Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Indian Bingo - Overwrought (1993, Rockville/Dutch East)

This is the not-so-spectacular follow up to Indian Bingo's relatively spectacular Scatological which made it's way onto these pages a couple weeks ago.  Less focused than it's predecessor, Overwrought doesn't necessarily live up to it's title, but that's more pro than con.  Still sounding a helluva lot like Nice Strong Arm, Indian Bingo hit a demonstrably more lucid stride here, particularly on the delicate "Ice Cooler" and "Worm," the latter containing a bit of dialog from Charlotte's Web.  Conversely, the proceedings get downright aggressive on the muscular opener "Ramos," and later, "Porcelain."  Jazzy guitar melees spice up "My Leg's Numb" and "Father Thinks the World of Me," but at the end of the day the debut wins out. Feel free to read what Allmusic had to say.

01. Ramos
02. Ice Cooler
03. My Leg's Numb
04. I Hate Your Guts
05. Worm
06. Father Thinks the World of Me
07. Sexy
08. Porcelain
09. Treatment


Monday, July 29, 2013

I'm in the basement with my chemistry set...

An archival collection of revved-up power pop from a Boston quartet whose work spanned 1979-82.

Having difficulty accessing the file?  Please try again a little later.  Too many people hammering the link simultaneously is apparently giving Netkup's servers a headache.  With this in mind, I'll leave this up for a few hours past the usual twenty-four, k?  You're welcome to comment, just don't give away anything obvious. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Rods and Cones - New Breed (1988, Invasion)

With one foot in the garage and the other in the bar, Rods and Cones bore a passing resemblance to one of their Boston brethren, Classic Ruins.  However in the case of the Rods, their population doubled the aforementioned, thus upping the boisterous quotient considerably.  Speaking of which, yelper Chris Kelley ain't shy about exuding the occasional growl and howl, and such theatrics go a long way in defining his band's party-down enthusiasm.  It's hard to say if New Breed was fielded towards college or AOR playlists...or both.  Neither strike me as entirely fitting   The term "Rods and Cones" may not be of any recognition to you (unless you're an ophthalmologist) but even though this six-piece doesn't approach things from a cerebral vantage point, New Breed is a rollicking, vivacious rock and roll album, the likes of which we don't hear very often these days.

01. Rumors of a War
02. New Breed
03. Only a Night
04. Nothing to Hold Onto
05. Mistakes
06. Education in Love
07. Forbidden Fruit
08. Push and Shove
09. Waves of Love
10. The Cool Feel of Brick


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bitter Pleasures - Eat the Monument ep (1983)

Here's a self-released ep from a Madison, WI quartet, and yes, this was recorded at Smart Studios and Butch Vig had a hand in recording it.  On renovated, Merseybeat jewels like "My My My" and "Guilt Reaction," Bitter Pleasures carry themselves in a manner that would do the Left Banke proud.  The pumping bass line that drives "The Collision Within" might as well have been plucked from one of the first two Arthur Lee and Love albums, while "For a Little While" closes this affair out in comparatively '80s power pop fashion.  A couple other blogs beat me to the punch on this one, but this is taken from my own rip... which unfortunately suffers from some surface noise that I will hopefully be able to rectify at some point. 

01. My My My
02. Respect For Silence
03. Idler's Lament
04. The Collision Within
05. Guilt Reaction
06. For a Little While


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Let's Active - Cabaret Metro, Chicago 11/23/84, FM in FLAC/MP3. R.I.P. Faye Hunter

Sunday night I received word that Let's Active's original bassist and founding member Faye Hunter had died at 59.  It was particularly troubling to learn of the circumstances surrounding her passing, which hits frighteningly close to home for me.

For those of you who interface with us on a regular basis, you've likely seen several posts I've dedicated to Let's Active in the past, whether or not pertaining directly to them, or the myriad of artists who have fallen within the orbit of producer/frontman Mitch Easter.  Nationally, Let's Active made a very modest dent during their 1980s tenure, but beyond the confines of their own career, the band's wry and endearingly odd panache informed a generation of indie-rock hopefuls, particularly on a regional scale.  A good case in point would be the Sundowners, who I coincidentally featured a mere two days ago.  L/A's indigenous aesthetic made some serious, not to mention intoxicating ripples.  Consciously or not, I've scattered many of those reverberations around (run a query for Let's Active or Mitch on our page to see what I mean).

In 2010 I posted several Let's Active demos (dating from 1983-85) to fairly good reception.  Upon hearing about Faye, my initial reaction was to share another set of demos that they cut in preparation for the third and final L/A album, 1988's Every Dog Has It's Day, however I was quickly reminded that she left the lineup a few years prior.  Will save those for another time.  In their stead is an FM broadcast of a Chicago performance in late '84, which I believe was Faye's last leg of Let's Active dates before exiting the band.  A veritable dream setlist.  In a rare deviation from my usual MP3-only shares, I'm also offering this one in lossless FLAC-ophonic sound, for the more discriminating audiophiles in the audience.  Enjoy.    

01. Intro/In Between
02. Back of a Car
03. Ring True
04. Co-star
05. Crows on a Phone Line
06. Prey
07. Easy Does
08. Flags for Everything
09. A Room With a View
10. Lowdown
11. Every Word Means No
12. Grey Scale
13. Blue Line
14. Waters Part

FLAC  or  MP3

Monday, July 22, 2013

She likes the Beach Boys more than Radiohead...

Probably my favorite summer album of the last ten years...but I like to think it's occasional dystopian tangents make it a record for all seasons.  Total masterpiece. 

You snooze you lose.  Having difficulty accessing the file?  Please try again a little later.  Too many people hammering the link simultaneously is apparently giving Netkup's servers a headache.  With this in mind, I'll leave this up for a few hours past the usual twenty-four, k?  You're welcome to comment, just don't give away anything obvious.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Pete Donnelly - Face the Bird (2013) - a brief overview

The Figgs are one of those rare and unlikely rock and roll breeds who consistently benefit from the songwriting contributions of all of it's roster mates, both as a four-piece in the early/mid '90s (with the now absent Guy Lyons), and pared down to the current trio of Mike Gent, Pete Donnelly and Pete Hayes.  Kicking things off in the late '80s under the name Sonic Undertones, The Figgs have slogged through a quarter century of club gigs, released in the neighborhood of one dozen full lengths, almost as many 45s, and have intermittently served as Graham Parker's backing band - all while accumulating an audience of tried and true believers, one fan at a time.  Gent and Donnelly are the Figgs most accomplished songsmiths, and as such it shouldn't come as a shock that they have creative outlets outside the band.  Thing is, Mike Gent has been the far more prolific one of that pair, issuing three LPs with his fittingly named spinoff combo, The Gentlemen, and just as many disks under his own name.  Slowly but surely, Pete Donnelly is catching up, and is doing so in style with his second proper disk, Face the Bird.

Upon even the briefest examination (30 second samples on iTunes if you must), ...Bird takes the listener on a tremendously varied flight, diving in, out, and around a myriad of genres - virtually the antitheses of any given Figgs album.  In a solo context, Donnelly is demonstrably more nuanced and lucid, adopting a sonic penchant that affords his songs exponentially more breathing room than the often volatile power pop of his main gig.  I hasten to use the term "solo," as Pete receives no shortage of accommodation from a slew of backing musicians - and one particularly special guest, Shelby Lynne who contributes vocals to ...Bird's arguable centerpiece, "Got Caught Up."  Robust and assured, this tune could pull it's own weight in radio-ready gold, but I don't think our man intends to play that game.  Let it be known that "Always Something" shares a similar ambition quotient.  

The sheik, cosmopolitan groove propelling it's way through "Delicate Elocution," is another sublime departure, while a more wistful tone is struck on the acoustic "A Thing of Two," and the nearly as spare "Low Flying Planes."  "Toodle-oo" merges bluegrass textures with snappy lounge pop, and a bevy of clever keyboard juxtapositions infiltrate the concluding "Yet to Be Made."  Some amusing interjections from Pete's kids add to the unpredictable but thankfully rewarding anomalies of Face the Bird.    

For a limited time, I'm offering a brief taster below, but for the main course, move thy mouse in the direction of Pete's store page, and soon to come iTunes and Amazon downloads.  

Bird's the word...and so is Bandcamp.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sundowners - tape (1994)

Cassette.  Procured this one off of Ebay a couple years ago, due in no small part to Mitch Easter's production credit (yes, some of the songs were tracked at his fabled Drive-In studio).  Fronted by one Lynn Blakey, the Sundowners were a North Carolina duo (backed up by an ancillary drummer, Eddie Walker for this recording).  As depicted, the tape sleeve oddly enough features text, specifically a blurb from a CMJ scribe who touts the 'downers as influenced by the likes of Let's Active, Zeitgeist (later The Reivers), and X.  Hmmm.  Well, they lack the creative spark of Mitch and Co., and are equally devoid of X's punky thrust.  However the Zeitgeist assertion kinda works for me.  A Tanya Donnely comparison would have been far more apropos, even if these eight tunes are more streamlined than pretty much any of Throwing Muses and/or Belly's offerings.  Blakey mixes things up between the relatively fervent "Long Gone" and "Faith," with the navel-gazing balladry of "Polaroid" and "Soultwin."  The core duo of Blakey and her compatriot John Chumbris later parlayed their Sundowners roles into a quartet that went by the name of Glory Fountain

01. Follow Me So
02. Long Gone
03. Soultwin
04. Straight Line
05. Faith
06. Like Gold
07. I Belong to Me
08. Polaroid


Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Dambuilders - God Dambuilders Bless America (1996, Cortex)

The Dambuilders were a band on a mission - namely to write and record a song about every state in the union.  Or if not about, somehow related to or loosely involving every state.  Or if not relating to any specifics on any given state, at the very least incorporating the name of the state in the song.  Or if not that, at least featuring the state name in the song title.  Confused?   In a nutshell, this violin-inflected Hawaiian by way of New England rock troupe did not in fact release 50 "state" centric songs, and to my knowledge they probably didn't getting around to committing said number to tape either. God Dambuilders Bless America was an 1996, Australian issued compendium of most of the band's "state" songs.  The bulk of these appeared on officially released Dambuilders records, including the much lauded Encendedor.  Bear in mind, these aren't official state-songs, and in almost every case, nothing is revealed in the lyrical content about a particular locale.  In short, if you're a fan of crunchy, idiosyncratic indie-rock, and if you happen to be an aficionado of the aforementioned Encedendor or even early 'builders endeavors like Geek Lust , you'll want this.  A hearty thanks to John for hooking me up with all these files.

01. New Jersey
02. Wyoming
03. Louisiana
04. Idaho
05. Maryland
06. Colorado
07. Montana
08. Pennsylvania
09. Oregon
10. Delaware
11. North Dakota
12. Arkansas
13. Oklahoma
14. Mississippi
15. Michigan


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Trace - Chilling With Binky (1988, Skeptical Rodent)

The Trace were three Philly kids, who to their good fortune had more creativity and spirit than most of their contemporaries.  Skittish, funked-up syncopation finds it's way into virtually every nook and cranny on Chilling With Binky, a record that offers more than a wink and nod to the likes of the Minutemen, early Poster Children, and even Britain's APB.  Akin to the penchant of the aforementioned, the Trace baked their own indigenous footprint into the cake.  All manner of addictive rhythms aside, "Telling Signs," "Monkey Tune," and "This Time," function marvelously on their own tuneful merits.  Was pleasantly surprised by this one, and hope you are too.

01. No Horizons
02. What You're Looking For
03. Telling Signs
04. Paradise
05. This Time
06. Monkey Tune
07. Cover Girl
08. Too Late
09. Mary Knows
10. D.C.S.
11. Humphrey


Monday, July 15, 2013

I can see you in the middle of a doubt. You told them we had a falling out.

It’s not the Posies, it’s not power pop, and though you’d probably never guess it, Ken Stringfellow plays guitar all over this album.  Co-produced it too.   If you can handle the frantic tempos, you’ll find oodles of devastating hooks belying these speedy grooves.  This band and LP are among my utmost favorites.  Incidentally, it was re-released two years ago in an expanded deluxe edition.
You snooze you lose.  Having difficulty accessing the file?  Please try again a little later.  Too many people hammering the link simultaneously is apparently giving Netkup's servers a headache.  With this in mind, I'll leave this up for a few hours past the usual twenty-four, k?  You're welcome to comment, just don't give away anything obvious.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Dickies - 941 Theater, Philadelphia, PA 1/3/09

Why a random Dickies concert?  Why not?  I've dedicated relatively little space to this jokey, L.A. pop-punk entity, and since I've accumulated a number of shows by them I figured I would share this.  Hard to believe, but at the time of this recording the Leonard Graves, Stan Lee and their revolving cast of cohorts had been in existence for over 30 years, and they're still plugging away (strictly as a touring act I should add).  Creatively, they haven't exactly conjured up a wealth of material in the past fifteen-or-so years, and their live set has bordered on the routine, relying on the same covers, gags, etc.  However if you've never seen them in person, you're missing out on a rollicking experience, some of which I hope translates from this 2009 Philly gig.  Plenty of Dickies classics are revisited, including melodious slammers like "Manny Moe and Jack," "Give it Back," and "My Pop the Cop"  Live video footage specific to the show can be experienced via the miracle of YouTube


Rosemary/Jim Bowie/I'm Ok/See My Way/Nights in White Satin/Got it at the Store/spiel/Give it Back/Paranoid/Waterslide/Manny, Moe and Jack/My Pop the Cop/You Drive Me Ape/Going Homo/Poodle Party/Bowling With Bedrock Barney/If Stuart Could Talk/Gigantour/Rockin' in the Free World/Banana Splits/Eve of Destruction


Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Nobodys 7" (1982, Whatever)

Despite landing a major label deal in the mid-80s, and logging airtime on MTV and Miami Vice, The Nobodys sadly remained true to their namesake.  Originally hailing from Davis, CA, the quintet helmed by the impeccably monikered Safeway Goya reside on the snarkier end of the new wave continuum, but bore a sound that was plentifully accessible.  The Nobody's owed a small sonic debt to Devo, sans the robotic schtick that never did squat for me.  Fun, but thankfully not frivolous.  The single in question contains two songs that did not appear on their lone 1984 LP, No Guarantees.  The album might still be yours for the taking at New Romantic Rules, and a short history on the Nobody's can be read at Wiki.

A. Sex is a Bottomless Pit
B. Boiling in the Melting Pot


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Paisley Jungle - s/t (1986, My Grain)

Paisley Jungle were not headquartered the trenches of the "Paisley Underground" epicenter of Los Angeles, and conveniently for them, they didn't subscribe to that particular neo-psychedelic motif.  As it turns out, this Connecticut quartet's thang veered straight into the alt-rock/left-of-the-dial strata.  No synths or guitars, believe it or not, but rather two basses - the more conventional variety operated by Kara Krane, and a piccolo bass employed by Steve Swan.  As far as Paisley Jungle is concerned, Swan's piccolo bass could pass for a six-string axe at any given moment, producing no shortage of sweet jangly reverb.  Paisley's other indigenous trait would be frontman Paul Brockett, whose sardonic wit was colored by a timbre that negotiated a compromise between Stan Ridgway and Peter Murphy.  Sorta.  A sincere pop acumen informs "Old Fashioned Meal Ticket" and a punkier panache works to great effect on "The World."  A cover of Brian Eno's cult fave "Baby's on Fire" blends in seamlessly and caps off a fun outing.  My apologies for the vinyl noise.

01. The World
02. The Trouble With You
03. I Just Wanna Be Left Alone
04. We Don't Twist
05. S.B.D.
06. Old Fashioned Meal Ticket
07. I Rely on Myself
08. Riptorn
09. Cool Vacation
10. Baby's on Fire


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Indian Bingo - Scatological (1990, Independent Project)

I'm puzzled at their choice for the album title, but one thing I'm certain of is that I know a good album when I hear one.  In fact, Indian Bingo's Scatological is better than good.  Released on Independent Project Records (former home to Savage Republic and For Against) the album had a more than appropriate roost.  Dark but not doomy, and deep without noir pretensions, Indian Bingo delivered tuneful, echoing guitar leads and a crackling rhythm section, all smoothly threaded with a modest, post-punk subtext.  Scatological's air of sweet, minor-key melancholia suggests admiration for several of their sub-rosa contemporaries, namely Springhouse, Fire in the Kitchen, and Nice Strong Arm/Timco.  Some occasional artsy tangents keep the proceedings all the more interesting.  It's a swank collection that spans from scalding fireballs ("The Ulcer Prophecy") to billowy ballads ("Goon Lagoon") and plenty in between.  A huge thumbs up.

Six-stringer Phil Carney eventually migrated to the Red House Painters posse.  A less enticing follow-up LP, Overwrought materialized in 1993A nice piece on Indian Bingo can be read at the Record Robot

01. Stan
02. Separation Days
03. The Ulcer Prophecy
04. Flow
05. Drowsy
06. Pathetic Thing
07. Goon Lagoon
08. Plaid
09. Casim Glue Co.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Blood glow vapour wave.

This droney, psych-ridden disk is slightly out of pace with the overarching Wilfully Obscure agenda, but was a staple of mine back in the early ‘90s.  Presented is the US edition with three bonus tracks.  It’s since been reissued, but the bonus material has inconveniently been reconfigured across multiple CDs.  Feed your head.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Braves - Los Bravos ep (2001?)

By the time I caught wind of The Braves, Rockford, IL's greatest export Cheap Trick, I had missed their first ep, Los Bravos, which functioned as an appetizer of sorts for their phenomenal 2003 platter, That's the Hot Part.  When the noisome but jangly five-piece rolled into town in 2004 (or thereabouts), I approached them about obtaining a copy of Bravos.  Not surprisingly, this was a self-released demo of sorts that had sold out, but one of the Braves was kind enough to send me a CD-R copy.  The artwork presented here is black and white, though I can't vouch for this being the actual color scheme, as I was furnished with a photocopy (not that I'm complaining).

Six fleeting cuts are presented here, including an early take of the passionately melodic "I Am a Patriot," which later found it's way onto That's the Hot Part.  "I'm a Sad Girl," bears one of the most delicious hooks the Braves ever put their stamp on, but it clocks in at only a teasing 50 seconds.  A faithful cover of the Velvet's "Candy Say" closes this affair out with class.  If you're curiosity is piqued, click on the link in the first paragraph to learn more about the Braves, and download ...Hot Part.  Braves vocalist Joe currently fronts Wire Sparrows, while his former bandmates have embarked on La Historia.

01. I Am a Patriot
02. You Harlot
03. Barley on the Ground
04. I'm a Sad Girl
05. Are We Kings
06. Candy Says


Friday, July 5, 2013

Cube Steak 7" (1993, Matt Label)

Here's a complete and total cold case, ripped from one of the most rewarding '90s music scenes, Chapel Hill, NC.  Too bad I don't have a shred of info to go on, because Cube Steak dish out three choice cuts of indie rock, a la the Spinanes sans the downer vibe.  An appreciation for contemporaries Versus and Edsel also seems to be evident.  Their lineup involves one girl (Madeleine) who trades off on vocals with one of the two lads (Billy or Chris), presumably the one that doubles as guitarist.  Highly satisfying tunes, all possessing, to one extent or another, that indigenous Chapel Hill moxie we've come to know and revere.

A1. Lunar Cycles
A2. Urchin
B. Ready-mix


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Get Smart! - Action Reaction (1984, Fever)

Well if this isn't quintessential college rock, than I don't know what to tell ya.  Many moons ago someone emailed me with a friendly suggestion to investigate Get Smart!  For better/worse, it took a couple years to accept that invitation, specifically when I happened upon Action Reaction at Jerry's in Pittsburgh last fall.  GS's origins were rooted in the unlikely locale of Lawrence, KS, but it would appear that by the time this disk was tracked the co-ed trio had relocated to the considerably more happening Chicago.  Brandishing skittish rhythms and post-punk angularity in spades, Get Smart possessed something resembling a poppy undercurrent as well, not unlike numerous contemporaries I'm inclined to compare them to: X, Mission of Burma, Pylon, and to a lesser degree even the Wipers and the Embarrassment.  As mentioned in my intro, Action... skews squarely to the left end of the radio knob, and as it would appear they didn't make much headway beyond that particular market.  A second album, Swimming With Sharks, was launched in '86.  You can check out a complete discography here

01. Because of Green
02. What it is We Fear
03. Knight
04. Ankle Deep in Mud
05. You've Got to Stop
06. On and On
07. Just For the Moment
08. The Difference
09. Face
10. Black Mirror
11. Berlin on the Plains
12. They Walk in Pairs

Now available on Bandcamp.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Three O'Clock - The Hidden World Revealed (2013, Ominvore) - A brief overview

On the evening of April 10, 2013 all seemed right with the world...for approximately three and a half minutes anyway.  For on that date, the much lauded and revered Los Angeles quartet The Three O'Clock stopped on the set of the Conan O'Brien show to perform "With a Cantaloupe Girlfriend" to an international audience.  The irony of course, is that when that incendiary power-pop nugget was unveiled on the band's 1982 Baroque Hoedown ep, it was of an era when only the most mainstream of music acts had access to the late night TV circuit.  Yet despite an almost 25 year layover, the ageless Michael Quercio and his compatriots completely fulfilled on the promise of the posthumous, snowballing legend of the Three O'Clock that had been quietly accumulating over the past two decades.  (BTW, the Conan appearance was one of many reunion gigs, which included a performance at Coachella the same month).

And what of that "legend" I just spoke of?  Alongside other southern Cali aggregations of the mid-80s, the Three O'Clock were fixtures and figureheads in a mini-movement commonly referenced as the Paisley Underground, that also included the Rain Parade, Dream Syndicate, and The Last.  The Paisley tag was a tip of the hat to the swarmy, psychedelic undercurrent that permeated the sonic textures of that vanguard, however it's application to The Three O'Clock was just about as useful as the dystopian "emo" nomenclature that was casually thrown at bands like Jimmy Eat World and Sunny Day Real Estate in the '90s.  If anything, TOC's defining facet was Quercio's falsetto croon and pretty new wave flourishes.  Definitely more dB's than Jefferson Airplane, if you catch my drift.  There wasn't a particularly "trippy" subtext to the bulk of TOC's catalog, save for some occasional Roger McGuinn inspired guitar jangle that imbues vintage pearls like "Stupid Einstein" and "In Love In Two."  Not coincidentally both of those titles made the final cut for the newly released The Hidden World Revealed, a twenty song compilation predominately comprised of unreleased material, neglected fan club singles, and import only tracks, some dating as far back to the dawn of the Reagan era.

In the midst of the rewarding flow of rarities are several signature pieces, including the aforementioned "Cantaloupe Girlfriend" and just as key, "Jet Fighter" from the first TOC full length, Sixteen Tambourines.  Grand without the burden of grandiosity, "Jet Fighter" transports the "car song" aesthetic 30,000 feet into the atmosphere, and is one of the greatest "lost" anthems of the wave era.  Bearing a smoother hue, "Stupid Einstein," "I Go Wild," "A Day in Erotica," are equally as sublime, and even if you've heard the original incarnations the latter two appear here in unreleased versions.  In regards to some of the other treats that stuff-up the unreleased portion of Hidden World, it's relieving to hear a horn-less mix of "In My Own Time," plus an acoustic demo of "The Girl With the Guitar" (co-written by Quercio and the late Scott Miller) and a crude garage recording of a Salvation Army (pre-TOC) song are the icing on a succulent cake.  If this is all new to you, Hidden World is a fine jumping off point, but I would equally recommend exploring the Sixteen Tambourines/Baroque Hoedown CD/digital reissue on Frontier Records.

The Hidden World Revealed is available through Amazon and iTunes.   

Monday, July 1, 2013

I endeavour to struggle at the puzzle that surrounds me...

Speaking of '80s Britpop...

You snooze you lose.  Having difficulty accessing the file?  Please try again a little later.  Too many people hammering the link simultaneously is apparently giving Netkup's servers a headache.  With this in mind, I'll leave this up for a few hours past the usual twenty-four, k?  You're welcome to comment, just don't give away anything obvious.