Friday, August 30, 2013

Kent State - The Wrong Side of History (2011-13)

In the past couple years I've done features on a number of cassette releases by Kent State, a noisenik Baltimore by way of L.A. crew whose raw sonic sprawl melds mangled melodies to scuzzy no-fi guitars.  So impressed am I with their disorienting, abrasive penchant, I'm sharing in it's entirety a newly minted compilation of those limited-run KS tapes, Wrong Side of History, which is now available on LP

Per some of my earlier critiques:

Kent State's murky muck might impress you as a scuzzy, art-damaged deconstruction of everything from Swervedriver to Japandroids, plummeting the fidelity bar basement-ward big time.  ...A brash amalgamation of noisy punk and delirious shoegaze-ridden headiness.  

Check out the goods for yourself, and if you like what you hear, chip in a few bucks for a hard copy, would ya?  Thanks.

01. Behind Closed Doors
02. Disconnected
03. Formaldehyde
04. Time Crimes II
05. Spahn Ranch
06. Crashing Satellies
07. Arcadia
08. Time Crimes
09. Challenger
10. 2814
11. Into to Flies
12. Walk Through Walls
13. Nuclear Winter
14. Hundred Year's War
15. Secrets For Sale
16. Agoraphobic

Now on Bandcamp. Name your own price. You know you want to.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

It disassembles my despair. It never took me anywhere. It never once bought me a drink.

Sandwiching the Weakerthans between Rocket From the Crypt and Iggy & the Stooges was an absurd proposition at Toronto's installment of Riotfest! this past Sunday (yes, I saw the Replacements).  So much so that I relegated their set to background music while I went in pursuit of sustenance (if you must know, I settled on a very week ice cream sundae, after my friend dissuaded me from purchasing something from the token poutine booth).

Call it a delayed reaction, but today I found myself seriously jonesing for tuneage from John K. Sampson & Co.  Never shared anything from them before on these pages, due to the obvious availability of their four albums, but I did have this small assemblage of demos for their third platter, Reconstruction Site.  Typically, a nascent version of my fave RS composition, "One Great City!" is MIA, but that's merely a completist's quibble on my part. The capsule version on the Weakerthans:  In the late '90s, frontman John Sampson took a respite from his former (and ongoing) band Propagandhi, a fierce and resonantly political hardcore troupe from Winnipeg.   A debut album, Fallow, was released in 1999 to widespread acclaim, due greatly in part to Sampson's literate, heart-tugging prose hemmed to a "rootsy-emo" delivery system.  Given Falllows' success, he dismantled himself entirely from the Propaghandi roster, and proceeded to make three additional Weakerthans albums, the most recent being 2007's Reunion Tour.   The band has played periodically ever since, and Mr. Sampson issued a solo album in 2012.  As far as demos go, these are fairly representative of what the final outcome would amount to - the differences are subtle, but there.  Enjoy.

01. Psalm For The Elks Lodge Last Call
02. A New Name For Everything
03. Our Retired Explorer (Dines With Michel Foucault)
04. The Prescience Of Dawn
05. (manifest)
06. Reconstruction Site
07. Surplus Value
08. The Reasons


Sunday, August 25, 2013

She met some guy from the Ropers and kissed him as I looked away.

In 2003, while everyone was swooning to the Postal Service, I was chilling out to this intoxicating debut album from a band that didn't seem to garner a morsel of attention or press.  Funny that.

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, August 24, 2013

Nightman - No Escape (1981, Limp)

You could say that any friend of Tommy Keene is a friend of mine.  What aroused my interest in Nightman, was drummer Doug Tull, who I learned was formally enlisted in the greater D.C. area Razz in the late '70s, a group which prominently featured a pre-solo Tommy Keene in it's lineup.  In fact, the label that released No Escape, Limp Records, was also home to the Razz.  For a record of it's caliber, I'm damn near shocked that No Escape hasn't been reissued, or found it's way into the sharity blogosphere.  It will come as no surprise to most of you that Nightman slotted nicely into the power-pop side of the tracks.  Think more Knack than say, Shoes.  There are some occasionally routine moments here, but the truly inspired selections (e.g. "Waiting" and "Headline") glisten superbly.  The band's ska parody, "Skanky" would have been better left on the shelf, however.  As it would turn out, Nightman generated a rising star in bassist Ted Niceley, who would subsequently launch a prolific career as an in-demand record producer

01. Headline
02. Not Together
03. Playing's Done
04. Love Warfare
05. Skanky
06. Waiting
07. Remember You
08. No Escape
09. Critical Line
10. Working
11. Secrets
12. Find a Way
13. Time to Go


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lines - Standby ep (1983, Sideman)

This is not the same Lines from Long Island that I featured a few years back, nor is it the slightly more renown Brit post-punk act of the same name.  Nope, these Lines were jotted down in the environs of Boston a good three decades ago ago.  A highly competent and polished wave/power-pop quintet steeped in '80s synthy nuances, (the) Lines were helmed by one Eric Hafner, who had an occasional propensity for hitting an unmistakable Ric Ocasek-like timbre (check out the title track if you want to call my bluff). Standby's key saving grace is that it's every bit as much fun as it is derivative.  Considering it's a product of such an excess-fueled era to begin with, this is one you're liable to love or hate.  And with that, enjoy (or not).

01. Standby
02. Ran Away
03. Wake Up
04. Friends
05. Fear the Dark
06. Living End


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Few Good Men 7" (1987, Nobodaddy)

Just a hunch, but I don't think I'll ever tire of '80s, collegiate indie rock, and this dandy 45 can be added to that treasured pile of vinyl evidence.  Not a stitch of info on these folks - online, or accompanying the single.  Couldn't even tell you where they were from or who constituted the line-up.  A Few Good Men wielded guitar-pop smarts with a light jangly undercurrent, not far removed from say, Let's Active, but less esoteric.  You might regard "You Never Know" as the day to "Circle of One's" night.  Feel free to chime in if you have any details on this rather elusive bunch. 

A. You Never Know
B. Circle of One


Monday, August 19, 2013

...but it feeks like my shoes have been crazy glued...

A devastating pop platter from 1982, masterminded by a true wizard of his craft. 

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, August 17, 2013

The Church - Gathering Speed live in Stockholm, Melbourne 1982

Well, Wilfully Obscure has been a tad lax this week, so until we get the chance to rip more wax, please partake in this Church bootleg from 1982.  The first eight tracks are derived from a Stockholm, Sweden concert, plus a bonus version of "Is This Where You Live," comes from an April '82 performance in Melbourne.  Blurred Crusade era.  Audience recording.  A big thanks to whomever taped these shows some three decades ago, and also to the individual who was conscientious enough to prepare the artwork. 

02/10/82 The Ritz, Stockholm, Sweden
01. You Took
02. Secret Corners
03. Field of Mars
04. Is This Where You Live?
05. Unguarded Moment
06. Fraulein
07. Just For You
08. Fighter Pilot, Korean War

04/04/82 Prospect Hill, Melbourne 
09. Is This Where You Live?


Thursday, August 15, 2013

V/A - Squares Blot Out the Sun (1990, DB)

Per the sleeve notes, this compilation was slated to be issued in 1984, but the unintended layover accorded DB Records to include selections that were recorded beyond the year George Orwell so famously prophesied.  HQ'd in Atlanta,  DB was one of the preeminent Southeasten indie labels of it's era.  Squares Blot Out the Sun functions not so much as a label sampler, but as a summary of rarities and unreleased material from key players in said label's roster.

Athens' Pylon were one of the flagship DB bands, and they're represented here with the single version of "Cool," and an unreleased live cut, "Party Zone" (yes, an instrumental but still worth checking out).  Also from Athens, and checking in with a live track of their own, Oh-OK, who included one Lynda Stipe in their lineup.  We get ace single sides from two Atlanta denizens, The Fans and Brains, and also from the same locale, The Coolies who give Simon and Garfunkel's "Richard Cory" a run for it's money.  The Swimming Pool Q's contribute what appears to be an exclusive to this comp, "Home In."  For that matter Q's singer Anne Richmond Boston chips in a song of her ownWe've also got acoustic Tim Lee, and a pleasant slice of chiming guitar pop courtesy of Austin's Reivers (previously known as Zeitgeist).  The real prize on Squares goes to none other than Matthew Sweet who appears with his wondrous, but short-lived Buzz of Delight, whose post-modern "I've Got Gold" in one of his finest moments...ever.  I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that the two Jack Heard (a collaboration between David Gamble of the Method Actors and Kevin Dunn of the Fans) selections are highly annoying covers that sort of gum up the works - just not enough to disuade you from enjoying in an otherwise Square deal.

01-Pylon - Cool (7" version)
02-The Fans - True
03-Jack Heard - Sex Machine
04-The Reivers - Bidin' Time
05-Tim Lee - Talked About It
06-Side Effects - Neat in the Street
07-Pylon - Party Zone (live)
08-The Swimming Pool Q's - Home In
09-Jack Heard - Burnin' Love
10-The Skeeters - High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me)
11-Oh-OK - Random
12-The Coolies - Richard Cory
13-The Brains - Quick With Your Lip
14-Tom Gray Rick Price Alfredo Villar - Y.O.U. Mistake
15-Buzz of Delight - I've Got Gold
16-Wheel of Cheese - Roadhouse Blues (live)
17-Anne Richmond Boston - Gimme a Room
18-unknown - Stakeout at the Steakhouse


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Populuxe - tape (1990)

To be perfectly frank, not only wouldn't I be sharing this one with ya'll, I probably wouldn't have purchased it to begin with were it not for the inclusion of a cover of the Flamin' Groovies quintessential "Shake Some Action."  For better or worse, this strummy Buffalo, NY duo were coming from a far different place than the Groovies.  Instead, Populuxe's stripe of acousti-pop is even more economical than say, the Posies Failure.  As far as powerless pop goes, I still find merit in these tunes, though it took multiple listens to garner much of an appreciation for them.  Lightweight religious connotations crop up on "Under My Feet," but not enough to scare me away.  I dunno.  Give 'er a listen and feel free to share your thoughts. 

01. Lady May
02. Mr. Knight
03. Poodle King
04. Hey Hey Claire
05. Shake Some Action
06. Under My Feet
07. Skinny Boys


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Goldspot - Aerogramme (2013) - a brief overview

I'm tempted to say that Goldspot fulcrum Siddhartha Khosla has seized upon the same commercial-indie formula that the Shins/Broken Bells and Rogue Wave have so agilely ushered to the top of the album charts, but that would be assessing things at an almost entirely cosmetic level.  Aerogramme's breezy, goes-down-easy panache and impeccably crisp sonic deployment belies textures aplenty, akin to more than a few layers of onion skin.  But even if you've only in it for the "hooks," Khosla and his cohorts nail it superbly on "The Border Line," "Salt of the Earth," and the gradually intoxicating opener "Abyss."  Check out a sliver called "If the Hudson Overflows," here, and if you're so inclined get he whole shebang from iTunes or Amazon come August 20th.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Making plans on sure things that aren't.

Was the best indie rock album of 1989 actually released on a major label?  Pretty much.

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, August 11, 2013

Potbelly/The Stand GT - Nils tribute 7" (1994, Mag Wheel)

This 45 turned out to be a precursor to the much more exhaustive Nils tribute project, namely the Scratches and Needles various artists LP that was issued in 1998.   The Stand GT turn in a very faithful reading of the band's undeniable punk-pop classic, "When Love Puts on a Sad Face."  While that tune carried over to the aforementioned Scratches and Needles, Potbelly's offbeat rendering of "Scratches and Needles" was left to languish on this split single, and by and large, I understand why.  Stretching what was originally a less-than three minute song into a protracted seven minute jam, saps much of the energy out of it, but when the needle finally lifts from the groove, the general aesthetic of "Scratches..." loosely prevails.

Truth be told, I'm posting this one just as much for the sleeve art as the music, with each band taking to task spot-on parodies of two classic Nils albums sleeve.  The Scratches and Needles tribute comp is available from Amazon and iTunes, while original copies of this 7" may still be obtainable through Mag Wheel Records mailorder

A. Potbelly - Scratches and Needles
AA. The Stand GT - When Loves Puts on a Sad Face


Friday, August 9, 2013

(The) Cateran - Ache (1989, What Goes On)

A friend of mine recommended this Scottish crew a few years back, I believe when we were chatting about Mega City Four and the like.  Found an original copy of Ache a couple weeks ago, and snagged it on that enthusiastic recommendation alone.  The Cateran's punk-pop stride was not to be overlooked, but they came equipped with an unruly psych-rock penchant as well, reminiscent of early Afghan Whigs and contemporary hopefuls Swallow (the Sub Pop Records band).  It's probably by sheer coincidence, but the vocal timbre of Sandy Macpherson slides into the realm of David Lowery on more than one occasion.  A rendition of the Jimi Hendrix chestnut, "Love or Confusion" meshes comfortably with the Cateran's own guitar wailin' melees.  Fun record.  Ache has been previously offered on other blogs (pretty sure the links are defunct by now), but this rip was taken from my own copy.  Enjoy (or not).

01. Ache
02. Kitty Kitten
03. Early Old
04. Tina
05. Hateable
06. Cage
07. Love or Confusion
08. Someone Else's Sun
09. Traffic Drone
10. Storm 7


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fretblanket - Better Than Swimming ep (1990, Neck Mohican)

In 1994 Fretblanket made minor ripples on alt-rock radio with a stunning melodic blast in the form of “Twisted,” suggesting what an amalgam of Swervedriver and Neds’s Atomic Dustbin might have amounted to.  It appeared on an album dubbed Junkfuel, but truth was, “Twisted” dated back a good four years prior.  You can hear it in it’s original incarnation here, along with three other likeminded cuts of fuzzy noisepop.  The concluding "I'm Going to Buy a Hang-Glider" was also recut for Junkfuel.

01. Twisted
02. Captain Invisible
03. 28 Feet Tall
04. I'm Going to Buy a Hang-Glider

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Recoup issue one - a brief overview.

As greedy and rapaciously profit driven as major record labels are, it's hard to believe that even Capitol Records would have a problem with Semisonic only moving a million and a half units of their 1998 breakout album, Feeling Strangely Fine.  From the same source that disclosed this curiosity, I was also enlightened with the fact that would-be emo sensations Texas is The Reason threw in the towel just as they were about to ink a deal with Capitol as well.  And on a relatively unrelated note, imagine my amazement when I learned of a young teenage boy in Texas, circa the Reagan-era, who held Yoko Ono and Ravi Shankar on a far steeper pedestal than Michael Jackson and Def Leppard.

So where did all this seemingly random musical minutia emanate from?  A slender but often engrossing zine that just made it's debut last month (yes that's the cover to your left).  Curated by an alumni of the more established Big Takeover magazine the digest-sized The Recoup is entirely reader funded and as such, is ad-free.  Not one to be hemmed to album cycles, genres or even current artists, The Recoup is the creation of an intense music aficionado, who's not afraid to assemble a compendium of articles/interviews with such disparate names as the Naked Eyes, Apple Records footnotes Lon and Derrek Van Eaton, the aforementioned Texas is the Reason, and Jacob Slichter of Semisonic.  As is par for the course of music periodicals, a bevy of album reviews are also featured, with an emphasis on reissues like The Breeders deluxe redux of Last Splash, and titles by the Durutti Column, Codeine, Everything But the Girl, and a dozen or so more.  To close the magazine out, the tables are turned with the editor himself being interviewed by the author (Lisa Carver) of a Yoko Ono book, Reaching Out With No Hands, regarding his self-proclaimed martyrdom for the fifth Beatle, which took hold while he was still in grade school.

I've assembled a small MP3 mix of music pertaining to some of the artists discussed within, including rare studio and live material.  A hard copy of The Recoup is available on Etsy, and a website has been set up here where you can view some sample pages.


Monday, August 5, 2013

My friend's a health freak, he run a plantation. He says the soy bean shall nourish the nation.

A two-fer for you new romantic types in the audience, from a UK trio that never really made a splash stateside.

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, August 4, 2013

VA - Radio Ready - Texas Vol. 1, Lost Power Pop Hits 1978-83 (Cheap Rewards, 2013) - A brief overview

For what seems like an eternity, I’ve been trying to decipher why a specific era of music (say, the years between 1978-83 that this compilation conveniently happens to encompass) is so much more rewarding and robust than the present one?   Just what is it that feeds into the genuine and uncontrived pallor of power-pop and punk from this epoch in American underground rock?   The humbler four-track recording apparatus employed by much of Radio Ready, Texas Vol. One's roster is certainly a contributing factor…but what else?   No heavy handed intrusion from corporate monoliths like Columbia, Arista and Atlantic, or even mondo indies like Stiff, might have silently played a hand in the organic essence of these recordings.  Or maybe it was the nascent, yet inspired takes from this Lone Star bakers dozen, untainted by the studio trickery of ProTools, or for that matter, minute-by-minute progress reports dispatched to their respective fanbases via the Twittersphere.  In a nutshell, I may never be able to precisely pin down what makes music from this stretch of time so affecting - but at the very least, I know it when I hear it.  

Radio Ready's strict emphasis on Texas acts is surprising, if only for the fact that few (if any) of it's thirteen obscuro participants exude any twangy or western characteristics.  Throw a dart at just about anyone in the lineup, and you might guess they hail from New York, Boston, or L.A.  

Another primary point of emphasis here is sheer quality control, and this whole affair couldn't get off to a grander start than with the Pengwins resonant, romantically jaded "What You Gonna Do."  Fronted by one Lannie Flowers (and previously featured on Wilfully Obscure) the Pengwins were power pop traditionalists that could have held their own with contemporaries like Paul Collins and early Cheap Trick.  The Haskells and The Take also do wonders with that similar, straight-up formula.  If it's a retrofitted Brit Invasion angle you're craving, The Fad's "Think" will set your noodle's wheels in motion.  The Rattlecats' "Those Are the Breaks" operates in garagey environs, taking inspiration from the Heartbreakers among others, while Jemmy Legg's "Houston" is a par excellence punk-pop salvo.   

Radio Ready contains thirteen gold nuggets in the space of a little over a half hour, and bears the same consistency of the priceless Teenline and Rhino Records's DIY power pop compilations.  It's available digitally on Bandcamp and physically as a handsome gatefold LP in a limited edition of 500 copies.  Immensely and highly recommended!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

How far can a missing plane go?

Dare I say this is a fix we can all use?  Will probably be leaving this up for just a few days, so don't sleep.  Six tracks recorded at My Father's Place in Roslyn, NY, November 30, 1982. 

Cameras in Paris/I Found You/Stand or Fall/Reach the Beach/Lost Planes/Red Skies