Friday, February 28, 2014

The Wolves (1988, Top)

The blurb on the sales insert accompanying this record states as follows: Power-pop that remembers 1977, even though it knows it's 1989.  As lazy as it may sound, I tend to agree.  In fact, the D.C. based Wolves offered a slightly more modified take on what the Plimsouls were attempting a few years prior.  Sadly, I have a hunch these fellas had a bitch of a time fitting in with their hometown brethren, as the Fugazi kids certainly weren't going to tolerate harmonies, or for that matter, even some occasional hand claps.  If anything, the Wolves' vaguely glammed-up appearance put them in better company with their west coast contemporaries (but I wouldn't let that frighten you off).  A small local label like Top hardly suited their ambitions, methinks.  Speaking to the music itself, The Wolves is an above average disc, thoughtfully weaving sweet jangly strands into "All Day" and "The Follow Up."  "Good News" is power pop manna, while the off-the-rails momentum of "Atta Boy, Otto!" serves as this album's punk rock outlier.

01. All Day
02. Out of It
03. Remember Me
04. The Follow Up
05. Days of Our Lives
06. Good News
07. Atta Boy, Otto!
08. Mine, All Mine (When I Get Rich)
09. You Won't See It


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Attention - What Have We Done ep (1985, Mb/3)

Ironically, Attention never cry out for the very thing their namesake implies, or for that matter what it's supposed to encourage, at least as far as this record is concerned.  Not even rambunctious enough to qualify as power pop, this New York quartet nonetheless possessed something of an edge thanks to Martin Foley's spoken/sung timbre.  That paired with Billy Hopkins strummy guitar maneuvers tilted Attention towards The Feelies side of the tracks, albeit with a more pedestrian bent.  What Have We Done is hardly a revelation, but probably more enriching than say, anything hitting the Top 40 in 1985.

01. What Have We Done
02. Hold Tight
03. Statesong
04. Coming Home
05. Highwire


Monday, February 24, 2014

The salamanders are delirious.

A spiffy b-sides and rarities collection, circa this Australian group's (arguable) heyday of 1986-90.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Badbob - Now is Reaction (1988, Incas)

Quite posthumously (roughly twenty years after the fact) I encountered the Connecticut based indie label Incas Records, whose heyday happened to be squarely situated in the 1980s.  In the years following my first Incas discovery (The Miracle Legion) I slowly realized that this was a record label with a consistently winsome roster, featuring some of my soon to be left-off-the-dial favorites like Spiral Jetty, Valley of Kings, Cameraface and Rapture of the Deep.  So upon eying the Incas logo adorning the album jacket of Badbob's Now is Reaction on a recent record excavation, I was almost assured something satisfactory would come of the purchase, despite having zero beforehand knowledge of the artist in question.  In the end, this one wasn't necessarily a bulls-eye, but the dart landed close enough.  "Badbob" is the nickname of frontman Robert Therrien.  Prior to this album he cut several records under the same moniker but with a space between "Bad" and "Bob."  At any rate, I perceive Now is Reaction to be the work of a band, and not so much a solo record.  Therrien is an adept singer/songwriter who turns in a deftly crafted batch of melodically smart tunes bearing a respectable indie rock aesthetic.  There are a plethora of touchstones here, raging from the Feelies to Todd Rundgren, to Neil Young, but it would be best if I let you draw your own conclusions.  Enjoy, and just as a heads up, the best songs reside in the first half.

01. Queen of Peace
02. Same System
03. On the Fence
04. Back Seat
05. South of the Paranoia
06. Spaceman Blues
07. Revelation
08. Time of the Signs


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Spot - s/t (1995, Ardent)

No, this isn't the same Spot that smeared his hallowed fingerprints all over the SST gold rush (i.e. Husker Du, Black Flag, Minutemen, et al) in the '80s, rather the Spot in question was a Dallas trio.  Allied with Ardent Records, Spot never struck me as the most ardent Big Star aficionados, despite extolling props to Jody Stephens for "grooming tips" in the album credits.  Perhaps a shade too dissonant for the mainstream, grunge-era grunion of their time, but not quite shifty enough to get the indie contingent piqued, Spot were in a bit of a, (sorry, couldn't resist!).  Despite heaps of flavorful riffs and occasional moments of pop persuasion, Spot isn't the most instantly indelible debut the gen-x epoch produced, but as far as opening salvos go it was a noble and inviting effort.  As for myself, I'm partial to the song concerning the fellow that purchased a chunk of the Berlin Wall for $1.50.

01. Drop Down
02. Straight Thru The Sun's Head
03. L'America
04. One of Hazy Days
05. Moon June Spoon
06. Absalom
07. Ground
08. Fodder
09. Cut a Wide Swath
10. Hole


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Circling Sky - rough mixes (1990)

I have stacks of stuff to share folks, problem is very little of it is currently ripped.  But I do have this - a rather miscellaneous cassette by a combo billing themselves as the Circling Sky.  A total cold case, if you will, as no contact or personnel info is provided on the spartan j-card, which offers nothing more than a standard track list.  By the looks of things, this may have been devised as an in-house tape for some indie label or A&R company.  It does however mention these are "rough mixes," but considering there's nary an iota of evidence to indicate this was ever made available for public consumption, I would suspect these was about as "finished" as these six tracks ever got.

Circling Sky's whatchamacallit brand of quirky guitar pop was heavy on noodly arpeggios and a trifle jammy on occasion.   Tight as hell too, and with a bigger recording budget, juicy morsels like "Another Lifeless Day" and "The Dating Game" would have held their own amidst the fringes of the soon-to-be burgeoning alt-rock boom.  Not a game changer by any means, but strangely appealing.  

01. Another Lifeless Day
02. Middle-aged Man on the Circle of Fun
03. The Land of the Insane Bridge Builders
04. Miracle Babies
05. The Dating Game
06. Manhattan Traffic


Monday, February 17, 2014

I think it's safe to say the ice gets thinner every day...

My favorite album of 1990, and in my opinion one of the best indie rock albums of the era.  Unfortunately, these guys were something of a footnote to the more successful spinoff bands they would soon give way to.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Winter Hours - Leaving Time (1986, Link)

Recently had a request for this one.  Winter Hours came to prominence in the "golden age" of collegiate indie rock, on the heels of REM's success with Murmur.  The Hours sonic lineage was mildly derived from Michael Stipe & Co. (check out "We Can Only Win"), but folk and roots-rock inflections endowed a more conventional hue to the bulk of their first proper long player (this one), and their self-titled second album which followed in 1989.  Ironically, Leaving Time trails off into the sunset on a markedly bluesy note with a rendition of Buddy Miles "Have You Ever Loved a Woman?"

For a taste of Winter Hours in their earliest incarnation, browse over here to encounter a scare set of demos.  

01. Up There Again
02. untitled (interlude)
03. Tell Me Today
04. The Confessional
05. September Street
06. Waiting for Thunder
07. Ten Minutes (acoustic vers.)
08. If I Could Make You Hear Me
09. We Can Only Win
10. Have You Ever Loved a Woman?


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sit tight...

As of right now, Netkups (my file hoster) is down, meaning none of the links are currently functioning.  Am hoping this is a temporary glitch on their end.  Will keep you in the loop.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Fan Club - 15:20 ep (1982, Rude)

Once in awhile, gambling at the Casino Ebay really pays off (accurately judging an album by it's jacket factors in heavily folks).  So it was a relatively safe assumption that The Fan Club had "power pop" written all over them, it was just a matter of what stripe.  If you're at all familiar with the quasi-bootleg Teenline and Powerpearls compilation series, these New York co-eds will likely be of some interest.  A few notches shy of punk, yet wielding plenty of spunk, the Fan Club evoke the likenesses of the Pointed Sticks, the Speedies, and the (Connecticut) Bats in terms of approach, and sheer melodicism, which is never in short supply here.  "Just Another Kiss," "My Baby Loves It" and "I Won't Take It" are all pretty outstanding.  As for the album title, it would seem 15:20 references the length of this all too brief ep. 

01. Going Mental
02. Heartache
03. Just Another Kiss
04. My Baby Loves It
05. Future Problems
06. I Won't Take It


Monday, February 10, 2014

Everything I've heard you spill is sleepier than Seconal…

The lead singer on the two albums I’m presenting today is reuniting with his original ‘90s outfit for their first show in over fifteen years this very week.  Thursday to be exact. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Simple Machines - Tool cassette series (1992)

For those of you who didn't browse the comments section of the recently posted Tsunami Cow Arcade demo that I shared a couple weeks ago, I wanted to pass along a few links.  The Arlington, VA based Simple Machines imprint predominantly stuck to vinyl and CD releases, but they had a soft spot for cassettes too, at least during their tenure in the early '90s.  So much so, they put out seven very limited tape-only titles by their friend's bands, including Dave Grohl.  The majority of these cassettes curios were album-length, and none (at least not in their entirety) made it to the digital realm in the years to follow.  For shame, because they contained a wealth of good music.

I don't have an adequate amount of time to provide an overview of the artists involved, but I've made links to all seven Tool tapes available below, with some very brief clues as to whom is involved with each release, some of the names you're sure to recognize.  A HUGE debt of gratitude goes out to Shane for digitizing, organizing, and providing us with everything presented after this paragraph.  I'm not sure how long the Zippyshare links will be active, so get downloading.  Enjoy.

SM TOOL 1 Geek - Hammer (See Tsunami)

SM TOOL 2 Slack - Bates Stamper (See Hated, Lungfish, Ida, Dag Nasty & Tsunami)

SM TOOL 3 Late! - Pocketwatch (See Dave Grohl)

SM TOOL 4 Hated - Awl (See Outrageous Cherry)

SM TOOL 5 Saturnine - Roto Chipper Paint Remover (See Versus & Nice Strong Arm)

SM TOOL 6 Mommyheads - Swiss Army Knife

SM TOOL 7 My New Boyfriend - Super Saw (See Bikini Kill, Seaweed & Tsunami)

Friday, February 7, 2014

True Believers - Live - Harder! Harder! Harder! promo tape (1986)

Austin's True Believers enjoyed a brief but highly lauded run, and were adored posthumously even more, despite having released just one album during their mid-80s lifespan.  Helmed by brothers Alejandro and Javier Escovedo, the Believers boasted no less than three potent six-stringers in their lineup.  Much has been made about their innovative "Americana" bent, but this quintet were rock and roll purists at heart, forward thinking ones at that.  The live cassette featured in this post was not an official release, rather a limited run promotional item that I assume was sent to magazine, radio, etc.  For the uninitiated, Harder! Harder! Harder! is bound to make for an ironic introduction, as it doesn't contain any original True Believers compositions.  The five songs within were sourced from hometown performances in 1985 and '86, via a live session on KUT FM and a gig at Liberty Lunch, respectively.  As far as covers go, the Believers tackle a familiar cache of classics, reinterpreting the Velvets, Chantays, T. Rex, Mott the Hoople and MC5 in precisely that order.  I'm making these files available in MP3 (320 kbps) and lossless FLAC below.

The band's aforementioned lone LP was reissued on CD in 1994, under the title Hard Road, buttressed by ten tracks from an unreleased second album, recorded in 1987. It's not to be missed. 

Live KUT-FM, Austin 11/10/85
01. Foggy Notion
02. Pipeline
03. 20th Century Boy

Liberty Lunch, Austin 9/5/86
04. Walking With a Mountain
05. Ramblin' Rose


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Dirty Face - I Can Hurt Myself (If I Want to) (1988, Overwellum)

If you can get past the funky album sleeve, you're in for one of the most straight-up rock and roll albums I've offered in awhile.  A little known Albany, NY trio, Dirty Face could have easily thrown down with such no-nonsense aggregations as the Neighborhoods, Magnolias, and perhaps Twin/Tone-era Soul Asylum.  Blue collar romantic concerns abound amidst these grooves, alongside a plea for respect for their chosen stomping ground ("My Town").  Dirty Face skate by with the stray minute-long instrumental or two, but I highly doubt you'll hold that against 'em.  After the jump, check out a video of them performing at an anniversary gig for a local college radio outlet last year.

01. I Can Hurt Myself
02. Too Young
03. Unfinished Too
04. Mistaken
05. My Town
06. Right By My Side
07. Worship the Beast
08. Backseat Driver
09. Hey Now
10. Everything to Me
11. Stella
12. On the Wall
13. Good to Be Back Home
14. Unfinished
15. All I Want to Say


Monday, February 3, 2014

So much to learn, so little to teach...

Presenting a slab of Can-indie, power-pop gold circa 1999.  Have at it.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Ultracherry Violet - I Fall to Pieces (1994, Bedazzled)

The D.C. based Bedazzled Records imprint was friendly to bands that veered towards the shoegazer or at the very least quasi-shoegazer end of the indie rock continuum.  Ultracherry Violet were the latter, dispensing noisy and ethereal particulates into I Fall to Pieces engaging sonic stew.   The trio bore a likeness to American practitioners Smashing Orange, Hum, and less so The Drop Nineteens and Fudge, but like any dream-pop unit worth it's salt they cast their collective "UV" rays across the big pond to such obvious entities as the Pale Saints and Slowdive.  Long-ish songs, with a decent emphasis on quality control.  I shan't give away much more than that, but This is That Song blog has a nice write up on Ultracherry that you can peruse here.  More UV to come (hopefully). 

01. Angela's an Angel Now
02. I Think You're Lying to Me
03. Remember
04. Post Wing-and-Prayer
05. Mexico Song
06. Losing My Friends
07. Anything is Feasible
08. I'm Gonna Burn
09. Recur Again


Gem/Jenny Mae 7" (1997, Spare Me)

If you've frequented my back pages, you may recall my affinity for Gem, a Cleveland area group fronted by former Death of Samantha/Cobra Verde figurehead Doug Gillard (who would eventually pair up with Robert Pollard in Guided By Voices for a spell).  I thought their two albums, the I Am a Tree ep, and a couple of singles comprised the sum total of their discography, but a couple years ago I learned I was pleasantly mistaken, when this rather arcane split single from '97 made a blip on my radar.  "A Clove of Harlots" is as rich and melodically resonant as anything on Gem's superlative Hexed album (which btw you need to investigate, even if the remainder of Gillard's pedigree doesn't compel you).  Sheer indie rock manna from heaven.  Unfortunately, I can't intone the same about the other Gem cut here, "Monochrome," a benign but unmemorable instrumental. 

Singer/songwriter Jenny Mae (Leffel) hails from the same neck of the woods, and like Gem, she shares a connection with GBV, courtesy of a 1993 split single.  I haven't been exposed to much more of her material beyond the singles, but I really enjoy the two ballad-esque pieces on her side of this disk, especially the stark, organ-laden concluding track that vastly contradicts it's frivolous title. 

01. A Clove of Harlots
02. Monochrome

Jenny Mae
01. Cancelling the Game
02. Crappy Piece-of-Shit 4-track