Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Sugarplastic - Radio Jejune (1995, Sugar Fix)

Thought I'd fulfill a request to cap off the year.  At one point this was available on iTunes and such, but not anymore apparently.  Over the years I have dispensed copious text regarding this L.A. area pop conglomerate.  Ladies and gentlemen, may I reintroduce you to The Sugarplastic.  Platinum records, sold-out arena tours, sordid tabloid headlines, and love songs that were known to be the impetus of many an unplanned pregnancy - all telltale Sugarplastic earmarks.  Ok, in fairness, maybe I'm a tad off base, but in a more perfect world...  If it's back-story details you're looking for, you can check out some of my previous 'plastic entries to get caught up.   In a nutshell for the newbies in the audience, this trio opted to mix a twee-spoon of sugar into their XTeaC-indebted salvos, and poured in some mercurial idiosyncrasies of their own for intriguing measure.  Radio Jejune, their debut album, is probably the most inventive and adventurous album in their catalog, featuring off-kilter treasures like "Salmolina" and "Sir Sheever."  A classic. 

01. Radio Jejune
02. Ways to Save Face
03. Salmolina
04. Sun Goes Cold
05. Skinny Hotrod
06. Please Mr. B
07. Arizona
08. Sir Sheever
09. Officer G
10. Howl a Little

Get it at Bandcamp

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Fallin' in love is like fallin' down steps...

This weeks it's an essential two-fer reissue CD containing the 1979 and 1981 albums from a dear departed Philly quartet who specialized in slightly sardonic, turn-of-the-decade power pop.  A heroes work is never done...


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas.

                      Track list here.   MP3 (320 kbps) or  FLAC

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

8th night of Chanukah: Wire - Pink Flag & Chairs Missing demos (AKA, Graham's Practice Tape)

Practice makes perfect (pun partially intended).   I started Chanukah on a post-punk note, so I thought I'd conclude on one as well.  A good many of you got a charge out of the Wire 154-era rehearsals I put up in 2013.  Shortly thereafter I found this set floating around, which doesn't appear to have an official title, though it's been referred to as "Graham's tape" or "Graham's practice tape" - the Graham of course being bassist/mouthpiece Lewis Graham.  Wire made it onto my sonar around the time they were opening for Depeche Mode back in 1988.  A Bell is a Cup... was my first album by them, not Pink Flag.  Needless to say I studied their back catalog in short order and found it to be a near-mind blowing revelation.  Wire may have been part of the so-called "Class of '77," but they would have no part in staying tethered to the three-chord, socio/political ethos of that era which ironically became revered for it's all too stifling petulance.  To the contrary, Wire were coming from a place of genuine nonconformity.  If you're already a convert I'm merely parroting back what you already know, so I'll cut the line here. 

Amazingly, there's little material here that overlaps with Wire's officially released demos compendium, Behind the Curtain (which covers exactly the same era), and ditto for the popular Not About to Die bootleg.  Perhaps why these tracks haven't been officially released is that most of them sound negligibly different from the finished versions.  In fact, in certain portions the only apparent difference is Colin Newman's vocal takes.  Nonetheless, us Wire aficionados are pretty damn anal, and even the slightest deviations can cork our heads a good ninety degrees.  I credit these as Pink Flag and Chairs Missing demos, but 154's "40 Versions" appears in this collection, and the three concluding cuts are full fledged outtakes - just don't get your hopes too high for those.  All in all, it's quite a feast.  Enjoy.

01. Reuters
02. Field Day for the Sundays
03. Three Girl Rhumba
04. Ex-Lion Tamer
05. Strange
06. Brazil
07. It's So Obvious
08. Mannequin
09. Surgeon's Girl
10. Pink Flag
11. The Commercial
12. Straight Line
13. 106 Beats That
14.  Mr. Suit
15. Lowdown
16. Feeling Called Love
17. Different toMe
18. Champs
19. Fragile
20. Underwater Experiences
21. Sand in My Joints
22. Used To
23. Another the Letter
24. Outdoor Miner
25. Practice Makes Perfect
26. Heartbeat
27. Marooned
28. In the Nursery
29. Being Sucked in Again
30. I Feel Mysterious Today
31. Mercy
32. 40 Versions
33. Eeals Sang Lino
34. Untitled (Indirect Table Leg)
35. Second Length


Monday, December 22, 2014

7th night of Chanukah: V/A - Metrojets Vols. 1 & 2 (Red Rubber Ball)

I suppose I couldn't get away without sharing something that's squarely in the power pop vein for one of my Chanukah posts, now could I?  With a combined 37 tracks, these beauties more than fit the bill. The two Metrojets compilations slipped in and out of circulation rather quickly when they dropped in the mid-00s (no copyright date provided) via the Spanish Red Rubber Ball labelWith an emphasis on virtual unknowns in the DIY realm spanning the years 1977-82, Metrojets was an instant draw for me, even if I had little to no acquaintance with the music enshrined within.  I have a huge affinity with music from this era for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that music was still being tracked on analog equipment, imbuing recordings with a warmer tone.  Secondly, the "genre" was still relatively fresh and tuneage of this sort wouldn't hit the overkill phase until later in the eighties.  With Metrojets, I’m tempted to draw parallels between Bomp Records style power pop acts, and those featured in the Teenline series, however the emphasis here is on British practitioners, with only about a third of the roster being culled from the Yankee camp. 

Since I don’t have time to offer track-by-track critiques, the liner notes, albeit brief, do some of the heavy lifting for me, which is why I scanned them in  At the very least I can make a few quick recommendations – Bo & The Generals, The Subterraneans, Straight Eight, The Spys, New Toys, Urgent Crunch Band, and Paul Warren & The Explorers.  Incidentally I have featured only two of Metrojets participants before this posting – The Fans (Atlanta) and The Queen Annes, the latter of which saw the release of an excellent retrospective this year, Something Quick on Green Monkey Records.  The Annes offered a classy “Me” generation update on par excellence British Invasion rock, and are well worth further investigation.  Enjoy. 

Volume 1
01. The FansTrue
02. The Realists - I've Got A Heart
03. Stumblebunny - When You Walk Away
04. Straight Eight - I'm Sorry
05. Speedometors - Tonight Tonight
06. Bo & The Generals - Rich Girl
07. The Boys - (Baby) It's You
08. Sponsors - In & Out Of Love
09. Da Biz - On The Beach
10. Brian Copsey & The Commotions - Boys In Love
11. The Blades - Hot For You
12. Advertising - Stolen Love
13. The Vye - Five Hours Till Tonight
14. The Subterraneans - My Flamingo
Volume 2
01. T-Boys - One Way Street
02. Tennis Shoes - (Do The) Medium Wave
03. Queen Annes - This Is That
04. Furys - Moving Target
05. Jo Allen & The Shapes - Cryin' Over You
06. Dee & The Monitors - Play With Fire
07. New Toys - Say It
08. RealistsWonderland
09. DazzlersPhonies
10. Spys - Heavy Scene
11. White Heat - The City Beat
12. Shades - Are You My Angel
13. Urgent Crunch Band - Listen To Silence
14. Expressos - Hey Girl
15. Sweet Tommy Band - She Don't Respond
16. Bozos - Weekend Girl
17. Paul Warren & The Explorers - Mr. A&R Man
18. Ric Tubbax & The Taxis - Breakin' Up
19. Monos! - Mad Lover
20. Fingerprintz - Dancing With Myself
21. Nick Gilder - Metro Jets (unlisted track)

Metrojets Vol. 1: Hear
Metrojets Vol. 2: Hear

Sunday, December 21, 2014

6th night of Chanukah: The Porcelain Boys - Fetish for Female tape (1989) & Live at the 7th St. Entry 11/5/89

Since 2009 I've been dedicating ones and zeroes to a band called the Porcelain Boys, one of Minnesota's finest exports, whose brief but powerful catalog rivals that of "the big three" from Minneapolis (surely you know who I'm referring to).  Before I delve too far into the details of this much sought after tape, I'm going to provide you with a little backgrounder on the band that I've spliced together from previous writings.

The Delwood, MN trio known as the Porcelain Boys released two demo tapes and two singles in their first incarnation, which from my estimation spanned the mid-80s to about 1990 or '91. Many of their non-local fans became acquainted with them via their cut "Sidetrack" appearing on the Lookout Records compilation, Can of Pork. The lineup for these early releases was: Erik Kaiser (lead vocals, percussion), Tom Spence (guitar) and Scott Cook (bass). Yes, the P/B's possessed a singing drummer in their lineup, just like Genesis and Husker Du.  The Boys gnarly take on the whole "popcore" thing, as it turned out, proved to be just as gratifying and substantive as the smartest work of their influential antecedents, The Descendants/All and Doughboys. Truly endearing, hook-savvy, romantically-frustrated punk-pop at it's finest.

In just about all of my PB entries thus far I've expressed my desire to own an original copy of their second cassette album Fetish For Female.  Since the mid-90s, I had been getting by with a decent sounding dub-of-a-dub, but was looking for the genuine article.  Early this year, one of my readers heeded my call and gave me the second "pressing" (if you can even describe a tape as such) of his tape.   I was extremely grateful.  A few months ago however I befriended another big Porcelain Boys fan, and he offered to lend me his "first run" copy of the tape to digitize, the assumption being that it was the lowest generation of the cassette available.  It's been a long time coming, but after all these years I'm sharing files of that elusive but oh so splendid reel, Fetish For Female.

So what's all the hubbub about?  In a nutshell, I'm just enamored with the songs, and it's probably my favorite album that's never made it to CD or vinyl.  Adept playing, swift arrangements, homegrown production, saucy one-liners, and a myriad of underdog motifs are the key ingredients that have me running back to Fetish... time and again.  More PB songs were recorded shortly after this tape (including the aforementioned "Sidetrack") but most have yet to see the light of day.  The band reunited for an album and a tour in the mid-90s.  You can read about that chapter in their career here.

Along with FFF, you can also check out a live performance in Minneapolis circa late 1989, which was touted to be their last (it wasn't),  They run through a mess o' tunes from the tape in question as well as the stellar If You Were Real ep, not to mention halfway-there Doughboys and Fugazi covers.  Links (incl WAV versions for you lossless types) and full tracklists are below.  Knock yourself out.  Big thanks to James and John for fixing me up with everything.

Fetish For Female tape (1989)
01. Just Another Stupid Girl Song
02. Everytime
03. Red
04. Bedtime
05. Mirror
06. Just Then
07. G.B.F.
08. Gone
09. Freeway Hate Song
10. Week to Week

Live @ the 7th Street Entry, Minneapolis 11/5/89
01. Everytime
02. G.B.F.
03. Someday
04 & 05 - titles unknown
06. Just Another Stupid Girl Song
07. Just Then/Home Again
08. instrumental
09. Freeway Hate Song
10. title unknown
11. Fortune Favors the Bold
12. If You Were Real
13. Problem no. 1
14. Bikeage
15. Knowledge/Waiting Room
16. Bedtime/outro

Fetish for FemaleMP3  or  WAV
live 1989, Minneapolis: MP3  or  WAV

Saturday, December 20, 2014

5th night of Chanukah: The Buck Pets - Rares (and unreleased) (2010) & Mercurotones/To the Quick demos

And we roll into night numero cinq.  Glad you're still paying attention.  There's kind of a lot to unpack here - roughly two albums worth of tunes, and a real treasure trove if you're of The Buck Pets persuasion.  One of my all time most rewarding music finds occurred way before the advent of Ebay or even the web as we know it today.   In fact, I've been sharing it on Wilfully Obscure since forever, specifically the Pets nine-song, 1987 demo tape (aka the "blue tape" per the color of the sleeve) which presumably helped them ink a deal with Island Records.  I spotted it in the cassette rack at Up Your Alley Records in Jay Street in Schenectady sometime in 1991 or thereabouts.  In fact, by the time I unexpectedly unearthed that precious demo, their follow-up, Mercurotones may have already been released.  It was a thrilling discovery, featuring early versions of five Buck Pets songs, a preview of "Some Hesitation" from the aforementioned sophomore album, and the remainder entirely unreleased. 

Of course, I was already sold big time on the Dallas quartet by way of their self-titled debut which dropped in 1989.  The visceral, introductory salvo "Iron Cock" (take that title with a grain of salt folks) was a clock-cleaning surge of grunge and punk, just as life affirming as anything bearing an SST of Sub Pop logo.  A little bit further into that disk, the Pets revealed themselves as dutiful acolytes of the Replacements and Soul Asylum, swiping the fervor and wit of that pair respectively.  The sophomore Mercurotones, and their 1993 parting shot, To the Quick were even more sophisticated and nearly as gratifying.  A fifteen year hiatus followed.  It took a one-off 2010 reunion show (in Dallas, naturally) for Chris Savage and Co. to unlatch the BP vault to reveal a bevy of unreleased tunes on the limited edition CD I'm sharing here.

My first and overriding complaint with Rares right off the bat - a complete and total lack of liner notes, with the only provided text being a basic track list on the back cover.  No details on when any of the seventeen songs were recorded, no credits, nothing.  Zilch.  A pretty shoddy move, but at least the price was right ($10).  Given the mildly hissy and occasionally shrill audio quality, I'm presuming most of this stuff was tracked in their formative years - in fact I know for certain "No More From You," "Your Fault Not Mine," and "A Longer Look" predate the "blue tape."  They comprise some of the more recommendable cuts here, but Rares gets even better.  "Disappointed" packs a similar buzzsaw crunch a la the To the Quick era, "Forgiveness" is an above par bittersweet rocker that sounds like the product of the Pets later days, and the incarnation of "Sometimes" appearing here bests the one on that amazing demo tape I keep referring to.  Conversely, some of the other selections didn't make it onto albums for a reason, but I'll let you sort out which tunes I'm alluding to on your own.  As a bonus, I also tacked on a pre-Blue tape demo, "Maybe It's Just Me," that failed to materialize on Rares.

I'm making available separately a dozen demos from the Mercurotones and To the Quick era, that were purloined from the Pets Myspace site and elsewhere.  These are at various and lower bitrates, but fully listenable.  Not much to say about them, other than they don't differ that greatly from the finished product.  There's even a Big Star cover that I don't believe has surfaced anywhere.  Since the BP, Chris Savage has fronted subsequent projects including Mic the Tiger, Atlas Throat, Pelicans, and has even cut some DIY solo tracks.  Perhaps these endeavors will be the subject of a future entry.  As for all you Buck Pets fans craving something beyond the band's three albums, there were indeed some leftover scraps on the cutting room floor, and I'm passing them along to you.

Rares (and unreleased)
01. Grooved Pavement/No More From You
02. Other People
03. Twists and Jerks
04. Sick and Stoned
05. Live Until I Die (home demo)
06. Off+On (home demo)
07. Your Fault Not Mine
08. Sometimes
09. Separation
10. Sick and Stoned (alt vers)
11. A Longer Look
12. Angel on My Shoulder (home demo)
13. Disappointed
14. Forgiveness
15. Sometimes (home demo)
16. Live Until I Die (reprise)
17. Funny That Way
plus: Maybe It's Just Me (from first demo)

Mercurotones/To the Quick demos
Ave. F Blues/C'mon Baby/Crutch/Five o'clock or Thursday/Living is the Biggest Thing/Moon Goddess/Pearls/Smiler with a Knife/To the Quick/Walk it to the Payphone/Worldwide Smile/You Can't Have Me

Rares (and unreleased): Hear
demos: Hear

Friday, December 19, 2014

4th night of Chanukah: Miracle Legion - Simple Thing tape (1983, Incas)

Behold.  The holy grail of Miracle Legion recordings!  For many years I only knew of the existence of the Simple Thing cassette/demo by virtue of it's mention in ML's entry in the Trouser Press Record Guide.  Granted, I'm making this a Chanukah offering, I know pretty darn well that this nugget won't qualify as particularly special or revelatory to the better part of you reading this.  So what's the big deal?  In a nutshell, I'm a mondo fan of Miracle Legions first two records, namely their 1984 debut ep, The Backyard, and their first full length, Surprise, Surprise, Surprise which arrived three years later.  Both are quintessential strum and jangle college radio staples that warranted a CD reissue decades ago (hint, hint Omnivore, Captured Tracks?)  No muss, no fuss.  Just effortlessly great pop tunes...that for better or worse received way too many comparisons to R.E.M., but I digress.

I don't own an original copy of Simple Thing, but I befriended someone who does.  Those of you acquainted with this fine Connecticut export may recognize a few songs by name ("All For the Best," "Little Man," etc) but will discover that these much rawer, nascent arrangements sound foreign by comparison to the incarnations that wound up on proper ML records.  The scintillating "Fight to Fight" is steeped in austere, jagged post-punk, and provides ample evidence that the band absorbed an earful of the first three U2 albums.  Ditto for the equally appealing "Stephen, Are You There."  Other selections aren't as compelling but are nonetheless cut from the same foreboding fabric.  When all is said and done, Simple Thing, paints a rough, and dare I say amateurish portrait of a band with a couple of really hot ideas, and lots of fine tuning ahead of them that would really pay off in the end.  A big round of applause to MT for setting me up with everything.  As obscurities go, this is inexplicably rare.

BTW, I previously shared a promo-only, 1992 Miracle Legion ep that's still for the taking here.

01. Fight to Fight
02. Little Man
03. All For the Best
04. Stephen, Are You There?
05. Loyalty
06. The Heroes Calling

Officially available on Bandcamp

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Square Root of Now - Bent Around Corners (1987, Parallax)

Ok, I might be cheating a bit with this one.  Technically, I posted this album way back in 2010.  It was my own vinyl rip, and I opted to remove it a few months later when I learned someone involved with SRoN was selling CD-Rs of a remastered version of it.  Since it's no longer for sale, I'm making it available again in it's remastered iteration - and this time I have more to say about it.

I purchased The Square Root of Now's Bent Around Corners based on it's eye-cathching, Kandinsky-esque cover art, but truthfully the rather oblique song titles adorning the back of the sleeve piqued my curiosity further.   Bent...turned out to be a surreal and sublime re-imagining of new romantic synth pop, the mainstream variation of which was already starting to taste pitifully stale and formulaic.  The record's three architects, frontman Dan DeWeese, bassist and keyboardist Fritz Martin, and drummer Chris Hall took full advantage of the state-of-the-art recording apparatus of the day, without submerging themselves (or their audience) in anything too gaudy or gratuitous.  The mystique exuded in the record's eleven songs aren't merely attributed to their esoteric nomenclature (albeit "If Motif; Why Wagon" and "Honndakanaya" are reflective of just that) rather there's a prevailing sonic aptitude that screams "exotic" pretty much anywhere the stylus falls on Bent Around Corners.  Martin's fret-less bass is a huge part of the equation (pun intended), and is every bit as sensual as the band's more traditional implements.

The production here is nothing short of plush and resonant, particularly when DeWeese waxes romantic on blissed-out ballads like "Compile Your Love" and "After the Rain."  In my original write-up I posited you could draw parallels between Square Root and relative contemporaries The Three O'clock and Glass Moon.  That observation holds true, particularly on the beaming opener, "Between the Light," which wouldn't sound too out of place on the Three's Arrive Without Traveling LP, also from '87.  Bent... concludes with a strapping finale in the guise of the title cut which crescendos to multiple hooks and sumptuous highs, leaving anyone within in earshot to wonder what a second SRoN album would have amounted to.  Regrettably, this was their first and final lap.

It's a bit hard to believe that music this weird, wonderful, and frankly other-worldy emanated from the unlikely locale of Jackson, Mississippi.  Ultimately, it's that dichotomy which makes Bent Around Corners even more of the singular and revealing treasure it is.  Sad to say, DeWeese passed away in 1999 from natural causes.  More can be read on him and Square Root on Facebook.  A huge debt of gratitude goes to Chris for setting me up with these files.

If anyone is interested in a FLAC version of Bent... let me know.  I'll try to make it available at some point.

01. Between the Light
02. Compile Your Love
03. If Motif; Why Wagon
04. Lunge Into Serious
05. Ceramic Angels
06. After the Rain
07. Tundra Stuff
08. Honndakanaya
09. Silly Spender
10. Count Me In
11. Bent Around Corners

MP3  or  FLAC

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Wake - s/t ep (1985, Stonegarden)

If imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery. R.E.M. should have been tickled pink, assuming they ever heard this obscuro L.A. bunch.  Just as the Beatles inspired untold hundreds if not thousands of wannabees to follow their legendary lead, Athens, GA's own fab four had more than a pronounced effect on impressionable collegiate dudes who might have otherwise still been mired in Ramones riffs were it not for incendiary missives like Murmur and Chronic Town.

Given a highly ubiquitous moniker, common last names, and their existence a solid decade before most of us had our hands on PCs, querying anything relevant regarding this L.A. based five-piece is an exercise in utter futility.  Yes, The Wake were undeniable acolytes of R.E.M., with a mouthpiece in Michael Horton who bore more than a faint resemblance to Michael Stipe.  Guitarist and songsmith Todd Larsen isn't the second coming of Peter Buck, but the aesthetic is present on the brisk and strident "Lion's Heart" and more so on the arpeggio laden "The Crystal Mile."  The record's comparative 'ballad,' "Forever Fair" wields a charm of it's own even if it's considerably meager to what Stipe & Co. could have done with it were it their own concoction.  Throughout The Wake, Larsen's prose is gently enlightened and pretension never bests him.  The Wake's formula was a simple yet effective one, something of an antithesis to all the Paisley Underground hoopla that was transpiring in the quintet's own backyard.
Despite the concluding "Flaming Crown" striking me as a bit of a slouch, this ep ranks as one of my best retro discoveries of the year. 

01. Lion's Heart
02. Forever Fair
03. The Thunder Man
04. The Crystal Mile
05. Flaming Crown


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

1st night of Chanukah: Magazine - (Maybe it's right to be nervous now) box (2000, Virgin)

As you might remember, when I announced the third annual Wilfully Obscure Chanukah series the other day, I mentioned something about a box set.  Well, here it is.  Magazine were a UK post-punk outfit who convened in 1978 and expired three years later.  They managed to churn out four studio records in that timespan - Real Life, Secondhand Daylight, The Correct Use of Soap, and Magic, Murder and the Weather, and a live album, Play, in between.  To some extent, Magazine were renown for their lineage more than anything else.  Prime mover Howard Devoto, was the co-founder and co-frontman of the Buzzcocks.  Devoto has been quoted as saying "I wasn't that wild on punk rock," and with that he departed the Buzzcocks before they even cut their first album.  Indeed, straight-up punk Magazine weren't.  Instead, Devoto and his three compatriots employed keyboards and dabbled in an array of sparse, artful textures.  Their debut LP, Real Life did occasionally concede to frantic tempos that didn't sound terribly removed from the Buzzcocks, but future singles and albums (often reminiscent of Wire and Brian Eno) clearly smashed that mold.

Maybe it's right... is an out-of-print three disk set that collects all of Magazine's non album singles, b-sides, alternate takes and live tracks, with an entire disk dedicated to Peel Sessions.  Disk one covers the Real Life and Secondhand Daylight eras, while the second gives equal deference to The Correct Use of Soap, and Magic, Murder and the Weather.  You might describe this as a vastly expanded edition of the band's initial odds and sods compilation Scree.  While the much more exhaustive Maybe... is potentially too much to bite off for the newly acquainted, it houses a wealth of classic Magazine tunes - "Shot By Both Sides," "A Song from Under the Floorboard," and "The Light Pours Out of Me," albeit in different versions.  You can check everything one disk at a time per the links below, and you can click the pic to your right for a full tracklist.

I would be remiss if I failed to point out that Magazine have reunited for live shows and a new album in recent years.

Disk 1 - Real Life/Secondhand Daylight era
Disk 2 - Correct Use/Magic Murder era
Disk 3 - The Complete Peel Sessions

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tell me how long?

From 1981.  This trio, said to have been a key influence on bands like Fugazi, was a spinoff of a popular British punk band. 


Game Theory - Dead Center (org 1984, Omnivore reissue 2014) - A brief overview

When it was announced in April of last year that Scott Miller had unexpectedly passed away at 53, it dawned on me that he had dropped off the radar of most fans (myself included) years if not decades ago - those fans, of course being devotees of his oblique, but renown cult-rock conglomerates Game Theory and Loud Family which ran roughly from 1982 to the mid 'aughts.  Upon learning the news, I wondered if I'd ever hear again of Millers accomplishments, let alone name outside of the hardy subset of indie-rock fans that embraced his music for the past three decades.  Sure, there was likely be a posthumous release of unreleased material, or perhaps something resembling a career-spanning "anthology," but as it would turn out something far more exhaustive would soon materialize - the incremental recommissioning of Game Theory's entire catalog via Omnivore Records beginning in late summer of this year.

Two months back I offered a few words on Blaze of Glory, GT's auspicious 1982 debut LP, the first installment in Omnivore's reissue campaign.  Dead Center (which compiles the bulk of the 1983 Pointed Accounts of People You Know ep, and it's follow-up short player Distortion) was initially a European release on the French Lolita label in '84.  However this isn't first time this material had seen a digital release, as both Dead Center and Blaze of Glory were combined on the 1993 Alias Records Game Theory release, Distortion of Glory.  Confused?  Like Blaze of Glory, the songs comprising Dead Center were slightly remixed and re-tweaked for the Distortion of Glory compilation (though I'm not sure if fans were actually paying attention).  The Omnivore reissues set the record straight, restoring both records to their originally intended mixes.

The songs comprising Dead Center (partially produced by the Three O clock's Michael Quercio) are more of a continuation of Blaze... than outright development (that would have to wait for 1985's Real Nighttime).  Game Theory's forward thinking pop, cloaked in a palpably mercurial and off-center ethos often drew comparisons to Big Star.  Truth is, Miller was way more Sister Lovers than #1 Record, as his band earliest efforts frequently hinged on the unpredictable.  "Nine Lives to Rigel Five," Shark Pretty," and "Penny Things Won't" all operate in a reliable neo-pop realm, not dissimilar to GT's contemporaries the dB's and Let's Active.  Further in, the driving "Shark Pretty" and "Too Late for Tears" up the ante rhythm-wise, and the beginning of the curious title track is a synth-indulgent foray that mines a DEVO-ish vein.  Although all songs are credited to a named drummer (Dave Gill) I suspiciously detect a drum machine being employed in more than a few instances...

As you might expect, Dead Center is buttressed by a bevy of bonus tracks - nearly a dozen of 'em at that.  There's a lo-fi acoustic run-through of Badfinger's "No Matter What," and an impromptu live rendition of R.E.M.'s "Radio Free Europe" that Miller manages to pull off adeptly.  Van Morrison's "Gloria" and Bryan Ferry's "Mother of Pearl" also get the in-concert Game Theory treatement.  There's not much in the way of studio extras, save for Michael Quercio's rough mix  of "Too Late For Tears," which is quite nice.  

Dead Center is available direct from Omnivore, or from such old reliables as iTunes, Amazon and Insound.  

Friday, December 12, 2014

Watching the candles burn - The eight nights of Chanukah returns Tuesday night!

Wilfully Obscure's third annual Eight nights of Chanukah celebration is upon us, where we roll out eight consecutive nights/days of extra special, BFD audio curios.  In lieu of posting one monumental upload for Christmas, I decided to spread the goodies out over the eight nights of Chanukah (check out the preliminary details for 2012 & 2013).   This made sense on a couple of different levels.  For one, it accorded me the opportunity to share several mind-blowing "gifts" instead of just one mind-blowing whopper.  Secondly, Chanukah represents personal relevance to me.  We all know you were envious of that boy down the block who had a yarmulke festooned to his head, who was given the privilege of lighting the menorah, and of course, reveling in eight glorious nights of presents.  Once again, I'm paying it forward.

Entries from 2012 and '13 have included Velocity Girl, Jellyfish, The Pursuit of Happiness and Redd Kross, but name recognition is not necessarily guarnateed.  That being said, you are assured that whatever I share under the banner of the Festival of Lights is of exceptional quality and importance...to yours truly at least.  I'd be also be remiss if I didn't talk about quantity.  One night it could be a three disk box set, the next merely an ep, but just to reiterate, it's all good.

All of this begs the question, "Has Wilfully Obscure been holding out on us for the last 11 months?"  Somewhat...but not quite.  In short, the presents I plan on revealing over the eight nights of Chanukah are of considerably high caliber.  I like to think that everything I share qualifies as good to excellent, but to paraphrase that sage Orwellian dictum, some are more equal than others.  One final note of housekeeping - I will forgo Mystery Monday for the week of December 21 in order to maintain the continuity of the holiday as it falls on the calendar. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Poetry Grenade - Rocket (1990, Sonic Boom)

The gentle weaponry suggested in the moniker of this female-helmed Twin Cities quartet is an appropriate metaphor for the astute guitar-pop enshrined within RocketPoetry Grenade's polite panache may pull a few punches, however they aren't shy about throwing their proverbial muses around.  The band's overarching penchant generally occupies the same sonic strata as college rock contemporaries Tsunami and Vomit Launch.  And while not markedly innovative, PG usually pinpoint the sweet spot between contemplative and something considerably more rousing.

01. Cry
02. Occupation
03. The Door
04. Insufficiency
05. Rockeet
06. Crooked Words
07. Earthquake
08. Sea Monkey
09. Kicking & Screaming
10. Postcard 32
11. Spin


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sixteen Deluxe "Idea" 7" (1994, Trance Syndicate)

This isn't the first time I've reserved space on these pages for a Sixteen Deluxe 45, but I'll be damned if this isn't way more stimulating than the one I put up back in 2010 (when they only had a Myspace site, btw).  This 7" came to pass prior to their 1997 major label bid, Emits Showers of Sparks, an album that never completely sank in with me.  After hearing this much rawer, lo-fi precursor I plan on revisiting it, because SD absolutely wail on the noise addled, "Idea" wherein Carrie Clark's thinly distorted vox surf atop a J Mascis-y guitar line.  The flip, "Honey" is exponentially more adventurous - four minutes of ungodly, slow-burning shoegaze muck, that's so thick you might question whether your record player is still spinning at 45 rpm.  I'm lovin' it.  The band is making this, and a good chunk of their back catalog available thru Bandcamp on a name-your-price basis, but the rips I'm offering here are of my own handiwork. 

A. Idea
B. Honey


Sunday, December 7, 2014

I think the problem is I feel I’m all alone.

The third album of raw punk ‘n roll from a co-ed, Seattle legend.  Pointed Sticks cover track two.