Monday, March 31, 2014

We're gonna show you a thing or two about love...

Today it's a collection of twenty demos and under-released songs, some of which were later rerecorded for an album that's getting the twentieth-anniversary deluxe edition treatment this week.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Acid Drops 7" (1988, Fungus)

Given their moniker, not to mention the swirly flower-thingys adorning the sleeve, it would be hard not to get the impression that The Acid Drops weren't steeped in Nuggets-esque psychedelia.  Granted that's largely the case, this British troupe were also attuned to what their Rickenbacker-friendly contemporaries were up to, particularly the Soup Dragons and Mighty Lemon Drops.  "She Laughed Out Loud" sports no shortage of fuzzy, garage-induced moxie, but it's flip "Deep Sea Dream" would have been a shoo-in for the fabled C86 compilation (about to see reissue btw), had the Drops been invited two years prior.  Capping things off is "Rush," a surfy but unremarkable instrumental.

A. She Laughed Out Loud
B1. Deep Sea Dream
B2. Rush


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Netkups, we have a problem.

I just wanted to acknowledge what some of you have pointed out in the last day or two.  Presently, none of the files I have stored via Netkups are available.  If you're experience is anything like mine, you've been greeted with "Please try again layer" immediately after selecting the file.  As annoying as this is, it's even more egregious in light of a spate of ongoing issues I've had with them all year.  To give you a little bit of background, my original file-hoster of choice for almost six years (Rapidshare) gave my entire account the boot in January of 2013, without any warning or explanation.  Netkups seemed like a reliable option, and they have accommodated me ever since, but in addition to a myriad of technical glitches, they have aggressively been deleting any content that hasn't been accessed in over 30 days.  Not the most unreasonable stance on their end perhaps, but I've shared no less than 1500 files since Wilfully Obscure came online in 2007.  This has translated into the ceaseless and Sisyphean task of restoring dozens of files every week, based mostly on your thoughtful requests which I have done my best to keep pace with.

In a nutshell, I believe Netkups' current malady will be rectified, but I clearly need a more reliable file hoster.  Zippyshare seems tolerant of "sharity" sites like mine, but they don't offer anything better than Netkup's 30-day window of file access, which means I'll continue to be rolling "the rock" uphill as I have been in recent months.  Mediafire was an option until 2013 when they deleted the content of several music blogs that I had regarded as being on the up and up.  I don't really care for DivShare, Mega requires passwords for everything, and I'm not about to try my luck with Rapidshare again.  Will probably give Zippyshare a whirl, but if you have some better suggestions (even if it means paying a modest monthly fee for file hosting) I'm all ears.  Thanks for sticking around.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Various - E-sides - The Letter "E" folder mix

Well, it looks like I'm overdue for one of my famous "letter mixes," considering the last one made it on here a good nine months ago.  Adhering to the same theme as my preceding "D" "H" "O" "P" "B" and "G" folder mixes, this 20 song garbage plate of disparate artists have only one thing in common - the first letter of their respective names.  In fact, no consideration has been given to genre.  For almost every complete album I have by an artist on my hard drive, I store just as many random one-off songs by artists I don't have a dedicated folder to.  These random one-offs have been corralled into "letter folders" A through Z.  As was the case with the previous entries I'm not going to publish the track list, but I'm about to drop several hints to give you an idea of what's about to gobble up 78 megs or so of your hard precious drive space.

As the nature of these letter mixes go, there is an abundance of covers.  Some of the interpreters this around include Emm Gryner, Electric Frankenstein, Ensign, Everready and Elf Power (please note that two of these hitmakers cover none other than Husker Du!).  The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa do one of my favorite dream-pop songs ever, Eric Bachmann of Archers of Loaf goes acoustic on us, there's garage rock from upstate New York, circa 1966, from the Ex-Cels, EESCH bop us over the head with a pop-punk slammer, there's emo from obscuros Eat People, as well as my Eurogliders song of choice.  Okay, enough hints - get downloading already!


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Purple Ivy Shadows - White Electric (1999, Krave)

I can't profess to having much knowledge about Purple Ivy Shadows, but I'll be damned if this isn't a great disk for the hammock.  Groomed on Grandaddy?  Wound-up on Wilco?  Tangled up in Tengo?  If you answered "yes" to any of the above you'll probably savor White Electric, a rich, resonating amalgam of electric and acoustic persuasions.  This was PIS's second album, which found them hovering closer to the Americana side of the fence than their debut, No Less the Trees Than the Stars, suggested.  Contemplative text and abundant texture is what this one's about, and aside from it's overarching, easy-does-it tenor, White Electric does offer a few heady sonic swells in the guise of "Along" and "City."

01. Along
02. Favorite
03. Steal
04. Water
05. City
06. Garden
07. Providence
08. Heart
09. Borrow
10. Secrets
11. Chalk
12. Whitelectric


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Connections and WV White (Anyway, 2013/14) A brief overview.

You have to feel hella sorry for any band who's been consistently hung with the albatross of sounding like dead ringers for another, and frankly, more renown group.  Invariably, in the case of Connections, that spot-on comparison is Guided By Voices, who this new Columbus aggregation strike me as being utterly besotted with.  Lucky for them, they harken back to a time when Dayton's finest were truly...well, fine.  For those of us who climbed aboard the S.S. Pollard circa Bee Thousand we were able to bear witness to a GBV that was both cult and classic, whereas these days it often feels like we're just being pummeled by the former (a half-dozen times a year no less). 

Connections frontman Kevin Elliott is a prodigious hybrid of Robert Pollard and Tobin Sprout, and his quintet bears the acumen to give due deference to both on their twin long-players, Private Airplane and Body Language, issued in 2012 and 2013 respectfully via Anyway Records.  Connections ramp up the "classic" GBV rosters' "lo-fidelity" to a negligibly more polished "mid" hue, doubling down on the feedback and clangy clamor while they're at it.  And unlike Pollard and Co, the band's set list acquiesces to songs exceeding past the two minute mark.  In fact, Airplanes' "Nightwatch" and "Total Carpool" spark just the visceral charge we should still be expecting from you know who, but Connections revivalist inclinations are buttressed with a noisepop spin of their own design as well.  Delish.

Year One is a CD and digital release that compiles Private Airplane, Body Language, and a four-song EP, Tough City, in their entirety.   Amounting to 32 songs in the span of seventy minutes, a straight-through listen will either prove daunting, or in my case, downright blissful.  Vinyl copies of both full lengths are available from Midheaven.  You can get your digital fix there as well, or if you prefer, Bandcamp and all the other usual suspects.

And if the Connections weren't enough of a find, there's even more fresh blood from the state that's HI in the middle and round at both ends.  If anything else, the co-ed WV White are a band of varying degrees.  In fact, whistling organ fills and buzzy bass lines are the only concomitant threads hemming the bulk of West Virginia White's ten selections together.  Tyler Travis's spoke/sung vocals are afflicted with a faint quiver, suggesting a more together Conor Oberst, and go that much further in defining WV's penchant. Additionally, the band sports a Pavement-esque level of enthusiasm, without completely relenting to the Malkmus/Kannberg slack attack.  And speaking of all things indie and iconic, West Virgina White's opening salvo "Allison Laper, Pregnant," commences with a bedrock of grainy, J Mascis-y guitar squall, only to be paired with said churning organs and Travis's golden throat in a matter of seconds.  

As I asserted, this four-piece is all about variance - a melodic and relatively muscular nugget like "Ford Mustang" is soon succeeded by a chilled-out piano ballad (see "Cockroaches").  There's an enormous amount that falls in between these two realms, and WV White navigate this not-so-deep divide artfully.  West Virginia White is available on wax from Midhaven, and can be streamed and purchased digitally here.

Monday, March 24, 2014


...the first various artists album to occupy the coveted Mystery Monday slot.  Yay.  I can see you're just as stoked as I am, but seriously, this features a whopping 40 acts/songs.  This mid-90s compilation plays out as a veritable who's who of indie-pop/cuddlecore/twee hopefuls circa the Clinton-era.  Just as a teaser, here are a few of the participants: Cub, Orange Cake Mix, Superdrag, Elf Power - and that's just on the first disk! Bon appetit.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

VA - Lessons From Little Hits, Part 4

I was going to cut my Little Hits retrospectives off at the third installment, posted back in November of last year, but the "series" (for lack of a better word) proved to be popular with you, plus there were a few more inches from that reel which I felt warranted further exposure.  If you're new to what I'm referring to, Little Hits was an unrelated music blog that preceded mine, largely dedicated to left-off-the-dial indie rock obscurities circa the 1980s.  It turned me onto to at least a dozen top-shelf acts from yesteryear, and left such a profound impression on me, I decided to throw my cap into the blogosphere ring with Wilfully Obscure.  Throughout the latter part of 2013 I began sharing self-curated compilations of some of the music I downloaded during Little Hits 2005-2009 reign.  Since I can't get to everything in depth on these pages, I'm at least able to pitch some Cliff's Notes your way.

This installment skews heavily to the power pop realm, with exemplary selections from such traditional practitioners as Clovis Roblaine, The Finders, Jacks, The Bobalouis and Spaghetti Western, all worth their weight in strummy, jangly gold.   There's also the swarmy "new south" sensibilities of Matthew Sweet's pre-solo endeavor Buzz of Delight, a single from a very early incarnation of the dB's, not to mention a memento from Sarah Records stablemates Action Painting!  On top of all that you get tunes by unheralded, college radio combos like Nixon's Head, Band of Outsiders, and The Passions.  The superlatives and accolades could go on forever, but I'll just let you get to the music.  The full menu is provided below, and make sure to check out the first three chapters of my Little Hits anthologies here, here, and over here.

Action Painting! - These Things Happen
Band Of Outsiders - Dutch Girl Concern
Buzz of Delight - I've Got Gold
Chris Stamey and the dBs - (I Thought) You Wanted To Know
Clovis Roblaine - Fall All Over Me
Fischer-Z - Marliese
Nixon's Head - I Like You
Passions - Strange Affair
Sister Ray - Yellow With Black Lace
Spaghetti Western - What Are Friends For
The Bobalouis - Not A Second Chance
The Finders - Which Way
The Jacks - It's Not True
The Modern Minds - Theresa's World
The Tours - Tourist Information


Friday, March 21, 2014

Angst - Mending Wall (1986, SST)

By popular demand, I was able to find another Angst album for all of you who were apparently floored with the Mystery Spot LP I shared a few weeks ago.  So far, I've only had one concerted listen invested in Mending Wall, but holy shit, the commencing "Some Things (I Can't Get Used To)" is a surging, melodic indie-rock salvo if I've ever heard one!  While nothing else on this platter holds a candle to that beaut, Mending... is at least reliable in the lackadaisical, homegrown confines Angst chose to situate themselves in.  Wonder what the experts at Trouser Press had to say about this one?  Wonder no more:

Stylistic variety also underpins Mending Wall, another dose of Angst's tense and rough-edged musical simplicity, enhanced this time with noticeably stronger vocal harmonies by (Jon) Risk and (Joe) Pope. The lyrics are less specific and more thoughtful; individual alienation, confusion and anomie are transformed into powerful, uniquely directed songs. A cover of Paul Simon's "Richard Cory," however, goes wrong, pruning the melody and bare-bonesing it into an ugly ghost of the original.

01. Some Things (I Can't Get Used To)
02. Standing Here Alone
03. All of a Sudden
04. The Burning Light
05. 127 Years
06. I Oblige
07. Richard Cory
08. Close the Door
09. I'd Rather Sleep
10. You Never
11. All Day Long
12. One by One


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Yo - Charm World (1985, Deadbeat)

Yo.  What's in a name?  Ostensibly a mere two letters for this East Bay trio, who weren't long on the moniker front, but made some pretty damn unique records.  Chalk much of that up to mouthpiece/six-stringer Bruce Rayburn, whose pipes bear an uncanny likeness to Guadalcanal Diary's Murray Attaway, and to a lesser degree Tyson Meade of Defenestration/Chainsaw Kittens renown, not to mention Stan Ridgeway.   As an entity, Yo were equally characterized by driving and often punk-induced rhythms, making Charm World an unlikely yet somehow ideal "car album."  It's the kind of record that only the golden age of college radio could have nurtured, gestated by a band with an esoteric flair that takes some acquiring.  Mutant Sounds blog had a few choice words to say about Yo, however the download links are dead.  This is from my own rip. 

01. Heard It All Before
02. I See Beyond
03. House of Sorrow
04. Deadbeat Sea
05. Way Down
06. Bowl of Cherries
07. Charm World
08. Fire in the Sky
09. Close the Curtain
10. Armed & Willing Soldier
11. Prepare to Rule a Nation
12. Isn't it Lovely
13. Long Gone Gone
14. Merrily
15. Devil in the Deep Blue Sea
16. Wicked Way
17. On the Seventh Day


Sunday, March 16, 2014

My life is framed with autobiographical acclaim.

BIG file this time folks.  Forty raw, early demos from the greatest noise to ever pop out of Knoxville, TN.

Phantom Planet - rarities

It's been a while since I dedicated any space to Phantom Planet, but then again, since they've gone into indefinite hibernation they've fallen off just about everybody's radar.  My PP fandom peaked circa their 2002 magnum opus, The Guest, and I even went so far as to join their fan club (BTW, I'm stilling sharing an exclusive release that I obtained through said club, Polaroid).  The 2004 self titled follow-up to The Guest was frankly a pisser, but I didn't completely write them off.  Good thing that, because they redeemed themselves with their fourth LP, Raise the Dead four years later. 

What I'm presenting today is a mishmash of rarities and non-LP scree that spans the range of their career.  I purloined these 27 tracks from a myriad of sources, including now-defunct PP fan sites, file sharing platforms, and the like.  There are demos galore, live Weezer, Cheap Trick and Radiohead covers, b-sides, radio session material, and no less than three different versions of "The Happy Ending."  I'm opting not to reveal a tracklist, so you'll have to click on the supplied link to figure out the rest.  Enjoy (or not). 


Friday, March 14, 2014

Sister Psychic - Catch and Release (1996, Y)

Had a request for this.  I listened to Sister Psychic's first album, Fuel, on occasion when it came out.  That was around 1991-92, but for the most part, they fell off my radar after that.  SP were a Seattle fuzz pop trio, who weren't terribly concerned with grunge (yet they definitely employed some crunchy riffs now and again).  Not unlike Gnome, but I thought Gnome had better material.  Speaking of which, Y Records was an obscuro Seattle imprint, that I think was actually supposed to release a Gnome CD out, but anyway.  Enjoy (or not).

01. Garden
02. Bob
03. Hollywood
04. AFL
05. Dream Heard
06. Make Me Nervous
07. If I Were God
08. Japan
09. My Decision
10. Groove
11. Draw With Erasers
12. Space Boy


Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Movement - s/t ep (1985, Neo)

Ah, just what the doctor ordered - a sweet set of potent, driving power pop that subscribes to the same undiluted aesthetic as the Plimsouls, Producers, and a myriad of others from this era were renown for.  For that matter, Shoes might have come up with something like this had they been a bit less inhibited.  I do have to say however the bizarre outro that concludes the record is a bit puzzling, as is the equally odd side one segue track "Back in the Cafeteria."

By what little I have to go on The Movement operated out of Nashville, and prime-Mover Richie Owens is still at it with his current endeavor, The Farm Bureau.  I've got a live Movement clip for you below from '84.  Have at it!

01. Together We Can Survive
02. Lost Horizon
03. Back in the Cafeteria
04. I've Got Eyes
05. I Won't Settle Down
06. Temporary
07. Illusion of Conciousness
08. untitled


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Stevens - A History of Hygiene (2014, Chapter Music) - A brief overview.

If you've forgotten my review for The Stevens 2012 ep, I more than forgive you, as that probably seems like eons ago, and alas, it didn't exactly make them a household name.  Perhaps that circumstance will be remedied in light of the release of their first full length, A History of Hygiene, a disk that captured my attention even before I cracked the cellophane.  Why?  Well, seeing 24 song titles on the back cover of any album tends to usher me into a state of anticipation.  After all, I loved the tuneful and occasionally dissonant facets of that aforementioned ep - and the possibility of four times that amount this time around had me stoked.

The Melbourne based Stevens tend to operate in two minute parameters.  The same goes for some pretty legendary acts - Bad Religion, They Might be Giants, and Guided By Voices to name three.  The thread tying this disparate trifecta is that each one had a "formula."  The Stevens "formula," quite frankly, is a non-formula, and by the time ...Hygiene reaches it's conclusion, it kinda makes you wish they had adopted one.  In a nutshell, you can loosely describe the Stevens as mid-fi, bedroom pop.  To their credit they're above average at their craft, but when you pitch this many darts at the board, quite a few aren't going to meet the bulls-eye, and that's exactly the scenario here. 

One throw that's precisely on the mark is "Challenger," an excellent fuzz-pop nugget that splits the difference between The Soft Boys and vintage Cleaners From Venus.  "From Puberty to Success" agilely evokes some of Pavement's persuasive slack attack, while "Lost and Found" and "Turpins Falls" strike a buoyant and bouncy tenor with rock solid hooks.  Hygiene offers even more keepers than that, but elsewhere the going gets a lot less memorable, with several tracks resembling random fragments more than full-fledged compositions.   The Stevens intermittent aimlessness is either going to charm or dissuade you, and my experience has entailed a little of both.  Word on the streets is that album two is in the works.  Despite faltering on occasion here, their dedication and potential still has me pulling for them. 

A History of Hygiene can be previewed and purchased on Bandcamp.  CD hard copies are available from Amazon and direct from Chapter Music.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Tired of doing day jobs with no thanks for what I do...

The sophomore album from a so-called "pub rock" tour-de-force.  This is the 2000 reissue with bonus tracks.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Angst - Mystery Spot (1987, SST)

Angst were one out of as many as two-dozen unknown acts that SST was capable of bankrolling after they began raking in profits from Black Flag and Husker Du records.  They were on an intriguing roster to say the least, but this trio sounded relatively organic when stacked up against their more noisome stablemates.  1987's Mystery Spot was their third full length, and the only one I've really listened to.  It's a samey but likeable batch of songs threaded together by briskly strummed chords and rumbling rhythm accompaniment.  Deliberately or not, Angst definitely had a collegiate rock angle, and were even reminiscent of the Feelies, albeit more concise.  Trouser Press had a real issue with the recording quality involving Mystery Spot, but as for myself, not so much.  You can read their critique below.

Angst took a calculated risk on Mystery Spot, engaging producer Vitus Mataré to help flesh out and upgrade the sound. It almost worked. Multi-tracked guitars and dynamic arrangements bring the songs into near-pop focus, with unprecedented melody, sensitivity, structure and vocal appeal, but atrocious recording quality (and/or a heinously bungled mix) buries them in a flat, muddy swamp. Pope and Risk continue to reveal themselves in emotionally resonant songs — too bad their ambitious effort was spoiled by a technicality.

01. Outside My Window
02. Back in January
03. It's Mine
04. What's the Difference?
05. Looking for a Reason
06. Colors
07. Mind Average
08. One Life (Out of 9)
09. Wazee Street
10. I Remember
11. Ah, the Morning
12. Red Wing


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Email crash

Hate to post another lame "housekeeping" entry, but my email program crashed today, and I lost the last three months worth of emails from my in-box.  In a nutshell, if you've sent me anything important or semi-important since this past December, and I've failed to respond, you might want to resend your correspondence.  My email addy is in my profile.  Thanks.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Phoenix Bird 7" (rec. 197?, American Sound)

I've decided to be all over the map this week.  So there.  I found this little curiosity on Ebay last year.  I'm tempted to refer to it as a reissue, but in fact it was issued as a single for the first time in 2011 or 2012 (undated).  The back sleeve (depicted below) explains that Phoenix Bird were a New Hampshire trio who formed in 1969, and presumably cut these two songs to an acetate in 1970 or shortly thereafter, with the intention of releasing them as a single.  That didn't happen until four decades after the fact.

Per the liner notes, PB had "hopes of being the next big power trio."  Had it been released on schedule, "F.T.C (Fuck the Cops)" would have beaten N.W.A. to the punch by a good twenty years, yet the tune doesn't contain a shred of profanity, nor does it extend any meaningful umbrage to law enforcement types. Sonically, it sounds like the band was cutting it's teeth on Cream.  The B-side is what I really came for - "Parchment Farm," a rendition of the old-time prison standard that Blue Cheer turned inside-out for their 1968 opus, Vincebus Eruptum.  Sure enough, Phoenix Bird keep the song faithful to Blue Cheer's arrangement and totally nail it.   Well played.  This single was limited to 500 copies.  Some surface noise is detectable, but the source of it lies in the quality of the acetate, not my vinyl copy (at least I like to think). 

A. F.T.C.
B. Parchment Farm


Monday, March 3, 2014

Pull up the Gran Turino and play some music for the holy ghost.

Believe it or not, this week it's gonna be more in the Blue Cheer vein than Big Star.  Twelve nascent, lo-fi
missives from a gentleman who in a few years time would become a black magic mastermind of the highest order.  It's a curveball alright, and a trippy one at that.