2013 is within spitting distance, and while I plan on offering a couple of best-of lists for this years releases/reissues, (most likely to be shared on New Years Day) I thought I'd cherry-pick some of the juiciest morsels from the 100+ entries I made available in 2012. I'm not going to dedicate any time to critiquing and such here, as I already abundantly have in the original postings, all of which are linked via selecting the hyperlinked band names below. 2012 turned out to be an incredible year for retro finds, making it a challenge to put this compilation together. This mix is designed to be both a recap for those of you who frequent Wilfully Obscure, and a springboard for anyone who's just plain overwhelmed by the vast trove of material I share on a weekly, if not daily basis. In a nutshell, if you count yourself among the uninitiated and don't know where to start, start here (and of course, work your way backwards). Enjoy. BTW, I've included five songs that I haven't shared heretofore, and they've been denoted with an asterisk.
Thought this would be an appropriate follow-up to my recent Sea Hags entry, considering The Hangmen's trajectory was relatively similar. Scooped up in the same major label feeding frenzy that absorbed "streetwise" youngsters like the Hags et al, this L.A. quartet were inspired by the likes of the Stooges, and were eager to eschew the pomp and glammed-up circumstances of what their hometown had become a sheer mockery of. Their 1989 debut for Capitol Records wasn't necessarily as sleazy and greazy as the output of their Axl and Slash worshiping competitors, but the Hangmen's modus operandi was by leaps and bounds more organic than insufferable, hairsprayed monstrosities like Firehouse. Given the superficial climate of hard rock in the late '80s, The Hangmen fared none-too-well. The dawn of Nirvana was imminent, and even though the quartet ironically made the jump to Geffen by the early nineties (with their sophomore effort already prepped) their second big label bid turned out to be a non-starter, and the album was shelved.
From what I've been able to gather in the little time I've had to research them, the Hangmen never officially called it splitsville, and in fact reemerged in earnest in 2000 with a volley of new albums, bearing a rockabilly bent that certainly wasn't present on their ill-fated tryst with Capitol, or for that matter this 1995 ep that I'm humbly offering tonight. Used is a demonstrably raw, full-tilt missive, heavily in league with D Generation, and serves as an inadvertent forecast of the raging gutterball Nashville Pussy would be hurling in our direction in a few years time. "Last Drive," their debut album's most visceral and concussive moment is retooled here with an extra splash of petrol thrown onto the firepit for good measure. You can try your hand at catching up with The Hangmen on Facebook.
Oh boy. A few nights ago I mentioned this was going to be a comparatively atypical week on these pages, and I can't think of anything I've shared in a long time that goes against the Wilfully Obscure grain quite like this 'lil nugget. You see, back in 1988 I was knee-deep in Guns 'n' Roses hysteria just as much as any other pubescent teen lad. Yet unlike many of my peers, even back then I was keeping my ear to the ground for interesting new talent that was being scooped up in the sleaze-rock sweepstakes post-Appetite for Destruction's colossal ascent. Some of those now defunct, greaseball coattail riders included Little Caesar, Johnny Crash (my personal favorite), Junkyard, and perhaps most key among them, Dangerous Toys. And oh yeah, a little old band that (unfortunately) couldn't from San Francisco dubbed the SeaHags.
In fact, the Hags 1989 self tilted debut hoisted the Axl & Slash flag so damn high they were able to corral Appetite producer Mike Clink to man the boards for 'em. Not only was I an early adopter of these guys, it damn near felt like I was the Sea Hags only adopter, at least in my small corner of the world. Truth be told the Sea Hags record couldn't touch Appetite or for that matter the Illusion albums, but it did contain a handful of bona-fide slammers, specifically "Half the Way Valley" and "Too Much T-Bone." Nonetheless I was intrigued, and as recently as last year I continued to scour the web for the any remaining vitals to be had on the Sea Hags. An mp3-only release, Live at CD Studios 1987 surfaced on Amazon downloads, and other digital purveyors, essentially a compilation of demos containing several songs that didn't materialize on the album. However this year I had stumbled upon something even more vintage, an original demo cassette of six songs committed to tape in November of '85. Recorded as a trio (as opposed to the quartet that eked out that one album for Chrysalis), this rather revealing reel exhibiting a significantly different sounding Sea Hags - slower, rawer, and smoldering, with a lot more grime and grind in tow than Mike Clink could have ever hoped to exude out of them. This entry may go over the heads of a lot of my readership, but for those of you with any familiarity and/or appreciation of the Hags, this tape is a fascinating curio of their nascent steps, including three songs that didn't make it past the demo stage. BTW, the Sea Hags album has been reissued and can be found here.
01. Ridin' Out
02. Bunk Bed Creek
04. Back to the Grind
05. Think About It
06. To the Sea
Barkmarket had an ungodly amount of competition in the early 90s, with healthy servings of indie, grunge, metal, punk and shoegazer taking up more than enough space on my teaming dinner tray. Nonetheless, when I caught wind of them via their video for "Grinder" (off 1990s Vegas Throat) I gladly made room for dessert. The brainchild of one Dave Sardy, this NYC conglomerate unfurled an unholy racket of noisome, avant-laced guitar rock, that at their most accessible might occupy the same airspace as Jane's Addiction or Mr. Bungle. Highest marks go to their two schizoid masterstrokes, the aforementioned Vegas Throat and Gimmick, which followed in 1993. In spite of all the startling juxtapositions, Sardy's exaggerated, carney-esque vox, and sonic frivolities galore, Barkmarket songs typically boasted an addictive groove, that really made the band's schtick worth the time any given listener would need to invest for full appreciation. As for the album featured here, 1989's Easy Listening, Sardy and Co. were still perfecting that 'groove thang,' so to speak, and frankly some of the more adventurous, kitchen sink cacophonies ensconced within may ring a little too audacious for refined musical palettes. The title of this post is culled from a lyric in "Buy America" (track four) which doesn't pertain entirely to Christmas, but speaks to the disposable inclinations of fickle American consumers. When you think about it, isn't that what this holiday is all about?
Barkmarket disbanded in 1997, and Sardy went out to far more lucrative endeavors as a producer for Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gorillaz, Oasis, Spoon and a heck of a lot others. All of the band's (Def) American releases are available physically and digitally via Amazon, Emusic and iTunes.
03. Sonny (live)
04. Buy America
05. The Puppetmaster
06. The Mirror
07. Condemned Bank
09. Foreign Places
10. Pink Stainless Tail
11. You'll Never Find
Just FYI, I'm in a random mood this week, but I have to start somewhere, so I'm starting with this. I had some big time trepidation going into this record, not just because I had zero familiarity with Apology, but equally due to the pics I saw adorning the back cover - individual photos of all five band members, three of whom had hair exceeding past their shoulders, and another fella who was halfway down the home stretch. Fortunately, at the bottom of the album jacket were two very redeeming recording credits - Vic Bondi and Lou Giordano, producer and engineer respectively. That was enough to lure me in, and before Pass You By hit the turntable, I also noticed the lyric sheet included kudos to the Doughboys, All, Die Kreuzen, and the Goo Goo Dolls, not to mention several hardcore hopefuls from the same era. Thank my lucky stars that this Cambridge, MA quintet were not a pitiful heavy metal or generic h/c troupe. Then again, Apology weren't particularly mindblowing in their own right, opting for pedestrian leaning punk with relatively melodic overtones, bringing to mind Field Day-era Dag Nasty, Soul Asylum, and what 7 Seconds were up to contemporary to this record. In a nutshell, Pass You By is fun, just not particularly visionary. We Will Bury You blog has a nice write-up on this one from a few years back.
01. Pass You By
02. The Ones We Love
03. Poison in My Sweat
05. Dancing With Witches
Pond's first album (self titled on Sub Pop) was a slow grower for me, but after witnessing a killer live performance in 1993, I was nothing short of enamored with them and eventually their record, which at this stage in the game I regard as nothing less than astonishing, and one of the single best debuts of the '90s. Tight, kinetic guitar rock with a barbed wire exterior cloaking a sickeningly sweet harmonic core. That little summation hardly does Pond justice, but it's a start. IMO, their most crucial asset was Charlie Campbell, whose distinctive fretwork was about as fluid and agile as it came. However, since the Portland, OR trio wasn't quite sludgy enough for the grunge set, they only managed to cast their net so far.
In about two years time, they pitched a curve ball with the insular, idiosyncratic, and often alienating The Practice of Joy Before Death, a record that hardly played to any of their former strengths. Creatively, they redeemed themselves on their third and final go around, Rock Collection, which ironically was delivered courtesy of Sony Records, well after Pond's meager industry buzz had quelled. I regard R/C as a cornucopia of everything Pond had meddled with before, good and otherwise. Near-perfect dispatches "Flawed" and "Golden" are plenty spry and hooky, but it's only on comparative 'throwbacks,' like "Filterless" that they revisit their trademark rhythmic scheme, which colored so much of their intoxicating early endeavors. Several other selections, mostly residing on Collection's first half, are nearly as admirable, but a handful of half-baked song-things gum up the works throughout, leading me to believe this disk would have been stronger had it been whittled down to a more concise ten or eleven tracks. At any rate, you can judge for yourself, and I would further recommend that you treat yourself to Pond's first album if you haven't already. Oh yeah, don't forget their Moth single (featuring their best b-side), which I'm also hosting.
02. You're Not an Astronaut
04. One Day in the Future
06. You're Not a Seed
08. My Dog Is An Astronaut, Though
12. Rebury Me
14. untitled 1
15. untitled 2
I'm well overdue for the next installment of a little series of self-curated compilations that I began posting in 2010. Adhering to the same theme as my preceding "H" "O" "P" and "G" folder mixes, this robust, thirty song collection of totally random artists have only one thing in common - the first letter of their respective monikers. In fact, no consideration has been given to genre. For almost every complete album I have by an artist on my hard drive, 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. As was the case with the previous entries I'm not going to publish the track list, but I will give away a few spoilers - plenty in fact.
So far, these mixes have been heavy on covers, and The B-job is no exception with Beezus taking on a Superchunk anthem, Bigger Lover's giving a Nick Lowe classic another lease on life, and Big Drill Car contribute an unreleased Beatles remake! The late Bill Hicks rips into Rush Limbaugh, Barry White get's his truckers mouth on in a hilarious montage of bloopers, and coach Bobby Knight looses his, um, shite. There's demos from Bishop Allen, BC Camplight, and crazy cool enough, Blue Cheer. The pre-Turning Curious B-Lovers are accounted for with a Teen Line-worthy classic single side, as are the Bandables, checking in with an immaculate nugget of vintage power pop gold. You also get a super rare Bailter Space comp track, my favorite Barbara Manning song, and live Bongos. Last but not least, the Bum Bar Bastards (of Tube Bar fame) will introduce you to Judy, a startlingly crass New Jersey barkeep, whose adamant suggestions of maternal copulation will tickle even the most jaded of crank call naysayers.
Man, I really wish I had been paying attention when these guys (and girl) were still active. I probably came across their name dozens of times, what with them being just across the lake in Toronto. Much has been said about Canadian indie rock, especially the 1990s variety which Radioblaster deftly embody on Sugar-Shock. Shades of the Halifax and Maritime provincial aesthetic are busting out all over this half-hour of crunchy, saccharine power, which finds this trio borrowing liberally from the more melodic muse of Eric's Trip, and even early Thrush Hermit and Hardship Post. More coincidental than not, Small 23, and Australia's Pollyanna, would have slotted perfectly on Radioblaster's sonic palette. The proceedings unravel ever so slightly on the tail end of Sugar, but overall this beaut is a mid-fi triumph that's not to be passed over if you're an enthusiast of any of the aforementioned. See? Who said I only give gifts on Chanukah. You can read another thoughtful assessment of this album here.
02. Pushed Forward
03. Goin' Steady
05. No Punchbacks
07. Take Me Away
08. Why You Weatin' Me?
10. Good to Go http://netkups.com/?d=8c105c0185e62
Here it is, the grand finale of Chanukah week, but for better or worse, the emphasis on this post is more on words than music (but there's some of that too). The topic of my last Redd Kross entry (demos for Third Eye) was "compromised" so to speak by the powers that be, so you probably don't want to sleep on these. Dinner With Redd Kross was a promotional record issued in conjunction with the band's excellent 1987 platter, Neurotica. The interrogation took place at WBCN in Boston and was conducted by Albert O. As you might guess, the usual band backstory questions were fielded to the McDonald Bros, but the responses are peppered with plenty of embellishment and "insider" celebrity secrets. Entertaining for sure, but be forewarned, there are oodles of pops and snaps that I didn't have an adequate amount of time to edit, at least not completely. The interview disk was also paired with another record featuring a remix of "Play My Song." Speaking of tunes, are there any intermingled with the interview? I dunno. Can't
never tell. On second thought, maybe you can by investigating below. BTW, if you don't have Neurotica, it was reissued/remastered in 2002 with two bonus tracks, and you can get it from Amazon and iTunes.
And as a bonus gift, in a separate download link you can check out Redd Kross' long out of print Switchblade Sister ep, which dropped in 1993, the same year as their Phaseshifteralbum.
In light of today's events dedicating more ones and zeros to discussing and disseminating cool music feels a little frivolous, but perhaps this can be the diversion some of us need. Moreover, I intend to keep my word of "gifting" you nightly for the remainder of the holiday. Of all the Chanukah weeks blessings I've offered this week, Teeze are undoubtedly the biggest unknown quantity. In fact, the only place where this band/record is mentioned at all these days is on Ebay, where the disc in question sometimes fetches north of $100. Described as punk, power-pop, and glam metal (often within the same breath) Teeze were a trio of L.A. denizens, who like thousands of others were gunning for a record contract, and my understanding is that this record was specifically designed to serve as their demo. Though it should have been sequenced as the lead-off track, the undeniable highlight of Teeze, "Assembly Line," was relegated to caboose status. Clocking in at a mere 105 seconds, "Assembly Line" is a shattering, spiteful, rip-roaring spiel on blue-collar monotony that subscribes to the ethos of the first two Dickies albums albeit with even more fervor and smash and grab intensity. Truly one of the finest songs ever of its era, and perhaps for the ages, holding up to anything the Germs and Zero Boys committed to tape. Other portions of the ep are radically disparate by comparison, not to mention immensely tamer (hear the remarkably AOR-friendly "No Kind of Reason"). "Death Threat" and "The Mess That You Made" fall somewhere in the middle, but again, nothing satisfies on these grooves nearly as much as "Assembly Line." In fact, Teeze's second-best effort, "Stephane" isn't even included on this record, rather it arrived on a local 1981 comp, Futurerock. Of course, I'm supplementing that song alongside the five ep cuts. Another ep's worth of Teeze tunes (from 1984) are available here. And by the way, frontman Joey Carducci isn't the same guy affiliated with SST Records.
01. Death Threat
02. The Mess You Made
03. No Kind of Reason
04. Close to Love
05. Assembly Line plus Stephane (from Futurerock compilation)
I received this cassette in a large lot of demos and the like earlier this year. The sleeve is credited to Ward 8, as is the first side of the tape, with the opposite labeled Winter Hours. It didn't take much searching to determine that Ward 8 wasa precursor to Winter Hours, a New Jersey folk/alt rock five-piece who seemed to accrue endless critical praise in the 1980s. The three songs occupying the Ward 8 side appear to be exclusive to this homemade release, with none of them carrying over to the spate of eventual Winter Hours recordings. Like many indie hopefuls of the era, these folks fixed their gaze on Athens, GA after being flabbergasted by Chronic Town and Murmur. When Ward 8 gave way to Winter Hours, so did much of that pervasive R.E.M. influence. The four W/H songs represented here (tracks 4-7) found their way onto the first two ep's the band cut for Link Records, which I regard to be the best foot they put forward. The Hours rendition of "All Along the Watchtower" is transformed into something more placid and sublime than Hendrix or Dylan could've likely imagined.
As a bonus, I'm also including a revealing 1984 demo version of Winter Hour's signature song, "Hyacinth Girl." A fairly thorough bio is available on the band's Myspace Page.
03. Trial & Error
05. At a Turtle's Pace
06. Simple John
07. All Along the Watchtower
This handy compact disc compiles the first two ep releases of Boston's O Positive, a collegiate indie-pop troupe who signed their souls to a major label in 1990. That big label effort, toyboatToyBoatTOYBOAT on Sony Records stiffed and you can probably guess what ensued from there. The preceding ep's, 1985's Only Breathing, and Cloud Factory which arrived two years later, lent a semblance of artistic cred to O Positive, whose muse vaguely pointed towards REM and left-of-the-dial power pop (without much emphasis on the "power" quotient). The problem with this two-fer reissue? The tracks from both records are inexplicably intermingled, with a cover of the Left Banke's "Walk Away Renee" tossed in towards the end. I ripped this in the same sequence as the CD, but below are the actual tracklists of the original records, along with some commentary from your friends and mine, Trouser Press.
Only Breathing (1985, Throbbing Lobster)
With You/Pictures/Up Up Up/Say Goodbye/Weight of Days
Cloud Factory (1987, Link)
Talk About Love/Tied/Not Enough/In the Light/Watch Out, This Sled's Made For A Maniac Only Breathing is a promising debut. Drummer Alex Lob and
bassist David Ingham unite to form a monstrously strong rhythmic
backbone, upon which guitarist/singer Dave Herlihy drapes his clumsy but
earnest lyrics about self-preservation in the face of obsession and
unrequited love. Although this is thematic terrain which has been
crossed a million times, Herlihy displays an Andy Partridge-like
penchant for clever wordplay, some of which works nicely.
Released two years later, Cloud Factory is a horrible
sophomore effort. Murky sound negates the rhythm section; Herlihy's
lyrics and delivery are also gutterballs, an apparent attempt to emulate
Michael "This doesn't make much sense but it sure does sound
intellectual" Stipe stylings. Add in a shameful over-dependence on
guitar effects, and this is one bad record. (Perhaps for comparison
purposes, one CD combines include Only Breathing and Cloud Factory, with "Walk Away Renee" as a bonus.)
Along with the Close Lobsters, The Dentists proved to be one
of the smartest and most sophisticated jangle exports from the British Isles…and
as fate usually has it, they barely made a dent Stateside. For me they presented the classic, “I preferred their earlier stuff” frustration. The Dentists final two albums, Behind the Door I Keep the Universe and Deep 6 (both recorded for a major label amazingly) offered no deficit of quality control in the songwriting department, but didn't pack as much bite and nascent excitement as their first volley of eps, and their debut long-player, Some People Are on the Pitch. Fortunately for me there was a lot of that "earlier stuff," to go around, some of which was conveniently
distilled on their Dressed retrospective collection.
Heads and How to Read Them was something of a transitional record, wherein the Dentists slowly loosened their hyper guitar-wrangling reins in favor of a slightly more refined approach. The results (a hearty sixteen of them) proved to be fairly diverse, ranging from the infectious rhythmic thrust propelling "House The Size Of Mars," to the chiming persuasion of "Delicious," not to mention the relatively melancholic hue that colors "Rivals for the Hand Of Isabel." Heads... was an Austrian release and has never been particularly easy to track down in the States, so enjoy. More Dentists goodies may follow in the new year, and just so you know, I've already dedicated an entry to their 1991 ep, Naked.
01. House The Size Of Mars
02. Beautiful Day
03. Rivals for the Hand Of Isabel
04. Killing Me
05. In the Ocean
07. Crocodile Tears
08. Daffodil Scare
11. Have It Your Own Way
13. Pocket of Silver
14. The Fun Has Arrived
15. Around My Room
16. There Was Love on the Floor So I Walked on the Ceiling
Big unveiling today folks. I honestly can't recall how Cannon Heath Down made it onto my radar, but I must have liked what I heard on their Myspace page, because after no small amount of searching, it took about half a days wages to cover Heart-Throb Companion’s hefty price tag.
It’s a stretch to imagine that twenty-five years ago a quartet of Vancouver kids had their ear this darn close to the lower 48 indie underground, but aside from sheer coincidence, how else could CHD have taken on so many properties of Game Theory, early Ric Menck/Paul Chastain, Buzz of Delight-era Matthew Sweet, Three o’ Clock, and even the Primitons? I can’t say that Heart-Throb…is as seminal as the work of the aforementioned, but it does boast several premiere efforts like, “Bone (of Contention),” “Julia Rainbow,” and “Safe as Milk,” all exuding a fresh, visceral deliriousness that only comes along once in a blue moon. There’s a decidedly demure lilt to this album, but one marked anomaly is “Not Now,” a comparatively serrated slice of punky riff-rock that seems to take on a life of it’s own outside of Heart-Throb's remaining dozen selections.
I've got the video of "Bone (of Contention)" for ya'll below. By the way, no one in group bears the band’s namesake, rather the moniker would appear to be taken from a rural locale in England. One more thing. This disk was followed up by a 1989 cassette-only release, Peace Bum Days that I'd love to get my hands on. Comment away.
01. Light Your Eyes 02. Julia Rainbow 03. Je Suis Certain 04. ma-de-moi-selle 05. Fortunate 06. A Charming Sound 07. Blue Skye 08. Bone (of Contention) 09. Having Dreams 10. Not Now 11. Safe as Milk 12. quagmire 13. Belly Through
A couple of you have requested some vintage Velocity Girl wax, particularly 45s, and today I aim to please. Before proceeding, this is not a complete collection of VG singles and I'm going to tell you why. I omitted the "My Forgotten Favorite" and "I Don't Care if You" singles that were compiled on a CD ep for Slumberland Records, which I believe still might be available through Amazon, or possibly from the label. Then there's the "Sorry again" CD maxi single (containing three exclusive b-sides) that can be had on iTunes. Two buzzkills right off the bat, I know. Finally, I'm missing the "Audrey's Eyes" 45, which contained a b-side, "Stupid Thing" that I don't believe I've ever heard. With that tricky business out of the way, there's still about an albums worth of material in this compilation that you won't find on Velocity Girl's three full-lengths.
You might as well slip the first cut, "Clock" a very lo-fi, and frankly unrepresentative song from a comp 7" with Powderburns and Black Tambourine. I think this was before Sarah Shannon took the mic. Things improve profoundly on a string of dream-pop friendly oldies like "Warm/Crawl," "What You Say," and "Creepy." Their Christmas tune never really moved me, but it's included here, as are three Peel Session tracks circa-Copacetic. Then we're onto several ace numbers spread across a handful of singles they tracked toward the nadir of their career, including New Order, Beach Boys and Echo and the Bunnymen covers! If "Anatomy of a Gutless Wonder" isn't the most brilliant song titles ever I don't know what is. It's also a total keeper, and is one of Sarah's best vocal showcases. I've had a random live track, "Blackzilla," floating around on my hard drive for what seems forever, so I bundled that one in as well. The concluding "It's All Alright By Me" was released on a web-only compilation (Flirt) in 2003, in tandem with VG's brief reunion that year. So there you have it. If I ever find that stray b-side I might offer a revised version of this collection - and maybe even the Slumberland stuff it doesn't surface elsewhere. Track list is below, with sources and dates to the best of my ability. A very exhaustive Velocity Girl discography is available here.
Update 12/10/12: Good news. A longtime reader has been generous enough to fill in some of the gaps by sharing four additional scarce VG songs, including the elusive "Stupid Things." You can grab them here, and the addendum tracklist follows mine below. Enjoy.
02. Tales of Brave Aphrodite
03. What You Say
06. Merry Christmas, I Love You
07. Here Comes
09. Crazy Town
10. Your Silent Face
11. You're So Good to Me
12. Seven Seas
13. Breaking Lines
14. Anatomy of a Gutless Wonder
15. Blackzilla (live)
16. It's All Alright By Me added 12/10/12: (see separate download link above)
Stupid Things (Audrey's Eyes b-side)
What You (Echoes From The Nation's Capitol comp CD
Crawl (different than Warm/Crawl) from Sub Pop/Sassy mag comp
Not At All (live) possibly from same comp
1. What Kind of Heaven Do You Want comp 7" (1989)
2. Fortune Cookie Prize comp (1992)
3. Screw 7" comp (1991)
4. split single with Tsunami (1991)
5. b-side of "Crazy Town" (1992)
6. second split single with Tsunami (1992)
7-9 - Sub Pop Peel Sessions comp (1992)
10 & 11 Merge Records 7" (1994)
12 & 13 Heaven Records 7" (1995)
14. b-side of Nothing (1996)
16. Flirt comp (2003) https://www32.zippyshare.com/v/kPACIm0A/file.html
This is a fan-curated Aztec Camera bootleg of sorts, with the emphasis placed on Roddy Frame's pre-High Land Hard Rain recordings, consisting mostly of demos and early singles. Unfortunately, I wasn't the fan in question who organized this little compendium, and as such I don't have source info. However, the first half of these tracks (save for the live version of "Lost Outside the Tunnel") strike me as home-recorded fare, yielding a handful of tunes that I don't believe carried over in any form to proper A/C records or singles. A veritable treasure trove in itself. A bit further in, Dustbin sweeps up the Postcard Record singles "Just Like Gold" and "Mattress of Wire" before delving into remixes of a considerably more famous single (which you'll have to download to reveal the title if you aren't able to figure it out on your own). From there we're treated to raw, acoustic takes of "The Bugle Sounds Again" and "Down the Dip," that practically upstage the album versions. Things wind down with a pair of Rock Over London interview segments, and a live reading of the Clash's "Garageland." With the recent Aztec Camera reissues on Edsel, it's unfortunate that virtually nothing from this boot was appended to the bonus tracks portion of High Land..., but that leaves more for us I suppose.
02. Lost Outside the Tunnel (live)
04. Token Friends
05. Real Tears
06. Stand Still
07. Green Jacket Grey
08. We Could Send Letters
09. Remember the Docks
10. Just Like Gold
11. We Could Send Letters
12. Mattress of Wire
13. Lost Outside the Tunnel
14. Hot Club of Christ
17. The Bugle Sounds Again
18. Down the Dip
19. Mattress of Wire
20. Rock Over London interview 1
21. Rock Over London interview 2
22. Garageland (live)
Those of you who frequent Wilfully Obscure know that around the week of Christmas I tend to offer an extra special unveiling - a BFD so to speak. Last year it was a bunch of Hüsker Dü bootlegs, and a couple years prior it was a rare Smithereens box set that I was forced to remove within 48 hours (my apologies again Pat)! This year, I wasn't able to think of any one particular item to showcase...but several. Spacing things out over the course of eight days/nights seemed all the more logical, especially when taking into account Chanukah's personal relevance to me. We all know you were envious of that kid down the block who had a yarmulke festooned to his head, who was given the privilege of lighting the menorah, and of course, reveling in eight glorious nights of presents. This year I'm paying it forward.
All of this begs the question, "Has Wilfully Obscure been holding out on us for the last 11 1/2 months?" Somewhat...but not exactly. In short, the goodies I plan on revealing over the next eight days are of considerably high caliber. I
like to think that everything I share qualifies as good to excellent, but to
paraphrase that sage Orwellian dictum, some are more equal than others. Keep your eyes peeled.
Bowing at the distortion-addled altar of Hum, Failure, and even hometown brethren No Knife, San Diego's Machines Learning brew up a sonically teaming cocktail of amped-out, droney sprawls that I'm sure would have you running for earplugs were you to encounter them in a live setting. Unfortunately, unless you live in Southern Cali, the trio's Pendragon's Lullaby ep will have to suffice.
Lumbering bass lines, a concussive yet tuneful delivery system, and Corgan-like crunch all factor into Machines' heady mix, commencing with the white-noise maelstrom that informs "Bulletproof Tiger," gradually segueing into the comparatively lucid title track, and back again to the murky, foreboding howl of "satAMcoffee" and finally, the dynamic juxtapositions of "This Destroyed Me." Very solid stuff, and highly recommended for fans of My Vitriol and Amusement Parks on Fire, as well as the initial comparisons I mentioned above. You can obtain Pendragon's Lullaby from M/L's Bandcamp page, and cd hard copies may be available as well.
You’ve got to give it up for a band like The Pilgrims who wield that “just rolled outta bed nonchalance, but still have our shit way more together than all you strivers ever will” penchant as if they had the chops to stake their hides on it.As luck would have it, these four Vermont-sters tear it up in the post-Replacements neck of the woods, terrain already chartered by such unheralded dynamos as The Figgs, Magnolias, Finger, and a bunch of others that are far too arcane to warrant mentioning.In short, this quartet plays it lovingly roughewn, but never roughshod, with oodles of treble-kickin’ riffs, a few savvy harmonies and a nervy swig of Stonesy sass.Their Bandcamped album, It’s Not Pretty is chockablock with the punchy, lived-in rawk and roll that you’ve spent the last sixty seconds reading about it, and I have to admit, it grows on you fabulously well, and very quickly at that.Lend and ear to “Glue,” “American Eyes,” and ”Philibuster Brown,” and if you like what you hear, lay down the $5 will ya?
By the time they got around to wrapping up North 421 Two Small Bodies actually consisted of four bodies, and fairly normal sized ones at that. Prior to that they were a trio, but I digress. These scruffy Lexington, KY denizens had their musical compass pointing due north, specifically to Minneapolis from the sound of things, with frontman Chris Casey often intoning Dave Pirner. As an entity, TSB definitely had a Soul Asylum-esque gleam to 'em, though In the Horse They Road In On was more their speed than Made to Be Broken. That being said, their charisma angle wasn't quite up to snuff with Pirner and Co., but that's okay considering TSB were capable of pumping out rugged, commendable indie rock in their own right. I'm in the process of obtaining the band's previous album Twelve Not Seven, which may be the subject of a future entry.
01. Up Inside
04. Thinking About China
05. First Time
06. I'm Serious
Considering that my interest in Died Pretty largely began and ended with the song "True Fool Fall," a single off their 1990 Every Brilliant Eye album, stumbling across this double 45 was a convenient and economical treat. They may have resided in Australia but Died Pretty seeped Americana guitar-rock from what must have been every one of their collective pores. This set's sobering title track is a graciously earnest, jangle and strum excursion that I never tire of. The decidedly more delicate "Is There Anyone" ascends to pastoral, not to mention acoustic ambiance, while "Kingpin" occasionally recalls what R.E.M. were kicking around at the same time Died Pretty were attempting to garner some relevance outside of Oz. Some of the b-sides seem to have been shuffled around on different singles. You can check out a thorough discography here.
01. True Fools Fall
02. A Ballad
03. Is There Anyone?
Just a heads up. I'm taking a few days off and won't be posting again until early next week. To amuse yourselves, head over here to check out a "mix tape" of sorts my friend compiled called The 80s Underground - Deepest Cuts Vol. 2. A good swath of it contains music I've shared on Wilfully Obscure over the past several years, as well as vintage tunes that have been resuscitated via other corners of the blogosphere. It features scintillating selections from For Against, Flying Colour, Winter Hours, and Fire Town in addition to more than a dozen other indie outliers. Enjoy (you will).
I was clued into The Misstakes by virtue of comparisons made between them and hometown contemporaries Fools Face. Being the F/F aficionado that I am I took the bait on this presumably long defunct Springfield, MO quartet, and ponied up for a relatively expensive copy of National Pastime, which from what I gather still goes for a bit on Ebay. The Misstakes certainly honed their pop chops in the same wheelhouse as Fools Face, but they fall a little short of the caliber of that band's magnum opus, Tell America. They're sprite and enthusiastic in the manner of the Rubinoos (albeit packing a little more bite) with faint shades of Cheap Trick and Shoes occasionally filtering through. In a nutshell, National Pastime is a solid, competent power pop album, just not quite as critical as the efforts of any of the aforementioned.
01. To Pretend (Is the Advantage)
02. Broken Hearts
03. National Pastime
04. She'll Never Hear (the Things I Have to Say)
05. She's Mine
06. He's Not, She's Not
07. I Can Be
08. Someone Else's Mind
I'm not sure if I "get" what The Balancing Act were all about, or even if I was meant to get them. At any rate, I'm sharing their first record which was appended to the CD version of the Three Squares and a Roof album. Three Squares is available on iTunes and all the usual suspects, but somehow this ep failed to carry over. Produced by none other than Peter Case, New Campfire Songs acoustic, earthy tones mesh well with TBA's folk rock tendencies and wry, but unpretentious songwriting. A shoo-in for college radio playlists back in the day I'm sure. Signposts point to the likes of Camper Van Beethoven, Senator Flux and occasionally the Violent Femmes. Here is what Trouser Press had to say about this disk:
This semi-electric LA rock quartet is earnest enough on its Peter
Case-produced debut EP but, with the exception of "Wonderful World Tonight," a
likable and evocative update of the "Goin' Up the Country" ethos, none of these
half dozen New Campfire Songs is likely to show up alongside "Blowin' in
the Wind" at the next weenie roast. Give the Balancing Act credit for a unique
blend of acoustic and electric elements, though. Also, they've got a melodica,
and they know how to use it!
I have two discs of compactness to offer you today, courtesy of In One, whose "Sour Yellow State" 45 I made available just a couple weeks ago. In my writeup, I emphasized this upstate New York combo's qualifications to be judged by their shoegaze-mongering capabilities, but after spending some quality time with Ascension and Fade, I'm afraid I may have typecast them. True, the tunes from that single (both appearing on Ascension btw) were the stuff of tremelo-kissed dreams, In One also fixed their gaze on the more austere side of the Britpop coin, specifically the likes of Adorable and Boo Radleys...though I might be the only one outside the band to hone in on those more obtuse angles. "Used and Abused" is a particularly grand example of In One's acumen removed from the gauzy, dream-pop confines.
Fade, which followed two years after, Ascension boasted far briefer songs, but stylistically more of the same. The arrangements were becoming slightly less congested however, with the trio seizing upon the crisp hue of contemporaries Riverside and The Ocean Blue at moments. The liner notes mention Fade was designed as precursor to a forthcoming full length that I'm assuming never came to fruition.
03. Flooding Water
04. Swallowed Whole
05. Sour Yellow State
06. Used and Abused
07. Stuck (Here in the Present)
03. The Ceiling Reappears
05. Gasping for Air
06. Mercury (acoustic)
07. Fade (part 1)
When the nine songs comprising this reissue were being tracked in the early '90s, I prided myself with being aware of virtually every dream-gaze aggregation stalking the planet, or at the very least those occupying both sides of the Atlantic. To this day I'm excavating groups from that era that somehow evaded my tonebending radar like Dreamscape. Predictably, this flock resided in England, but unlike Ride, the Valentines and Swervedriver they weren't bankrolled with major label dollars, nor were they on a sizable indie. And if that didn't make Dreamscape clandestine enough, a solid chunk of what they committed to tape never even made it through the pressing plant doors. Kranky Records posthumous anthology, La-Di-Da Recordings goes a long way in amending that, compiling a scarcely released ep (Cradle), alongside one that was ultimately shelved (Greater Than God).
A trio spearheaded by Rebecca Rawlings, Dreamscape's somewhat ill-fated tenure on La-Di-Da Records spanned 1991 to '93, which is precisely what I and many others would deem to be the "golden era" of dream-pop. In essence, their timing was impeccably perfect as was their slim body of work, which skewed heavily in the vicinity of Lush, and to a lesser extent Slowdive. That being said, Dreamscape's prevailing modus operandi was melodicism and subtly, not the heaving, distortion-smothering landslide that My Bloody Valentine and Medicine opted to gratuitously revel in. A lucid, but assertively ethereal bent colored virtually every canvas this threesome pitched their collective paintball at, with penetrating harmonies that were Lush-iously decadent enough to warrant more than a few comparisons to Miki Berenyi and Emma Anderson. Dreamscape's methodology may ring a tad derivative to more cynical eardrums, however you'll find nary a lackluster step among this batch of nine beautifully executed numbers. "Nine Times to Die" and "Soft Fists" are particularly devastating, but since I'm not quite at liberty to share them at large, please check out Kranky's Soundcloud page to stream "Separate Sense" instead. La-Di-Da Recordings is available physically from Kranky, and digitally through Amazon and iTunes.
A couple quick sidenotes. Dreamscape issued this single prior to the two eps compiled on the album, but is not included here. Rebecca's bandmates Scott Purnell and Jamie Gingell also performed in the equally great Secret Shine.
In past years I've extolled on all things Graig Markel - a Seattle singer/songwriter, distortion pedal configurationist, and the former ringleader of sorely missed aggro punk-popsters New Sweet Breath. Heck, even as recently as a month ago I offered up his unheralded November/December ep, and earlier in '12 I spilled a few words about his most recent solo album.
In between those entries I premiered the video for "One Down, One to Go," performed by yet another project of his I neglected to dedicate any coverage to thus far,The Animals at Night. I could (and perhaps to a certain extent will) take the lazy route, and slap the handy catch-all tag "electronica" on this magnificent nocturnal beast, but as would be their good fortune, the magic lies in the message, not so much the medium. Then again, that "medium" per se, is often intoxicating amidst these four grooves.
In any given AaN piece Markel doesn't bludgeon us with the hyper-wonky keyboard blitzkriegs that so many of his contemporaries like to throw down in this day and age, but instead he maneuvers the dimmer switch between medium and soft, rationing out a comfortable allotment of beats and ambiance. The opener, "Bare Feet and Summer Teeth" is a case-in-point compromise of bump-n-grind playfulness and Markel's soulful persuasion, fleshed out with fiery guitar fills. "New Juice" opts for a lighter tact, approximating NPR radio's bumper music that some of us secretly relish. As for the aforementioned "One Down, One to Go," the trio employ a chill keyboard effect that pans in and out like digital sunshowers on a steamy afternoon. I'm linking the video for you below in case you missed it the first time around. The Animals at Night ep is available physically via the store on Graig's website and digitally from iTunes, Emusic and Amazon.
I really can't claim to harbor a dedicated interest to any of the participants on this concise 7" compilation, but being the obscuro that it is I couldn't resist sharing it. First up, B'ehl kick things off with the finest this disk has to offer in the form of "Mies Pleez" a driving slice of twee acousti-pop. Kitty Craft's trip-hop infiltrated "Lo-Fi" is true to it's name, while Tummybug's dry-witted ode to Bill Nye is downright painful. The only group on this roster I have any relative familiarity with are St. Louis' indie underdogs Bunnygrunt who tease us with a mere thirty-seven seconds of fuzz rock action they like to call "I Mock You With My Monkey Pants."
01. B'ehl - Mies Pleez
02. Kitty Craft - Lo-fi
03. Naysay - Same Old Song
04. Tummybug - Science Fiction
05. Bunnygrunt - I Mock You With My Monkey Pants
Theme split single, the rather obvious motif being a five letter moniker starting with "E," and ending in "y." I'm a sucker for Pink Floyd covers, and next to "Arnold Layne," "See Emily Play" is my favorite morsel from the Syd Barrett era. The Lies twist on it isn't particularly revelatory, but faithful almost to a fault, sans the Brit accents, not to mention half as thrilling as the original. The flip side's unknown quantity Knit Separates interpret a song by the Television Personalities that I'm entirely foreign to, a strummy melancholic ballad titled "When Emily Cries," which goes down easy by way of it's vicarious 1960's vibe.
A. The Lies - See Emily Play
B. Knit Separates - When Emily Cries
By the middle and end of the '80s there were oodles of "modern rock" bands who were commercially viable enough to warrant a modicum of airplay on mainstream FM outlets. Most of them were one or no-hit wonders, exemplified by the likes of Red Rockers, Frozen Ghost, Rhythm Corps and An Emotional Fish - and that's merely scratching the surface. Minneapolis' Outside World loosely slotted into this tricky mold, but for better or worse they didn't make it onto the rosters of Atlantic, Polygram or for that matter any corporate music entity. Instead, Outside World had the luxury of retaining what credibility they had, which was considerable on chiming guitar blasts like "Suicidal Weekend," "Drawing Lines" and "Miss Desire." The only pertinent outside link I was able to conjure up on this quartet was the video for "Suicidal Weekend" which I've made available below.
01. Suicidal Weekend
02. Green to Blues
05. It's Back to Me
07. Drawing Lines
09. Sarcasm and Metaphor
10. Just Like a Movie
12. Miss Desire
I think I'll tide you over with this juicy nugget until I have the opportunity to digitize more vinyl and such. This is a live-to-air broadcast of a 1994 Velocity Girl gig in Atlanta, where for the half-hour these songs occupied the airwaves it was an all-Simpatico affair. I'm not sure if this was the entirety of the concert, but if indeed it was, and ifSimpatico is your VG album of choice you've hit the jackpot. Barring some minor equipment foibles, this is a primo performance.
Velocity Girl, X-Radio, Atlanta 7-29-94
1. Drug Girls
2. There's Only One Thing Left To Say
3. What You Left Behind
4. Tripping Wires
5. The All-Consumer
6. Sorry Again
7. I Can't Stop Smiling
8. Medio Core
The Fugue presumably resided in the Ann Arbor, MI area, though "presumably" is the key word given the utter dearth of details on this long departed quartet. Their spin on collegiate pop 'n' roll was fairly streamlined with Waiting For Something exuding few obvious 'RIYL' signifiers. The Pedaljets and Libertines (US) perhaps, but otherwise I'm drawing a blank, despite genuinely inspired moments like "Happiness Cage," "Ghosts" and the melodramatic "I Was Living in Your Eye." I'd be happy to learn more about the Fugue, so if any of you have the dirt, comment away.
Hailing from upstate New York's fabled Western tier, you might say In One were dream-pop proteges who were just along for the Ride (get it?). Anglo-worshiping to the hilt, this trio made up in competence one they lacked in originality, and for all you shoegazer fetishists in the audience, I doubt this single will disappoint. "Sour Yellow State" is a bit sad and slight at first, but tinges of neo-psychedelia a la Rain Parade manage to wedge in a few rays of sunlight. "Flooding Water" benefits from a relentlessly fuzzy guitar line, not to mention well placed outbursts of phaser. If you enjoy this I have a pair of In One CDs I can post...
I believe the year was 1991 (or was it 1990?) when My Bloody Valentine, Lush, and Slowdive aligned themselves into the three-pronged gateway drug that ushered my psyche and senses into what would later be regarded as "the scene that celebrates itself." Yep, I had caught the shoegazer bug in colossal fashion, but little did I know at the time that said trifecta were about as godhead as that mind-bending niche would get. Sure, there were others to heap praise upon: Swervedriver, the Lilys, Fudge, and Bleach to name a few, but none of them (and the scores of identikit dream-popsters to follow) quite ascended to the bar par-excellence raised by Kevin Shields and Miki Berenyi. All these decades later, Nottingham, England's Spotlight Kid have floored me to such an extent with their latest, Disaster Tourist, that had this record arrived in the early '90s it could have competed with the coveted vanguard I mention at the beginning of this piece - and as far as the current crop of dream-pop revivalists go, they beat their contemporaries handily.
A teaming co-ed six-piece, Spotlight Kid's synthesis of shoegazer pioneers of yore frequently borders on the derivative, but what makes Disaster Tourist so unceasingly compelling is the sheer aptitude of it's creators, who are not only adept at wielding potent, tremolo-smacked maneuvers, but armed with a devastatingly melodic fortitude to match. Engulfing surges like "All is Real" and "Forget Yourself in Me" climb to billowy sonic heights, while conversely, "Lifetime" and some of the more lucid latter album tracks glide back to Terra firma in a smooth-as-silk comedown. There's some sheer magnificence wafting its way through this platter, and if the proper eleven song album weren't enough, the version coming out on Saint Marie Records this very week tacks on five bonus cuts. The crazy irony about Disaster... is that word went out last week that the long awaited follow-up to MBV's tour de force Loveless is finally slated for release before years' end. Normally one would assume the Valentines have no competition in this arena...but perhaps Kevin and Belinda are about to be beaten at their own game, dare I say.
I was forced to nix the link to two songs I was sharing, so you'll have to rely on thirty second samples from these retailers: Saint Marie, Amazon, or iTunes.
This dandy ep was the product of a Long Beach, CA duo consisting of Bob Waller and Rafe Atkinson. Desperate Hours exuded a colorful and vibrantly melodic strain of indie-guitar rock with a surplus of punky momentum. "Who Sets the Changes" and "Day Street" are chockablock with the kind of verve and vitality that few of their contemporaries could muster...save for Husker Du (hint hint). Atkinson's head-spinning guitar salvos occasionally foreshadow the sonic aplomb of early '90s cult faves Head Candy and Polyphemus (if you're acquainted with either of those bands I think you'll know where I'm coming from). There's not a stitch of info to be gleaned online regarding Desperate Hours, which is a shame given the caliber of this record. A big round of applause goes to Thad for setting me up with this disk.
01. Who Sets the Changes
02. Under Strain
03. Day Street
04. On This River
05. Crashing Sea
Aside from a pair of split singles and some compilation tracks, this ep, so far as I can tell is the only other document of this stellar Redondo Beach, CA punk-pop franchise. Buford hurled a saccharine knock out not unlike Superchunk, but occasional inflections of All and the Descendents permeated their mid-fi mix to boot. A killer cannonball, one that the likes of the Get Up Kids would be bowling down our alley in a few short years. Unfortunately, what’s also killer is the amount of painful vinyl static, particularly on the crucial leadoff track, “Pedal On.” These songs deserve to be immortalized on CD, but short of that the best I can offer are modestly cleaned up MP3s. As a side note, "Slimy Record Label Guys" has a locked groove at the end, which I opted to fade out. Oh, in regards to the gentleman depicted on the left of the sleeve, I'm not aware of what his particular malady is, but it looks pretty damn excruciating.
My buddy over at Punk Archives blog notified me last week that he had finally come into possession of one of his holy grails, the Pink Lincolns ultra-scarce, 1989 sophomore effort Headache. Released only in Europe in a limited run of a mere 500 copies, Headache was the follow up to the comparatively more findable Back From the Pink Room (recently reissued I should add). This often snotty, tongue-in-cheek punk aggregation was based in Florida, and on this record the Lincolns suggest what a merger of what the Queers and early Mr. T Experience could have spawned. Maybe. Possibly. Well, not exactly, but close enough. From what I recall these guys had a good following, and might still be in existence in one configuration or another. Pink Lincolns. Pretty in punk. A link to the full dozen-song album is below, and you can read the original entry at Punk Archives here.
Sometimes twangy, sometimes sneering with punky
bravado, The Contras never take themselves too seriously, yet throughout Ciphers
in the Snow they play barnstorming rock and roll as if their very lives
depended on it. A representative case in point is the searing, rapid-fire "Man Killer," which happens to segue smoothly into "Hava Nagila," a traditional Jewish party song...and it's not nearly as awkward as it sounds. Hopped-up, garagey fireballs "Carpet Man" and "Adam and Evil" are nearly as spirited, while "Cat's Tale" dips ever so slightly into the Paisley nickel bag. We're even treated to an ABBA cover. Here's what Lucid Culture had to extoll on the Contras:
Snarling Americana-inflected punk from Minneapolis, 1987, one of the most
obscure tracks you’ll ever find. Kid’s on his way to school, worried about some
physics test. And then a grisly sight suddenly puts everything in perspective.
Followed by an offhandedly savage guitar solo by lead player Mike Crabtree. If
you ever run across a copy of their lone release, the self-pressed Ciphers in
the Snow album, grab it. The one song on it that’s made it to digital (sort of)
is their tongue-in-cheek cover of ABBA's "S.O.S."
My apologies for the abundant vinyl noise. Enjoy (or not).