Wednesday, July 29, 2015


...has gained momentum, and I have as well.  Folks, it's time for summer vacation, which means no postings, requests, return emails or Mystery Monday until I return late next week.  Hundreds of vintage W/O files have been re-upped, so please catch up with those at your leisure. Ciao.

VA - Teen Line No. 3 (covering letters R to Z, 1974-89)

Well, it looks like you've made the first two Teen Line compilation disks I posted a few months ago enormously popular, download-wise, and I'm happy to present the third (and most satisfying so far) installment.  For those new to the table what the heck is Teen Line all about?   Essentially, the Hyped to Death bootleg reissue collective made a series of cd-r compilations featuring arcane indie/power pop acts circa late-70s through the '80s that never quite saw the light of day in the digital realm.  The curator of these packed and well annotated releases not only possesses a treasure-trove of a record collection, but more importantly the acumen for culling the choicest morsels from said wax, be it a privately pressed 45 limited to 500 copies, or something slightly more common.  In short, the Teen Line compilations are a microcosm of what I attempt to offer on this site writ large.

There are selling points aplenty here, including a few acts I was first given exposure to and was subsequently compelled to track down their original vinyl artifacts - The Shakers, White Animals, The Squares, and Rocking Shapes, all of whom have graced the halls of Wilfully Obscure before.  The legendary Shoes make the roster twice, with tunes from their early LP, One in Versailles.  If you're up for more classic power pop, the Spongetones and Scruffs are present and accounted for, as are the Reverbs featuring a pre-Velvet Crush Ric Menck.  There are lots of low-key profilers here that desperately deserved the exposure this disk provided - Turning Curious, The Strand, Z-Rocks, and an early nugget of gold from Trip Shakespeare.  A near-perfect tracklist that you can examine for yourself off to the left. Enjoy!


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Nostalgist - Of Loves and Days Ago (2015) - A brief overview.

You know that whole darkwave/post-punk resurgence that everyone is either lauding, bemoaning or otherwise?  Seattle's Nostalgist aren't ersatz revivalists so much as bona fide practitioners of the form.  Following up the murky but utterly intriguing Monochromatic 7" from 2013, the newly minted Of Loves and Days Ago broadens the group's palette, exuding a sonic aptitude that ranges from And Also the Trees to Failure. 

The band's first long-player commences in earnest with "Pull the Plow," fortified with a discernible vocal hook, plus fuzzy surges of gits and bass, none-too-dissimilar to the variety occupying classics of yore like Gish or You'd Prefer an Astronaut.  Just when you think these Seattle denizens might be making *gulp* commercial inroads, Of Loves... soon returns to the Nostalgist "norm" of sullen, throbbing noir rock, characterized in no small to centerpiece Asa Eisenhardt whose deep bellow dovetails seamlessly with the austere, eminently powerful tenor of his band.  It's hard not to pinpoint the telltale goth overtones permeating "Dreaming in Celluloid" and "The Void at My Feat," yet Nostalgist accomplish the task sans any maudlin or ponderous anchor.  Hardly the stuff of tranquility, Of Loves... more subdued respites, including "An Unbroken Take" breathe texture and solace into an otherwise bleak and foreboding atmosphere.   Does it hurt so good, you might ask?  I think so, and you can investigate for yourself, with the album currently available digitally and/or on CD via Bandcamp and Nostalgist's Store Envy page.  A tape/vinyl version of OLDA may be in the offing.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

There are consequences to blacking out every Tuesday night...

This week it's four ep's representing four relatively disparate genres.  One (or perhaps more) is just right for you. 


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Outlets - Whole New World (1985, Restless)

The Outlets.  Now there's a cool band name, and the band's attendant music is commendable as well.  Helmed by brothers Dave and Rick Barton, this quartet made waves in their Boston environs during much of the '80s, but nationally were a less of a draw.  Sonically, the Outlets were a competent and generally gratifying, meat and potatoes power pop proposition, who may have been a tad left of center for commercial radio outlets, but not quite edgy and nefarious enough for the punk set.  Yep, the 'ol Catch 22, but aesthetically they were in good company with the likes of Material Issue, The Magnolias, and Junk Monkeys.  Whole New World, their lone LP from the Reagan-era, was preceded by a few singles some of which conveniently wound up on this platter as well.  The Outlets reconvened in the '90s for a second album and live performances.  I'd be remiss if I failed to note that a portion of WNW was reprised on the Outlets I Remember anthology, available from CD Baby, Amazon and iTunes.  As always, if you enjoy what you hear support the band!

01. Whole New World
02. The War is Over
03. Sheila
04. Tilted Track
05. The Provider
06. Can't Cheat the Reaper
07. Made in Japan
08. What I Did
09. A Valentine Song
10. Someday


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Hard-ons - Love is a Battlefield of Wounded Hearts & Yummy! (1989/90, 2 CD reissues 2013/14, Citadel) - A critique.

Having offered a critique of the first two exhaustive and massively expanded Hard-Ons reissues last week (Smell My Finger and Dickcheese), I posited that this Sydney trio's frivolous album and song titles might be to their detriment, so much so that the sophisticate music hound may draw a premature conclusion about them as soon as their eyes scan the record sleeve(s).  I'd be the last one to deny there's any sophomoric tendencies tucked inside chestnuts like "Kill Your Mum" or say, "Spew" but the Hard-On's breathless execution of just about any song they wrap their collective arms around is often so head-spinning and fun, you'd be hard pressed to single out the trio's most tawdry or misanthropic verbiage.  Head and shoulders above those concerns, the band made genuine strides with each successive release, most demonstrably in the melody department.

By the time Love is a Battlefield of Wounded Hearts dropped in 1989, the Hard-Ons hadn't quite ventured a quantum leap, but holy cow, "Don't Wanna See You Cry" wasn't merely hummable, you could practically get it stuck in your head - for a couple hours anyway!  Listening to copious amounts of the Ramones has consequences, and in the case of these guys it was paying off in spades, with "Missing You, Missing Me" and "Get Wet" leaving a dent nearly as wide as the aforementioned "...Cry."  Those who reveled in the rampaging metallic k.o. of Dickcheese will find no shortage of thrashy, steamrolling rancor strewn amidst the remainder of Battlefield..., like so much shrapnel after a blistering firefight.  The original twelve cut LP has been extended to a whopping five times its size on Citadel's 2013 reissue, with disk one being filled out with an alternate version of the album cut in 1988 (referred to here as Kids in Satanic Service) but scrapped in favor of what became the actual finished product a year later.  Three songs from a tour give-away 7" and a handful of demos are also present, while the second disk places the emphasis on two 1989 live shows and a Triple J (Aussie radio) live session where we even get to hear Blackie and Co. being interrogated.

The tuneful potential disseminated on ...Battlefield came into even more melodically advanced focus on Yummy! positioning the Hard-Ons onto equal footing with Descendents/ALL.   A veritable hookfest of crunchy proportions, Yummy! lives up to it's delectable moniker.  I'm not sure where to start with this one - so much gold: "Sit Beside You," Where Did She Come From," "Raining," "Me or You," and a throng of others.  Now it's clear to me where fellow Aussies like the Meanies and Vacant Lot took so many of their cues from, and perhaps a bevy of their "colleagues" on my side of the pond - Screeching Weasel, Big Drill Car, and the Chemical People instantly come to mind, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Goo Goo Dolls didn't nab a few kernels of Hard-On's wisdom for their first two albums.  Back to the subject at hand.  Padded out to a bulging 60+ song feast, the double CD redux of Yummy! contains singles (digging the b-side "Sri Lanka" big time), the follow-up Dateless Dudes Club ep, and a gigantic trove of demos from the same period.  The boys are spoiling us big time here, and BTW, for you H/O's novices in the crowd, Yummy! is a great jumping off point.

In addition to the truckload of bonus material, these leave-no-stone-unturned reissues are also remastered and come bundled with generous liner notes penned by the Hard-Ons themselves, packed with anecdotes and an assessment of the group contemporary to the era.  They're available direct from Citadel Mailorder, Red Eye or Amazon.  Check out iTunes as well.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Angst - s/t ep (1983/86, Happy Squid/SST)

This is my fourth plunge into the Angst well, and could be the last (or if you're lucky, second to last).  I've presented no less than three LPs (namely Mystery Spot, Mending Wall and Lite Life) by this defunct trio thus far and today you're about to encounter where it all began...if you so opt to download it.  Seven concise, cheeky blasts highlight their debut ep, with the angular "Neil Armstrong" leading the charge, bearing a self explanatory title if there ever was one - in a mere 68 seconds at that.  God damn.  "Die Fighting" is bristling aggro punk that should have made Crass green with envy, albeit presented in a slightly more accessible package.  "Pig" digs into the distorto funk of Minutemen (with Gang of Four underpinnings to boot), and the concluding "Nancy" ponders a rather "prickly" premise that I shan't extrapolate on any further, ya dig?  Alright, that's enough spoilers for one ep.  Draw your own conclusions on the remainder of Angst at your leisure.

01. Neil Armstrong
02. Die Fighting
03. Pig
04. Dummy Up
05. We Only Rot
06. Another Day
07. Nancy


Monday, July 20, 2015

EZTZ - Calling Out (2015, Captured Tracks) - a brief overview

These days, it's almost wholly unrealistic to expect any newcomers to "reinvent the wheel," as it were, but I laud those who trick that tire out with a fresh, and dare I day inspired hubcap now and then.  EZTV are yet another in a long, sustained volley of Brooklyn talent.  For better or worse that borough has become a ceaselessly ubiquitous hub over the last decade-and-a-half, so much so the indie rock cognoscenti have become dismissive of anything emanating from Greenpoint, Williamsburg or Park Slope.  Pity on them if them if that's the case, 'cos this trio gracefully transcend the brunt of all that beardo muck and artsy ennui.  

Calling Out is forged on a lean and clean power-pop bedrock in the manner of classicist practitioners the Shoes, albeit EZTV's thing is less rote and predictable.  That factor alone should propel a good number of you through the door, but this trio ply that effective and gratifying rubric to the post-punk "lite" tones of contemporaries Real Estate, and to a lesser extent Big Troubles.  Couple this sonic pastiche with the buoyancy of the Shins and you've got an an irresistible formula on your hands, one that will satiate fickle hipsters and your more pedestrian types alike.  Melding jangly accessibility with mild but edgy nuances, "The Light," "Trampoline" and "Soft Tension" could logically have a production credit of Mitch Easter or Tom Verlaine thumb-tacked to them.  EZTV even manage to eke out some lightweight Byrds-ian harmonies, and a modicum of Sloan's chemistry while they're at it, all bundled up in a crisp, lucid context.  If you find yourself pining for more than the twelve songs occupying Calling Out, I should mention the CD version contains two unlisted cuts, one of which, ironically enough, "Calling Out" somehow failing to make it onto the album proper that it shares it's moniker with.

Check out "The Light" via Soundcloud below.  Calling Out is yours to have, hold and hear from Captured Tracks, Amazon and iTunes.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

She tends to dream in technicolor when she's stoned.

From 2007.  Wry and occasionally bratty keyboard pop in the mold of Ben Folds Five.  Some fantabulous tunes here.  Too bad we never got a sequel.  


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Poster Children - live at the Cabaret Metro 11/27/93

Why is a random Poster Children show taking up space here on this unsuspecting summer Saturday?  Just seemed like the thing to do I guess.  Full disclosure, this is presumably an audience tape, and Rick Valentin's vocals are a tad low in the mix.  Nonetheless it's a spirited and sweaty performance, drawing not only from their 1993 career best LP, Tool of the Man, but also previews a bevy of songs to be included on their next album, 1995's Junior Citizen ("Get a Life," "New Boyfriend") and even some tunes that would end up on an intervening ep ("Not Like You" and "Sick of it All").  I always thought the production of Junior Citizen was a little too gussied up, so it's nice to hear these numbers in a live, more spontaneous context.  There are plenty of classics too - "If You see Kay," "Dangerous Life," 'Tommyhaus," etc.  Good times, great oldies.   The P Kids have plenty of loot on Bandcamp to plunder (for a modest fee), and you can also check out their import-only Clock Street ep here.

01 pre-show check
02 Get A Life
03 Dynamite Chair
04 Tommyhaus
05 In My Way
06 Dangerous Life
07 New Boyfriend
08 Love
09 Cancer
10 Downwind
11 Sick Of It All
12 If You See Kay
13 Where We Live
14 Three Bullets
15 Water
16 Not Like You

Friday, July 17, 2015

JFA - Nowhere Blossoms (1988, Placebo)

In the early to mid-80s JFA staked their reputation as a speedy skate punk combo, but in 1988 a funny thing happened on the way to the halfpipe.  Tamping down the hardcore thrust while propping up the idiosyncrasy factor to ten, you might say Nowhere Blossoms is the band's Into the Unknown or Smiley Smile.  True, they had tinkered with keyboards on their self-titled 1984 album, yet Blossoms is startlingly peppered with...pianos and organs.  "Pink Slip" packs a rumblng wallop like the old stuff, but pretty much anywhere else the needle lands this ain't your older brothers JFA record.  Try as I might, it's hard to make any overarching generalities about Nowhere Blossoms.  There's out and out weirdness, like the whimsical closing instrumental, "Turkey in the UFO," and "Signifyn' Monkey," apparently spieled out by a street performer.  A James Brown cover merely adds to the confusion.  No straight up pop tunes unfortunately, though my hats off to the dudes for at the very least attempting to carry a tune.  In fact, I'm not really sure if I'm that endeared to this record myself, but it's interesting and out-of-print enough to put out there.  As for the acronym, it stands for Jodie Foster's Army, if that means anything to you.  Should you opt to download this I should mention the tracklist on the tray card is a bit scrambled.  A corrected one is below.

01. Julie's Song
02. Pink Slip
03. Nowhere Blossoms
04. World Full of Peace
05. Fight Promoter
06. Signifyn' Monkey/Zoo Song
07. I Feel Good
08. Nightmare
09. Cold Light of Day
10. Rusty Morning
11. Two Fingers
12. Space Brothers
13. Turkey in the UFO


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Hard-ons - Smell My Finger & Dickcheese (1986/88, 2 CD reissues 2012, Citadel) - A critique.

Right from the get go.  The name of the band is the Hard-Ons.  If that alone wasn't enough the group monikered one of their album's Dickcheese.  And to go one (or two, and even more) better, songs dubbed "Suck and Swallow" and "Everytime I do a Fart" were enshrined onto vinyl and compact disk by said band in perpetuity.  So how did three easily-mistaken-for-surfers/metalheads from Sydney, Australia mange to lower the lowbrow bar even further south and in the process become the bestselling independent artist of their era in the land of Oz?   Well, that just might be impossible to fathom unless you took the time to acquaint yourselves with the music of this prolific and long-running punk/hardcore trio, who by and large weren't as gratuitously puerile and ribald as those aforementioned record titles might suggest.  I know, it may be taken a quantum leap of faith for some of you to wander into the seemingly grungy, puss-ridden world the Hard-Ons inhabit but it just might be to your loss if you don't - especially via the gateway of several maxi-padded out double CD reissues that have recently made the round on Australia's venerable Citadel Records.  

Comprised of three high school mates, Peter "Blackie" Black (vox, gits), Ray Ahn (bass) and Keish de Silva, the trio was easily enough taken by punk rock tradewinds blowing in from the west - Sex Pistols, Ramones, et al in the late '70s, and incorporated the Hard-Ons in 1981.  It took another four years before they got around to releasing records, starting with '85's "Surfin' On My Face" 7," and not far behind the eight-song mini-LP Smell My Finger.  Surprisingly consistent and disciplined, the record boasts rugged punk/metal salvos in the guise of "Lollipop" and "Dancing Girls" alongside the negligibly more melodic "Buddies," foreshadowing the penchant to follow on their splendid Yummy! record.   Following the eight ...Finger tunes is their 1987 follow-up Hot For Your Love cobbled together with songs tracked between 1985-87, housing covers of  The Choir's garage classic, "It's Cold Outside," and the all too common "Rock and Roll All Nite."  Disk one is rounded out by all eight sides from the Hard On's first four singles, including "Surfin'" and my personal fave, "Girl in the Sweater."  To give you some sonic perspective, at this point in the game the band had some serious parallels with sardonic Yankee punks White Flag...and naturally, the Ramones.  Disk two of this lovingly packaged and annotated reissue features live performances from 1984-86 and several demos from the same era, which will be of particular interest to die-HARD (get it?) fans, not so much casual observers.

The "difficult" third album, Dickcheese, sounds more like it should have been the debut - loose, raucous and raw, more so than just about anything occupying the SMF reissue.  Even with a wealth of liner notes in the booklet to draw on, I'm not sure what would account for that, but bruising shredders like "Something About You" and "There Was a Time" managed to tuck in a few hooks amidst the unremitting flurry of power chords.  Issued in 1988, Dickcheese was a varied beast as well, offering the thirty second "Fuck Society," and the not much lengthier blitzkrieg "Yuppies Suck," both of which were modeled on American hardcore punk, at least according to my ears anyway.  This platter is a turbulent, thrashy barnburner, packed with more spastic energy and sophomoric humor per square inch than possibly anything else in the cherished Hard-Ons oeuvre.  Disk one of this teaming reissue is rounded out by the "Busted"/"Suck 'n Swallow" 45 and four songs contributed to a split 10" ep with British tour-mates the Stupids.  The bonus CD is decked out with material from four live concerts contemporary to Dickcheese, all with reasonably good audio quality I might.

Both of these double disk reissues contain roughly 60 songs, with spruced up remastering and detailed dissertations from the Hard-ons themselves, packed with vintage photos.  They're available direct from Citadel Mailorder, Red Eye or Amazon.  Check out iTunes as well. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Gathering Ground - Figure it Out ep (1995, Network Sound)

I thought this would be apropos in light of this week's Mystery Monday.  Gathering Ground.  What can I tell you about them?  Well, they were from Buffalo and this ep was their only release (except maybe a compilation track or two)?  Back then we called it "post-hardcore," but anyone who first got a whiff of them in the twenty-first century would liberally and unflinchingly term G/G as emo.  Not a tremendous "buzz band," but a lot of people were hooked on this record, which from what I recall sold in the thousands.  Pretty melodic stuff, akin to their erstwhile contemporaries Samiam, Sensefield, Knapsack and Garden Variety.  " Bluegreygreen" and "Tumble" entice as effectively as they did two decades ago.  Figure it Out was available on CD and 7."  You can check out more Gathering Ground goodness and the exploits of some of their related projects on Soundcloud.

01. Bluegreygreen
02. Tumble
03. Swingset
04. Laughter

Find it on Bandcamp

Sunday, July 12, 2015

If I stand tall and call you out, will I be all alone tomorrow?

Perhaps these two bands weren't everybody's favorite flavor, or for that matter on anyone's radar.   Nonetheless they were big 9/11-era staples for your humble and obedient host.


The Pengwins - Vol. 3 - Shake Some Action 7" box (2015, SpyderPop) - A brief overview

We roll into module three of what's becoming an incredibly rewarding, annual tradition.  The concept is pretty ingenious which I laid out in my review of the last Pengwins package (literally) for 2014s "If You Want 2" single:

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.  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.

The Lannie Flowers fronted Pengwins have done it again, and this time the new recording is none other than the Flamin' Groovies proto-power pop masterpiece "Shake Some Action."  I know, I know this song has been "busted out at full speed" like a piece of Play-Doh for decades in the hands of countless bands of the Pengwins ilk, but as far as this set of ears is concerned it never gets old.  It's a faithful rendition at that.  The b-side "What You Gonna Do?" is a quintessential slice of 1978 power pop, bearing all the rich, reverb-laden moxie of it's era.  The CD that comes packaged with the rest of the bundle tacks on another vintage cut, "Suicide."  Delving a little deeper into all the lovely components of this box (click the pic above) you will find in addition to the music souvenirs including but not limited to a guitar-shaped bottle opener, trading card, 45 adapter, and sleeve notes.  The record itself is thick, 180 gram wax and is tinted light grey/blue.  You can buy the whole anchelada from SpyderPop Records or CD Baby, or if you're just down with hearing the tunes iTunes and Amazon are your ticket.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Naiomi's Hair - Bag Truck tape (1987)

I absolutely, positively lurve this band.  I introduced you to Naimoi's Hair some four years ago via their 1989 Tara LP and offered more than flattering praise regarding these long defunct Floridians.  I jumped on the opportunity to snatch up this demo tape recently, and despite the band's deficiencies (albeit tolerable) at this stage in their tenure, Bag Truck is an undeniably sweet juvenalia curio.  Eventually migrating to and disbanding in Orlando, N/H kicked things off in the much hipper enclave of Gainesville.  Not exactly punk, but definitely ramshackle and a little roughshod, esp on the improv-y and excruciatingly messy live salvos peppering this cassette (i.e. "Fresh Girls" and "Open Trench").  At their best, signposts point to a noisier and even janglier REM, with some wonderful examples surfacing here like "10,000,000 Miles," "I Can See," and "Everything a Soul Needs."  It's all here - the charming naivety, the hasty sleeve art, the Fleetwood Mac cover, etc... If this makes an impression on you, the aforementioned Tara is still available for public consumption, as will more Naiomi's Hair music on this site before the year is out.  Enjoy (or not).

01. i can see
02. everything a soul needs
03. dozer work
04. fresh girls
05. inter-neighborhood war
06. open trench
07. 10,000,000 miles
08. going somewhere
09. inter-neighborhood war
10. go your own way
11. apologize
12. just absolute trouble (burning house)


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Orange Humble Band - Depressing Beauty (2015, Citadel) - A critique.

Spanning two continents, and boasting a lineup composed of former/ongoing mainstays from the Posies (Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer), Big Star (Jody Stephens), The Lime Spiders and Someloves (Darryl Mather) and Mitch Easter among others, The Orange Humble Band is nothing short of a dream proposition, not only for the hipster indie pop cognoscenti, but for an average Joe like yours truly.  So how do you explain why this Memphis by-way-of Perth, Australia conglomerate doesn't always present itself as the logical sum of it's collected, not to mention storied parts?  Perhaps it's because the Humbles aren't trying to achieve that end, appealing as the mathematics of that formula could logically tally up to.

Depressing Beauty is their third album in literally as many decades.  To your surprise (and perhaps chagrin) this record won't rock as hard as the Posies, wield Rickenbackers as deftly as Easter's famed Let's Active, or bear even half the emotional tumult that Big Star trotted out so acutely back in their day.  Furthermore, it's a departure from OHB's riffy and hook-addled 1997 debut Assorted Creams, and it's more eclectic follow-up, Humblin' (Across America).  The common ailments of maturity that affect all of us aren't any more lenient on these fellas either, and it shows in spades on the hour-length Depressing Beauty, the collective's first LP since 2000's aforementioned Humblin.  In essence, this record is it's own tempered beast.  Nuanced, disciplined, and occasionally a little too subdued for it's own good.  As was the case with the two preceding OHB records, Ken Stringfellow serves prominently and capably as front-man, yet oddly enough Dwight Twilley figures in as one of the key songwriters - contributing little else to the actual recording than some backing vocals and guitars.  Darryl Mather is the dominant wordsmith however, providing text to a good 80% of Depressing...

The overarching easy-goes-it vibe of this record tacks more towards Burt Bacharach than say, Badfinger, but Stringfellow and his cohorts manage to flex a 'lil musculature on the opening "You Close Your Eyes," a tune you could string on a clothes line alongside some of Cheap Trick's more recent exploits.  Once this ditty passes, it's pure refinement and lucidity from thereon in.  There's a cavalcade of ballads rolling in and out like the tide on Depressing..., paramount among them "Sowannadoit," a blissful stab at '70s AM dial pop that hits the mark with polished aplomb.  Honorable mentions go to "Upon Cindy's Will" and "Conversations With Myself."  I should add that appropriately enough, many of the more delicate pieces here feature string arrangements.  When all is said and done, Depressing Beauty isn't particularly strident or brash, rather the product of a carefully measured and considered muse.

If you’re new to OHB you might also want to backtrack to Assorted Creams to really gauge the full extent of what these gentlemen have to offer.  Established fans should have no qualms about placing the Humble’s latest at the top of their "to-buy" list, and you can do just that by purchasing it from Citadel Records directly, or opt for the Amazon or iTunes route.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Nashville Ramblers "The Trains" 7" (rec. 1986, issued 2011, UT)

Ladies and germs what I'm presenting you with this evening is an unheralded classic.  A gem.  A pearl.  A Nugget of pure gold.  A record so intrinsically dazzling and utterly persuading that it renders the vast majority of singles that came before or after as sub par at best.  If you're familiar with "The Trains" by The Nashville Ramblers you certainly don't need to hear any more of my platitudes or superlatives, as you've no doubt ascertained the quality and gratification of the 180 seconds or so it encompasses.  For the uninitiated, the Carl Rusk-helmed Ramblers rolled out of San Diego in the mid '80s, with one of their only recorded works, "Trains," winding up on an  unnoticed European compilation album in 1986.  The songs resurfaced briefly on Bomp Records' thoroughly recommended Roots of Powerpop collection in 1996, and was made even more widely accessible on the Rhino Records Children of Nuggets box set about nine years later.

In a matter of speaking, "Trains" is a wonderfully retro-fitted throwback to Brit Invasion pop, with more than a wink and a nod to contemporary Stateside purveyors like the Remains. The Ramblers spin on things was so fine-tuned to this coveted epoch that it sounds more convincingly like a product of 1966 than it's actual recording date of two decades thereafter.  Music scribe Mike Stazx summarizes the songs far more accurately and acutely than I ever could:

Aided and abetted by ace producer MARK NEILL (Black Keys), the band expertly channeled their key influences—Beatles, Remains, Hollies, Everly Brothers, and others—and shaped them into something fresh, urgent and breathtakingly original. A heart-stopping melody, evocative lyrics, a driving beat, soaring harmonies, a dynamic, reverb-soaked production—to hear “The Trains” was to fall in love with it.

"Trains" was officially released as a single in 2011, the Nashville Ramblers lone record they could truly call their own.  It was limited to 1k copies and quite possibly sold out as of this writing.  It's backed with the almost equally melodious "Fragile Child," a sterling jewel in it's own right, originally penned and recorded by the Golliwogs, who were the precursor to Creedence Clearwater Revival (ever hear of 'em)?   BTW, Carl Rusk recorded a solo record, Blue Period, which you can check out here.  As for the Ramblers themselves, they still perform live sporadically, per this 2011 article and their Facebook page.

A. The Trains
B. Fragile Child

MP3 (320 kbps)  or  FLAC

Sunday, July 5, 2015

...but if there's a glitch you're an ostrich, you've got your head in the sand.

Enthralling, often cinematic art pop from one of Denmark's finest, and one of my favorite albums of the last ten years.  Two tracks feature a dinosaur of junior proportions on backing vocals. You're gonna love this.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Phones - Stick Man ep (1986, Pendulum)

This record features a track called "Independence Day," and honest to god I wasn't deliberately waiting to post this record on the day in question.  Happy accident I guess.  Not to be confused with the other Phones (from New York state) which I posted about three years ago, these ringers were a high-strung power pop foursome from Minneapolis, who had two full lengths preceding this 1986 ep of demos and outtakes.  And what solid outtakes they are, especially side one boasting the ringing, post-punky "Take Your Time."  No less thrilling are the even more uptempo "Strangers" and "Everybody's Got a Gun."  Side two is home to a pair of cult-classic rave-ups, The Sonics "Psycho," and Richard Berry's "Have Love Will Travel."  Not bad, but personally, I'll stick with the Phones original compositions.  If you dig Stick Man, please check out the Phones Back in Time anthology CD available from their website, containing cuts from this record in much better fidelity than what I've presented here from this pre-owned wax.

01. Take Your Time
02. Strangers
03. Everybody's Got a Gun
04. Psych
05. Independence Day
06. Have Luv Will Travel


Thursday, July 2, 2015

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

It's been a looooong time since I got around to doing one of these. Indeed, I have returned with one of my famous "letter" mixes, following in the hallowed footsteps of my preceding "E" "D" "H" "O" "P" "B" and "G" folder comps, this garbage plate of seemingly random artists have only one thing in common - the first letter of their names.  In fact, no consideration has been given to genre.  For almost every complete album I have by an artist on my hard drive, I store just as many random one-off songs by artists I don't have a dedicated folder to.  These random one-offs have been corralled into "letter folders" A through Z.  As was the case with the previous entries I'm not going to publish a track list, but how would a few spoilers grab ya?

First and foremost there's 35 selections here, all by unique artists.  As was the case with previous installments covers are rampant, with the Tearaways, The Three O'clock, Travis Cut, and Thom Yorke (with members of the Posies) all offering some dandy remake handiwork.  Check out my favorite songs from the Tories, Tuff Darts, Tim and Jean and The Truth, as well as wicked hot acoustic takes of TPOH and Turin Brakes classics.  There's import-only tracks from Tinted Windows and Tim Cullen (Summercamp), and demos from This Poison, Talk Talk and Taking Back Sunday.  Also, prepare to meet "Blade," an amusing '60s burnout who is part and parcel of the Touchtone Terrorists prankster cabal.  And believe it or not I didn't even get to the good stuff (not all of it anyway). Enjoy.