Tuesday, September 30, 2014

San Angelus - Soon We'll All Be Ghosts (2014, Arctic Rodeo/Amber & Wool) - A brief overview

Given their antecedents in considerably more intense precursors like Shift, Pelican and Sparkmarker, (among others) the four piece San Angelus are of fairly esteemed, not to mention concussive stock. Fear not, as there's no bludgeoning agenda here.  To the contrary, on their two-years in the making debut San Angelus manage to keep Soon We'll All Be Ghosts at a rolling boil, not a frenzied fever pitch.  Hinting at the likes of No Knife, Rival Schools and Failure, there's a sonically nimble post-hardcore modus operandi at play here, eschewing any semblance of an emo crutch.  Slyly cerebral, S/A adhere to an austere subtext and temperament, while exuding an inviting, nuanced glow that compels any eyes and ears that pass over it.  More than a few notable highlights abound, commencing with the powerful opening salvo, "One Hand on the Wheel" demonstrating the quartet's dextrously tuneful and textured musculature.  From there it's onto "Splitting Differences," loaded with delightfully mathy arpeggios.  The churning "All Bets on the Slow Kid" is a vigorous rocker with ironic bite, and "Without You" is the finest example of S/A's heightened melodic prowess heretofore.  Dare I refer to this album as a slowly revealing embarrassment of riches?
Complimenting the deluxe vinyl edition of ...Ghosts is a DVD containing videos for all twelve album tracks. In actuality, they're (mostly) unedited single frame shots in outdoor settings, but they manage to dovetail appropriately with the pensive nature of the music they accompany.  This particular incarnation of the record is available via Arctic Rodeo as a European import.  An even more limited edition of Ghosts has been printed up in excruciatingly small quantities on CD, and comes housed in sharp, industrial strength packaging.  Check it out at Amber & Wool.   Thus far, the album is not available digitally, but you can partake in some of the aforementioned videos via San Angelus' YouTube playlist below.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Here's a lesson in dissonance.

The almost complete discography from an early '90s post-hardcore trio, whose members would go onto even more substantial endeavors.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Pengwins - If U Want 2 7" box, and Nixon's Head/Donuts !Pow/Mod! - A brief overview

So here's the concept.  Say you were in a commendable but unheralded power pop band from about 30 years ago.  You had the privilege of recording about a dozen and a half songs that were fit for public consumption, but only a few trickled out onto an EP that is now out of print, and largely speaking your following was local.  To make this music available again (some of it for the first time) the obvious thing to do would be to cram these songs onto a CD for reissue, and/or go the iTunes route and be done with it.  Or you could get considerably more creative with the idea and release each song as a separate 7" single, with a new song from a reconvened incarnation of said group to accompany the "oldie."  Not finished yet?  Ok, let's say you wanted to prolong the fun, and house each separate single in it's own corrugated cardboard box, with a bonus CD of the songs, plus stickers, photos, commentary, trinkets and other reproductions of ephemera contemporary to the era.

Unless you're Led Zeppelin, not many artists would entertain the thought of such an undertaking, but for the Lannie Flowers fronted Pengwins are already up to the second chapter in this exhaustive and unique saga.  As was the case with the first box in this sixteen part series (Naive/Life After High School), which dropped in late 2013, the packaging and ingredients were nothing short of dazzling, and even more swag is being offered this time around, but I shan't give away any more details that what's depicted above (click on the pic for a closer peek).  Oh yeah, and there's music here too.  The A-side, "If U Want 2" is the newbie, while the alternate side of the coin, the 4-tracked "Look Around" dates back to 1977.  Astonishingly, "Look Around" sounds nearly as current as it's far more recent flip.  The Abbey Road recorded (no joke) "If U Want 2" bears glints of Cheap Trick and Velvet Crush, without getting quite as decadent as either.  In the sampler linked below I'm offering an alternate version of the track, a bonus on the enclosed CD version of the single.  The whole shebang is available from CD Baby or by emailing Spyder Pop Records directly.

In unrelated news, I recently posted a record by Philly's Nixon's Head, Traps, Buckshot and Pelt from 1987.  It turns out that not only is Nixon's Head still present and accounted for, they also have something to show for it, namely a split release with the Donuts.  Each band is allotted their own separate full length CD.  The album title alternates depending on how the sleeve is held.  The Nixon's disk, MOD! showcases a quite different sounding group than their days of yore, going straight for the pleasure center here, deviating between saucy riff-pop, a la recent Sloan, and the refined psychedelic inclinations of the Grip Weeds.  Tracks one through five are proper length tunes, with the remaining 14 clocking in at ninety seconds on average, making for a somewhat intriguing comeback.    MOD/POW! is available from CD Baby and Nixon's Head's merch page.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Edsel Auctioneer - Voice of the Harolds ep (1990, Decoy)

I suppose there isn't much more that I can impart here from what I had to say about the Edsel Auctioneer's 1992 Simmer LP which I made available about four years ago.  For a UK band, they weren't ones to plunder much from their own thriving side of the pond.  Instead the Edsels fixed their gaze westward, particularly to Massachusetts, where the Blake Babies, Buffalo Tom and Dinosaur Jr. apparently fulfilled their quota for copious inspiration.  The six sobering but deftly crafted numbers that comprise Voice of the Harolds are actually culled their first single and an earlier ep, Gutted.  If you care to do any further reading on the band, particularly vintage press clipping, may I direct you here.  

01. Unbroken Line
02. Necessary Disease
03. Strung
04. Our New Skin
05. Bed, Table, Chair
06. Stickleback


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Breathers - Normal, Illinois ep (1989, Scheisterfest)

Here it is, the debut platter from The Breathers, whose Rain Down ep I pitched to you last year.  Big, plump, near-anthemic power pop here, like a fattened-up Plimsouls or Off Broadway.  Think of 415 Records acts like Wire Train and Red Rockers had they fully embraced the AOR shtick they always seemed to be flirting with.  "Stay the Boy" and "Thin Ice" are the clear winners here, but the seven minute "I Can Make it Rain" could have been whittled down a bit.  My apologies for the slight vinyl static.  Maybe a re-rip is in order.

01. Thin Ice
02. Annabel Lee
03. Anywhere But Here
04. Stay the Boy
05. I Can Make it Rain


Monday, September 22, 2014

...but the records never sold, and that was bad.

Not their best album, but still pretty great - especially the single.  Took a closer look at the credits today and discovered that Dwight Twilley is singing backup all over this one.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Lilys - A Brief History Of Amazing Letdowns ep (1994, spinArt)

Just as a heads up, I probably won't have the opportunity to post anything more for the remainder of this week (ditto for re-upping some of the older links you've been requesting).  Sorry!

One of you lot recently asked if I had this one, and you're in luck.  A Brief History... was the follow-up to the Lilys dream-pop classic, In the Presence of Nothing.  It saw the band diminishing their woozy sonic penchant tremendously, and ushered in their "pop" phase, so to speak.  Very much in the same vein as what Yo La Tengo were doing right around the same time.  There are some excellent songs here (save for the throwaway closer, "Evel Knieval).  BTW, the vinyl version of A Brief History concludes with a different track.  Enjoy.

01. Ginger
02. ycjcyaofrj
03. Any Place I've Lived
04. Jenny, Andrew & Me
05. Dandy
06. Evel Knieval

Now on Bandcamp w/ bonus swag

Monday, September 15, 2014

On the dark side let the light shine.

From 1987.  A compilation of two releases from a co-ed British group who were in the process of writing the dream-pop handbook. 


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Citified - Absence ep (2009, Eskimo Kiss)

Am probably only going to be leaving this up for a few days, as it looks like Eskimo Kiss may still be selling copies.  The review I did for Big Takeover pretty much tells the tale, and you can read it after the jump.  It's a good 'un, so enjoy. 

Greensboro, NC’s Citified manage to negotiate a happy and graceful medium between lucid, indie guitar rock and decidedly murkier dream-pop on their latest EP, Absence.  The slight, graceful flourishes of tremolo inhabiting “Founded” and “My Family Cup” illustrate that Citified have a solid working knowledge of shoegazer constructs, and moreover, know how to apply them in moderation.  For those of you old enough to understand the analogy, Absence is more Souvlaki than Loveless. Translation: what modest feedback and extraneous noise Citified exude is soothingly manicured, not unlike The Daysleepers, For Against, and Springhouse.

01. Founded 
02. Pencil Me In
03. Landlocked
04. Dutiful Scout
05. My Family Cup


Thursday, September 11, 2014

milf - antidope (1994, Big Deal)

Low and behold it's milf's second album, and likely the last thing I have to offer by them after exhausting the rest of their catalog on this page over the years.  The title antidope was in all likelihood a pun on the word "antidote" (clever bastards these lads were, eh)?  Their first full length, 1994's godhead ha ha bus! was the pinnacle of their recorded output IMO, an album that wielded equal parts wry pop hooks and hyper distortion overdrive.  By comparison antidope was markedly dissonant and insular, delving into murkier terrain than milf had ever ventured into.  Challenging and oblique as it may be at times, antidope offers it's share of tuneful respites - "thom" and "isao minami" winning the most favor with me.  All in all it's an acquired taste worth acquiring, especially if you've been sold on their other swill.  Feel your Ginsana.

01. nutcracker
02. ginsana
03. apples
04. big rock drum (interlude)
05. mo' zac
06. georgia tucker
07. the day that gram parsons died
08. georgia pad (interlude)
09. isao minami
10. thom
11. spookie
12. shoegazer (lowest energy song)
13. one man
14. shoegazer (reprise)


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Jet Black - In Paradox & What Moon Things - s/t - a brief overview

In 2012 I belatedly discovered one of the most moving albums of the year that had just passed, namely Jet Black's bristling Escape Measures LP.  Fortunately, I'm a little more on the ball for the Montreal quartet's follow-up, In Paradox, which just dropped last week.  Cut from the same amped-out sackcloth as their debut, In Paradox's is another consistently appealing melodi-noise salvo, throttled down a notch or two.  Not a deliberate throwback, Jet Black are nonetheless tethered to '90s sonic aesthetics, the kind that endeared me to the likes of Swervedriver, Failure and No Knife back in the Clinton-era.   The melancholic hues that dye In Paradox are more pensive than despondent, and despite JB's unflinchingly austere poise, their dense, clamorous haze is coupled with a tuneful penchant that's as effective as anything you're likely to hear this side of a Silversun Pickups record.  And the cherry on top?  A slight but unmistakable ethereal kick.

Physical copies of In Paradox won't be coming down the pike until November, but you can purchase the digital incarnation from the usual sources - iTunes, Bandcamp, Amazon, and for a limited time you can stream it via Big Takeover's newly revamped webpage. 

And now for the second act on today's docket.  New Paltz, NY’s What Moon Things don’t rewrite the post-punk playbook, so much as revive it to its pre-hipster grandeur and integrity, throwing the notions of today’s ersatz revivalists straight under the bus.  First and foremost this trio hones in on texture, emphasizing nimble percussion and under-your-skin rhythmic contractions.  Secondly, their economical setup lends itself to skeleton crew arrangements, augmented by a crisp recording that reveals every plunky clang and crash.  A foreboding, subterranean mystique is pervasive here, countered occasionally with sweet Cure guitar tones circa-Disintegration.  There’s a purity to the band’s doggedly uncompromising tenor coursing through What Moon Things, whether it be the bludgeoning splay of “Doesn’t Make Much Sense,” or the woefully emoted “Astronaut,” and that’s merely in the first half of this fabulous, noir beast of a record.  Get it on CD or digitally from Bandcamp or Amazon downloads

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Does that answer your question?

Dreamy post-punk from the Midwest.  This album is where it all began. 


Friday, September 5, 2014

Tim - German Engineering (1998, Vital Cog)

Thought this would be an appropriate follow-up to my missive on Rail a couple nights back.  Four Lexington, KY kids do the strum and clang thing pretty adeptly and LOUDLY.  This album isn't the product of "German engineering" so much as sheer Chapel Hill aesthetics, with a big nod to Archers of Loaf.  At their fiercest, they whip up a rancorous, feedbacky din a la Drive Like Jehu, but Tim tender a wry pop element when they get the notion to (think Treepeople, Superchunk, etc).  I'm just kind of babbling here, so I'll let you get to the music, and it's very good music at that.  I might have a Tim single or two to share in the future. 

01. Flashlight Charm
02. Drawl
03. Maps to the Stars' Homes
04. Hang Nail Failure
05. Mashburn
06. Knee-jerk
07. Presidential Ruler
08. -----
09. First in Space
10. Very Replaceable
11. Ignition
12. Better Get Used to it, Sunbeam
13. At the Half-Seam
14. Rural Electric
15. Honor Blackman is Pussy Galore


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Rail - Roling Little Joe 7" ep (1994) & Luke & Lauraland ep (1995)

This post is likely to be the first and last to concern a band whose roster contained a former roommate of mine. Some twenty years ago I had the dubious honor or sharing a flat for the summer with the guitarist of Rail.  And while my first (and only) foray into communal living concluded in Titanic-like fashion, my roommate turned me onto some phenomenal music in that brief time-span, and moreover, was solely responsible for enlightening me to a genre I had yet to familiarize myself with.  I remember it like it was yesterday...

Up until that point, "Emo" merely signified the moniker of a mildly obnoxious comedian.  That was until said roommate set me up with records by two bygone Washington D.C. acts - Rites of Spring and Embrace.  Even at first blush, I had an appreciation for both of them, but they were acquired tastes that wouldn't really sink in for a few more months, whereas some of his other suggestions, like Rocket From the Crypt and J Church made a much more immediate impression.  At any rate, I soon learned that he had his own emo aggregation, a ramshackle Rochester-by-way-of Buffalo quartet called Rail.  It wasn't 'til we departed our dilapidated apartment that summer and went our separate ways that Rail issued their first record, 1994's Rolling Little Joe.  A privately pressed 7" on 33 rpm, RLJ featured among two other tracks, an arresting A-side dubbed "Faith 51."  The song was in reference to the botched seize of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, TX in 1993.  Sonically, Rail skewed toward D.C. post-hardcore, but possessed a melodic undercurrent as well.  The Cali band Fuel from the late '80s/early'90s were definitely on the same wavelength I might add (and worth investigating). 

A year later another 7" ep, Luke & Lauraland followed.  This one was a tad last wrought and boasted even greater tuneful sensibilities.  Upon it's release I don't remember hearing or seeing much of Rail again, although a full length was completed, which to my knowledge never saw the light of day.  There was a split 45 with the Autobots that came out in 1996 with the band pared down to a trio.   I assume they called it quits shortly thereafter. 

Rolling Little Joe ep (1994, Supermang/Front Porch)
A. Faith 51
B1. Mine All Mine
B2. Transit

Luke & Lauraland ep (1995, Red Dawg)
01. Reconsider
02. Cheerleader on Prozac
03. Tickin'
04. Luke & Lauraland