Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Heat - Rooms ep (2015, Kitsune) - A brief review

Feel the burn!  Hard to believe another band didn't christen themselves with such a simple but effective moniker before Montreal 's Heat seized the flame for themselves.  The seven song Rooms (apparently expanded from an earlier incarnation) introduces this quartet to the world at large, their reputation abundantly staked on frontman Susil Sharma, whose Dylan-esque spoken/sung drawl is buttressed by some very Strokes-ian sonic maneuvers.  If that suggests an unlikely mishmash so be it, and admittedly the recipe works to varying degrees of efficacy.  The buzzy and bustling "All I Wanna Do" finagles with deliciously punky tempos, "Susisfine" is a rush of sweet guitar harmonics and warm reverb, and on the tremolo-kissed closer, "Wild Eyes" culls all of Heat's finer attributes into something all the more compelling.  And here's the kicker.  Having witnessed the band in a live setting last week, I was floored as to how advanced Heat's melodic acumen was, conveyed in a batch of new songs that supersede just about anything on Rooms.  Translation: the best is by far yet to come, hopefully on Heat's next record which I would logically expect to drop in 2016.  As for the ep in question , get your scorch on at Bandcamp or through their Big Cartel site.  It's burning up iTunes as well.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

join a wiccan church, blaze the satchel perch...

My cat is sleeping and my jade tree's dying.


Pezband - Thirty Seconds Over Schaumburg ep (1978)

The Pezband were part and parcel of the power pop vanguard, emerging from said genre's mid-to-late '70s wellspring, and while I never took a fanboy adherence to them, their 1977 debut was nothing short of a hooky, harmony-laden haven.  Two more full lengths followed, both of which were never investigated in full by yours truly, due in no small part to the hefty price tags adorning some Japanese reissues a few years ago, but I digress.  From my vantage point, the live Thirty Seconds Over Schaumburg, was a considerable departure from their original formula.  The Pez are exponentially looser and more freewheeling in this particular live setting, oozing guitar-god hard rock on the opener, a Yardbirds cover no less.  In some respects, this sounds like an arena recording given the extraneous guitar jams, but side two brings the band right back down to earth.  Taut, savvy originals "Close Your Eyes" and "Crash and Burn" satisfy in the way that only Midwestern power pop can, both of which are firmly in league with their Chicago brethren Off Broadway USA.  A fine thing if you ask me.

01. Blue Wind/Stroll On
02. I'm Not Talking
03. I'm Leaving
04. Crash and Burn
05. Close Your Eyes


Friday, September 25, 2015

Private I - "Talk to Me" 7" (1984, 37 Records)

This one is a little on the slick side, but I'm hardly complaining.  Private I wielded a synthy blend of AOR thrust with a mainstream new romantic aptitude.  The driving "Talk to Me" is cloyingly catchy, a telltale product of '80s studio amenities, exuding a cozy homegrown glow nonetheless.  A quasi ballad of sorts, the flip, "Here in This Life" is more subdued.  No personnel details are provided, but the label responsible for this wax, 37 Records, is listed with an East Irvine, CA addy.  Enjoy (or not).

A. Talk to Me
B. Here in This Life 


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Daddy In His Deep Sleep - Alone With Daddy (1987, Restless)

Well this one really hits the sweet spot. Wish I could tell you more about Daddy in His Deep Sleep other than A) Scott Miller of Game Theory/Loud Family renown produced their album, and B) the band may have hailed from the vicinity of San Jose, CA, but don't hold me to that.  Alone with Daddy contains nine satisfying servings of collegiate indie rock informed by the like of Let's Active, Buzz of Delight and to varying extents R.E.M, and yes, Game Theory.  A co-ed quartet with Jeffery Layton and Lori Bauer splitting time on the mic, Daddy bust out their resplendent quotient of jangle, but on relatively high-strung morsels like "Play the Part" and "Queen of the Strain" they knew how to pack a wallop, even more so than their aforementioned contemps.  Perhaps Alone... isn't wall to wall gold, but that sweet guitar tone just won't quit.  Per Discogs this was sadly their only release...and I really wish it wasn't.

01. Play the Part
02. Queen of the Strain
03. Puppy Dog
04. Santa Claus and Jesus
05. Blue Sighs
06. Suburban Ranch
07. Tales From the Crypt
08. Jeeve
09. Life You Lead


Sunday, September 20, 2015

To keep your mouth shut, I'll keep my mouth shut too.

Two albums from 1979-80, courtesy of a rhythmically aware Brit pop/wave act who had a vague inclination to a guy who's last name was Costello (and I'll give you a hint, it's not Lou).


Saturday, September 19, 2015

V/A - Ben Weasel Presents" Punk USA (1994, Lookout)

Hearing Screeching Weasel for the first time in 1993 was an absolute revelation for me.  Right around the time I had absorbed just about the entirety of their back catalog, I learned of a new various artists disk that head honcho Ben Weasel himself was curating.  Punk USA was the album in question, and I regarded (and still do) it as nothing short of a knockout.  At the time of it's issue in '94 it boasted exclusive material from (almost) all of it's participants, and given that I was already an established aficionado of melodically-enhanced aggregations like the Queers, Jawbreaker, Face to Face and Sinkhole, this compilation was an absolute must purchase.  Better yet, it put some new faces on the map that I became an instant convert of - The Vindictives, Moral Crux and Beatnik Termites.  On top of that bunch there was a bevy of even more virtual unknowns that left a positive impression on me as well, specifically 8Bark, Scratch Bongowax and Rattail Grenadier.  An embarrassment of power chord riches.

One anomaly to point out.  There's a sixteenth band populating Punk USA, who are not included on the track-list or mentioned anywhere in the credits.  That would be Garden Variety, a coincidental favorite of mine who contribute a not-so-unreleased song, "Pretty Mouth," which originally saw the light of day in 1993 on their first album.  Whether the omission of GV's name was a typo or intentional (as the song technically was already available) is unknown, at least to me anyway. 

01-Scratch Bongowax - Nobody Home
02-Rattail Grenadier - Come On Back
03-Pink Lincolns - Rats
04-Moral Crux - Breakdown
05-Screeching Weasel - My Friends Are Getting Famous
06-Beatnik Termites - How Many Times
07-Thankless Dogs - Stan The Man
08-The Vindictives - I'm In Trouble Now
09-The Queers - Blabbermouth
10-The Pist - Threat
11-Submachine - Diseased
12-8Bark - Give Up
13-Face To Face - Dissension
14-Sinkhole - Casemaker
15-Garden Variety - Pretty Mouth
16-Jawbreaker - Sea Green Foam


Friday, September 18, 2015

Moral Crux - Victim of Hype 7" (1996, Mutant Pop)

The pride and joy of Ephrata, WA, Moral Crux were always a bit formulaic, but oh what a formula!   Spiking traditional Brit punk with Yankee nuances (often deferring to the Ramones) the James Farris fronted combo doled out swift, mid-tempo slammers, that were tighter than Spandex (which by the way the band probably didn't adorn themselves, but one can never be too certain).  The three catchy-as-all-get-out tunes on this 45 are as representative as anything else in their cannon, which was particularly robust in the Clinton-era.  Surrounding Victim of Hype were a spate of equally consistent full-lengths including but not limited to ...And Nothing but the Truth and the well stocked Greatest Hits CD comp.  Word is that not only is the band alive and kicking, they have a new ep headed your way any day now.  Welcome back!

A. Victim of Hype
B1. Smash Your Face
B2. Firing Squad


Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Micronotz - 40 Fingers (1986, Homestead)

It seemed like I had been hearing of the Micronotz (formally the Mortal Micronotz) for decades before actually encountering any of their records. That changed a few months ago when a used copy of 40 Fingers materialized at a price I couldn't refuse.  By the time this Lawrence, KS tribe got around to recording the album in question, original mouthpiece Dean Lubensky was out of the picture, and in his stead arrived one Jay Hauptli whose gruff and tumble vocal aplomb takes some getting used to (if at all).  40 Fingers is steeped in period Midwest punk and hardcore, searing and vigorous at best and a bit routine at worst.  The Micronotz were regulars at Husker Du's Zen Arcade, dropping more than a few tokens into tuneful, riveting slots like "Black and White" and "Fall Down."  Elsewhere the quartet veers in the vicinity of Naked Raygun, Rifle Sport, and to a lesser extent White Flag.  Several records preceded 40 Fingers, and in 1995 two posthumous digital collections preserved the bands work, though I'll be damned if I can find them.  This rip was taken from my humble vinyl copy.

01. Pay Your Bill
02. Mannequin Head
03. Scarborough Fair
04. Exit 301
05. Psychedeli
06. Push It Out
07. Fall Down
08. Black and White
09. 40 Fingers
10. Breakdown
11. I Want Your Soul
12. Carnival Freak Show
13. Summer of Hate


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Pollen - Crescent (1995, Grass)

I recently had a request for Crescent, the second album from Pennsylvania pop-punks Pollen.  Way back when I started this whole ball of wax I shared the album that preceded it (Bluette) and their career best which followed it (Peach Tree).  With an achingly profound affection for ALL (the band), this quintet not only ventured forth in their sheer admiration of the post-Descendents crew, they hired one of it's founders, Stephen Egerton to co-produce Crescent.   The album is probably the least persuasive of their four long-players, but trust me, that's no knock, boasting crunch-all-istic beauts like "Foliage" and "Toaster."  I could do without some of the slower five-minute tunes, but Pollen manage to cobble together a decent riff-pop fest that aficionados of All and Gameface will have no trouble gravitating to.

01. Freshly Broken
02. Foliage
03. Happy Hands
04. Bus
05. Crystal Clear
06. Wishbone
07. Toaster
08. Relics
09. Vanilla
10. Elsewhere
11. Butterworth
12. Away
13. Bicycle


Sunday, September 13, 2015

My back is sticking to the seat, my heart is sticking to my dreams...

From 1995, and it's a good 'un.

Also, I just wanted to share a couple of reminders about Mystery Monday posts.  Please do not give away the artist or leave any obvious clues in the comments.  Secondly, keep in mind that M/M links are only active for 24 to 36 hours.  When they're gone, they're gone.  Thanks.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Korova Milk Bar - Talkings Boring (1989, Subway Organization)

Fair to say this one's a bit of a cold case.  No substantive mentions of the co-ed and presumably British Korova Milk Bar outside of Discogs.  Sonically nothing innovative here, but their overarching penchant appeals to me, as I'm picking up traces of Mighty Lemon Drops, Family Cat, Echo and the Bunnymen, and various C86 indie and Madchester swill.  Everything about Talkings... strikes me as a bit casual and random, without anything too deliberate on KMB's part to claim a definitive identity here.  A few dandy tunes though, with "Peculiar Patrica," "Calling Me Again" and "Satisfy" leaving the widest impressions.  There's some dafter moments as well, but I'll let you sort those out for yourself.  Per Discogs, only the first eight tracks comprised the album itself, with the remainder coming from an ep or two. Definitely a vinyl rip, but I don't own a physical copy. I purloined this one off Emusic way back in the good old days when it was a $20/month all you can eat buffet.

01. Something Missing
02. Breakdown
03. Calling Me Again
04. Desolate Despair
05. Satisfy
06. Killing Me
07, I Can't See
08. Stoney Ground
09. Do it Again
10. Something Will Happen
11. Off With Her Head
12. Peculiar Patricia


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Comsat Angels - Red Planet ep (1979, Junta)

I've long been a fan of the Comsat Angels initial trifecta of superb, melancholic post-punk albums - Waiting for a Miracle, Sleep No More and Fiction, released thru 1980-82.  Ergo I jumped at the chance to purchase a well-matained used copy of their very first record, the three-song Red Planet ep from 1979 released on the UK indie imprint Junta.  I thought I had a pretty good idea of what I was going into, given the date of it's release and the Comsat's reputation that followed immediately thereafter, but unbeknownst to me I had a twist in store.  "Red Planet," wasn't the stuff of gloom or wariness, rather a cheeky and cynical itinerary of what would be unfurled after humans landed on the fourth rock from the Sun, propelled by a quasi-disco rhythm track no less.  It's a quirky little number, as is the organ-laden "I Get Excited."  The concluding "Specimen No. 2" sputters off into even more dissonant terrain, suitable for a soundtrack to a Martian voyage itself.  So there you have it, the C.S. Angels I hardly knew.  The whole thing ripped from my own copy is submitted for your approval below.  I should also mention there's an overhaul and expansion of the band's first six albums coming as early as this November.

A. Red Planet
B1. I Get Excited
B2. Specimen No. 2


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Aviators - Deed to a Ranch ep (1986, Lost Arts)

Sadly, there's not much to be had on The Aviators, although this wasn't their only record.  Per the back sleeve notes, they recorded the studio side of Deed... in Colorado, but the live flipside was cut at Madame Wong's in Santa Monica, CA, so who knows which locale they were headquartered in.  So far as the tunes are concerned, this four-piece strike me as possessing loose AOR ambitions, with a stronger foothold in the alt-rock realm, evidenced by the three satisfying cuts occupying the first half of this record.  Frontman, E. Shepard Stevenson, tends to recall John Robinson of the Fluid, and much like the Fluid, the Aviators brew up a frothy punk alchemy on the live "Keeps Them Alive."

01. Happy
02. Goodbye
03. Everybody's Getting Down
04. Keeps Them Alive (live)
05. Big Slide (live)


Monday, September 7, 2015

Find your heart and lose your way.

From 1982.  This album was performed in it's entirety on select tour dates this year

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Pugwash - Play This Intimately (As If Among Friends) (2015, Omnivore) - a brief overview

It would appear that all the power pop sophisticates (i.e. hipsters) have been putting their eggs in one basket of late – this one.  If you haven't actually heard Pugwash you've at least likely to have heard of them, a Dublin outfit who over the course of the last decade or so have gradually been acknowledged as the great white hope for the aforesaid genre.  From what I'm able to surmise Play This Intimately (As If Among Friends), is the first proper album by the quintet to see an official US release.

The burning question is fairly obvious - can they possibly live up to the hype?  If anything else they're purloining inspiration from the best of the Anglo side of pond, stretching all the way back to the Beatles and Byrds, while seemingly taking hefty cues from the US mainland by way of Jason Falkner and Matthew Sweet.  An enviable start by many anyone's standards, and it's a formula that pays out convincingly on "Kicking and Screaming," "You Could Cry," and the deftly crafted "Hung Myself Out to Dry," squarely indebted to Jeff Lynne and ELO.  I'd be hasty in downplaying the merits of any of the above titles, but the persnickety side of me would be remiss if I failed to note that Pugwash strike me as a little too professional for their own good.  Play...Intimately is linear, impeccably considered and orchestrated to a lustrous chrome shine, that to the band's detriment is woefully short in the spontaneity department.  My only other quibble regards the abundance of slowpoke ballads (for lack of a better word) that function like a four-minute snooze button on an alarm clock.

At the end of the day, maybe I'm not a true Pugwash believer, but given the band's history predates Play... by more than a decade, I'd recommend you also investigate their career recap compilation A Rose in a Garden of Weeds.  As for their current record, Play is available directly from Omnivore, Amazon (at a particularly attractive price point I might add) and iTunes

Friday, September 4, 2015

Sloan - Recorded Live At A Sloan Party! (1997,The Enclave)

Behold, the "mystery" live Sloan album.  Mysterious in the sense that there's no mention as to when it was recorded, simply that the tape was rolling at a "Sloan party."  And indeed, the set does bear a celebratory tenor to it, with hand-claps, audience banter and so forth.  Truth be told however, there was no actual "party," and you can read a bit more about the circumstances here

The album was bundled as a bonus CD with the U.S. version of Sloan's third album, One Chord to Another, upon it's 1997 release.  Pictured to your left is the front of the slipcase.  I'm not sure how limited it was, but 5000 copies might be a good guess.  There are heaps of covers here - Jonathan Richman, Brian Ferry and even Canned Heat by way of Stereolab.  Sloan's originals aren't quite as prevalent, but "I Am the Cancer" (a classic single from Smeared) seems to be spruced up with extra harmonies for this occasion.  You can download it to your heart's content in either FLAC or MP3

01. Let's Get the Party Started
02. I Can Feel It
03. Dignified and Old
04. Glitter and Gold
05. Over You
06. I Am the Cancer
07. I Can't Let Go
08. Stood Up
09. On the Road Again/Transona Five
10. I Wouldn't Want to Lose Your Love

MP3 (320 kbps)  or  FLAC

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Wishes and Water - s/t ep (1985, Fountain of Youth)

Fountain of Youth Records was a Washington D.C. based imprint that pumped out a slew of releases for hardcore titans Goverment Issue during that band's eighties reign.  Most of FoY's roster was of the punk persuasion, but there were a couple of anomalies as well, Wishes and Water being key among them.  Not much is known about the band, essentially a duo composed of Matt Riedl, formally of Braille Party, and Derrick Hsu, who I believe had a hand in running the FoY label itself.  W/W weren't punk or abrasive in the least, skewing considerably closer to a singer/songwriter setup.  Frankly the bulk of this record is too genteel, even for my tolerant palette.  The jangly-ish "Tears" is probably the most creative notion on the record, and recommendable in and of itself.  A traipse thru Lou Reeds “Perfect Day” fits like a glove, and the brisk Don Mclean cover that concludes this disk is more stirring than several of Wishes' originals.  You can peruse another critique of Wishes and Water here

01. Ocean City
02. Ellie
03. Perfect Day
04. Tears
05. Choice of Words
06. Oh My, What a Shame