Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ellery Bop - Fire in Reflection ep (1983, Desire)

I had heard/read of Liverpool's Ellery Bop for several years prior to finding this ep fairly recently.  Good lot these boys turned out to be, at least evidenced by these four tracks that find them drawing moderate inspiration from early Simple Minds, fellow Liverpudlians Echo and the Bunnymen, and Killing Joke.  Bit of a noir edge to these fellows as well, though luckily devoid of any overt gloomy schtick.  You can indulge in some of EB's earlier singles amassed here.  I haven't seen it confirmed elsewhere, but the band's Wikipedia page (of all sources) claims that fresh Ellery Bop music is on the horizon for later this year.

01. Fire in Reflection
02. Blind
03. The Calling
04. Jihad


Monday, June 25, 2012

Tirez Tirez - Social Responsibility (1987, Primitive Man/IRS)

Thanks to the boffo $1 record racks at Last Vestige Records in Albany, NY, I recently made my acquaintance with Tirez Tirez, the brainchild of one Mikel Rouse who composed and performed Social Responsibility practically all by his lonesome.  Per my favorite musical font of information (thanks Trouser Press) I am under the impression that Tirez Tirez were Talking Heads proteges, who after their first record, Etudes, progressed into something a little less derivative.  In Rouse's case, less derivative translates into occasionally nondescript pop/rock with subtle "wave" tendencies.  Nothing over the top in other words, which tends to work to his benefit here.  "In Your Own Backyard" boasts an irresistible rhythm, "Edge Town" is jangle-lite joy, while "Wake Up" and "My Mistake" recall one of my favorite '80s combos, Fire Town.  The ridiculously repetitive, and woefully underwritten "See My Problem" is to be stricken from your playlists at all costs (but included here for the sake of continuity). 

01. Somebody Tell Me
02. In Your Own Backyard
03. My Mistake
04. Paper Boy
05. Edge Town
06. Wake Up
07. See My Problem
08. Spin Your Wheels
09. Uptight


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Uncle Green 7" (1986, Twilight)

I liked Uncle Green's 15 Dryden album, which I shared a couple years back, but I love this single.  "Holes" is chime-pop bliss, and typifies the '80s "new south" sound.  That ace tune is backed up with the chilled-out "Heaven."  Although I wasn't huge on Uncle Green's later material, their first recorded forays did a lot for me.  By the mid-90s, UG had mutated into the measurably more successful 3 lb. Thrill, who from what I understand held a successful Kickstarter campaign recently to complete an album, Rycopa, that should have seen the light of day in 1997.  It's a 32 song double CD available from CD Baby.

A. Holes
B. Heaven


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Motion City Soundtrack - Go (2012, Epitaph) - a brief overview

For me, a new Motion City Soundtrack album isn't just a collection of new songs from Minneapolis' "fab-five," it's a veritable revelation.  An every-other-year revelation to replenish my hungry mind with a fresh cache of wit, vicarious (yet strangely relatable) scenarios, and an unremitting cavalcade of vocal and synthesizer hooks, all of which I'll etch into my cranium and call upon at-will in perpetuity.  Virtually all of that credit falls to the razor sharp tip of Motion City's spear, Justin Pierre who over the course of five albums has proven himself to be a singular talent and wordsmith, a strikingly rare talent in this century.

With that out of the way, Go isn't your usual MCS record, not by a longshot.  Just as their high-strung fourth album, 2010's My Dinosaur Life struck me as the appropriate follow-up to their second, Commit This to Memory from 2005, the carefully measured and streamlined Go pans out like the far more logical successor to the band's third disk, Even if it Kills Me.  Confused?  I thought so - that is unless you have a thorough handle on Motion City's back catalog.  In a nutshell, it was on 2007's Ric Ocasek-produced Even if it Kills Me that Pierre and Co. knocked the hyper quotient down a few notches in favor of an ever so gradual evolution (translation: maturity).  Go is doubly more tempered, at least in execution, discernibly evidenced by Jesse Johnson's once wonky Moog, tamped down to a mere murmur on the majority of this outing, not to mention a noticeable de-emphasis on MCS' typical power chord freakouts.

I'm almost tempted to pin the "back to basics" tag to the overarching tenor of this record, but Motion City's early endeavors were startlingly complex, not to mention deliriously wired, when stacked up against the lucid hue of Go, which by the way features a bevy of ballads.  Perhaps the most prominent among them, "Timelines," is a personal narrative by Pierre, peppered with the kind of self-deprecation we've come to expect.  It's fittingly followed by "Everyone Will Die," an uncharacteristically resigned rumination on mortality that kicks all cynicism to the curb.  Certainly not "Imagine," but with such a genteel tack in place, portions of Go are tantamount to a Justin Pierre solo record.  On top of that, we're even profanity-free this time around.  If it's unbridled ferocity you're craving, you're likely to be taken aback, but there are some neurotic saving graces in the guise of "Circuits and Wires," "The Worst Is Yet to Come," and the curious "Boxelder," all of which are comparatively vigorous.  I'm not sure what's to account for Go's kinder, gentler modus operandi, or even if MCS plan on excavating this vein any further, but luckily there's still plenty to savor here.  For the time being you can stream the entire album on Soundcloud, and but it here or on iTunes, who are offering a deluxe edition with three bonus tracks.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Drumming on Glass - Asparagus Tea (1990, Aurora)

This is a much-deserved follow-up to the Drumming on Glass single I shared a few weeks back.  While that 45 served as an appetizer, the Lou Giordano produced-Asparagus Tea is truly the main course (I guess "beverage" would have played into the title a little better).  In that last write-up on DoG I mentioned how much I thought this noise-addled trio harkened back to '80s Homestead Records alumni Nice Strong Arm, and to a lesser extent, Breaking Circus.  What I failed to make note of was this Boston trio's even stronger resemblance to New York contemporaries Band of Susans.  Admittedly, Band of Susan's sprawling armada of three Fenders could overpower Drumming on Glass any day, yet both manage to spray paint a kaleidoscope's worth of technicolor onto a similar Marshall-ravaged canvas.  DoG's not-so-secret advantage was their formidable melodic structures - not quite in the "pop" realm mind you, but primo examples here like "Hell on Wheels" and "In the Factory" demonstrate that a little harmony can yield more mileage than you might think.  And it's songs like these that make Asparagus Tea the masterfully played hand that it frequently is.

01. All the Colors
02. Trip
03. Jagged
04. Hell on Wheels
05. Slippery Side  
06. Out to Sea
07. Precious Piece
08. In the Factory
09. Legal Obsession
10. Thrill of it All
11. The Kindest Bag


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Airlines - tape (1989)

I was dazzled by Airlines debut album when it fell into my lap soon after it's 1994 release, courtesy of the New York based micro-indie imprint, Quixotic Records, which from what I understand has essentially been decommissioned.  Helmed by Jim Tanzer, the Airlines' formula struck me as a consummate blend of '90s indie rock savvy, with poignant post-punk inflections, ranging from the Volcano Suns to Wedding Present, and even the rarely spoken of Flower.  Imagine my good fortune when I came into possession of an original specimen of Airlines 1989 demo cassette earlier this year.  Even on this initial five-song volley, the band (then a quartet) exhibited a precocious dexterity, boasting plenty of warm reverb, nimble guitar interplay, and an air of mystique that's just plain extinct from the vast majority of present day hopefuls.  Four of these tracks would resurface to wider availability on singles, and I'd also like to note that this reel concludes with an unorthodox (yet satisfying) reading of Nick Drake's "Road."  Airlines' website includes a thorough discography, links to several stream-able songs, and crucial biographical details. 

01. Ambulance Dance
02. Test
03. Tears
04. For Richard
05. Road


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bailter Space - John Peel session, Dec. 1992

I hopped aboard the good ship Bailter Space just in time for their 1993 watershed platter, Robot World.  Criminally ignored, even for a band with ties to Flying Nun Records, that general indifference ultimately left more Bailter for their De minimus, yet firmly devoted fan base.  Starting life as The Gordons in Christchurch, New Zealand, they released two albums under that name, but by 1989 had reshuffled their lineup, and eventually became known as Bailter Space.  Under that oblique moniker seven albums resulted in roughly ten years: Tanker, Thermos, Robot World, Vortura, Wammo, Capsul, and Solar.3, alongside several short form releases including 1992's excellent Aim ep.  Responsible for some of the finest noise-pop/rock of '90s, Bailter Space's amped-out swath wasn't necessarily for the genteel or faint of heart, but for those who opted to make the investment (esp in Robot World and Vortura) they were accorded the potential of being ushered into a sonic threshold without peer.  iTunes and Amazon downloads have their back catalog all tied up, so the best I can offer you is a 1992 Peel Session, which as it turns out is quite representative of their distortion-ridden firepower.

01. Tanker
02. Grader Spader
03. The State
04. Place


Monday, June 18, 2012

Poem Rocket - "Small White Animal" 7" (1995, PCP)

I had heard of Poem Rocket for the better part of two decades but was entirely unacquainted with their music until I found this single a few months ago at a price I couldn't refuse.  Not only was I fifteen years late arriving to the party, but by the sound of this single, Poem Rocket could have tracked these songs in 1980 and I wouldn't have flinched if that had been the actual copyright date.  Wow.  "Small White Animal" has a pulsing, vintage post-punk aesthetic down pat, brandishing an undercurrent of droney, squalling feedback that dovetails well with the song's enveloping density, sounding like an amalgam of early Killing Joke, Sonic Youth and Bailter Space.  This baby damn-near floored the hell out of me.  The less engulfing flip-side, "Milky White Entropy" strays into acoustic, navel-gazing territory, gradually panning out mid-song to a decidedly more howling sonic motif...and then back again.  Originating from New York City, and relocating sometime thereafter from what I'm told, Poem Rocket have a back catalog that I really need to explore, specifically from this era if nothing else.  You can take a peak at their official website, but it appears to be less than up to date.  A makeshift, dashboard-filmed video of "Small White Animal" is provided below.

A. Small White Animal
B. Milky White Entropy


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Laurels - Neck (1990, Heparin)

In 2009 when I shared The Laurels Burn 7" ep, I noted that they didn't seem to have a proper album to their credit, just some singles.  For those of you keeping score at home, I was proved way wrong when I happened upon this fourteen song LP at a record show last year.  Ostensibly hailing from Providence, RI, The Laurels art-damaged take on post-punk arouses quite a clamor, even though they're an economical three piece.  Dissonant and highly angular shards of the Pixies, Public Image Ltd and even a splinter or two of Shudder to Think are strewn about wildly amidst Neck's tornado-ravaged maelstrom.  Side two showcases some of their more tuneful inclinations like, "Sugar Beads" and "Loves Me," but even when Neck flips to the amelodic side of the coin, The Laurels make an intriguing case nonetheless.  As you might be able to ascertain from the image on the right, this record was previously owned by a radio station. 

01. Empty
02. All Ears
03. Sea Devil
04. Yellow Red
05. Tattooed Lady
06. White
07. Neck
08. Safely
09. Cracked Head
10. Breathing Room
11. My Brother
12. Sugar Beads
13. Loves Me
14. Skin & Bone


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Various - The G-Spot: The letter "G" folder mix

Link has been updated!

It's going to be another day or two until I have the chance to rip more analog goods, so in the meantime I thought I'd give you the next installment of a little series I began last year.  Adhering to the same theme as my "H" "O" and "P" folder mixes from a few months back, this sixteen song collection of disparate artists have only one thing in common - the first letter of their respective monikers.  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. 

There are some interesting covers this time around - The Germs tackle PiL's theme song "Public Image,"   Golden Smog remake my favorite Brian Wilson solo song and Gov't Mule do a fine interpretation of Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer."  GG Allin delivers a minute-and-a-half of wonton debauchery, later, it's onto a demo version of Gary Numan's revered signature song, while Gazing at Laces and Gloria (the band) serve up some tasty emo rock.  Also included are late-60's also-rans, Grapefruit, a slice of smokin' riff-n-roll courtesy of Good Rats, and Gloritone take us on an acoustic spin of one of the highlight tracks from their Cup Runneth Over LP.  Enjoy (or not).


Thursday, June 14, 2012

V/A - Alex Soria (The Nils) tribute concert, 3/11/05, Montreal

Sometime later tonight, at a small nightclub on Queen St. W. in Toronto, CA, a band masquerading as Montreal's legendary Nils will be be taking to the stage.  I stress the "masquerading" quotient of that last sentence for a reason that I'm sure won't be lost on a good 99% of the attendees - lead singer, guitarist, and overall life-force Alex Soria passed away in 2004, some ten years after the Nils dissolved in the mid-90s.  In fact, the reconstituted Nils (veritably a tribute band at this point) feature only one original member, Alex's brother Carlos.  By the tone of this diatribe, I think you can see where I'm headed.  It's one thing for a band with a heavily altered lineup to retain their original name so long as the nucleus is still intact, but that's hardly the case here.  Perhaps this situation would be more palatable to yours truly if they were touting themselves as "Carlos Soria's Nils," following in such Jurassic footprints as "Joey Molland's Badfinger" or "John Kay and Steppenwolf."  Nonetheless, I had "nil" say in their decision, and while the music performed this evening might actually be quite satisfactory, the billing is still disingenuous enough to ruffle my feathers.  

And what of the legacy of the late Alex Soria?  Well, in 2010 we were treated to an albums worth of unreleased Nils recordings (bundled with a live DVD) in the form of The Title is the Secret Song, also available in a slightly different configuration on vinyl.  A few years prior to that, a posthumous DIY cd release of unreleased Alex solo songs, Next of Kin, was made available, though exceedingly tricky to locate.  Several years before the ersatz version of The Nils launched, a friend tipped me off on a tribute show to Alex that was held on March, 11, 2005 at Montreal's Main Hall, approximately three months after his tragic and untimely death.  For practical reasons, making that gig wasn't an option.  Luckily I've been keeping a cd-r of that musical homage in my back pocket almost as long as Wilfully Obscure has been running, and tonight seemed like a fitting time to share it with the world at large. 

In addition to Carlos Soria's inevitable involvement with the tribute show, several of the Nils peers, past and present offered significant contributions that evening, the highlight being a reshuffled lineup of the band fronted by John Kastner of Doughboys/Asexuals renown.  To my knowledge this was a one-off gig with Kastner, wherein such Nils touchstones as "Daylght," "River of Sadness," and "Call of the Wild" were preformed, brilliantly I might add.  Two of Alex's little known post-Nils outfits, Chino and Los Patos appropriately shared the bill, albeit without their captain at the helm.  Carlos takes the mic for "I Am the Wolf," a vintage nugget from the Nils' Paisley ep.  Earlier that evening Jim Bryson, Chris Page, and Ian Blurton (Change of Heart, Blurtonia) played brief solo sets, often heavy with covers, not just of the band in the question, but some of Alex's favorites as well, including Neil Young and Husker Du.  All in all, this recording is a perfect memento of when the final chapter on the Nils should've been written.  I for one can do without the post-script.  The band's catalog, a self-titled 1987 LP, and the wonderful Green Fields in Daylight anthology are available digitally from iTunes, Amazon, and Emusic.  If you're new to the Nils, these two albums are the place to start.  A fairly comprehensive article on Alex's life can be read here

01. intro by Dan Webster
02. Chris Page - When the Love Puts on a Sad Face
03. Jim Bryson - Daylight

Los Patos
04. Losin' Ground
05. Belly Full of Heartache
06. When You're Not Around

Ian Blurton
07. Don't Be Denied (Neil Young)
08. Pink Turns to Blue (Husker Du)
09. Half a Song

10. Where Were You (Mekons)
11. What Do You Want?
12. White Girl (X)
13. Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (Neil Young)
14. Mustard Sally
15. Uno Mas

16. Carlos Soria - I Am the Wolf

John Kastner w/ Nils
17. Young Man in Transit
18. Daylight
19. Call of the Wild
20. River of Sadness
21. Don't Cry No Tears
22. Bandito Callin'


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Viva Caramel - s/t (2002, Viva/Molecular Laboratories)

Groomed on the noisier strain of period Chapel Hill indie conglomerates, most vividly Archers of Loaf, Cleveland's Viva Caramel seemed to have a good thing going here.  Unfortunately, this quartet (which btw featured alumni of the band Grain, if that means much to you) may very well have hung it up after this release.  Thus far the only pertinent online chronicles I've been able to undercover consist of a long outdated website and a 2003 interview.  Robust arrangements, frenzied execution, and ample guitar crunch comprised the building blocks of VC's mid-fi motif, but what set them apart from the typical strum and bang was an incisive dollop or two of melody (albeit a tad strained) demonstrably evident on "Russian Wheelchair," "Baby Jessica," and "Radio."  Think Superchunk with a little more dissonance baked into the cake.  If any of you can advise if other Viva Caramel recordings may exist, guess what I'd like you to do?

BTW, Doug Gillard contributes guitar to "...You Still Love..."

01. Russian Wheelchair
02. Option 3
03. We Have Answers, You Have The Ca$h
04. Can You Take Me Home?
05. Habit
06. A.R.C.
07. Friday Night
08. Radio
09. The Fall of the House of Us
10. Baby Jessica
11. Turpentine
12. ...You Still Love Rock and Roll


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Foundation - Voyage ep (1986)

Once again, a compelling record sleeve had me running for my credit card.  The subjects in question this time called Reston, VA home, and happened to share the same record label (Fartblossom Enterprizes) with Dave Grohl's pre-Scream hardcore troupe Dain Bramage.  Now that's what I call trivial, but I digress.  On the back of the record sleeve, Foundation unabashedly tout themselves as "emo-core."  True...but not so true.  Keep in mind "emo" was technically a year old at the time this disk was minted.  D.C.'s Rites of Spring have long been crowned as the progenitors of this tricky genre, and Foundation were in class and taking notes.  Voyage's glorious and cathartic title track deliberately plunders the Rites' template, to gratifying effect.  Elsewhere on this platter, "Different Inside," and "Time Has Come" split the difference between Dag Nasty-tinged hardcore and the innovations that came to the fore via the capitol city's fabled "Revolution Summer" of 1985.  "We've Strayed" and "Halfway to 50" adhere to a more traditional punk bent, though I'm not sure what's to explain for the classical guitar intro, "Winter Vision."  Overall, not too bad for a debut.  Trouser Press had this to opine about Voyage:

Recorded as a quartet, the 23-minute Voyage mini-album includes "Winter Vision," an instrumental that treads dangerously close to a '70s wizards and warlocks sound, as well as some above-average rockers ("Halfway to 50," "It's Not as Bad") and the title track, a mixture of pop-punk and new wave cheesiness that is somewhat reminiscent of a certain Psychedelic Furs song. Foundation's bassist, lead guitarist and drummer each share lead vocal duties, sacrificing continuity but adding variety to a set of songs that might otherwise go stale.

01. Winter Vision
02. Halfway to 50
03. Different Inside
04. We've Strayed
05. Time Has Come
06. Thicker Than Water
07. It's Not as Bad
08. Voyage


Rubber Sole - Appetite For Mayhem 7" ep (1994, Sneezeguard)

I'm still on a bit of a punk-pop tear, and this lil' 45 that I recently snatched up from the fine dollar bin at Speed City Records in London, ON does the trick for me.  Produced by Mass Giorgini, a gentlemen who's something of a mainstay in the Chicago punk community, Appetite for Mayhem was Rubber Sole's second ep, going by the record insert.  I'm hearing varying strains of Crimpshrine and Screeching Weasel ebbing and flowing throughout RS's three fairly excellent original cuts here. Total mid-90s Maximum Rock N Roll fare.  For whatever the reason, these Annapolis denizens elected to take Boston's antiseptic power-ballad "Amanda" to task, but manage to regurgitate it into something relatively tolerable.  George 'the Animal' Steele on the cover.

01. Dollar
02. Amanda
03. Own
04. Birkenstock Weekend


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Ben Grim - retro (2003/2010, Boss Tuneage/Waterslide)

I thought this would be a fitting follow-up to my Songs for Snakes entry from yesterday.  Boss Tuneage Records in the UK has a thing for utterly arcane punk and "popcore" groups, often releasing retrospective CDs for defunct bands of their liking.  In 2003 they invested a few pounds into an underexposed Wisconsin-ite pop-punk act, Ben Grim, and minted the band's retro album, compiling recordings predominantly from 1996-98.  Ben Grim were more than just casual aficionados of the band ALL, and furthermore a bevy of ALL protege combos including Pollen, G-Whiz, Porcelain Boys, Bender, and to a lesser extent Big Drill Car and the Doughboys.  If any of those names beckon, chances are you know what you're in for.  Heaps of fun to say the least, and a good twenty-two doses of it at that.  Bassist/mouthpiece Peter Saturday would later surface in King Friday and Jennifer Echo

2010 saw the re-release of this disk on the Japanese Waterslide label.  Tracks 1-14 comprisethe retro CD proper (with the last of those songs being a killer Zero Boys cover, with Rev. Norb of Boris the Sprinkler/MRR renown on guest vox).  There are an additional eight lo-fi demos, recorded post-1998 padding this affair out nicely.  A couple of the songs need title clarifications.  I'm on it like bug spray on bollweevils.

01. Grim Hymn
02. The Summer's Really Over
03. Brick
04. The Adventures of Pumpkinhead
05. Sad Ass
06. The Boys' Night Out
07. Bichel
08. Kid Again
09. My Fantasy
10. The Serial Killer
11. Cloud Nine
12. Knuckle Sandwich
13. In the Air
14. Civilizations Dying (w/ Rev Norb)
15-22 - track titles to follow


Friday, June 8, 2012

Songs for Snakes - Charcoal Heather (2012) - A brief overview

Since we rang in the new year, I've dedicated text to no less than four Bay Area-area bands: Wire Train, The Sonnets, Marshal Fields, and theYanks.  Problem with all of the aforementioned is that they've long been defunct, and a distant memory at best for the handful of you who were familiar with them beforehand.  Tonight, I thought I'd introduce you to a new San Francisco treat that came on my radar just two weeks ago, Songs for Snakes.  It's hard to deny that this trio were profoundly informed by another punk threesome from the same neck of the woods, that being Jawbreaker, particularly Bivouac and 24 Hour Revenge Therapy era.  SFS offer a breathless thrust that's nearly as invigorating as Schwartzenbach and Co., but the dozen-song Charcoal Heather comes barreling ashore on a Husker/Sugar-inspired wave to boot, delivering ample hooks to fortify all that musculature.  Prime mover Bill Taylor bears a timbre that agilely fuses the raspy vocal presence of Leatherface's Frankie Stubbs with Richard Butler.  An unlikely pairing perhaps, but it furnishes such rough-n-tumble, yet still hummable selections like "St. Mary," "America's Shiniest Objects" and "Thorazine Eyes" perfectly.  Charcoal Heather is a cathartic blast, that's thankfully not from the past, but the here and now.  It's available on a name-your-price basis from Bandcamp (where it can be streamed in it's entirety) and CD.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fire in the Kitchen - some singles (1990-93)

This is a long overdue follow-up to an entry I penned all the way back in 2008 for Fire in the Kitchen's outstanding Theory of Everything album.  Can't believe it's been that long, but anyway...  Bearing an occasionally downer modus operandi, this New York quartet's pensive strain of post-punk thankfully fell well short of the "despondent" threshold.  With slight melodies, warm playing and assured delivery, I'm almost at a loss for words when it comes to describing the visceral charge so many of Fire in the Kitchen's songs arouse.  Almost like a more subtle variation on what Mission of Burma were emanating a decade earlier, but still, that doesn't quite distill FITK's engaging formula, one that lends an almost timeless persuasion to the riff-savvy "Simple English," the decidedly more contemplative "The Middle Fears," and last but not least, "The Fog," a bittersweet but surefire charmer that slots somewhere in between those first two.  I thoroughly love what these guys were going for.  Source info for the songs are as follows:

Simple English 7" (1991, Ajax)
01. Simple English
02. Cold, Rain and Snow

The Fog 7" (1992, Matador)
03. The Fog
04. Inspector Marais

Glow 2x7" ep (1993, Walt)
05. Trees and Lawns
06. The Middle Fears
07. Backseat Connoisseur
08. Pass Us By


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I-Rails - live @ Ventura College 1990

In December of last year I exhausted the last of my I-Rails studio recordings when I posted their first cassette album, Valentino Says, originally released a quarter century ago in 1986.  Prior to that, I shared in somewhat reverse chronological order their 1988 single, and three post-Valentino tapes, Unfocused, Nine Songs From Nowhere, and Panharmonium.  Since I already extolled on the I-Rails history (including their connection to the Primitive Radio Gods) I'm not going to be redundant here, but will instead point you to the hyperlinks above if you wish to get caught up.  The only thing left at the bottom of the well is this brief live document from 1990.  I'm assuming late 1990, as there are references made to the impending Gulf War (Desert Storm).  Truth be told, while it does contain a pair of my favorite I-Rails missives, namely "Sticks and Stones," and "Behold," it's not exactly the best cross section of their repertoire.  As evidenced by the inter-song banter this was apparently an audience tape, however the recording of the actual performance is impeccable.  Closing their set with a run-through of the oft covered "We Can Work Out," is what it is I suppose, but I'm not complaining.  Enjoy (or not).

01. Around the World
02. Behold
03. In the End
04. Pray for Me
05. Mona Lisa
06. Sticks and Stones
07. We Can Work it Out


Monday, June 4, 2012

Grand Mal - Binge Purge ep (1985, Fountain of Youth)

This one is comparatively abrasive to swag I usually share, but then again, we all need a little roughage on our musical palette.  Grand Mal (formally Wurm Baby from what I'm told) were punk/hardcore kids from D.C. who opted for a doomy, noir angle on this ep, falling somewhere between early Agent Orange and Beneath the Shadows-era T.S.O.L.  If you ask me, Grand Mal were most effective when sticking to a straightforward punk motif, evidenced by the driving and surly panache of "DNO" and "Fear to Feel," though I'm under the impression that the title cut was the intended centerpiece here.  Onechord blog did a nice piece on the group a few years ago, and are streaming two songs, including a vital demo take of "Binge Purge" that outdoes the version here by quite a margin.

01. Binge Purge
02. Parade's End
03. Aplogies
04. DNO
05. Fear to Feel
06. Fever Dream


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cool comp alert: The 80s Underground - Deepest Cuts Vol. 1

An incredibly gracious and thoughtful friend of mine who hosts an '80s power pop/indie/new wave (you get the idea) show on KSCU radio has assembled a twenty-one track compendium of obscuro tunes, featuring music purloined from Wilfully Obscure and a bevy of other likeminded blogs, not to mention his own personal stash.  The 80s Underground - Deepest Cuts Vol. 1 includes music from such left-off-the-dial luminaries as Zeitgeist, Rhythm Corps, I-Rails, Cleaners From Venus, Girls From Tahiti, The Truth, and well over a dozen more.  Per his website:

Years of careful research and development have finally yielded the first official 80s Underground show Deepest Cuts compilation album! What we have unearthed here is some of the finest top-shelf, yet criminally obscure music from the 1980s - bands that barely saw the light of day, let alone the cutout bin or $1 special racks at the local record store. Enjoy these fleeting moments of left-of-center brilliance and praise the digital technology that has immortalized these songs which were mostly cassette and/or vinyl only releases. 

So sayeth a great sage once, treat yourself, don't cheat yourself.  Download this puppy without further delay here.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Stiffs, Inc. - Nix Naught Nothing (1995, Onion/American)

I had a request for this recently, but it's a wonder I didn't share this one eons ago on my own volition.  Maybe I was under the fall impression that Nix, Naught, Nothing was still commercially available.  Anyway, New York's Stiffs, Inc were met with mainstream indifference upon the 1995 release of this disk, an era I might add when ersatz punks like the Offspring were reeking up the charts in platinum fashion.  Slavishly anglophile, the Stiffs plundered copiously from the Buzzcocks, but the quartet cloaked themselves in dusty, Victorian-era garb with a period mindset that cropped up intermittently in their songs.  Surprisingly sophisticated, not to mention uniquely esoteric for a debut, Nix... won me over in spades, thanks to the incredible acumen of it's architects.  While this LP turned out to be one of the most profoundly crucial secrets in '90s, sub rosa rock and roll, the independently released follow-up, Electric Chair Theater Presents could barely hold a candle to it.  A brief bio can be found here.  Perhaps some early Stiffs, Inc singles and some other surprises will follow.  In fact, I have one for you already, a split 45 they shared with Jonathan Fire*eater that I posted all the way back in 2009.

01. Chelsea
02. Sad Song
03. 250624
04. Space Nothing
05. Fairy Tales
06. Generation Crap
07. Engineering
08. Blown Away Baby
09. Work Work Work
10. Quick, Watson!
11. Mary Pickford, Marry Me
12. Die, Mother, Die
13. Fear in the Night


Friday, June 1, 2012

Re-up: Giant Mums 7" ep (1992, Quixotic)

Given the excessive vinyl noise of my original 2010 rip of this very cool 7" ep, I've opted for a redo.  There's still some choppiness and static, but I was able to remove the bulk of the most egregious pops and such.  You can read my original Giant Mums post here, but in a nutshell if Dinosaur Jr. inspired indie-rawk is the name of your game, give this one a spin. Four tracks.  Cheers.


Kent State - Past Lives 3x split cassettes (2012) - An overview

Although there were some genuinely prescient folks among us to foretell the reemergence of vinyl as the music format of choice (for audiophiles anyway), virtually no one spoke even in jest about tapes coming back on the market.  And for good reason I suppose, with the fidelity of those antiquated, mini-reel-to-reels being inferior to records and CDs...but nostalgia and novelty have a funny way of creeping back into our lives.  No, you won't find cassettes, either blank or pre-recorded, vying for space next to spindles of CD-Rs at your favorite big box store, but they've very quietly materialized in extremely limited runs via a handful of indie imprints.  Once the antitheses of said audiophiles, current titles on tape are if anything coveted by that very niche, thanks in part to taste-making labels like Burger Records, but I digress.  Kent State, a Baltimore crew I introduced you to last summer, have flicked their collective Dolby switches to "ON" and recently issued no less than three separate cassettes, all under the banner of Past Lives, splitting the difference with one of three unrelated contemporaries: Doleful Lions, Airlooms, and At the Heart of the World, on each cartridge.  All tapes feature one side of three new Kent State songs, with the opposites bearing two to three cuts from the aforementioned.  Artwork and cassette shell color are also exclusive to each and are really something to behold.  As for the music...

Kent State aren't indie rock's "great white hope," so much as it's great white noise.  Their allotment of songs on Past Lives are doubly raw, raucous, and sprawling than those appearing on the Walk Through Walls ep. With a din-addled roar that frequently out-bludgeons Sonic Youth, even KS' smothered harmonies fall prey to a certain amount of dissonance of their own.  A very heady brew that goes well with the likes of Cloud Nothings and Male Bonding.  And what of the other three combos?  I've been touting the virtues of Doleful Lions surreal, yet often poignantly sun-kissed verses for what feels like an eternity now.  A deep, pithy catalog have they, but if you're just looking for a taste, their two selections here are as gratifying a place to dive in as anywhere.  Airlooms were an unknown quantity until I encountered them here sharing a side with Kent State.  Soaring melodicism and unruly squalls of feedback reign in glorious abundance with these blokes on the case.  Vaguely akin to Chamberlain or Kings of Leon, that is if those groups had the creative gumption to record in the pit of the Grand Canyon, if not a 747 hangar.  You can get a whiff of more of their goosebump-inducing tuneage from their Bandcamp page linked above.  Regarding At the Heart of the World, you might say I don't have a place in my "heart" for shronk and screaming.

Getting back to the main event, I would encourage you to explore the remainder of Kent State's growing body of work, which can all be had at Bandcamp, and is also where you can make a wise investment and purchase this limited three-tape set.