Friday, March 30, 2012

Eureka - demo (199?)

Well, I'm not exactly going to be dedicating a book to this one, as vital stats are minimal at best.  I picked up this trio's tape in the mid-90s from the college radio station I dj'd at, and recollect being highly impressed with it fifteen years ago.  Eureka did the indie guitar-rawk thing quite earnestly I might add, not far removed from the Replacements and Figgs, albeit doled out in a slightly more pedestrian package.  Innovation is hardly a buzzword here, but Eureka's willingness to disavow any sort of studio gloss lends a refreshingly organic aesthetic to this quartet of songs.  Judging from the 512-area code gracing the cassette label, I would venture a guess that the band were in or damn close to the environs of Austin, TX.  They have a Soundclick page where you can stream these songs and five more, however my rip was taken straight from the source tape depicted above.

01. Marbles
02. Taffy
03. Catsup
04. Blockhead


Thursday, March 29, 2012

9-Iron - s/t (1993, Safe House)

The following chunk of low-brow, riff-pop is brought to you by ex-Love Child guy Will Baum, who from what little I've been able to glean supposedly took some keen inspiration from Jonathan Richman for the first 9-Iron album.  There's more than a hint of irony abounding amongst the thirteen songs presented within, but this L.A. trio is no more quick-witted than say, Nerf Herder.  Taught, tuneful rockers like "State Trooper" and "Blood on the Sheets" pass themselves off as relatively assertive, but aside from a handful of faint glimmers, the remainder of 9-Iron typically lacks oomph.  Speaking of irony, "Met Her On Line" has no tie-in with the then nascent World Wide Web.

01. Girl From 911
02. State Trooper
03. Movie Tonight?
04. Coffee Shop
05. Christina's Blue & Gold
06. The Girl Won't Listen
07. Butcher Shoppe
08. Dollar Bills
09. Meet Her on Line
10. Blood on the Sheets
11. How to Talk to Girls
12. She Hasn't Called
13. Looking Forward


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sometimes Y 7" (1982, Jane Bear)

For those of you squeamish about vinyl surface noise, this sucker's gonna hurt.  There are more snaps and pops on these two tracks than you can shake a record stylus at, but when it comes to Sometimes Y, I take whatever I can get.  When I shared their 1984 full length, One Fell Swoop a few years ago, I was under the impression they were based in the Twin Cities, when in fact it now appears they resided one state away in Wisconsin, Madison to be exact.  All geographic concerns aside, I found their jangly, left of the dial panache to be more than appealing.  For the uninitiated I would start with ...Swoop (linked above), but these tidbits are worthy of your attention as well.  Seeing fit to put a jagged and mildly dissonant instrumental, "I.L.T. Smoke," on side A, the real prize is on the flip.  "Crazy Dancer" tinkers with half a white-boy reggae beat, but moreover, sports an unmistakable Costello-esque ethos.  And it works.  BTW, I'm missing the picture sleeve.

While we're on the subject of Sometimes Y, occasionally I see original copies of the band's demo tapes floating around on Ebay - with exorbitant asking prices attached.  If any of you have some of these in your possession and have the inclination to convert them to digital please get in touch!  More recently the band released (1981) in 2003, which is available from CD Baby.  On top of that, more Sometimes Y is to follow.

A. I.L.T. Smoke
B. Crazy Dancer


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Surf - Out of Step ep (1984)

Sounding remarkably straightlaced for a band emanating from the oft remarked hotbed of Athens, GA, The Surf owed zilch to the likes of REM and Pylon.  Funny that.  Instead, the quintet released this accomplished power pop ep in the mold of The Producers and Fools Face, offering an array of stupefyingly killer hooks.  Keyboards thoughtfully embellish The Surfs modus operandi, without dominating (though they conveniently lend themselves to the slick '80s mix Out of Step is for better or worse seeped in).  Excellent songs all the way around that fall more in the Yellow Pills realm than Teenline.  The only anomaly here is the concluding "I Don't Lie," which at it's entrance comes barreling down Romantics alley, copping a sliver or two of "What I Like About You," before recovering into something less plagiaristic. Sorry if the audio is a little choppy in spots, due to the crackly slab of vinyl that these tracks are sourced from.

01. This Time
02. Here We Go Again
03. Dance of the '80s
04. Please Surrender
05. Stealaway the Night
06. I Don't Lie


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Game Theory - Big Shot Chronicles demos (1985)

I haven't mentioned them much, or quite possibly at all in the past, but I've always had a soft spot for Game Theory, even if I acquainted myself with their records long after the fact.  I'm not what you would call a Scott Miller obsessive or completest by any stretch, though I can justify the profound fandom of others.  Much to the chagrin of all of you that believe Lolita Nation was G/T's finest hour, Big Shot Chronicles is the album that did it for me, so I jumped at the chance to hear these rough sketches.  "Never Mind?"  "Crash Into June?"  "Erica's Word?"  "Like a Girl Jesus?"  So much pure, 14-karat pop gold abounds on Big Shot, making these demos such a precious find, even if they don't differ that drastically from the finished product.  One exception might be the aforementioned "Like a Girl Jesus," which strikes me as doubly subdued as the already spare album incarnation.  "Seattle" and "Come Home With Me" sound like the same versions as the bonus tracks padded onto the BSC CD reissue on Alias from the '90s.  "Couldn't I Just Tell You" is an excellent rendering of the Todd Rundgren classic, that IMO could have probably fit on the album.  If anyone can help in identifying the final track please leave a comment.  A big thanks to Danny for sending me these files!

01. I've Tried Subtlety
02. Here It is Tomorrow
03. Erica's Word
04. Regenisraen
05. Never Mind
06. Book of Millionaires
07. Make Any Vows
08. Where You Going Northern
09. Like a Girl Jesus
10. Crash Into June
11. The Only Lesson Learned
12. Too Closely
13. Linus and Lucy
14. Couldn't I Just Tell You
15. Seattle
16. Come Home With Me
17. Last Day That We're Young (Demo)


Friday, March 23, 2012

Big Clock - s/t ep (1988, White Canvas)

I'm a bit on the fence regarding this one.  When this record saw the light of day in 1988, new wave was in it's final throes, but this Boston-area four piece seemed intent on clinging to that genre's disintegrating vestiges.  The Big Clock ep is not unlike what The Fixx and Duran Duran were driving at around the same time, particularly the latter's faltering lukewarm waste, Big Time.  I have to give Big Clock credit for according these grooves with a mildly noir vibe that goes a significant way in salvaging these four tunes into something almost memorable.  Almost.  Well, alright, "This Night" is a keeper, but the accompanying tracks don't fare as successfully.  In 1990 a full length from these folks surfaced, dubbed The Boy With the Wooden Head, but it has yet to grace my ears.

01. New Emotion
02. No Halo
03. This Night
04. Dark Cloud


Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Deflowers - demo (1991)

Of all the unturned stones occupying Seattle's '90s landscape, The Deflowers deserved a kinder fate.  The riff-happy punk-pop that spilled over Niagara-style on their 1994 album Shiny New Pony was their finest achievement, and even though the follow-up, Fin paled a bit, I relished every morsel I could unearth of The Deflowers oeuvre.  I was psyched to find this early demo cassette while browsing Ebay last year, featuring four songs that I don't believe migrated to any subsequent Deflowers release.  A little more Crazy Rhythms than say, Flip Your Wig, the hook-ridden building blocks were gradually being locked into place for greater things to come.  You can download Shiny New Pony via the link above, as well as this excellent 45.  Lead flower Chris Martin presently fronts Kinski, and the drummer appearing on this tape, Michael Mallette Malony later went onto Gnome, another Seattle outfit that sparked just as much appeal and curiosity, to me anyway.

01. New Day Tonight
02. Ten Days
03. Apple
04. Just Chords


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Super 5 Thor - Ford (1995, Echostatic/Space Baby)

I recall that around the time this disk surfaced, Super 5 Thor were befitted the now ubiquitous "dream pop" tag.   In retrospect, that categorization strikes me as lazy, although this co-ed quartet occasionally treaded into faintly ethereal terrain.  Super 5 Thor wore their influences on their sleeves, ranging from the hushed, breathy tones of Darklands-era Jesus & Mary Chain ("Superstar) to a far more obvious absorption of Galaxie 500 and Luna ("Halloween," "Beautiful Soul" among several others, right down to the squalls of feedback).  The high water mark on Ford arrives in the form of "America's Son," a tranquil breeze of a song providing an apt lullaby for a sublime, hammock slumber on an early spring day.   A second S5T release, Gazelle, followed in 1997 before the band ostensibly called it a day. 

01. Superstar
02. Lonesome
03. Breath
04. Drive
05. Beautiful Soul
06. Blown
07. Dyed Mary
08. America's Son
09. Tired
10. Star
11. Halloween
12. Swan Song

Get it at Amazon.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Godrays - Songs for TV Stars 2x7'' (1996, Vernon Yard)

If you were hip to The Godrays, chances are you held some level of affection for their twee-pop antecedents Small Factory. In fact, the 'rays featured exactly two thirds of the Factory, specifically mouthpiece/guitarist Alex Kemp and drum-wrangler Phoebe Summersquash.  The apple doesn't fall from the tree, and in fact much of this wax could pass for Small Factory fare.  Nonetheless, this 45 rpm double shot bears the songwriting of a pensive mindset, with instrumentation coloring a more melancholic hue.  Not as lovingly gleeful as Small Factory, but the melodic tendencies thankfully carry over.  "Songs for TV Stars" and "Crummy" later turned up on an the band's sole album, while the other pair remained exclusive to this release. 

1A. Songs for TV Stars
1B. Crummy
2A. No Arms Are Good for Holding
2B. Film Music 2


Thursday, March 15, 2012

A slight case of overblogging.

I'm taking a few days off folks.  Please entertain yourselves by scrolling through the archives and checking out my Blogosphere links.  Cheers.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The dB's - live at Criminal Records, Atlanta 4/16/11

2012.  Yet another year I failed to make the trek to SXSW in Austin.  Were I  attending perhaps the single most coveted concert on my wish list would be the original lineup of The dB's, who from what I understand are going to be performing four separate gigs this week (some of which may be invite only).  Chris Stamey, Peter Holsapple, Will Rigby, Gene Holder.  Wow.  And they have a new album coming down the pike for us too!  The closest I'll get to catching any DB's reunion shows will be via bootlegs like this one.  As a precursor to the new platter, Falling Off the Sky, the band put out a new single, "Picture Sleeve," on Record Store Day last year.  Folks that lived in the Atlanta, GA environs got an extra special treat that day when the dB's played an in-store set at Criminal Records.  What I'm presenting is an audience recording that you'd swear this was taken straight from the soundboard, so the audio is impeccable.  I should add that the taper had to leave early and was unable to catch the last two songs of the set ("If & When" and "Amplifier").  Even though some of the classics like "Black and White" and "Neverland" are absent what is here is pretty amazing, and I hope someone can persuade the guys to do a full scale tour closer to the release of Falling Off the Sky.  Enjoy.  BTW, the Save Criminal Records campaign is still active. 

01 - intro
02 - "wake up, that time is gone"
03 - Happenstance
04 - Nothing Is Wrong
05 - "before we were born"
06 - Big Brown Eyes
07 - Ode to an Orange Squeezer
08 - World To Cry
09 - Send Me Something Real
10 - Picture Sleeve
11 - Love Is For Lovers
12 - Excitement


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Rhythm Method (Rhythm Corps) - Paquet de Cinq ep (1982, Transcity)

If you were paying attention to mainstream "modern rock" radio during the late '80s, the name Rhythm Corps may ring a bell with you.   Hailing from Detroit, the band's closest sideswipe with fame was "Common Ground," a low ranking top-40 hit in 1988/89 from what I recall.  Good song that, with a goes-down-easy hook, and a simple pro-tolerance sentiment.  For twenty years or so, my association with the Rhythm Corps largely began and ended with that tune, although I did partake in a gaze of the video on YouTube from time to time.  Like many one-hit-wonders of the Reagan era, the Corps were relegated to the same fate as A Flock of Seagulls, A-ha, etc.  Then, clear out of the blue in December of last year when I was indulging in a podcast of a college radio show focusing on obscure wax, a song by  the Rhythm Method, "Solidarity," came lunging out of my headphones eliciting the same visceral reaction as if I was hearing U2's "I Will Follow" or Brian Emo's "Needles in the Camels Eye" on a virgin listen. 

The song was bristling with urgency, purpose, and euphoria even - over a subject the vast majority of their target audience was likely blissfully oblivious to, the then current Polish labor movement,  What made "Solidarity" so flabbergastingly compelling was it's harmonic, ringing guitar riff, which figures not only into the chorus, but from second one.  Six-stringer Greg Apro had obviously absorbed a few genius lessons from The Edge, and as such, with "Solidarity's" politically conscious content, I'm sure the Rhythm Method had to duck more than a few U2 comparisons.  Melodically, there's something advanced here as well.  Some might quibble that the main hook is introduced too early in the song, but I've always had an affection for verses that were as strong as the chorus, and that's what "Solidarity" delivers in spades.  From hearing this jewel for the first time to my umpteenth listen today, I genuinely believe this to be one of the finest songs ever committed to tape.  It's all there, derivative as it may be.  The remainder of Paquet de Cinq isn't quite up to "Solidarity's" sonically lofty benchmark, but there's still plenty of echoing guitar fills and intelligent lyrics permeating it's other grooves.

As you might guess from the title of this post, Rhythm Method were forced to change their moniker to Rhythm Corps, due to competition from another group (if not others) who already lay claim to the Rhythm Method tag.  In fact, subsequent pressings of Paquet de Cinq were adorned with the Rhythm Corps name.  R/C's Common Ground album from '88 featured a radically reworked version of "Solidarity," which began with generally the same lyrics as the Paquet version, with a new melody line, before juxtaposing two minutes later into a kind of weird bastardization of the original arrangement.  It probably wasn't what the band had in mind, rather the suits at Sony who couldn't leave well enough alone.  An alternate rip of the record (which includes an incomplete "Figure and Face") is available on Motor City Rock with the rest of the Rhythm Corp's recorded output.  Additionally, you can venture over here for some demos and live tracks. 

01. Broken Haloes
02. I'm Not the Man
03. Figure and Face
04. Solidarity
05. All in Vain

Now on Amazon. Please support these guys!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Full Fathom Five - 4 A.M. (1988, Link)

Going back close to four years, I shared two records by one of Iowa's most overlooked exports, Full Fathom Five.  The albums in question were Cry of a Falling Nation (1987) and Multinational Pop Conglomerate (1989).  There was actually another album sandwiched between them that I didn't have at the time, and now that it's in my clutches I have seen fit to do the obvious.  FFF took a page (or make that a chapter) from a certain contemporary power trio in Minneapolis that had just cashed in their collective pink slip upon arrival of 4 A.M.   And although the Five never quite harnessed the charisma of the Husker's, they carved an amped-out swath of their own.  There's plenty of buzzsaw riff-ola here, with almost nothing expendable.  So far as I know, FFF don't have any official web presence, but Trouser Press as usual provides a nice chunk of text distilling the virtues of their discography.

01. The Firing Line
02. The Western Light
03. Paingiver
04. World War Three
05. Paula's First Piano Recital
06. Madeline
07. Things Will Never Be the Same
08. 4 A.M.
09. $7.99 an Hour
10. C Song
11. Mrs. Rony's Problem
12. Smoke Screen
13. Andy's Digital Delay


Jet Black @ SXSW 3/16/12!

For all of you attending SXSW, check out Jet Black on Friday the 16th at Spill Bar in Austin for FREE.  More info can be had on Jet Black here. and be sure to check out our review of 2011's Escape Measures.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Forty Nineteens - No Expiration Date (2011, Heyday) - a brief overview

Last October when I assembled my "want list" of frustratingly tough to find recordings, I mentioned I was seeking The Leonards Blister ep.  It turned out that the Detroit by way of L.A. outfit had a slightly more pronounced reputation than I originally thought, and in addition to the elusive ep was a retrospective disk available on CD Baby.  Ultimately I was able to track down Leonards drummer Nick Zeigler who was able to fulfill my request (thanks!).  I'm going to dedicate a separate entry to the Blister ep in the near future, however Nick had the gumption and the good sense to send me a 2011 full length by his current band, The Forty Nineteens.

No Expiration Date is as about as straight-up rock 'n roll you're likely to lay your hands on these days.  The Forty Nineteens have put roots down in a muscular foundation of bar-rock, with a hint of Americana and Southern boogie.  A familiar formula, true, but it takes just the right songs to be brought to the table, and this Temecula, CA four-pack has bellied up to the bar with plenty, including the fervent rave-up "Truckers Song," the rumbling "Turn It Around," and what is likely my pick for the album, "Out of Time's" flirtatious jangle pop.    No Expiration Date is available from CD Baby and iTunes.

You can read more about the Forty Nineteens and check out videos and show announcements here.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Kilkenny Cats 7" (1984, Coyote)

Damn, I like this way the hell more than their Hands Down album, which I shared a couple years back.  In that entry I remember making a comparison to REM, a no-name band from Athens, GA, which is also where the Kilkenny Cats were based.  "Attractive Figure" saunters along a trajectory none-too-dissimilar from the Feelies, albeit with meaner guitars.  The flip, "Of Talk" is even more engaging suggesting that the Cats were informed of what their west coast contemporaries the Dream Syndicate had been up to.  Ultimately, the band may be best remembered for their appearance in the 1987 Athens, GA Inside/Out rockumentary.  Not a bad way to be immortalized if you ask me.

A. Attractive Figure
B. Of Talk


Thursday, March 8, 2012

For Against - Shelf Life (1997, Independent Project)

I had a request for this recently, and was happy to oblige, however much of For Against's catalog has been reissued in recent years, so should Shelf Life make it onto the market again I won't be sharing this for long.  Without a doubt the finest musical export to come from the state of Nebraska, For Against's sweetly chiming post-punk aplomb is just about the most sublime sound you could ever hope to treat your eardrums to.   The dream-pop tag that is so frequently affixed to them is a bit of a lazy inaccuracy, but there's a genuinely contemplative, and perhaps even bittersweet quotient to any given FA song, ranging from their chilly, noir debut, Echelons to 2009's demonstrably more lucid Never BeenShelf Life was the third of a trio of superlative albums the trio churned out during the '90s, preceded by the equally inviting Aperture and Mason's California Lunchroom.  And I've merely scratched the surface.  A good summation of For Against's discography is available from Trouser Press, and an even more thorough synopsis of the band itself can be had at the website of their current label Words on Music.  (BTW, track nine is an East River Pipe cover).

01. Shadow
02. Wintersong
03. Starblind
04. Lost
05. Profile
06. Lilacs
07. Harbor
08. Forever
09. Times Square Go-Go Boy
10. Seascape

Reissue available from Saint Marie Records.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ultra Cindy "Whirlwind" 7" (1992, Praha)

Many years ago when there were still a healthy number of record stores, I was plundering for used CD gold, and one day low and behold my gaze fixated on a compilation titled Wyatt's Torch.  It featured four songs from one of my favorite '90s indie standbys, Poole.  It also included four songs apiece from three other groops: The Technical Jed and The Seymores, both of whom I had some familiarity with, and then there was one completely unknown quantity - Ultra Cindy.  In a nutshell, I came for Poole, stayed for Ultra Cindy...and never quite left.  Hailing from Virginia Beach, UC bore all the earmarks of top-shelf dream pop - woozy washes of tremolo, oodles of echo, and slightly murky vocals.  Sure, there was a lot of that stuff going around in the early '90s, and virtually all of it was commendable to one extent or the other, but Ultra Cindy were shining their collective beam of light from a slightly askew direction.  None of that heavy handed, wall-of-noise, Loveless muck - no, no, no, Ultra Cindy took their cues from such Eastern seaboard propositions as Smashing Orange, Fudge, and the Lilys.  Perhaps even a little subtler than that Yankee trifecta I might add, and they were all the wiser for it.

In my post-Wyatt's Torch world, the next step was to locate their out of print full length, The Mermaid's Parade.  After a few months of web browsing I secured a mint condition used copy, and in 2008 I shared it on Wilfully Obscure, along with the revelatory aforementioned compilation.  Almost as soon as I absorbed Mermaid's Parade I was hankering for more, and after getting in touch with a couple of UC alumni, I was pleased to learn that indeed there was more, if only a little bit.  The single I'm posting today contains a pair of songs that predate the other two recordings I've rambled at length about. "Whirlwind" and "Rollercoaster" depict a noisier, and dare I say untamed Ultra Cindy, teaming with swarms of distortion and other assorted effects, bringing influences like Ride and Chapterhouse to the table.  Well worth the wait if you ask me. I'm afraid you're going to have to contend with a copious amount of vinyl noise, especially on "Whirlwind," but the songs are still very much discernible.  A very big thanks to Josh for setting me up with this wax!

A. Whirlwind
B. Rollercoaster


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Harlows - tape (1996)

The only pertinent info I was able to find on Minneapolis' Harlows was a 1999 article indicating that around that time the group had released a double CD featuring songs from four of their independent releases.  Unfortunately, they didn't make it onto my radar until last year, but the eight-song cassette I'm sharing is of considerable compensation.  A co-ed quartet, The Harlows dealt in buoyant, indie guitar pop in the mold of the Spinanes and Versus.  Singer Rachel has a vocal timbre not far disconnected from Sarah Shannon of Velocity Girl.  Excellent songs, which by the way often hearken of Johnny Marr's chiming guitar-work.  This was beyond a pleasant surprise.

01. Purposeful Heart
02. Tsunami
03. Anyway
04. Jetlag
05. Shiner
06. Lean
07. April Shakes
08. Escar Go Karts


Monday, March 5, 2012

Field Music - Plumb (2012, Memphis Industries) - a brief overview

To those who espouse the notion that there's "nothing new under the sun" in the realm of music, read on.  Right off the bat I feel a tad hypocritical, if only for the fact that Field Music have been at it for the better part of ten years, and furthermore, Plumb is their fourth main course, following up a 2010 double album.  Not exactly a fresh face, but that aside, I can't think of anyone else making the scene these days that strike me as indigenous as this Sunderland, UK export, the nuclei of which entails brothers Peter and David Brewis.  

With a myriad of art pop tangents tucked inside a loose post-rock construct, Field Music posses a rarefied tact throughout Plumb, that's surprisingly inviting not to mention challenging, even in the fleeting, two minute spurts they often elect to operate in.   A pocket-chamber accompaniment of cello and violin point to a classically trained ear (or two) in the band, if not belonging to the Brewis brothers, their stringed cohorts who color large swaths of the record with concise orchestral sweeps.  In addition to such aforementioned accouterments, Field Music put an emphasis on arrangements that few of their contemporaries have the desire and acumen to delve into.  Often harder to dissect than a Paul's Boutique rhyme, this combo dexterously weaves rich, serpentine frameworks that ironically are wholly approachable.   Moreover, Plumb is one of the most rhythmically palpable records I've encountered in a long time, with percussion exuding a prominently textured role.

To great extent, the proceedings here ebb and flow like a concept piece.  According to the official press release for Plumb, there are indeed some intrinsic thematic concerns threading these songs, but as for identifying them I'll leave that to your subjectivity.  Hopefully I haven't scared you off with the involved "mechanics" of the songs occupying the record I speak of.  In fact, Plumb isn't at all intimidating, and a good place to sample one of it's choicest nuggets, "(I Keep Thinking About) a New Thing" is on their Soundcloud page.  If you need further convincing, the band is offering a gratis download of "A New Town" on their homepagePlumb is available physically from Amazon and the usual array of MP3 merchants.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Singles Going Single #200 - Cotton Mather 7" (1993, Biffco)

Hard to believe, but the Singles Going Single series has reached it's 200th installment.  The original plan for SOS was to share 45s from artists that I owned exactly one single from - that, and I was going to limit to one-hundred installments.  After hitting the "100" mark in 2009 with a Stray Tapes 7" I determined there was more than enough records in my collection to do another round of one-hundred.  Well. since I haven't come close to running out of wax, I'm still going to be sharing singles regularly, but most likely without the "Singles Going Single" prefix in the title.  To anyone I've confused over the years with the somewhat esoteric SOS concept, I apologize. 

I thought I'd sunset said "prefix" with a bit of a bang, namely the first Cotton Mather single.  The record may not be of huge significance, even to the most dedicated fans, given that both "Payday" and "Miss Information" appeared on their debut album Cotton is King, in the same incarnations from what I'm able to derive.  Still, I can't think of a better introduction to CM's deft songcraft, which for a few exceptions was without peer in the mid '90s power pop strata.  Judging by how the band is gauged in hindsight, you'd think Cotton Mather only had one album to their credit, 1997's Kontiki (recently reissued in an expanded edition).  As wondrous an album as Kontiki was, Cotton is King was just as prodigiously inspired and advanced for a band of such a young stature, and in many ways more immediate.  Anyway, I'm not here to sell you Cotton Mather records.  Just listen and love.  Both tracks ripped straight from vinyl.

A. Payday
B. Miss Information


Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Blanks - ...if this had been an actual emergency... mLP (1990, Falsified)

While there have been many a rock and roll combo laying claim to "The Blanks" moniker, these ____ called Birmingham, MI home base.  Moreover, they tended to genre hop at will, commencing ...actual emergency with a cynical hardcore blast, "Be False to Your School," it's title a parody of a significantly more popular song (duh).  This is followed up with a shard of icy, brooding post-punk, "Holy Shroud of Ruin," this mini-LP's crowning achievement, which for what it's worth flies straight in the face of ...emergency's decidedly frivolous sleeve art.  "Flying Lessons" is a memorable and melodic lament, and later, side two offers a punk rock keeper in "Government Shutdown," vaguely recalling Middle Class and Social Unrest.  The record draws to it's inevitable nadir on the reggae-fied "Weekend Education."  Not overly derivative or innovative, The Blanks are what they are...or should I say, were what they were.   

01. Be False to Your School
02. Holy Shroud of Ruin
03. Flying Lessons
04. Government Shutdown
05. For Phil (Ochs) and Others
06. Stray Shadows
07. Weekend Education


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Gunbunnies - Paw Paw Patch (1990)

For a record produced by Jim Dickinson, who twiddled the knobs for the likes of the Replacements and Rolling Stones, I was hoping the Gunbunnies would've packed more of a punch.  Then again, I encountered this CD for the first time last year, so I suppose my expectations weren't that high.  Virgin Records no doubt marketed this Memphis by-way-of Little Rock quartet as "alternative," if only in the loosest connotation.  Paw Paw Patch is the sound of Guadalcanal Diary had that band made a concerted effort to mainstream themselves, and it's not far removed from Matthew Sweet's pre-Girlfriend solo records to boot.  "Stranded" kicks up a decent dust cloud, while "3 Days Behind" and "Drinking Days" are plenty catchy, but I'm hearing way too many bunts that could've been RBI material had the Gunbunnies and/or producer Jim Dickerson not applied so damn much polish.   A much more thorough assessment of the Gunbunnies, plus an interview with frontman Chris Maxwell can be read at Pop Dose online.

01. Put a Tail On Your Kite
02. Down in the Dark
03. Stranded
04. Big Talk
05. The Killing Frost
06. Can I Follow You?
07. 3 Days Behind
08. Break My Fall
09. Little Drops of Water
10. Drinking Days