Saturday, November 30, 2013

4th Night of Chanukah - The Sinceros - demos and such 1978-81

Never the edgiest of the power-pop clique, The Sinceros modus operandi made for a smooth-as-silk proposition for Top 40 playlists, but the mainstream wouldn't have them, at least not in the States. So far as I'm concerned they were too good for the masses.  During their lifespan this quartet of Londoners managed to churn out two exemplary, sophisticated pop LPs, 1979's The Sound of Sunbathing and Pet Rock in '81, both of which have been reissued fairly recently.  What I'm presenting today are about two dozen demos of mostly unreleased material, presented chronologically, tracing the Sinceros stylistic inclinations.

Judging by the first set of demos they cut in 1978, the quartet had a serious jones for early Hall & Oates, exuding blue-eyed soul maneuvers galore.  Far more memorable are the second batch of tunes, the Pathway and Matrix demos, which present the phase of the Sinceros that most fans are endeared to.  Several of those tracks including "Take Me to Your Leader" and "Little White" were recut for ...Sunbathing.  Next up are two tracks from 2nd Debut, which was something of a confusing reconfiguration of Pet Rock material that surfaced briefly overseas but was soon recalled.  It was re-released in it's entirety as bonus material for the Pet Rock CD reissue.

This assemblage of demonstration recordings rounds out with almost an albums worth of unreleased material, presumably cut post-Pet Rock in 1981, the bulk of which features a different vocalist than original frontman Mark Kjeldsen.  For better or worse, these recordings find the band trading in their last vestiges of power-pop/wave tendencies for something that I would charitably describe as more middle of the road.  Kjeldsen has since passed away.  A thorough Sinceros bio and discography can be accessed here.  Enjoy.

first demos (c. 1978):
01. Something's Happening Now
02. Rich Quick
03. Girl I Realise
04. Little White Lie
05. My Little Letter
06. Hollywood
07. Quick Quick Slow
08. Cry
09. Cry (instrumental)

Pathway & Matrix Demos (c. 1979):
10. Break Her Heart
11. Count The Beating Hearts
12. Little White Lie
13. My Little Letter
14. Take Me To Your Leader
15. Worlds Apart

2nd Debut (unreleased album, 1980):
16. Come On Out And Play
17. Down Down

later demos (1980-1981):
18. Knot On The Inside
19. City Summers
20. Everyday Girl
21. Falling Out With You
22. We Don't Get Along
23. You And I Make Magic
24. Coming Down
25. The Scene


Friday, November 29, 2013

3rd Night of Chanukah - The Windbreakers - At Home With Bobby and Tim (1989, DB) plus: Terminal (1985)

Here's a group I haven't written about in eons.  The Windbreakers were one of several bands arising from "The New South" indie/jangle-pop scene in the mid-80s. Like many of their cohorts, including REM, Game Theory, and Oh-OK, The Windbreakers were taken under the wing of producer and Let's Active leadman Mitch Easter. The core Windbreakers lineup consisted of Tim Lee and Bobby Sutliff, both talented singer/songwriters who followed solo pursuits, and eventually became power-pop demigods in their own rite.

At Home With... was the 'breakers fourth proper album, which saw the return of Bobby Sutliff, who struck out on his own after the group's second LP, Run.  Compared to the duo's earlier endeavors it's fairly polished and less than immediate, but rewarding on repeat listens.  One saving grace the CD incarnation of At Home With... has over it's vinyl counterpart is the bonus-ization of the Windbreakers demonstrably more visceral debut full length, Terminal.  A brilliant way to pad out the disk, and worth the price of admission alone.  If you're new to this national treasure hailing from Mississippi, a "best of" type compilation thing, Time Machine is available on Amazon and iTunes, making an excellent case for this band.  

At Home With Bobby and Tim (1989)
01. Just Fine
02. I Thought You Knew
03. On the Wire
04. Down to It
05. Ill at Ease
06. Cold, Cold Rain
07. Our Little War
08. Portrait of Blue
09. Saw You Again
10. Give Me a Reason
11. Closer to Home

Terminal (1985)
12. Off & On
13. Changeless
14. That Stupid Idea
15. A Girl & Her Bible
16. Can't Go on This Way
17. All That Stuff
18. New Red Shoes
19. Again
20. Glory
21. From a Distance
22. Running Out of Time


Thursday, November 28, 2013

2nd Night of Chanukah - Enemies in the Grass - "Day After Day" 7" & Blind Crossing ep (1988/91, Galt)

Happy Thanksgiving.  With that out of the way, this isn't nearly as big an unveiling as last nights Jellyfish box, but New York's Enemies in the Grass were coming from the same place.  Quintessential power pop along the lines of Tommy Keene wasn't an easy sell come the early '90s, and situating themselves on a small time indie imprint probably didn't help matters (though the Enemies were in good company on Galt).  The 1988 "Day After Day" 45 is truly the best of both whirls.  Surprisingly, the A-side wasn't the Badfinger tune, while the flip, "Out of Luck" sports an indelible shade of Merseybeat.  Great.  The Blind Crossing ep followed three years later, featuring re-recordings of those two songs that are almost identical to the single.  We're also treated to the psych-kissed "Wants It That Way," and the chiming "Best Behavior."  As instrumentals go, "Kind of Girl" is enjoyable, but had it been adorned with some text, it would have been just as much of a keeper as the aforementioned.  Enjoy (or not).

1988 single
A. Day After Day
B. Out of Luck

Blind Crossing ep (1991)
01. Day After Day
02. Wants it That Way
03. Out of Luck
04. Best Behavior
05. Kind of Girl
06. Before You Leave


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

1st Night of Chanukah - Jellyfish - Fan Club box set (2002, Not Lame)

Time to roll out my BFD uploads for 2013, a tradition that began last year with eight consecutive nights of Chanukah gifts, for you dear readers.   A few days ago I spread the good news that I would be bringing the series back, and it is with this waaaay out-of-print Jellyfish 4 CD box that I am going to commence the festivities. 

For the uninitiated, Jellyfish were one of the leading "smart" pop groups of the late '80s and early '90s - not quite power pop, but almost entirely too crafty and catty for the banal Top-40 set.  Featuring alumni from Beatnik Beatch (Andy Sturmer, Roger Manning, Jr.) and The Three O'Clock (Jason Falkner) Jellyfish embraced a pronounced psychedelic appearance, that wasn't necessarily a reflection of their music, but made for decent eye-candy on MTV.  Couched inside this colorful visage were highly melodic tunes, ten of which occupying Jellyfish's Charisma Records debut, Bellybutton in 1990. It produced a pair of moderately successful singles in "Baby's Coming Back," and "The King is Half-Undressed," but frankly, the album as a whole functioned like a great hits package unto itself.

There was a slight delay with the second and final JF album, Spilt Milk, which tumbled into record shop racks a good three years later.  Exponentially more ambitious and gratifying than the band's debut, Spilt Milk was a sophisticated concept LP, which barely made a ripple, even with the Bellybutton crowd from what I recall.  Problem was, Jellyfish's paisley ethos ran diametric to a world that had recently embraced flannel and Doc Martens.  Not long after the last drop of milk evaporated from the floor, Jellyfish parted ways, but over the ensuing years, die-hard fans were still clamoring for more.  To quote the liner notes on the back cover, as luck would have it, there is more.  The "more" is two very packed CDs of demos and outtakes, one dedicated to each album, and ditto to two more disks of live/radio session material from the accompanying Bellybutton and Spilt Milk toursWhile the 80-track Fan Club will be of considerable fascination to established customers, I suggest newcomers would be served better by investigating Jellyfish's two proper albums beforehand.  Links to each disk are the track listing headers below.  Enjoy responsibly.

Bellybutton demos 1988-89  CD 1
The Man I Used to Be/Bedspring Kiss/Deliver/Now She Knows She's Wrong/Queen of the USA/Always Be My Girl/I Wanna Stay Home/Let This Dream Never End/Season of the Witch/That's Girl's a Man/ Callingb Sarah/All I Want is Everything/Bye Bye Bye/She Still Loves Him/Baby's Coming Back/The King is Half-Undressed

The Bellybutton tour 1990-91  CD 2
MTV promo/King is Half.../Suagr and Spice/91x San Diego promo/Two All Beef Patties/Mr, Late/All I Want.../Much Music promo/Hold Your Head Up~Hello/Calling Sarah/She Still Loves Him/Will you Marry Me/Baby's.../Now She Knows.../Let Em In~That is Why/Jet/Much Music promo/King/Baby's.../I Wanna Stay Home/She Still../All I Want....

Spilt Milk demos 1991-92  CD 3
(World Cafe)/Hush/Spilt Milk intro/Joining a Fanclub/Sebrina, Paste and Plato/New Mistake/Gutton of Sympathy/Ghost at Number One/All is Forgiven/Russian Hill/He's My Best Friend/Family Tree/Spilt Milk outro/Ignorance is Bliss/Worthless Heart/Watchin' the Rain/I Need Love/I Don't Believe You/Long Time Ago/Runnin' for our Lives/Fan Club message

The Spilt Milk tour 1993  CD 4
Glutton.../Baby's Coming Back/That is Why/Ghost at Number One/Joining a Fanclub/(World Cafe)/I Can Hear the Grass Grow/New Mistake/Eleanor Rigby/S.O.S./S.O.S./All is Forgiven/Sebrina/Joining.../The Ghost../Man I Used to Be/Glutton/New Mistake/Think About Your Troubles/King is Half...

Monday, November 25, 2013

You're funny and you don't even try.

A twenty song summation as to why this Athens, GA quartet mattered so 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, November 24, 2013

VA - Lessons From Little Hits, Part 3

Little Hits was an unrelated music blog that preceded mine, which largely dealt with left-off-the-dial indie rock obscurities circa the 1980s.  It left a substantial impression on me, so much so that I decided to throw my hat in the ring with Wilfully Obscure.  During the past two months I've shared self-curated compilations of some of the music I absorbed (or more accurately, downloaded) during Little Hits 2005-2009 lifespan.  I originally promised three installments in this mini-series.  Here is the third, and I may extend it to four, since the response has been better than I expected.

There are actually a few relatively well known entities here, including the Feelies, whose cover of Patti Smith's "Dancing Barefoot" is nearly as captivating as the original.  It was initially released on a flexi-disk, and later appeared as a b-side on a promo single.  East River Pipe also make an appearance with a superb early ep track, "Make a Deal With the City," and 415 Records all-stars Red Rockers dish out their nascent, punky single "Voice of America."  Scruffy the Cat are also represented, a band who I never got around to mentioning on these pages, and sadly their frontman Charlie Chesterman is recently deceased.  Little Hits were spot-on when it came to distilling an artist down to one key single or signature song, and the robust power pop of Scruffy's "You Dirty Rat" is a sheer hole-in-one.  

As for some of the more unknown quantities, New Zealand's Alpaca Brothers made my shortlist, as did a couple of Midwestern bands from the States that weren't quite destine for bigger things, namely The Dangtrippers and Bangtails.  North Carolina's Glass Moon should have scored a monster hit with "Simon," a narrative slice of new wave entailing an Albert Einstein theme.  Rick Rock is actually power pop maestro Parthenon Huxley incognito, whose "Sputnik" is thrown into the mix as well.  Klyde Konner fleshes out this compilations pub-rock quotient, and I would have been remiss if I neglected to include one of my coolest LH discoveries, New York's little known Bandables, who only managed to eke out a single during their lifespan.  "Levitation" however isn't from that 45, rather it remains unreleased to this day.

Bandables - Levitation
East River Pipe - Make A Deal With The City
Erratic Sculpture - Cholera
Glass Moon - Simon
Klyde Konnor - Suit For All Occasions
Los Popularos - Working Girls
Red Rockers - Voice of America
Rick Rock (aka Parthenon Huxley) - Sputnik
Scruffy the Cat - You Dirty Rat
Shake Appeal - My Danger
The Alpaca Brothers - The Lie
The Bangtails - While Laughing
The Dangtrippers - Masquerade
The Feelies - Dancing Barefoot
The Group Image - Anything You Feel


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Zonaea - As the Stars Collapse ep (2013, Zoo and a Movie) - a brief overview

Got some new noise from Charleston, SC to inform you of, but it's the good kind of noise.  Zonaea are a new quartet mixing up time-tested ingredients, predominantly dissonance and dynamics by means of a tense, math-rock delivery system, while keeping some semblance of "the song" intact.  Touchstones range from Archers of Loaf to Slint, but Zonaea's aggro undercurrent on As the Stars Collapse, points to something a tad more sinewy and abrassive.  But enough of my yammering, check out a couple of tracks from the Reverbnation widget thingy below.  The Zoo and a Movie website is either temporarily down or hacked, so if you're interested in purchasing the ep, I would suggest you email the band.  Cheers.

Watching the candles burn - The eight nights of Chanukah returns Wednesday night.

Last year I started a new holiday tradition.  In lieu of posting one great-big, extra special upload for Christmas, I decided to spread the goodies out over the eight nights of Chanukah (check out the preliminary details from 2012 here).   This made sense on a couple of different levels.  For one, it accorded me the opportunity to share several mind-blowing "gifts" instead of just one mind-blowing whopper.  Secondly, Chanukah represents personal relevance to me.  We all know you were envious of that kid down the block who had a yarmulke festooned to his head, who was given the privilege of lighting the menorah, and of course, reveling in eight glorious nights of presents.  Once again, I'm paying it forward.

A few of last years entries included Velocity Girl, Aztec Camera, Redd Kross, and The Dentists.  Some of the items I have slated for later next week are considerably more obscure, but there will also be some familiar faces.  In fact, one of the titles is such a doozy, it's going to absorb two nights.  FYI, I will forgo "Mystery Monday" for the week of the December 1, in order to maintain the continuity of the holiday as it falls on the calendar. 

All of this begs the question, "Has Wilfully Obscure been holding out on us for the last 11 months?"  Somewhat...but not quite.  In short, the presents I plan on revealing over the eight nights of Chanukah are of considerably high caliber.  I like to think that everything I share qualifies as good to excellent, but to paraphrase that sage Orwellian dictum, some are more equal than others.  Keep your eyes peeled.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Rein Sanction - s/t mLP (1989, W'sup)

Before signing to Sub Pop in the early '90s, Rein Sanction were virtual unknowns outside of their native Jacksonville, FL.  To their detriment, this is how their circumstances would remain despite the backing (or perhaps lack thereof) of a high pedigree indie label.  Two albums (1991's Broc's Cabin and '93s Mariposa) and two singles were what RS presented to the world while they were in cahoots with Pavitt and Poneman, but the trio was active in the '80s, and had this exceedingly scarce record to show for it. 

Reliably murky and downcast, Rein Sanction also had a knack for stirring up a racket, wielding squalls of noisome, feedback-ridden fretwork a la early Dinosaur Jr., Eleventh Dream Day, and even Neil Young.  They possessed a certain psychedelic panache too, which meshed nicely with the mangled arpeggios and whatnot they were wont to throw fans.  Broc's Cabin was their finest moment, but Rein Sanction is largely cut from similar cloth - so much so that a couple tracks were actually rerecorded for Broc's.

I don't own a physical copy of this record, rather the band made it available for download on their long defunct webpage.  As for the blue-ish image to your right, it may or may not be an accurate depiction of the record jacket.  The band left that somewhat ambiguous on said website.  Rein Sanction released a third album in 1996 titled, Blue Men.

01. Hill Frye
02. Limestone
03. I Took a Walk
04. Wilt
05. Do You Remember
06. Black Building
07. Circle


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Do you have the guts to pick up a penny?

The second and gracefully reflective album from an astute, co-ed D.C. quartet, circa the mid-90s.

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, November 16, 2013

Splendor Head - Mirth (1989, CFY)

The only relevant info I was able to procure on Splendor Head was the following blurb from a distro site that's apparently still carrying unsold copies of Mirth:

Thoroughly modern, thoroughly tuneful lyrical pop rock, falling somewhere between REM introspection and something considerably noisier. 

Well, it would be nice if this Cali crew's shtick was that cut and dry, but at least I agree with the noisy quotient, which varies from song to song.  Sonically, Mirth tends to tilt in the direction of a myriad of contemporary Homestead Records stablemates (a touch of Nice Strong Arm, maybe a pinch of Phantom Tollbooth), and some miscellaneous but exceptional post-punk acts from the Midwest, specifically The Libertines and Pedaljets.  Despite a few misfires, Splendor Head manage to elicit their fair share of spot-on keepers, including but not limited to "Number on the Radio," "Sick Architecture," and "Mother Tongue."  Am quite pleased I took a gamble on this one.

01. Green M&Ms
02. Mother Tongue
03. Sick Architecture
04. World Dog
05. Sacrifice
06. In My Nightime
07. The Toymaker
08. Number on the Radio
09. She Is a Girl


Thursday, November 14, 2013

aMINIATURE - Plexiwatt (1991, Scheming Intelligentsia/Restless)

Ever since namedropping them a few night ago I've had this kinetic San Diego troupe on the brain.  Thing is, they didn't sound particularly kinetic until they hit their stride on their 1993 mini-masterpiece Depthfiveratesix.  It was on that record that aMINIATURE proved their dextrous knack for melding math-rock dissonance with emotive hooks.  For better or worse, everyone has to start somewhere, and for this bunch that spelled a thing called Plexiwatt, which I'm offering today.  It's a formative debut for sure, and though I regard it as fairly nondescript, aMINIATURE were at the very least laying down some sweet guitar tones here and there.  Plexiwatt was initially released on the micro-indie Scheming Intelligentsia in '91, but reissued on Restless on the heels of the band's relatively successful Depthfive... and 1995's Murk Time Cruiser.   You can check out a couple of split singles with aMINIATURE and locals Drip Tank here

01. Skyline
02. Security From a Stranger
03. Bassboost
04. Windskirt
05. Fake It
06. Memory Traveler
07. Frozen
08. A Ragged Town


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

VA - From '93 to Infinity (2013, Dromedary) - a brief overview

I haven’t made this proclamation public, and for that matter rarely in private, but I regard the 1990s as the last full decade which we had truly memorable music, coming at us from all directions I might add.  I’m talking about ten solid years in a row where I didn’t have to agonize about fleshing out any personal top-20 music list. Comparatively speaking, this is a minor beef in a real-world fraught with crises of macro proportions (need I make out a list?), but damn it, music was just plain more visceral in the twentieth century. 
Hence the notion for someone to compile a various artists collection of current (and one recently-out-of-retirement) acts looking over their shoulder to the bygone Clinton-era for music that moved them in a similar manner.  Enter From ’93 to Infinity, a truly stimulating covers album that fits said bill perfectly.  If it’s retreads of Smashing Pumpkins and Collective Soul numbers you’re craving, I can safely advise you tootle along lil’ grunge cowboy, because this sixteen-song agenda is downright indie-centric, from the bands reworking the magic ( Stuyvesant, The Brixton Riot, and Flash Flood) to the originators themselves (Swervedriver, Archers of Loaf, and Seam), respectively. 

True, there are a plethora of unknown quantities occupying From '93..., but that doesn't work to the detriment of the album, if only by virtue of it's predominantly familiar "setlist."  And it's a sweet setlist at that, featuring some bona fide indie classics, including Superchunk's rousing "Precision Auto" (The 65's), Liz Phair's iconic "Fuck and Run" (d.smithsucks), The Posies "Flavor of the Month" (Anderson Council) and Seam's "Autopilot" (Flash Flood) among a bevy of others.  The more straightforward the cover the better, and the bulk of From '93... is comprised of faithful readings, with some occasional deviations, like Cinema Cinema's unorthodox spin on PJ Harvey's "50 Ft. Queenie," which was really something of a freakshow to begin with.  As for the "out-of-retirement" participant, it's none other than New Jersey's left-off-the-dial tribe Dots Will Echo who close the whole affair out with a Mommyheads cover. 

From '93 to Infinity is available directly from Dromedary Records on CD, or digitally through Bandcamp.  Below is a link to a two song sampler I've set up.

Overlake - From A Motel 6
d smith - Fuck and Run

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Lion Tamer 7" (1995, Cargo/Headhunter)

I don't know very much about Lion Tamer, but I certainly know what I like, and I'm really digging this.  Where the hell was this Richmond, VA trio back in the mid '90s when I was jamming to likeminded, dissonant noise-pop combos like Archers of Loaf, aMINIATURE and Edsel?  My guess is the Tamers were sticking close to home, and unfortunately were unbeknownst to me at the time in the pre-social media era.  At the very least, this single (perhaps their lone release) offers two bittersweet mementos from the golden age of indie guitar-rawk.  If anyone can shed a ray or two of light on these guys, don't be a stranger.

A. West 64
B. Shoes


Monday, November 11, 2013

You said you need a boyfriend, well you've already got one.

Hard to believe that this glamish, punkish indie quartet steamrolled out of the country and western confines of their homestate, Oklahoma.  This is their first album, from 1990.

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.