Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Young Caucasions - The Shroud of Elvis (1987, Top)

Looks like The Young Caucasians are a bit of a cold case, web-wise anyway.  Hailing from Chevy Chase, MD this quintet wasn't your average D.C. fare.  No punk or h/c overtones here, and to our good fortune they don't exude anything that could be attributed to the man mentioned in the album title.  The Caucasians play it fairly straightforward, intermittently teasing us with some Stonesy vibes throughout The Shroud of Elvis.  You'll discern it more in Matt Adores vox than Andy Social's fretwork, but make no mistake, these boys ain't the second coming off Mick and Keef by a long shot. Nonetheless, "I Don't Love You" is a Jagger-esque slice of blue-eyed soul, while "Doin' My Time" distinctly shifts things into J. Geils Band mode.  Fun as those are, "Comedy Team" and "Can You Tell the Difference" manage to surpass them.  Per the marred sleeve art, this record was once in the possession of a radio station, and has all kinds of vinyl static to show for it.  I did my best to clean it up, but should I come across a cleaner copy, a re-rip will be in order.

01. Comedy Team
02. Good People
03. Doin' My Time
04. I Don't Love You
05. Don't Up the Window
06. Let's Dig the Impossible
07. Can You Tell the Difference
08. Troubled Child
09. Back to the Start
10. Real Things


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Four eps.

Four random, totally unrelated extended play releases that came out between the years 1987-1996.  Believe it or not, one of these eps was banned from this site several years ago.  I'll let you guess which.  Enjoy (or not).

Friday, October 24, 2014

Sister Lovers - Paula Stop Pretending 7" ep (1993, Horrifying Circus Music)

And just when I thought 99¢ couldn't buy squat anymore, I came across this at Sonic Boom in Toronto last year.  With a name like Sister Lovers this Vancouver quartet had to have a jones for Big Star, right?  Perhaps, but it isn't the least bit evident on these four songs.  S/L do however pay homage to prematurely deceased Pandora's front-woman Paula Pierce on the title track, a bouncy, garage/punk-pop rave up in the spirit of Redd Kross, with loose nods to locals the Evaporators and Pointed Sticks too.  Little did I know that "Paula Stop Pretending," and "Playing on Thru the Bell" (the latter sounding not far removed from what the Figgs were peddling around the same time) were sung by Mark Kleiner whose future outfit the Mark Kleiner Power Trio were responsible for perhaps the best power pop album of 2002, Love To Night.  In fact I only learned of the connection by way of a Kleiner podcast interview conducted by Vancouver DJ extraordinaire Nardwuar on the occasion of a MKPT reunion show earlier this year.  

In addition to this 45, Sister Lovers had a cassette album, School Sux that most of us aren't likely to find, however a full length, Friendless was recorded post-Paula that was never released.  To our good fortune the band has made a stream of it available on Soundcloud.   Just to reiterate, the aforementioned Mark Kleiner Power Trio album is phenomenal, and could very well be to your liking even if the Sister Lovers aren't.  You can check it out via Mint Records and iTunes, and I just might have included one of the songs from it as a bonus in the link below.  

01. Paula Stop Pretending
02. Pleasant
03. Playing on Thru the Bell
04. A Winter's Tale


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

V/A - Some New Ruins: The Yale-New Haven Compilation (I.V. Towers, 1986)

Now this is what I call a find.  I didn't realize this thing even existed until I was browsing on Ebay earlier this year.  Some New Ruins contains no less than three big favorites of mine - Bleached Black, Beauty Constant, and Senator Flux, all of whom I've done features on.  As far as "scene" compilations go, ...Ruins is a rarity in that it's emphasis is predominantly on quality control, not mere locality.  In addition to the aforementioned the most pleasant surprise was the buzzsaw power pop of U Thant (not to be confused with the Welsh group of the same name) especially the second of their two contributions, "Little Chlorine."  If you dug the likes of Grey Matter and the High Back Chairs, U Thant will work miracles for you, and I'd love to know if they had anything else committed to tape.  I was impressed with Cattle Collision too, a female fronted combo that could pass for a mash-up of early 10,000 Maniacs and Vomit Launch.  One glaring hindrance to this disk is the inclusion of the exceedingly rank Sx Ox Rx, a very out-of-place hardcore band with an amateurish eye towards Rollins-era Black Flag.  I'm not out to berate anybody, but Sx... put a bit of a blemish on this thing.

Going back to some of the other acts I initially mentioned, Bleached Black (helmed by the late, great Steven Deal) were nothing less than quintessential in their league, that being guitar-sy indie rock. We have two tracks here that did not appear on either their self-titled album for Relativity Records, or their Wrist Slashing Romance ep.  You can purchase their complete studio works here.  Similarly, Beauty Constant were a honey of a left-off-the-dial proposition as well.  Both of their tunes on ...Ruins also reside on their Like the Enemy LP.  It's only fitting that Senator Flux make a showing here, as frontman David Levine was the curator and brainchild of this whole ball o' wax.  S/F's poetic, narrative spiels would be perfected in the coming years on platters such as Storyknife and the Criminal Special

01. Bleached Black - Ecosong
02. U Thant - Her Soul Arrives
03. Senator Flux - (Walking the) Black Road
04. Cattle Collision - Very Sorry Second Best
05. Beauty Constant - Thursday Night
06. The Rafles - The Biggest Day in Your Life
07. Sx Ox Mx - Life as it Is
08. The Rafles - Danny's Garden
09. Beauty Constant - Sight to See
10. Bleached Black - You Couldn't Tell Me
11. Sx Ox Mx - Blind to Reality
12. U Thant - Little Chlorine
13. Cattle Collision - Not to Mean
14. Senator Flux - Southbound Trains


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New pop: David Bierman Overdrive - Standard Skies & The Well Wishers - A Shattering Sky - a brief overview

For better or worse (predominantly for the better) Wilfully Obscure has long been a font for all things Junk Monkeys, one of Detroit's best kept rock and roll secrets circa the '80s and early '90s.  While the David Bierman-led clan are known to reconvene on rare occasions for local gigs, the Monkeys largely called it a day after album # five, 1992's Bliss.  Fast forward a couple decades and our man is back with a recently assembled quintet, the David Bierman Overdrive, which by the way features another ex-JM alum, bassist Kevin Perri alongside other local yokels.

The Junk Monkeys were at heart a raucous and often euphoric punk-pop crew, preaching a similar gospel to pre-fame Goo Goo Dolls and the Mats.  And as was the case with Westerberg's post-Replacements endeavors, Dave is not immune to the common ailments of maturity that have plagued singer-songwriters from time immemorial.  If you can catch the gist of what I'm imparting, Standard Skies' genre-hopping panache isn't exactly a thrill ride, particularly with DBM's adoption of pedal steel guitars, coloring twangy ballads "Fountain" and "Waltz Of Spilled Drinks with a distinct No Depression aplomb a la Uncle Tupelo.  Nonetheless there are echoes to Dave's more fevered days of yore, evidenced on "Superhuman," "This is the Chorus" and "Marking Days," all of which kick up considerable dust without threatening to tumble off the tracks.  Best of all, you don't have to be a lifelong Junk Monkeys junkie like myself to dig Standard Skies.  Get it digitally or on CD through DBO's site and Bandcamp

This isn't the first time The Well Wishers have absorbed a little text on these pages, and it likely won't be the last as prime-mover Jeff Shelton has proved himself a perennial purveyor of power pop, reliably doling out a bevy of albums, not far removed the trio's latest, A Shattering Sky.  Clinging firmly to the "if-it-ain't-broke..." dictum, the Hot Nun is not what you'd call a stickler for variety.  Shattering Sky, rife with jangles and crunches follows a regimen similar to the one the Posies exercised on Amazing Disgrace, combined with prose that stitches together the lamentable, the cynical, and occasionally something a bit more positive.  Among his own compositions, Shelton puts his spin on a vintage Tom Petty chestnut "When the Time Comes."  Get you some at CD Baby, Amazon Bandcamp or iTunes

Monday, October 20, 2014

I shot my mouth off and you showed me what that hole was for.

Today it's the bonus disk (only) belonging to a deluxe reissue of a crucial debut album from 1980.  Dig in.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Liquor Giants - Here (1994, East Side Digital)

I recently had a request for this one, and wouldn't you know it's a nugget o' gold.  Here stands as one of my five favorite Liquor Giants albums.  On second thought, the band only had five albums to begin with, so that's hardly saying anything.  The Gun Club never did much for me, but within it's ranks resided one Ward Dotson.  By the early '90s, G/C were sorta kaput, and with that the guitar slinging Dotson proved to be a capable and compelling front-man on his own terms via a new outlet, the Liquor Giants.  The Giants pop/rock setup was hardly a revelation, but with a tuneful rush of warm, lived in reverb and earnest songs, integrity proved to be the band's calling card.  Here is remarkably consistent with a sonic penchant that pivots in the direction of late '80s Replacements.  The punchy "Stick Around" is not only an apt example of Dotson's inspired headspace at the time, but worth the price of admission alone - and there are a dozen more reasons to do as the aforementioned song title implies.  More Liquor Giants can be imbibed at iTunes, Amazon and Bandcamp

01. 67 E. Second St.
02. An Arm Around You Too
03. Stick Around
04. Now That
05. Disgusted
06. This Paper Cut
07. Something's Always on Fire
08. Everybody's a Genius
09. I Don't Mind
10. Play Along
11. Here's to You
12. Hold My Hand
13. Wanna Belong
14. Happy New Year


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sometime Sweet Susan - The Coming Lights (1995, Futurist)

Milwaukee's entry into the '90s noise-pop sweepstakes, Sometimes Sweet Susan, was a commendable one at that.  I base that assertion on the band's first two wide-scale releases, Fuse in 1993, and the Point ep following a year later, both fairly consistent offerings of wiry dissonance and feedback with a thoughtful melodic subtext that was often smothered amidst all that bittersweet rancor.  The Coming Lights dropped in 1995, and by and large, it truly was the proverbial "difficult second record."  The initial volley of tunes ("Beauty Screams," "Somewhere West of Here," etc) capably fulfill the promise of those earlier disks, but Coming Lights slowly unravels into an anticlimactic haze of insular meandering, underwritten lyrics, and material that just hadn't come together yet.  Ironically, the album inadvertently functions as microcosm of Sonic Youth's downhill trajectory on Geffen Records, starting out quite well, then mediocre, and ultimately...fizz.  I'm still sharing Fuse and Point from a 2008 post which you're encouraged to investigate here if Coming Lights' better moments move you.   

01. Beauty Screams
02. Somewhere West of Here
03. Diver
04. Ambivalence
05. Monkey Boy
06. Grover
07. Capo Song
08. The Grainery
09. Jaws of Life
10. XB
11. Collapsing Stars


Monday, October 13, 2014

Pulled into economy island...

An album of fabulous outtakes from a band who has broken up one too many times (perhaps for the  very last just a few weeks ago).  As a bonus I'm including their first ep from 1986.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

V/A - Sounds Showcase 2 7" ep (1987)

Fidelity-wise, this could be one of the most irritating rips I've shared to date.  Vinyl static, pops, snaps - it's all here, but so are some worthy tunes, by four acts that I really haven't given much attention to on these pages.  Sounds Showcase 2 (one of a three part series) was ostensibly given away as a bonus with an issue of Sounds magazine back in 1987.  The Shop Assistants lead things off with a satisfying cover of the Shangri-las "Train From Kansas City," a good two years before Superchunk made it cool.  I never really got into The Woodentops (though I made a sincere effort awhile back).  "Love Train" is not a retread of the O'Jays, but apparently an original Woodentops composition, recorded live for Westward One.  Mighty Lemon Drops' "Hear Me Call" made the leap to their 1988 World Without End album, but this versions sounds slightly different.  Possibly unmixed or maybe a demo.  I like it.  Though the sleeve of this record states that all tracks were exclusive to Sounds, the Icicle Works "Don't Let it Rain On My Parade" was easily locatable on the CD version of their If You Want to Defeat You Enemy... LP. 

01. Shop Assistants - Train From Kansas City (new version)
02. Woodentops - Love Train (live)
03. The Mighty Lemon Drops - Hear Me Call
04. Icicle Works - Don't Let it Rain On My Parade


Friday, October 10, 2014

Reissues you can use! - Game Theory, The Posies & TV Eyes.

Omnivore Records has been doing yeoman's work in the reissue and anthology venue since their inception, but 2014's harvest alone is enough to put them on par with Rykidisc (RIP) and Rhino.  A fresh trifecta of bonus-ized remasters has me particularly psyched, namely Game Theory's Blaze of Glory, The Posies Failure, and TV Eyes, a one-off endeavor between Jason Falkner and Roger Manning that's seeing the light of day in North America for the first time.

A good half of you reading this know that Scott Miller passed away last year, yet you'd think he'd fallen off the musical map entirely by the late '80s when his main claim to fame Game Theory disbanded.  Sure, there was his '90s meal ticket The Loud Family who entertained willing ears throughout the Clinton era (with five full lengths to show for themselves), but they barely received the same reverenceGame Theory gestated in the fertile college town of Davis, CA in 1982.  Adopting a penchant that one could liken to a DIY melange of Big Star by way of the dB's, Miller and Co inserted a whirring Korg synth into the mix, but it was his uniquely pitched timbre that helped usher GT into an indigenous and often beguiling strata of their own creation.

The three college rock classics that would follow Blaze of Glory's lead (Real Nighttime (1984), The Big Shot Chronicles (1986) and Lolita Nation (1987) are regarded as Game Theory's crowning achievements.  This isn't to qualify Blaze... as the runt of the litter, though unlike the aforementioned it hasn't been available digitally in it's original mix until now.  Technically, these twelve songs saw the light on CD back in 1993 on the Alias Records Distortion of Glory compilation, albeit in remixed/retouched form.  Omnivore's reissue sets the record straight, literally, restoring everything to original specs.  As debut's go, Blaze... charts the slyly esoteric path that Game Theory were poised to venture off on, and in the process boasts some profoundly great signature tunes, particularly "Bad Year at UCLA" and the melodious "Sleeping Through Heaven" both of which would populate the quartet's setlists for years to come.  Bonus tracks are a given on reissues these days - but a whole 'nother albums worth!?  Key among them are four songs from Scott's almost-as-essential precursor act , Alternate Learning, who originally issued a super scarce LP, Painted Windows in 1981, and an ep two years prior.  In fact, ALRN's "Beach State Rocking" would have fit in smoothly on Blaze of Glory.  Some of the other extras showcased from Miller's juvenilia period don't necessarily enhance the main course, but are still a welcome add-on.  All in all a stunning reissue you can read more about and order here.

Most Posies aficionados know the band's 1988 debut, Failure originally saw its inception on home dubbed cassettes, and that there were initially no designs of pressing it onto vinyl or CD.  To me, what's always been infinitely more revealing is that neither Jon Auer or Ken Stringfellow had encountered a note of Big Star until well after Seattle based PopLlama Records did a proper physical release of the album.  So far as I'm concerned Bellingham's dynamic duo were no worse off for said lack of enlightenment, considering that Failure's power-less pop consistently rose to the occasion with mesmerizing harmonies and clever but cathartic truisms.  Predominantly endowed in acoustic, folk-informed arrangements, creme de la creme selections like "Under Easy," "Compliment?" and "I May Hate You Sometimes" represent the purest and most undiluted statements Auer and Stringfellow ever brought to the table, in or out of the Posies realm.  Go ahead and pen another Dear 23 letter, or lick the Frosting off your Beater of choice, because as far as I'm concerned Failure was in all respects a sublime, rewarding and beaming success.  To mark it's fifteen anniversary, Failure was reissued with bonus tracks, but frustratingly only in Europe.  The Omnivore edition reprises the bulk of them, and tacks on an exclusive demo.  Amazon and iTunes have you covered.

The moniker TV Eyes is going to ring familiar to many of you, but this trio will take you on a spin a good 180 degrees from where Iggy and the Stooges ever thought to embark.  Their roster boasts a resume a mile long - Jason Falkner and Roger Joseph Manning Jr. who were formally united in Jellyfish, (and separately in such entities as The Three O'Clock, Imperial Drag, The Grays not to mention Falkner's excellent solo outings), along with Brian Reitzell who pounded the skins in Redd Kross and Air.  TV Eyes tenure essentially began and ended in 2000 when this album was tracked, but it wasn't released until 2006 - and that was only in Japan.  Don't let their individual, or for that matter, collective back-storys lead you to any predetermined conclusions, as TV Eyes turned out to be a fairly radical fish-out-of-water venture for all those involved.  Eschewing anything guitar-based, the Eyes were full bore electro-pop brandishing bold, dance floor convictions.  A job worth doing is worth doing well, and amazingly, the Falkner fronted combo sound as natural and proficient in this sheik, digital realm as they did in their considerably more organic pursuits circa the twentieth century.  Occasionally, the going gets a bit gratuitous and sonically overwhelming, with lyrics that hover perilously close to the insipid at times. That aside, TV Eyes solidly delivers nine pumped up kicks straight to the booty, that it's intended audience will have no quibbles with.  Get it from Omnivore, Amazon, and the usual array of digital vendors. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Trilobites - Turn it Around (1987, Waterfront)

My first encounter with Sydney's Trilobites was on a college radio station via a tune called "Why Can't I Remember" a taught, sturdy exercise in driving post-punk a la the Godfathers (the band) and to a lesser extent the Jam.  It wasn't long before I purchased the 1988 ep it was derived from, I Can't Wait For Summer to End.  Over the years I learned there were a spate of releases that preceded it, available in small quantities with little to no distribution in the States.  I happened upon a used copy Turn It Around a few years ago, and mistakenly assumed it was a studio record.  Instead, the nine incendiary blasts it houses are culled from a live 1987 gig at Caringbah Hotel in New South Wales.  The audience applause bookending each song strikes me as suspiciously canned, but nonetheless I take the Trilobites at their word, as they proceed to blow the damn roof off the joint.  Containing their signature single side "American TV," as well as other pounding, adrenaline fixes like "Come to Where It's At" and the title cut, the band sounds less stifled in a live setting, and makes the case for them even more effectively than the aforementioned ep.  We receive a couple of choice covers to boot - The Records "Teenarama" and the Paul Collins Beat classic "Walking Out on Love." 

01. Dress in Black
02. I Wish it Could Be 1965 Again
03. American TV
04. Walking Out on Love
05. Not Trying to Hurt You
06. Turn it Around
07. Teenarama
08. Piece of Shit
09. Come to Where it's At.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Can't you see this is hard for me?

Almost an hour of singles, b-sides and rarities surrounding an album that put this quartet on the power pop map.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Purdins - Greatest Hits (1995) + October 11th reunion show news!

Remember the 7" ep I shared by Seattle's Purdins in 2011?  Whether you do or you don't, I have it on esteemed and good authority that the band in question will be reuniting for a concert in this coming Saturday (Oct 11) at the Sunset Tavern in the Emerald City, containing most of the original lineup at that.  A link to tickets is below. 

As mentioned in my previous write-up the band were far from scene luminaries, but their refreshing sonic aesthetic drew from the grittier side of psych rawk with tongue planted firmly in cheek.  Sardonic, not to mention a tad depraved and perverse at moments, the Purdins rarely let irony stand in the way of a memorable song.  Greatest Hits, in fact, contains no hits whatsoever, but in a more perfect world arresting gems like "Dazzling Bag of Paint Chips" and "Jet Plane" would have indeed been smashes.  This out of print compact disk (available in small quantities at the show from what I understand) compiles roughly twenty tunes tracked between the late '80s and 1993.

Believe it or not, a Purdins "docudrama" is in the offing, as are new songs.  Green Monkey Records did a real nice piece on the boys recently which you can check out here.  You can hear a bevy of songs on Reverbnation, and tickets for the Oct 11th reunion gig can be purchased here.

Greatest Hits

Tracy/Flower Drum Song/Mrs. Jones/Jet Plane/Feet Faster Further Down/Psychedelic Day/Carol Said/Tony's New One/Decisions 1/Hans/Genocidal Love/AM-PM Lady/The Sink/It Won't Be Long/Friendly Fuel Man/Greg Brady/One of the Two/Dazzling Bag of Paint Chips/Plane Flying Over My Head/Big/Purdins live at the Hollywood Bowl


Friday, October 3, 2014

Diamond fist Werny - tape (1992)

True, Diamond fist Werny hailed from Seattle during that city's immensely trendy musical peak, but if it's an unheralded grunge/punk also-ran you're hoping for, you'd have more fun taking a long walk off a short Puget Sound pier.  Despite a lack of focus, DfW had something more ambitious in mind on this five-cut demo.  The lead-off "Pollen Path" is a slow, droney build-up to a baroque flavored ambiance, that I'm not very capable of describing in the written word.  Deliberately or not, Axel Mundi's bass clarinet (his full time instrument) occasionally mimics a bass guitar.  Side two (tracks 3-5) skews more towards conventional left-of-the-dial fare, albeit not straight-and-narrow pop.  The lucid and contemplative "There are Diamonds," sounding vaguely like something Galaxie 500 might have conjured up, does the job for me.  Three DfW full lengths would follow this cassette.  In addition to the bio linked above, there's a nice 1993 article on the band archived on the Seattle Times webpage.

 BTW, there are a couple of minor glitches in the first ten seconds of "Pollen Path."  My apologies.

01. Pollen Path
02. Philadelphia
03. Jupiter
04. Picture Your Life
05. There are Diamonds


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

3 Teens Kill 4 - No Motiv ep (1982, Point Blank)

It's feeling like a pretty random week, so here's one of the most unusual and adventurous records in my archive.  Truthfully, I bought this on a whim based on the spiffy sleeve art.  3 Teens Kill 4 were a highly avant, co-ed contingent of audio manipulators from New York, all bearing roots in the fabled East Village arts community.  Steeped in art-damaged post-punk, The Teens served a tossed salad of funked up rhythms, chanted vox, minimalist synths, samples, sound byte collages and even some occasional proto-hip hop tactics...albeit these traits rarely surfaced in unison.  I've seen references online that lump this quintet with the no-wavers and such, but frankly 3 Teens were too sophisticated and overwhelming for that tricky gaggle o' geese, not to mention subversive.  An apt case in point is a bizarre re-rendering of the Chaka Kahn and Rufus classic, "Tell Me Something Good," which is interspersed with news clips concerning the 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan.  Surprisingly, there's a healthy amount of detail to be had on 3 Teens Kill 4 online, including a Wiki article (linked above), a Facebook hovel, and this.  Member David Wojnarowicz, who became a relatively renown artist in his own right, passed away in 1992.

01. Hold Up
02. Tell Me Something Good
03. 5/4
04. Crime Drama
05. Hut/Bean Song
06. Hunger

This has been reissued and expanded.  Go here.