Sunday, August 31, 2014

Two trips to the pavement wasn't what I had in mind, when I said I was moving up in this world.

A genre-defining album for yours truly...only I'm not going to specify which genre.  Enjoy.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Poi Dog Pondering - 8 Songs by... tape (1986)

Admittedly, I never followed Poi Dog Pondering, not remotely in fact, yet when I had the opportunity to snatch up this little curio a couple years back for a song (literally) I didn't pass it up.  When they came "onto the scene" as it were, in the late '80s, I remember that much was made of their neo-folk bent, and comparatively offbeat accoutrements.  Thus, this is what likely turned me off to them, being the indie guitar-rock aficionado that I was well on my way to becoming.   

8 Songs by Poi Dog Pondering was a handspun and very DIY endeavor, consisting of lo-fi bedroom demos by singer guy Frank Orrall, recorded when he was still based in Hawaii.  In fact, this bears little resemblance to the PDP I recall from 120 Minutes and such, offering significantly more in common with early Aztec Camera and the June Brides (the latter is in all probability a coincidence).  I enjoyed this more than I thought would, especially the second half.  Give 'er a listen and comment as you see fit. 

01. Living With The Dreaming Body
02. Barefeet On Wet Earth
03. And I Went Off
04. Everybody's Tryin'
05. Wood Guitar
06. The Strength That I Need
07. You Think Too Much
08. The Big Walk


Friday, August 29, 2014

Strypes "I Dream" 7" (1983, Strypes Music)

Streamlined but satisfying, Tacoma's Strypes resided on the 'wave' side of the AOR spectrum, leaving me to wonder which camp (if either) took to them more.  Think Shoes or the A's, or to a significantly lesser extent the Cars.  As far as the record is concerned "I Dream" favors guitars, while “I Need Your Love” defers more to synths.  The Strypes discography is padded out with a couple more singles and a full length.

A. I Dream
B. I Need Your Love


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Hairs - Subcutaneous (1991, Zero Hour)

I'm guestimating this winsome Aussie bunch were from Perth, as that's where this disk was tracked.  If so, The Hairs were yet another fine addition to their nations' west coast brethren, who could safely be whispered in the same breath as the Stems, DM3, Marigolds, the Waking Hours...and most notably the Someloves.  I put the emphasis on the Someloves, if only by virtue of The Hair's strummy, intoxicatingly tuneful tenor that really seemed to overlap nicely with the scant few records Dom Mariani and Darryl Mather were responsible for just a few years before this trio was presumably inspired to write and record Subcutaneous.  There are moments of sheer Perthection here, "Certified" "Ghost Train" "Time" being three among them.  If the Smithereens, Leatherwoods and Cavedogs are up your four chord alley, you just might be adding The Hairs to that same tier in the very near future.  Bravo.

01. The Ghost Train
02. So Easy
03. Certified
04. Are You Calm
05. What She Is
06. Time
07. That's Wild
08. I Heard You


Sunday, August 24, 2014

She's a telephone astrologer who says I'll be a star...

Despite possessing more polish than grit, this was one of the tastiest power pop treats of 2002.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Rollerskate Skinny - live in Belgium 5/3/94

Ever since Rapidshare made my life miserable in early 2013 and dumped the entirety of files I was hosting through them, I've been getting requests from many of you for restored links.  The amount of requests received for the recommissioning of certain titles functions as a barometer of sorts of the popularity of what I've shared over the years.  One name that's garnered multiple requests is Rollerskate Skinny, or more specifically their early eps, Novice and Trophy that I first made available in 2007.  When I recently discovered a live recording of the band via a Facebook fanpage, I jumped at the chance to hear it.  Number one, RS were from Ireland (and only toured stateside once, or twice tops), and number two, I don't know of any other live recordings in circulation.  On top of that, this is either a soundboard tape or a high quality audience recording.  In short, a colossal find.

The Belgium concert in question was culled from the band's campaign behind their debut LP, Shoulder Voices.  You can click on the above hyperlinks for pertinent background details on the band (not the least of which Jimi Shields, brother of My Bloody Valetine's Kevin Shields, was the Skinny's guitarist).  Aesthetically, RS were coming from the same place as across the pond contemporaries Mercury Rev, though Jim Shields and Co. were IMO doubly more creative, not to mention oblique.  If you have yet to make your acquaintance with these gents you may want to familiarize yourself with their studio albums first, particularly the aforementioned Shoulder Voices, available from iTunes, Amazon and the like. 

01. Miss Leader
02. Violence to Violence
03. Lunasa
04. Bring on Stigmata
05. Entropy
06. Bella
07. Some Give Birth
08. So Far Down Up To Heaven
09. Bow Hitch-hiker


Thursday, August 21, 2014

New noise - swingin' singles from Hollow Sunshine, Population, and Wildhoney.

I submit to you reviews you can use on three of akin, not so much three of a kind. While there is a concurrent thread running through this noisome triple-threat, each troupe offers subtle (and not so) variations on some of the very musical niches this site has staked it's reputation on. The first two freshly minted disks discussed below, come courtesy of Nostalgium Directive Records, a newish Seattle imprint whose "dark entries" have made my world a tad brighter.

The California based Hollow Sunshine impart a pair of deliberately slow, sludgy pieces that lay down the low in ponderously heavy fashion.  Take the A-sider “Cold Truth” for example.  What would normally pass for overmodulated muck is sublimely salvaged via an immediate hook, informed by vintage Dino Jr. and further tricked out with mild ‘gazer tendencies.  Exuding the type of despondent vibes we all secretly enjoy reveling in on occasion, the slow-boiling “I Wandered” might have you scurrying to your turntable to make sure it’s set to 45, not 33.  Navel gazing nerve-ana never came in a more sonically dichotomous package, and this single follows up HS's Held Above album on Robotic Empire.  They also have an extremely limited cassette ep, Atascadero, available on Bridgetown Records that you don't want to sleep on.

Good goth!  Population conjure up an entirely legit comparison that I haven’t stumbled on in eons – Fields of the Nephilim.  Chalk that up to their unidentified, throaty frontman whose doomy bellow is a dead ringer for the Neph’s Carl McCoy.   Both cuts here are fairly Joy Division-ed up, with shades of Red Lorry peeking through to boot, though the Nephilim have these guys beat in the spaghetti western department big time. Population aren't going to be ringing everyone’s diner bell – not by a longshot in fact, but aficionados of maudlin post-punk will do well with this beauty.  The envelope adorning sleeve art is quite innovative I might add.

Finally, we have Wildhoney's Seventeen Forever ep.  I dedicated a few ones and zeroes to their 2013 three songer, and I'm happy to talk this one up.  Calling Baltimore home this female commandeered dream-pop outfit unfurls a LOUD, breathless rush of dizzying feedback and melody, with all the woozy pomp and circumstance the genre came to embody, circa 1991.  Borrowing heavily from both Anglo and American camps, you'd swear you had heard Wildhoney before even if you hadn't.  Seventeen Forever is that perfect and impeccably gratifying. 

Below you'll find links to purchase, and perhaps even listen to this trifecta.  Physical copies of all three are quite limited from what I understand, so don't sleep!

Hollow Sunshine - Bandcamp, Nostalgium Directive
Population - Bandcamp, Nostalgium Directive
Wildhoney - Photobooth Records, Bandcamp

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Radio Berlin - The Selection Drone (2001, Your Best Guess)

I was a bit dismayed to see this one was no longer available for public consumption, even at the digital level.  I regarded Radio Berlin's The Selection Drone to be a mini-masterpiece upon my initial encounter with it in the early '00s, and that opinion carries over to this day.  With it's noir pastiche of chilly synth lines, abrupt rhythmic juxtapositions, doomy percussion (a la early-Siouxsie) and stark but melodic hues, this album possesses everything I could hope for in the post-punk wheelhouse, with nary a scintilla of contrived, revivalist bullshit.  And speaking of "revivalist," Radio Berlin could have cleaned Interpol's clock, not to mention local Vancouver boys done good Hot Hot Heat.  Below is a slight adaptation of my critique for the Selection Drone for Big Takeover magazine.

Like the Strokes, Vancouver’s Radio Berlin absorb a myriad of old-school influences and expel them into songs that sound unmistakably familiar, but ingeniously renovated and visceral.   While the Strokes lean heavily toward American proto-punkers like the Velvets and Television, Radio Berlin’s palate is decidedly more Anglophile.  Drenched in jarring synths, spare doom-imbued percussion, and jagged, echoing guitar lines, The Selection Drone recaptures the essence of early-‘80s archetypical post-punkers, including but not limited to The Cure (Seventeen Seconds era), Wire (think 154), and to a lesser extent Gang of Four, Joy Division, Killing Joke, and Siouxsie and the Banshees.  Not ones to resort to a mere rehash, Radio Berlin skillfully massage the eerie, melancholic strains of a bygone era into something a little more challenging for the twenty-first century

01. untitled
02. Change Your Mind
03. Eyes Like Lenses
04. Electric Halls
05. Glass Horizon
06. Green Teeth
07. Kill the Moment
08. The Sequence is Over
09. Twelve Fingers
10. The Selection Drone

Now available on Bandcamp

Monday, August 18, 2014

...Narrow at the bottom to make sure that it all fits.

Before there was Built to Spill, there were these guys.  Just as crucial if you ask me.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Tame & Talking - ep (1985, Surn)

I thought this would follow up nicely to the Eastern Bloc entry from a couple days ago.  More rock o' the '80s, in this case, ostensibly from the environs of Toronto.  Tame & Talking do the jangle/synth thing quite adeptly wherever the needle lands on this privately issued EP.  The trio's creative acumen made lent them an edge that was slightly beyond the grasp of the Top 40 crowd, but sonically,  T&T could have easily cashed-in given the opportunity.  So far as I can tell the world didn't see hide nor hair of these guys again after this record dropped. Enjoy (or not).

01. Fallen Angel (Broken Wings)
02. The Hole
03. Darkened Dream
04. Conditioned Manaid
05. Fashion Fit


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Eastern Bloc - s/t (1987, Paradox)

I had a request for this many moons ago when I didn't even own it...but I do now.  I don't have much time for a write up today.  Luckily, Trouser Press have us covered, and you can see what they have to say after the jump.  BTW, there's a really dandy Patti Smith cover on here.  Percussionist Frankie LaRocka has passed on, but you can read a very thorough and thoughtful piece on his life and times courtesy of New York Rocker online.

These three New York scene veterans — bassist Ivan Kral, guitarist Mark Sidgwick and drummer Frankie LaRocka — have individually backed the likes of Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, David Johansen, Holly Vincent, Tim Scott and John Waite. Their own band's album, while not exactly a groundbreaker, is a thoroughly respectable melodic rock collection that reflects the years they've spent in the trenches. Sidgwick has a pleasant if limited voice and his guitar playing is both fiery and flexible; the rhythm section is dexterous and inventive. A Pink Floyd-speed version of Kral's estimable 1979 Smith collaboration, "Dancing Barefoot," is odd enough to work; the Sidgwick/Kral originals could use smarter lyrics, but don't want for hooks or commercial craft.

01. So Long
02. Restless Heart
03. Woman Be Strange
04. Miracle Mile
05. Dancing Barefoot
06. You Got Love
07. Wait Too Long
08. untitled
09. Hearbreak
10. Don't Call Me
11. Time Will Tell


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Blacklisted - Something Different 7'' (1990, Rusty Cow)

God knows how many groups have dubbed themselves The Blacklisted over the years, but this one hailed from Indianapolis way back in the twentieth century.  On the three cut Something Different ep the Blacklisted purloined bits and pieces from an indie rock goldmine that was abundant in rough hewn nuggets from the Wipers to early Eleventh Dream Day.  The melancholic "Fly Away" is pensive post-punk with reverb-laden textures yielding a slow-burning sonic delight.  'Runaway Renegade" ratchets up the tension and tempo considerably, benefiting from the same organic panache as the aforementioned.  A more than satisfying listen.  I'm not sure if the same can be said for everything the Blacklisted delivered before and after this disk, but you can check out nine more tracks for yourself via the Indiana Musical Family Tree archive. 

A1. Fly Away
A2. Something Different
B. Runaway Renegade


Monday, August 11, 2014

We drove to the shoreline with the check engine light on...

Even for Mystery Monday, I rarely share current titles, but since this 2013 LP has been a daily love affair for me over the past few months I've seen it fit to indulge you, if only for 24 hours.  With it's brutally honest prose (channeling the ethos and angst of say, Holden Caulfield), tone deaf harmonies, and strenuous, homegrown hooks, this one has really settled into the fabric of my everyday life.  It's emo big time, the kind championed by labels such as Polyvinyl and Jade Tree Records. 

Physical copies are almost impossible to come by at this point, but I've provided a list of links to multiple digital vendors (all the usual suspects).  If you like what you hear, please show these guys some love.

Note: I'm going to be leaving this one up strictly for 24 hours.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Seething Grey - Big Table demo (1992)

I obtained this lil' guy in a big 'ol lot of demo tapes a couple years back.  Until then I was wholly unacquainted with this Highland Park, NJ trio, but nearly a quarter century after the fact Seething Grey have one more believer in their corner.  Right off the bat, mouthpiece Peter Horvath reminds me of a less raspy Peter Searcy, and furthermore, Big Table's initial three tunes suggest a punchier REM or Gin Blossoms.  The going gets more aggressive  on "Make It Go" which wouldn't sound a bit out of place on Dinosaur Jr's splendid Green Mind.  Capping things off, "All in Your Mind" is a gratifying blast of full fledged punk pop.  It turns out Seething Grey have a couple of CDs to their credit, which are available on CD Baby, iTunes and the like.  

01. Cold
02. Stop to Start
03. Bench
04. Make it Go
05. Desist
06. All in Your Mind


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bamff - Come Outside (1987, Mo Da Mu)

In reference to the album title, I'm not sure how many people accepted Bamff's invitation, but those who did were ensured an intriguing earful.  This synth-dominant Vancouver bunch, fronted by Danice MacLeod, present us with an avant-laden pastiche of stop/start fluctuations, '80s vocal effects and even some fretless basslines, all amidst a reliably plush new wave backdrop.  A surreal sonic dichotomy to say the least, and MacLeod's Elizabeth Fraser-like operatic tact only added to Bamff's artful unorthodoxy.  If you're looking for some immediate insight into the group's modus operandi, check out the video for "Crevice Tool," below, perhaps the first (and only) song to concern a vacuuming implement. 

01. 50 Miles
02. Come Outside
03. Crevice Tool
04. Bat an Eye
05. Little Bush
06. Feeders
07. Pony Hips
08. Endless Discretion


Monday, August 4, 2014

Yeah well it's my thing, my very own thing...

The 1993 debut from a posse of underrated Portland scenesters.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

New music - Great Mutations, plus Lannie Flowers live.

I don't know what it is about 2014, but this year I only feel compelled to absorb music in the briefest of increments - ten, fifteen mins tops usually.  Piercing this threshold of self-diagnosed Adult ADHD comes Cheap Stuff, the debut from an upstart Albany, NY-area trio, who I found myself partaking in virtually in it's entirety more than once this week.  Great Mutations have somehow manged to capture and hold my attention, bereft of resorting to anything flashy, superficial or the least bit ostentatious on their part.  Cheap Stuff is akin to an Americana-laced Pavement sans the esoteric curveballs, or perhaps a better comparison can be drawn to indie aggregations like Grandaddy, and less obviously Rogue Wave.  G/M are lackadaisical without getting too slack, not to mention sweet and strummy, graciously sparing us any genteel malaise that's so ubiquitous these days.  Just three capable fellows with real songs you might say.  And you can hear those songs for yourself via Bandcamp, where Cheap Stuff can be had at a fittingly affordable price. 

Entirely unrelated, but just as worthy comes a brand new live album from Arlington, TX power pop troubadour Lannie Flowers.  For the past couple years I've been serving up reviews and samples of his most recent solo albums (and his unheralded '80s group, The Pengwins) on Wilfully Obscure, but for those of you who've yet delve in, Live in NYC is a sublime jumping off point.  The setting for the concert was Brooklyn's Trash Bar, where Lannie and his four compatriots served up a "Lannie's dozen" of fourteen numbers to a small but attentive audience.  Included are ace renditions from his New Songs Old Stories and Circles albums, as well as a special cover of Big Star's incendiary classic, "Back of a Car."  Live in NYC affirms his strengths with should-have-been chart toppers, "Turn Up Your Radio" and "Come on Girl," among nearly a dozen more cuts.  You can get a taste of Lannie's bite out of the Big Apple from CD Baby or iTunes at your leisure.  

Friday, August 1, 2014

Apples in Stereo - New Magnetic Wonder bonus ep (2007)

In what's turned out to to be a busier than expected summer, I have very little prepped to share this week, but I hope this tides you over.  This promo ep was offered as an incentive for buying the Apples New Magnetic Wonder album a few years ago.  Personally, I always felt Rob Schneider and Co. peaked in the late '90s, but NMW definitely put me back in the groove.  Five cuts are listed below, though only three of them are bona-fide songs.

Will try to get to some more requests and maybe a couple of reviews later this weekend.  Cheers.

01. 1234
02. Skyway (alt vers)
03. Helium
04. Mirror
05. Nectar Of The Golden Life Of Health And Vitality