Sunday, September 30, 2012

Squirrel Bait - 1984 demo

Thought I'd pass along a link, that from what I understand has just recently been making "the rounds" as it were.  Die hard aficionados of Louisville proto-emo punks Squirrel Bait have likely heard bootlegs of a nine song demo that preceded the band's self titled ep in 1985, and Skag Heaven which arrived a year later.  Thing is, a poor rip of it had been circulating online for far too long.  While it hasn't been commercially "reissued," physically or digitally, someone in the SB camp finally did a proper rip of it.  Ideally, these cuts should have been appended as bonus tracks to the Drag City reissues that surfaced in the '90s, but alas, the world is an imperfect place.  When it comes to Squirrel Bait, I'll gladly take what I can get - and the gettin' here sounds pretty damn fine.  Included are six songs that never made it onto either SB record in any shape or form.  Enjoy. 

01. Tense/Earth Shattering
02. Insult to Injury
03. Black Light Poster Child
04. The Nearest Door
05. Rage for Life
06. Disguise
07. Occupant
08. Notice When
09. When I Fall


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Cars Get Crushed - Drag Explosive (1995, Deluxe)

Following up my share of Blue and West from a few days ago, there seemed to be enough demand for  CGC's first album, the vinyl-only Drag Explosive.  I always thought this one was a little more brusque and offered more gristle than the follow-up.  Lots of abrupt, start/stop rhythms and time signature manipulations litter this punishing landscape, with an ethos approaching that of Helmet at times.  In tandem with these technical flourishes and dense arrangements, Drag Explosive packs quite a groove, as only Cars Get Crushed were capable of doling out.  RIYL: No Knife, Unwound, Bastro and the like.  BTW, I'm still trying to figure out what the hell a "drag explosive" is...

01. The Thunderbolt
02. A Slight Sting
03. Deluxe
04. Weather Conditions
05. 18th Nervous Breakdown
06. Drag Explosive
07. Orangebloom
08. Fabulous


Friday, September 28, 2012

Unwound - two singles (1992-93)

I submit to you the original noiseniks.  The genuine article.  The real deal.  Considering I've name-dropped Unwound twice this week (see my Cars Get Crushed and Gapeseed entries) I thought I'd make myself useful by filling in the gaps in the band's glaringly incomplete A Single History singles compilation.  As Allmusic points out, that insufficient compendium "inexplicably" omits two of their finest early singles, You Bite My Tongue and Kandy Korn Rituals.  Certainly some of the harshest tuneage I've shared to date, this pair of 45s, IMO, documents Unwound's most compelling era.  True, they pushed the proverbial envelope in a multitude of directions over their tenure, especially on their ambitious, 2001 swan song, Leaves Turn Inside You, but these single sides were fraught with the raw, gnashing energy and sense of purpose that made Rites of Spring and Drive Like Jehu such a visceral find to this set of eardrums.  But don't take my word for it.  Indulge in "Understand and Forget" and "Kandy Korn Rituals" for starters, and get your rage on.  The Refused had it wrong - this was the shape of punk to come.

Not a smidgen of power pop to be found here, but I'll be slipping back into that groove very shortly.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Gapeseed - Lo Cell (1994, Silver Girl)

I couldn't think of a more appropriate follow-up to my Cars Get Crushed entry from two nights ago then this title, which I wisely salvaged from the "rejects" bin at the college radio station I was spinning for at the time (a hearty thanks to whomever was music director in 1994, or thereabouts).  Like CGC, New York's Gapeseed were early adopters of Unwound's harsh, guitar-rawk dissonance, but were even more frayed and dynamic.  I'm picking up more than a few traces of Archers of Loaf, Polvo, Sonic Youth, and to a lesser degree Dino Jr. and Garden Variety, but I'd argue this trio's stripe of manicured noise was even less tidy than some of the aforementioned, often attributing to Lo Cell's mixed outcome.  Relatively tuneful and rewarding respites populate the frantic opener "Thirsty" and later, "Watermelon Bread," but the bulk of Cell's second half is typically a disjointed trainwreck, succumbing to incoherent and gratuitously tweaky feedback experiments.  There was a 1997 follow-up, Project 64 which I have yet to experience, but you can read plenty about it in Gapeseed's bio on Silver Girl Record's website.

01. Thirsty
02. Grifting Ballistic
03. From the Cusp
04. Watermelon Bread
05. Anisette
06. 1:59
07. Lazarus Sparkplug
08. Magister Dixit


Monday, September 24, 2012

Cars Get Crushed - Blue and West (1996, Goldenrod)

I've got to hand it to a band who possess the moxie to put the "money hook" straight up front as opposed to teasing us in anticipation of the chorus.  Then again, the über-melodic charge that leads off "The Stranger" sort of functions as the chorus and versus simultaneously.  San Diego's Cars Get Crushed, who at times suggest what a head-on-collision between Unwound and Swervedriver might yield, really nail it on this song, fortifying an already amped-out template with a bittersweet, Mascis-esque vocal hook circa Bug.  Fantastic.  For an album that peaks inside it's first four minutes, the remainder of Blue and West still makes a solid case for itself.  Nearly as alluring as "Stranger" are "Optimator" and "Hero City," while the dextrous, shape-shifting time signatures executed on "Infrared" and "California" give me the impression that CGC had gotten an earful of their homies No Knife before they cut this album.  Blue and West was their second full length (I can share the first, Drag Explosive, upon request) and I'm working on getting their third and final offering as well. BTW, a few years ago I shared a 1996 CGC single here.  God I miss the nineties...

01. The Stranger
02. California
03. Optimator
04. Infrared
05. The Bends
06. Hero City
07. Modern Apollo
08. Blue and West


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sleep Capsule - 20th Century Masters: The Singles Collection (1991-96)

Well, I was long overdue for stringing together one of my singles compilations, and I thought Sleep Capsule would make for a fitting follow-up to yesterdays Expando Brain entry.  S/C were a Seattle area outfit who could have easily ingratiated themselves into the messier enclave of that town's much ballyhooed grunge scene.  Methinks they would have slotted in nicely with lower-rung icons Tad, Swallow and Coffin Break, not to mention much of the noisenik contingent that called Amphetamine Reptile Records home.  Their songs were a sloppy negotiation between bludgeoning, low-end riffola and downer indie punk that occasionally veered towards SST-era Dino Jr and Sonic Youth.  A veritable unholy racket if there ever was one.  Had they vaguely smoothed over some of the rough edges, Sleep Capsule might not have been the unknown quantity they were, but admittedly, they had a lot of competition at the time.  While their two albums, Mousepuss (1994) and Pink Eye (1995) were relatively consistent, this batch of singles were demonstrably more hit and miss.  It just dawned on me today after having gone a good ten years without playing them, that the vocals (courtesy of guitarist and bassist Russ and Jeff) frequently intone Mark Arm - at least when they're singing.  Otherwise, we're treated to a glorified moan or caterwaul of sorts.  Not a pretty thing, but there are some bona fide keepers here - "Birdthirst," "Mobility," and "In Half," if you're looking for a short cut.  As for the full lengths I mentioned, they've been made available on iTunes, and gently used hard copies can be obtained cheap at Amazon.  The Sub Pop single might still be mailorder-able

01. Mobility
02. Needle Nose
03. Auntacid
04. You're Forgetting
05. Birdthirst
06. Envisionest
07. 2nd Mouth
08. In Half
09. Bullet Shell Underbite
10. 50¢ Cough Syrup & Sleeping Bags
11. VCR Problems

1-4 from Snack Tray 7" (1991, Re core ds)
5-7 from Birdthirst 7" (199?, Gettin' Grumpy)
8-11 from Sub Pop Recs 7" (1996)


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Expando Brain - Mother of God, its... (1986, Vacant Lot)

Hmmm.  These Massachusetts punks are tricky to pin down.  An exciting and frankly raw blend of early Soul Asylum and Mission of Burma might be a good starting point in describing Expando Brain.  Or, how about New England's response to Squirrel Bait?  Something very sonically unkempt is at play in these grooves - dissonant yet approachable after a concerted spin or three.  There are some strikingly melodic guitar lines here that sound too lucid to be true given Mother of God’s combustible, off-the-rails aplomb.  "Don't Know" and "Thyroid" are worth their weight in ramshackle gold, and those my dear friends, are only a couple of the highlights.  It’s sad to think that no one would dare put out anything as spontaneous or approximately chaotic as this record in the Pitchfork era, one that we're apparently ensconced in for good...unless someone with a little gumption and ingenuity is willing to belly up to the bar.  BTW, an already schizoid album jacket was further marred when I opted to remove an equally unsightly radio station sticker in the lower left corner.     

01. Happy Part
02. Thyroid
03. Get Even
04. Bored
05. Metal
06. It Grew There
07. Don't Know
08. Corpuscle
09. Flogging a Dead Relationship
10. Circle 


Thursday, September 20, 2012

No Such Thing 7" (1988, Strategically Placed Raindrops)

File under Gameface (or as it's often been written, Game Face, take your pick).  Before he embarked on one of the finest popcore franchises of the '90s and '00s, Jeff Caudill cut his teeth fronting No Such Thing, a long lost precursor to Gameface that I'm just as much a Johnny-come-lately to as you probably are.  It would be perfectly reasonable for you to assume NST were an adolescent, hardcore punk crew (after all, they did name themselves after an Agent Orange song), but not quite.  In his own words, Jeff imparts:

No Such Thing were active 1986-1988. Started off as a high school punk cover band, taking our name from an Agent Orange song, doing everything from Social Distortion & 7 Seconds to The Plimsouls. Evolved into a new wave/college rock band influenced by R.E.M and U2. Although we wrote and recorded about a dozen original songs, "Not a Word" and "Marching" are the only committed to vinyl.

"Not a Word" indeed exudes more than it's fair share of Edge-like arpeggios, but the flip "Marching" is doubly more affecting, with it's chiming guitar passages a la Johnny Marr, and heaps of devastating hooks.  In fact, there's no need for an in-depth appreciation of Gameface to get the gist of this ace 45, though that wouldn't hurt.  Sorry about the pesky vinyl crackle.  Perhaps I'll be able to offer a cleaner rip in the future.

As to what Jeff's been up to lately, Gameface are playing a couple of reunion dates this fall, and the first album by his new band Your Favorite Trainwreck dropped in June.  Recent years have also seen a flurry of solo activity, much of which you can indulge in at his website.   

01. Not a Word
02. Marching


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dot Dash - Winter Garden Light (2012, The Beautiful Music) - A brief overview

Well this was a pleasant surprise.  Not that Dot Dash's 2011 opening salvo Spark>Flame>Ember>Ash wasn't a delight in itself, but that glaringly Anglophile-endebted LP didn't enshrine quite as many memorable compositions as their latest and truly greatest, Winter Garden Light.  Dare I say this is the "feel good" post-punk album of the year?  At the nucleus of WGL is a pop-centric ethos, conveyed with deftly arranged songs, illustrating Dot Dash have truly arrived as masters of the three-minute domain.

Fronted by Terry Banks, and accompanied by Swervedriver alum Danny Ingram among others, the quartet's moniker is a somewhat misleading calling card, as this quartet don't conjure up anything Colin Newman and Co. had brewing at any stage of Wire's prolific career.  And while there's still a sizable nod to across-the-pond indie small-of-famers of yore, Winter Garden... zeroes in on our mates sipping from the same domestic watering hole as Velocity Girl, Springhouse and For Against.  The proceedings kick off with a warm, resplendent bang by way of "Faraway" and "Countdown," which find D/D at their most melodically assertive ever.  This refreshingly buoyant stride spills over into "Shouting in the Rain" and the doubly spectacular "Writing on the Wall."  Hot on that song's heels, "La-La Land" sparks yet another visceral charge.  Even comparatively sobering comedowns "Lateral/Vertical" and "Two Octobers," bear something resembling a silver lining.  Toss in a dollop of contemplative prose all the way around into this Wintery mix, and you've shaken and stirred a cocktail with brains and charm to burn.  Winter Garden Light is available from The Beautiful Music, CD Baby, iTunes, and Emusic.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Flower - Crash ep (B, 1986)

Yes, in case you're wondering, this is that Flower, New York City's own, featuring a pre-Versus Richard Baluyut on axe, though this was an earlier incarnation of the group sans his brother Ed.  If you have any familiarity with Flower it's likely via a handy 1994 CD reissue on Bear/Simple Machines Records, Concrete Sky (1987-1990) that highlighted the band's dual-full lengths, Hologram Sky and ConcreteThe Concrete Sky-era recordings illustrate just how logical a precursor Flower were to Versus, but sonically, they were coming from a from a far different angle on Crash.  You can partially chalk that up to the inclusion of a keyboardist (Yosh Najita) in this nascent version of the lineup, whose contributions went a long way in imbuing an icy, Factory Records undercurrent to the title track, and to a lesser extent on "Regret."  Despite Richard Baluyut being the lone guitarist on Crash's three titles, he makes the most of those clamorous six strings, weaving a gauzy, strenuous latticework around the band's already frenzied momentum.  So frenzied in fact, the final number, "What's It For?" hurtles into breakneck, hardcore punk overdrive.  Interesting.  Very, very interesting.

01. Crash
02. Regret
03. What's it For?


Monday, September 17, 2012

NRg (Neon Rock Garden) - "Suicide Song" 7" (198?)

One of my hottest retro discoveries of the year came from a sterling North Carolina aggregation, Neon Rock Garden, whose 1986, Mitch Easter-produced "Never Listen" 7" infiltrated my ears with visceral, jangly delight.  I was aware of a previous NRg single (the one I'm featuring here) but I wasn't actively looking for it.  A fews ago, without any deliberate effort on my part, I was stoked to find it while browsing through a box of discounted singles at this bountiful record dispensary.   No publishing date on the wax or sleeve, but likely somewhere in the neighborhood of 1984-85.  It was recorded when the band was still a quartet, unlike the second 45 when they were pared down to a trio.  Like a lot of indie DIY combos of their day, NRg had their collective antecedents steeped in punk rock. "Suicide Song" finds them gracefully making the transition to something a little less high strung, than say "Corporate Toy's" bratty, full tilt abandon.  Perhaps this is precisely the spot where they placed the bookend to their punk era.  Ironically, sharing the same side of the wax with that latter title is "The Light," a precursor to their next phase of their tenure, ripped lock, stick and barrel from Let's Active's "new south" playbook.  As mentioned above, NRg would soon go onto record with none other than his highness Mitch Easter himself.  There's quite a bit of static to be endured among these three songs, but with any luck I'll be able to share a cleaner copy in the future.   

A. Suicide Song
B1. The Light
B2. Corporate Toy


Sunday, September 16, 2012

9353 - Overdoses at Your Mother's House (rec 1983, reissued 1993)

Recently had a request for this title, which is pretty tricky to track down these days.  In fact I don't have a hard copy of it myself, so what little info I'm able to impart on Washington D.C.'s 9353 is entirely web based.  To label 9353 as avant garde is something of a woeful understatement.  A weird, but functional amalgam of DEVO, lite industrial rock and post-punk (frequently veering in the vicinity of Mission of Burma), 9353's bizarre factor usually began and ended with mouthpieces Vance Bocknis and Bruce Merkle.  Though it's impossible for yours truly to decipher one from the other, their voices are both highly animated, emanating spooky howls to patently cartoonish effects and everything in between, rarely plateauing at anything conventional.  They do hit a melodic stride occasionally, with "Babies" and "Color Anxiety" yielding relatively appealing results.  Overdoses... is actually the CD reissue of their premiere effort To Whom It May Consume originally released in 1983. 9353 went on to record more and expired in the mid-80s.  Vance went onto the slightly more renown The Obsessed and The Factory, but passed away on September 1st after being hospitalized.  Check out this article for details of his remembrance service, and if it's more info on 9353 you're after, this fairly exhaustive site should have you covered. 

01. Senior Citizen Disposal Plant
02. Rooftop
03. Babies
04. 10 Witches
05. King Boy Power Hell
06. Famous Last Words
07. Ghost
08. East of Sudan
09. Egnopssponge
10. With All Respect
11. Test Life
12. Color Anxiety
13. Industry
14. Morbid Premonition
15. Spirit of Murder
16. ~ World Parking Lot
17. Normal Para

Now on Bandcamp.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Les Zazous "Another Town" 7" (1987, Spell)

Ironically, Les Zazous were from Holland, not France as their name misleadingly implies.  Playing somewhat non-descript guitar pop, L/Z don't particularly resemble anybody offhand, though I'll let you fill in that blank.  The second flipside, "Today" is the keeper, exuding decent power pop sensibilities.  If you're interested in a less crackly sounding version of the A-side, "(Brand New Life In) Another Town," head over to iTunes for their Singles Party compilation, featuring an alternate recording of that very song, along with seventeen more.  So far as I've been able to discern, the b-sides are exclusive to this wax.  In conclusion, their bio mentions they've shared the stage with Alex Chilton and Radiohead among others.

A. (Brand New Life In) Another Town
B1. Against the Tide
B2. Today


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Popular Front (feat. Ron Hawkins) - This is the Rubicon tape (1987)

Thought this might interest a few of you.  I didn't realize it at the time I purchased this, but Popular Front featured a pre-Lowest of the Low, pre-Rusty Nails, pre-solo Ron Hawkins, who at this point is a Canadian singing/songwriting institution.  I didn't really know what I was getting into with Popular Front.  The tape looked interesting enough.  Was hoping for something along the lines of the Replacements or For Against or Miracle Legion - something like that.  Instead I got four songs from a Toronto trio who seemed intent on mimicking what Duran Duran were pumping out contemporary to this release.  Nothing pompous or insincere, rather a little too derivative for their own good.  Decent songs though if that's your cup of tea.  Enjoy (or not).

01. Forty Days
02. This is the Rubicon
03. September Reign
04. We One


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mystery Machine - Western Magnetics (2012, Sonic Unyon) - A brief overview

During their initial run, which pretty much spanned the entirety of the '90s, the Vancouver area noise-pop merchants Mystery Machine delivered three albums of tuneful (and tasteful) indie guitar rock.  They're back in the year of reckoning with their fourth LP, Western Magnetics, and playing several reunion dates in Canada (mostly in Ontario) starting this week!  Probably should have announced this sooner, but I digress.  From the get go, the commencing "Pronto" shows that MM haven't sacrificed any of the sinewy, amped-out sprawl that begged comparisons to Sonic Youth and Bailter Space.  Unlike that distortion-ravaged pair, these guys also brandish a sweet spot a mile wide wherein a poignant quotient of melody is never relegated to the back seat.   Though not quite brooding, the tension threshold on albums like 1992's Glazed and 10 Speed, which followed three years later, was nonetheless slightly elevated, lending pensive and perhaps even an austere element that went a long way in defining MM's modus operandi.  As their 1998 platter Headfirst Into Everything indicated, they were beginning to lighten up a hair.  In terms of overall tenor, Western Magnetics is evocative of all their preceding records, though typically not within the confines of the same song.  "Octagon Skylight" and "Snow" seem to pick up where the slightly chilled-out Headfirst... left off, while the careening firepower of "Bullshit Parade" and the aforementioned scorcher, "Pronto," tack in the direction of MM's earlier endeavors.  Frontman Luke Rogalsky commandeers "We Won't Return" in hushed vocals, while "Northern Analog" maneuvers in total ambient mode, bringing things to a startlingly stark and uncharacteristic conclusion.  In a nutshell ...Magnetics is the most varied recording in the band's oeuvre...and thereby the most intriguing.  For a limited time you can stream the whole thing at Exclaim!, but please purchase a copy from Amazon downloads, or physically from Sonic Unyon,

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Volcanos (1988, Rock King)

Holy mullets, Batman!   Try not to judge this book by it's rather dated cover, because not only is track four ("Rescue Me") worth the price of admission alone, it's also one of the finest power pop songs to ever come out of the eighties.  So solid in fact, there's really nothing else by The Volcanos that can quite match it on this platter.  "Rescue Me" was actually recorded when the band was going under the name Five Cool What, and originally appeared on a compilation 7" that sadly, I'm not in possession of.  To varying extents, you're bound to hear a bit of an AOR bent infiltrating these goods, not far removed from the original power pop premise of say, Enuff 'Z Nuff or One on One-era Cheap Trick.  In short, radio friendly fare but not too pandering.  Other recommended cuts: "Shannon," "I Believe," and "She Told Me."  The blokes in the middle and right on the album jacket (Greg Brallier and Fin Seth, respectively) went onto considerably more acclaim in The Tearaways

01. She Do
02. I Believe
03. Her Fingers
04. Rescue Me
05. It All Comes True
06. Free World
07. I'll Take You There
08. Man on a Mission
09. Cool Scooter Rebel
10. Shannon
11. Barricades
12. She Told Me


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Driving School - s/t ep (1983, PRG)

This thoroughly un-Googleable Texas trio were clearly captive to a production staff that was hellbent on using every gratuitous '80s studio gimmick at their disposal.  The proof is in the pudding, but don't write off the snyth-rawkin' Driving School off quite yet, because at their core these guys were quite effective when it came to concocting tunes that were out-and-out catchy.  I can't quite forgive 'em for the mechanized vocal effects absorbing the near-intolerable "Can You See Them?" but the remainder of the record is passable at worse, and even enjoyable if you're comfortable treading onto the more pedestrian thoroughfares of the new wave neighborhood. 

01. Guiding Light
02. Believe It or Not
03. Can You See Them?
04. Leanna
05. Red No, 9
06. Cross the Line


Friday, September 7, 2012

VA - The Kitty Comp (2012, Burger)

Got a plump one for you today, and believe me when I say this was a royal pain in the ass to put together,  The Kitty Comp is a fifty (actually fifty-two) song double cassette compilation that was released a few months ago, limited to 500 copies, and now out of print.  Digitizing this collection was daunting due to the amount of content - that and lack of familiarity on my part of most of the artists, which made editing a bit tricky and tedious at times.

The Kitty Comp was released on Burger Records, a (mostly) cassette label (and store) in Fullerton, CA as a benefit album to cover veterinary bills for an injured kitten that was abandoned (and luckily rescued) on a California freeway.  No, I am not making that up.  As advertised, the tapes were comprised of previously unreleased material, by a host of indie/punk/garage/power-pop/lo-fi artists spanning the gamut from Peter Case to Crystal Antlers to Ryan Adams (btw, I wouldn't get too stoked for his contribution).  Yes, there are a lot of cat themed songs on here, but most stick to non-feline subject matter.  In fact, the majority of the participants are unknown quantities, but some of you ear-to-the-ground types are sure to find a few more familiar names than the three I just mentioned.  I'm partial to The Resonars, Cleaners From Venus, Sea Lions, Peach Kelli Pop, and Beekler.  The last song on side two is one of two unlisted tracks, and is actually the best thing going here.  Utterly infectious power pop.  If anyone knows who this is, please leave a comment.  Full tracklist is below.

BTW, many of the bands on here have other releases on Burger, so please browse their store.  Although The Kitty Comp is no longer available, Burger Records is still encouraging folks to donate to the ASPCA

Tape 1
01. Summer Twins - Senor Don Gato
02. Veloura Caywood - Cat in a Box
03. John Wesley Coleman - Yo Kitty Kat
04. The Vomettes - I Like Your Pussy But I Love Your Penis
05. Audacity - Run Kitty Run
06. Lenguas Largas - Lower Profile
07. The Resonars - I Didn't Feel So Cold Then
08. Dead Ghosts - I Sleep Alone
09. The Abigails - Always
10. Joel Gion - Every Which Way
11. Cleaners From Venus - Hove New
12. The Pizazz - Face Parade
13. Pangea - Offer (demo)
14. Mikal CroninYou Gotta Have Someone (demo)
15. Sea LionsDoesn’t Mean A Thing
16. Devon WilliamsYour Avalon
17. Wyatt Blair - Girls
18. Teenage Burritos - Charlie
19. MHV - Portrait
20. Penetration MoonReal Wild Child
21. Schlitzie What’s His Name
22. Miss Chain and the Broken HeelsDon’t Let Go
23. Tomorrows Tulips - Free
24. Part TimeThe Berkshire Hobbits
25. Nick Nicely - Hilly Fields (acoustic)

Tape 2
26. Brentwood Dan (members of Beachwood Sparks) - Sad Song 4 Kat
27. Babies on Acid - Grrrl
28. Burnt Ones - Hologram Dropouts (demo)
29. Peach Kelli Pop - Stay Away
30. Thee Goochi BoizWhy You Gotta Be Mean To Me?
31. White MysteryYe Olde Stone Cut
32. The Coathangers - Sex Beat
33. Blue Jungle - Teardrops
34. Apache - Kitty on Christmas
35. The Stalkers - Searching in the Wilderness
36. Bell GardensToday I Started Loving You Again
37. Beekler - Grips
38. Peter Case - I'm Gonna Change My Ways
39. Ryan AdamsDynasty of Troll Loch Ming
40. The Zoltars - You Come With a Price
41. The Be Helds - Just Dreamin'
42. Lust-Cats of the Gutters - Pac-Man
43. Soviet - Heaven's Gate
44. Apple BrainsGive Me Your Tongue
45. So WrongThis Ain’t The Time To Die
46. Crystal Antlers - Struggle
47. Young GuvCall Me When The Cat Dies (live)
48. Lovely Bad ThingsSurfin’ On Skulls (demo)
49. Slumber Party - Stay Gold
50. unknown
51. The Meow Twins - Bed
52. unknown

Tape One: Hear
Tape Two: Hear

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Papas Fritas - "Friday Night" 7" (1994, Sunday Driver)

There were a hell of a lot of bands vying for my attention amidst the clamor of the mid-90s indie sweepstakes, and though they qualified as fringe outsiders at best, I made room on my plate for Papas Fritas, a co-ed Beantown trio who juggled the guitar/piano thing with modesty and moxie.  Their self-titled 1995 platter on Minty Fresh Records was an in-dash staple for many a pizza delivery run in my college years.  Like another east coast standby for me back in the day, Small Factory, Papas Fritas struck a tuneful, infectious balance between twee pop and crunchy riffs.  One tricky portion of their discography proved elusive to me for nearly a decade, namely this 45 from 1994, which I located just two years ago (a long time to be sitting on for a blog post, I know).

Maybe they were saving up their acumen and creativity for that practically flawless debut album I mentioned, because this long lusted after wax didn't move me in remotely the same way.  You can chalk part of that up to the apparent exclusion of female drummer Shivika Asthana on the microphone for all three songs (though she'd have a very prominent singing role on P/F's soon-to-follow trio of albums).  The near seven minute "Friday Night" plays out like a prolonged rehearsal take of a very unseasoned song.  Even "Smash This World," the only track here to be retooled for Papas Fritas sounds stifled and unenthused.  Win some, lose some I suppose, and luckily they more than made up for this little transgression during their tenure on Minty Fresh.  BTW, I know for a fact that P/F had at least one publicly circulated demo tape from this era, possibly more.  If any of ya'll can digitize it/them please get in touch.  I might repost this single at some point if I can rectify some of the pesky vinyl noise. 

A. Friday Night
B1. Smash This World
B2. Angel


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

further - griptape (1992, Christmas) + grimes golden ep (1994) re-up

I recently had a request for a re-up of further's grimes golden ep that I shared way back when I first began Wilfully Obscure.  That inquisitive requester also challenged me to posting further's super griptape disk, which unfortunately I don't own, but I'm compensating with the original version of griptape, which unfortunately offers fewer songs than said "super" version.  A completists nightmare, I know.

You can read a more detailed account of further's backstory here and heregriptape was their first album. Upon it's release, it was pretty obvious to anyone who heard this wonderfully derivative, lo-fi sprawl that these guys picked up the ball J Mascis pitifully dropped after Dinosaur Jr.'s 1988 masterpiece, Bug.   Over the course of a second album, Sometimes Chimes, the aforementioned Grimes Golden ep and a few more short form releases, further evolved in much the same way Lou Barlow reinvented himself via Sebadoh.  All of their recordings were issued on micro-labels, like their own in-house Christmas Records imprint.  After dissolving in the mid-90s, members of further graduated to Beachwood Sparks and The Tyde.

01. Overrated
02. Filling Station
03. Flounder (Ubel)
04. Real Gone
05. Gimme Indie Fox
06. Still
07. Smudge
08. Greasy
09. Bazzoka
10. Fix It's Broken
11. Don't Need a Rope
12. Fantastic Now
13. Under and In
14. The Death of an A+R Man
15. Westward Ho

See tracklist for Grimes Golden here.

griptape: hear
grimes golden: hear

Monday, September 3, 2012

Danny and the Doorknobs - Poison Summer (1985, Old Scratch)

The circumstances and various configurations of this album are a bit confusing, but before delving into that, Danny and the Doorknobs were a spinoff group from two justifiably revered L.A. bands from the early '80s - The Last and 100 Flowers (the latter descended from the scum/minimalist hardcore act The Urinals).  Not bad as far as lineage is concerned.  Shortly after this record was issued, D&tD evolved into the more renown Trotsky Icepick.  With me so far?  In 1983 the first incarnation of the Poison Summer album was recorded under the Danny banner, but wasn't released until 1985.  That version is the one I'm presenting here.  With that straightened out, once Trotsky Icepick were signed to SST Records, they decided to reissue an alternate version of the album in 1989 with a remixed, reshuffled track list that also featured outtakes from the original '83 session.  It also bore an amended title: Trotsky Icepick Presents Danny and the Doorknobs in 'Poison Summer'  I haven't come across hide nor hair of it, but from what little I've been able to glean, the album jacket is pretty frivolous.

On top of that, one year before the reissue, Trotsky trotted out yet another LP brandishing the Poison Summer title, but this was a completely unrelated record than the one(s) I detailed above.  Here is what the ever reliable Trouser Press Record guide had to opine about each of them:

Recorded two years prior to its 1985 release, Danny and the Doorknobs' clear-vinyl Poison Summer is a neat little pop record — underproduced and haphazard, perhaps, but sprinkled with good songs (like the title track) and skillfully varied arrangements. (Granted a more explanatory title, this debut was later overhauled — replacing several tracks with vintage outtakes — remixed and reissued in an inferior sleeve as Trotsky Icepick Presents Danny and the Doorknobs in 'Poison Summer'.)

The second Poison Summer, an entirely different 1986 LP credited from the get-go to Trotsky Icepick, was recorded as a quartet in which the arrival of a keyboardist allowed Mataré to concentrate on guitar. Harmony vocals and improvements on every front — studio sound, twin-guitar arrangements, melodies, lyrics — make the LP a treat, a crisply uncommercial demonstration of unstylized pop with intelligently offbeat lyrics.

My thoughts are as follows.  Poison Summer is an offbeat, non-deliberate pop album, with obscure appeal that falls a few notches shy of "avant" territory.  Textured, subtle, and occasionally contemplative, it's minor key aesthetics are engaging, that is if you're willing to invest a few concerted spins.  Throughout I detect negligibly faint traces of Volcano Suns, Japan, Wire, Pylon, Monochrome Set, and early REM, but your results are sure to vary, and likely to be way off course from mine.  For more insight into Poison Summer, check out this piece over at Lost In Tyme blog.   

01. Poison Summer
02. In Exile
03. Northern Lights
04. Harmona
05. Love to Hate
06. Healing
07. Slow Motion
08. The Game
09. From a Quiet Heart
10. Full Cone Escursion
11. Little Things You Don't Know
12. Winds Change Again

This has been reissued/remastered, and is available from Bandcamp.