers - Sunshine
02. Corm - Seven Days
03. Edsel - Suits Me Fine
04. Trusty - Bus Stop


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Defenestration ep (1984, Slow Iguana)

It was almost two years ago that I did an entry on Defenestration's proper full length, Dali Does Windows, so I suppose it's about time that I dedicate some space to their self-titled ep, which preceded Dali by a good three years.  Even if the group's prime mover Tyson Meade didn't go onto to greater success with his subsequent outfit, the Chainsaw Kittens, it would still be worth the namecheck, as his singular vocal pastiche goes much further in defining Defenestration's overall shtick than his backing mates do.  While still plenty left of center, the band hadn't quite achieved the heftier velocity that would inform the proceedings of Dali Does Windows, and furthermore the Kittens, but they were getting there.  "Lovers Grow in the Park" and "Feminism on Television" exude some really sweet jangly moments, and in spite of the violent sleeve art, it's strangely comforting to know that Meade is a pop-smith at heart.  A much more thorough, song by song dissertation of the record can be absorbed here

01. Cut Your Soul in Half
02. Nothing Lasts
03. Feminism on Television
04. Slaughterville
05. Lovers Grow in the Park
06. Heart-throb
07. Happy Cadillacs


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Shy Mirrors - Sailed Blanks (2011, Big School) - a brief overview

Though I've never broached the topic of them on these pages, Champaign, IL's Wolfie were a perennial favorite of mine circa the late '90s.  Frontman Joel Ziemba and co-vocalist/keyboard pumper Amanda Lyons comprised the nuclei of that quartet, but it was guitarist Mike Downey that provided the "crunch" needed to offset the group's twee overtones, heavy handed as they sometimes were.  Mike departed in 2000 with Wolfie folding not long after that, leaving him to pursue his predominantly solo endeavor, The National SplitsShy Mirrors is his latest, and IMO greatest post-Wolfie pursuit. 

Furthermore, Sailed Blanks is perhaps the finest LP of 2011's late-breaking releases.  That being said, it's an album that won't present itself as a sonic revelation to anyone that was weened on Superchunk's No Pocky for Kitty and On the Mouth, but for listeners possessing an appreciation of that indie-punk caliber will nonetheless relish the unremitting, power chord maelstrom of uber medodic stunners like "Face Paint" and "Lake Placid Flyer."  Things get even fiercer on "I'm Not Around" which recalls the barreling firepower brought on by the likes of the Marked Men and Exploding Hearts.  In general, Sailed Blanks suggests what Weezer would have emerged with on the Blue Album had Rivers & Co. been given the option to commit it to four-track.  I'd be remiss if I failed to note that that a fresh-outta-the garage, lo-fi aesthetic dominates the eleven songs housed within, lending a whole lot of charm to this affair as well.  Two minute songs, a total blast, and an out-an-out winner.  Now that you're ready to lay down some coin, you can do so either through Big School Records for the gnarly transparent vinyl edition, or digitally at Bandcamp

Friday, November 25, 2011

Brilliant Orange - Happy Man ep (1985, Zulu)

Recently had a request for Brilliant Orange which I'm more than happy to fulfill.   The work of a Vancouverite quartet, the Happy Man ep appears to be the group's one and only vinyl missive, supposedly issued a scant four months following their 1985 gestation.  While not terribly distinguishable from the myriad of hard-strummed, indie guitar conglomerations of their era, a bevy of astute pop chops no doubt behooved Brilliant Orange.  The concluding "Shotguns, Cacti and Vengeance," a sharp, cowpunk send-up, caught me slightly off guard.  The video for the title song can be viewed below following the tracklist.

01. Happy Man
02. I'll Walk Away
03. Secure
04. Shotguns, Cacti and Vengeance


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Clay Idols - Falling Down Backwards (1990, Genius)

This artifact isn't exactly in keeping with the theme of Thanksgiving...but what are you gonna do about it?   From the looks of their Myspace page, the Clay Idols called Los Angeles home, and at one time featured future Bad Religion drummer Bobby Schayer in their lineup.  In fact, Bobby's brother Steven fronted the Idols, yet they couldn't be further removed from that aforementioned hardcore juggernaut.  Nope, this quartet's flavor of choice was acoustic-laden alterna-pop, all contemplative and such.  Falling Down Backwards exudes a certain weariness hinting that the band were wont to pluck a page or two from Bob Mould's Workbook, without resorting to anything totally derivative. Coincidentally, Steven Schayer's timbre bears a strong resemblance to Lotion's Tony Zajkowski, but only would someone with a lot of time to listen to obscure indie rock would draw that parallel.  Falling... was available on CD, but this rip was taken from wax.

01. This House's River
02. Flower Thief
03. Bells Are Ringing
04. It Can Only Get Colder
05. Speechless
06. Another Bad Day
07. Straight Line to a Clear Head
08. Best Part of Bad Weather
09. Fortune In a Wishing Well
10. Freedom Bridge
11. outro


Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Sugarplastic - Primitive Plastic: Demos and B-sides (2001, Air Mail)

At first blush, my deduction of Sugarplastic's wide-scale release, 1996's Bang, The Earth is Round, was that a trio of prodigiously smart Los Angeles wunderkinds were operating on the same bandwidth as XTC, albeit with more fey and esoteric inflections.  In fact, I thought it was a bit absurd that a major label (Geffen) would wrap one of their tentacles around a project so devoid of typical, mainstream pop-star trappings.  After becoming acquainted with the rest of the 'Plastics catalog, especially their debut Radio Jejune, I realized there was much more than abject Andy Partridge/Colin Moulding-homage afoot.  Boasting their own eccentric songwriting duo of Ben Eshbach and Kiara Geller, Sugarplastic's indigenous sense of whimsy encompassed more than
off-kilter pop tunes, but also wry allegorical themes, and sonically speaking, infectiously jagged rhythms. 

The Japanese-only Primitive Plastic: Demos and B-sides is precisely what it's title purports it to be, with Eshbach imparting in the album's liner notes, "We were just kids, here are some of our baby pictures."  Four of the fifteen selections technically saw the light of day prior to Primitive Plastic's release, albeit in exceedingly limited quantities in some instances.  Case in point would be "Superball," which was derived from a DIY single limited to a scant 200 copies.  There's also "Dover," culled from a the Ottawa Bonesaw 7" box set, "All Way Down" from the Closet Pop Freak compilation, and the ever so quintessential "Liar Over Winchester," originally featured on a Minty Fresh Records 45.  As for the demos quotient, most of the selections are keepers, including "Euripides the Jaguar," which is noted as the very first song the Sugarplastic took to task upon gracing a recording studio.  At the time of this release it was said that the band had over fifty unreleased tracks under their belt, but whether we'll ever have the chance to indulge in them is anyone's guess.  A very thorough discography can be referenced here.

01. Liar Over Winchester
02. Dover
03. All Way Down
04. Ode to Home
05. Set Me Up Eleven
06. Pineapple Lilly
07. Abigail
08. Superball
09. Stephanie
10. Marsha
11. Euripides the Jaguar
12. Wundergeisel
13. untitled demo
14. Where Have You Been?
15. Mumbletypeg

Now on Bandcamp

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Rain Parade - 6/28/86, Vic Theater, Chicago, IL

Why a random Rain Parade live set from 1986?  Why not?  It's only been three and a half  years since I last dedicated an entry to L.A.'s unwitting princes of the Paisley Strip.  This is an audience tape of a Chicago stop when Rain Parade were touring behind their Crashing Dream album.  According to the brief notes that accompanied this recording, Plasticland were the openers.  Fitting.  Also fitting is the fact that the set is heavily derived from said Crashing Dream, which as fate would have turned out to be the quartet's studio finale.  Their first and far more lauded LP, Emergency Third Rail Power Trip isn't particularly represented at this gig, however 80% of the 1984 Explosions in the Glass Palace ep is.  The encore features two covers, Cream's classic rock standard "White Room," and the far less common "Cheap Wine" originally done by Green On Red."  Track 12 "Only Business" is omitted due to a recording/digital transfer mishap of some sort, and the beginning of "Home" is cut off, most likely due to a cassette flip by the taper.  If it's more (and better intact) live Rain Parade you're hankering for, Big Plans for Everybody blog has got you covered.

01 No Easy Way Down
02 This Can't Be Today
03 Don't Feel Bad
04 Prisoners
05 Shoot Down The Railroad Man
06 Blue
07 Depending On You
08 Gone West
09 Remember
10 You Are My Friend
11 Home
13 White Room
14 Cheap Wine


Friday, November 18, 2011

Singles Going Single #191 - Swizzle 7" (199?, Cassiel)

Got some more mystery indie rock goodness to share with you.  Purchased this single many, many moons ago, and upon bringing it home discovered that it was sans an inner sleeve, and for that matter an insert with any useful information regarding the record in question.  I'm afraid all I have to go by is a Cambridge, MA address on the rear of the sleeve - not even the year of release on the physical record labels or nuthin.'  Highly inconvenient on my end of the stick, because with such a ubiquitous moniker as Swizzle, a search engine query yields zilch in terms of pertinent details.  That means we're left with *gulp* just the music itself.  Luckily Swizzle's fuzzy strain of left-of-the-dial guitar pop is of sizable, not to mention winsome merit.  Side A delivers a pair of buoyant, rhythmically conscious jewels, doled out with seemingly effortless agility.  The lone B-side composition, "Tricycle" is considerably more subdued and pensive, before peaking to a dissonant crescendo roughly half-way in.  I'm not going to draw any comparisons here.  For a change, I think I'll leave that up to you.

A1. Bliss
A2. Who's That Lady
B. Tricycle


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bad Thing - Candy From a Stranger ep (1989, Fuel/Big Money)

With all due respect to Minneapolis' grand '80s trifecta (Husker Du, The Replacements, and Soul Asylum) there were more than a few Twin Cities denizens that looked beyond their fabled backyard for inspiration.  Described in a 1990 band bio as "fast urban electric loudness," Bad Thing's distillation of lead foot rawk 'n roll steered more in the direction of Drivin' 'n Cryin,' Snatches of Pink, and judging from Candy From a Stranger's pounding, leadoff salvo, "Scarlet Red," the Georgia Satellites as well.  No frills, no laptops...not a bad thing at all.  The band is also survived by a 1990 7" which you can read quite a bit about here

01. Scarlet Red
02. More Than This
03. Western Sky
04. Long White Cadillac


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Welcome Mat - Gram (1993, Festival)

An Australian indie rock act worth their collective weight in gold who opened shop in 1990, and I just found caught wind of them...last week?  Then again, I live in North America, so maybe I shouldn't be too hard on myself.  Somewhere in blogtopia I heard "All or Nothing (More)" and was flabbergasted with The Welcome Mat's ability to fuse the melodic prowess of Geffen-era Teenage Fanclub and Posies with the frenetic axe squalls of Dinosaur Jr.  Talk about a corker.  Per Ian McFarlane's Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop:

Sydney band The Welcome Mat started out as a chirpy, jangly guitar outfit before heading in a tougher, though still melodic and harmony-laced power pop direction...

I hear more of the latter on Gram, their debut album which was preceded by a number of singles/eps, but I gather this was still something of a transitional record for the quartet.   I use the comparison almost to the point of abuse on here, but I'm honing in a lot of parallels to some of the Doughboys later platters, specifically their Crush album, which I believe was also a '93 release.  Certain planets must have been in alignment that year, but I digress.  You can peruse The Welcome Mats full discography on this graying fanpage.  BTW, WM co-founder Wayne Connolly went on to form the equally gratifying Knievel.

01. Flying End
02. Everyone's Gone
03. Hell Hoping
04. Arrive in Time
05. Play Me
06. Leap of Faith
07. All or Nothing
08. Deathbag
09. People Changing
10. Gram
11. Junkmail
12. Blew


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Oversoul Seven - Fool Revelation mLP (1987, Edge)

This is a follow-up to my share of Oversoul Seven's self-titled long player which I posted all the way back in January.  Since Fool Revelation preceded that album by about a year, I had anticipated it would possess a rawer, unbridled ethos, but I suppose that was wishful thinking on my part.  Turns out that Fool Revelation isn't so much of an engrossing revelation after all, but it does find the young Vancouver trio churning out clean, competent guitar pop, just not as roughhewn or DIY as it's oblique jacket art might suggest.  If there was anything on here that approached the brash musculature I was anticipating, the punchy "Over Mountain" was pretty much what the doctor ordered.  See my write-up for the second record (linked above), and for that matter the comments section.  One of our readers mentioned that Revelation was funded by Oversoul Seven's winnings in a band competition.  True story. 

01. Beginning
02. Shoulders
03. Over Mountain
04. Saint Lee Lights
05. Roses
06. All the Say
07. Somebody Said
08. Catfight at Crepuscle


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Gift of Tongues - s/t tape (1990)

Cyberspace hasn't been kind to this ostensibly long defunct combo from Omaha, NE, but for a no-name find, Gift of Tongues are so to speak...a gift.  The introductory "Playin' With Matches" cops a few random tricks from Nine Inch Nails bag 'o treats, which are soon intertwined into Gift's minimalist post-punk web.  I should emphasize that the lite industrial traces infiltrating this cassette never dominate, instead serving as ancillary ambiance.  The throbbing bump 'n grind of "Let Me Take Your Picture" is tantamount to early-INXS cum Big Black, but oddly enough, it's an equation that adds up by song's end.   "I Was Blind" benefits from disarmingly sweet, minor-chord clangyness, bearing a compelling sonic motif that points to early New Order.  A solid dose of gritty fidelity ups the charm factor exponentially I might add.  I do however take massive exception with the concluding “Bones,” a  slinky, creepy slow-jam that kills a valuable five minutes.  Even though the proceedings don't end with a bang, don't be sad, three out of four ain't bad.   If anyone can shed a little more light on Gift of Tongues comment to your heart's content. 

01. Playin' With Matches
02. Let Me Take Your Picture
03. I Was Blind
04. Bones


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Spatula - Even the Thorny Acacia (1994, Jesus Christ)

Spatula rarely receive a mention when folks recount the burgeoning '90s heyday of the band's legendary locale of choice, Chapel Hill, NC.  Not least of which I'm sure was due to limited distribution of their debut, Even the Thorny Acacia, and three more platters that followed later in the decade, all doomed to a similar fate.  Nor could Spatula boast the moderately pop-friendly persuasion of figureheads Superchunk and Archers of Loaf.   Were you to stack up Chuck Johnson & Co. with any of their hometown brethren the closest approximation you could come up with is Polvo, most evidently on Acacia's string-mangling "Yoohoo." Truthfully, I don't have a solid handle on the bulk of the Spatula oeuvre, but as of 1994, they (merely a duo on this record, I might add) were cautiously gravitating to post-rock environs, melding dissonance with mathy considerations, tracing a wildly uneven line between Seam, Slint, and a myriad of period artists in between.  The sharpest hook, or perhaps more appropriately, 'thorn' amidst the dynamic clamor of Acacia, is "Thinking Like a Statue," which might pass for a thoughtful Pavement outtake, circa '94.

As of this writing, Chuck is touring the eastern seaboard in support of his recent solo endeavor, A Struggle Not a Thought.   You can delve into a 2010 interview with the man over at Pitchfork.  As for Spatula proper, two subsequent albums, Despina By Land and Under the Veil of Health are available from Squealer Music.

01. Minute Hand
02. Yoohoo
03. Jules and the Termites
04. Salus
05. Kuskus
06. True-life
07. untitled
08. Laughing Like a Statue
09. Confessional Tutor
10. Even the Thorny Acacia
11. Pachinko
12. Algae


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Psychedelic Furs - Interchords interview LP (1981)

Here's one that's pretty self explanatory (for a change).  This promotional interview record was issued in conjunction with the Furs 1981 Talk Talk Talk album, arguably their creative apex (or damn close to it anyway).  The conversation is conducted with frontman of frontmen Richard Butler, and the saxophone wielding Duncan Kilburn.  The interrogation is regrettably standard fare as far as topical matter is concerned, but hearing someone pick at Richard's brain is a rare treat nonetheless.  This is my first Psychedelic Furs related entry.  I have a few live shows from the Talk era and beyond, but the band has kept a pretty tight lid on studio demos and such, which is what would intrigue me most.  As for this particular record, is there any music intermingled with the interview?  I dunno.  Can't never tell.  On second thought, maybe you can by investigating below.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Psi Com - Gila Monster Jamboree, CA 1-5-85

I had a request for some live Psi Com material recently, and this is one of two shows by the pre-Janes Addiction Perry Farrell lead group that I have to offer.  This particular concert (which you can read more about here) took place at a venue situated in the Mojave Desert, which also featured Redd Kross and Sonic Youth among others.  That huge, expanse of virtually barren terrain is a fitting setting for Psi-Com's penchant for billowy, atmospheric post-punk, sonically limitless in scope it would seem.  Perry's warble/yodel stylings are a bit heavy-handed at times, but he at least got it out of his system before Jane's.  Psi Com got tagged as "goth" at the time, and you might understand why after you treat your ears to these seven long-winded cuts.

01. Them
02. Cat
03. unknown
04. Silhoutte
05. 14th Floor
06. Psi Com Theme
07. Karuna


Friday, November 4, 2011

Beatnik Flies - From Parts Unknown (1986, New Rose)

From parts unknown, really?  Only if you qualify the metro D.C. area as some far flung outpost I suppose.  In actuality, this record really finds The Beatnik Flies stuck somewhere between Nuggets-esque power pop and conventional garage rock, and much like hell, it ain't a bad place to be.  If that doesn't give you enough of a clue, think an updated Flamin' Groovies tuning in some faint Radio Birdman frequencies.  Something about Parts Unknown feels utterly seeped in the Australian, indie bar-rock circuit of the mid 80s but again, the Flies hail from Washington (heck, they even name check local yokels the Slickee Boys in "Everybody's Dancin'").  Occasionally inconsistent, From Points Unknown's more stimulating moments - "Black Diamond Halo," "TV Star," "Hitchhike" and then some compensate for the infrequent slack.  There's a nice write up for this platter, including some additional biographical details, over at Lost in Tyme blog.  This rip comes straight from my own copy. 

01. Everybody's Dancin'
02. Umbali Wali Sleep
03. Be a Man/Brain Waves
04. Hitchhike
05. Message From the Underground
06. Black Diamond Halo
07. Luxury Dreamride
08. Beatnik Fly Theme
09. I Found Out
10. TV Star
11. Wombat Voodoo


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Shirk Circus - This Band Will Destroy Your Life (2011, Dromedary) - A brief overview

The passing of Shirk Circus frontman Josh Silverman in February of this year is not likely to go down as the biggest music casualty of 2011 - not by a longshot in fact, but for those in his inner circle, and the countless others who were aficionados of this unheralded New Jersey power trio who were predominantly a mid-1990s proposition, I'm sure his loss is intense nonetheless.  Despite having reformed for some reunion shows in 2010, Shirk Circus hadn't been on my radar since the release of their 1994 debut Words to Say.  Back then, if an album failed to illicit an almost visceral response with yours truly, I didn't necessarily denounce it or sell it back to the store, rather I relegated it to the back burner, or in the case of Words to Say, let it sit dormant for a good many years.  Upon revisiting it recently (i.e. as recent as this weekend, in fact) I found it's allure much more irresistible that at first blush from seventeen years prior.  That album could have easily been the product of the north Midwest indie corridor, or for that matter Chapel Hill, NC with it's raw, sinewy guitar fills and Josh's nonchalant indie aesthetic that was so prevalent during that era.  My loss that I failed to pay more attention to it when it was current. 

Fast forward to 2007 when Shirk Circus decided to revisit and complete an album's worth of basic tracks laid down in 1996, for what was apparently to be their third album.  That record, eleven years in the making (ok, so there was just a slight hiatus in between those years) has finally surfaced.  Sonically, This Band Will Destroy Your Life hardly sounds like a fifteen year-old artifact. You can chalk much of that up to the band's overall proficiency, and ever so gradual maturity.  Ironically, they were charting a very similar trajectory to two of their Clinton-era contemporaries, Fig Dish and Small 23.  Just as those less-than-household recognizable power chord merchants were on the verge of calling it a day, so were Shirk Circus.  This Band... sports a leaner, cleaner modus operandi than it's predecessor albums, without kicking any significant amount of spunk or momentum to the curb.  This Band Will Destroy Your Life is available wherever records and tapes are sold...but I'd get it direct from Dromedary Records.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Singles Going Single #190 - Brave Tears 7" (1984)

This single is a follow up to Brave Tears 1985 Silver in the Darkness ep that I unleashed on an unsuspecting blogosphere a few weeks ago.  These two records, helmed by the brothers McLay (Bret and Mark) are the summation of Brave Tears shatteringly slim discography.  "Mystery Boy" is a strong harbinger of what was to follow on that forthcoming ep, boasting an indelible synth line that thoughtfully doesn't mire the song in the more pedantic 'wave' trappings so prevalent during this Huntington Beach outfit's years of operation.  The flip, "The Last Good Time" is a conventional, yet effective singer/songwriter ballad colored with flourishes of piano.  Fair to say they don't make 'em like these anymore.

A. Mystery Boy
B. The Last Good Time (There She Goes)