Sunday, January 31, 2016

I can't help but laugh out loud, to see your stupid face in the crowd...

A compilation of singles, rarities, and even a few demos from a Southern Cali band that made a rare reunion appearance this past weekend.


Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Lienke Brothers City Band - s/t (1979, No Sweat)

I wasn't able to give you much this week, so at the very least I thought I'd attend to a recent request.  Back in 2010 I presented a 1982 record (Brothers by Choice) by a different incarnation of the same band, who by then were making themselves known as The Lienkes.  Based in Oklahoma City, The Lienke Brothers City Band weren't striving for any punk/wave credentials, at least not in this phase of their tenure.  There's a couple of power-poppy stunners however, specifically "The Observer" and "Squeeze Play," both strutting a faint Rundgren-esque stride.  Elsewhere, the bulk of this disk isn't particularly idiosyncratic, and in fact skews closer to the mid and right stratas of the dial, clinging preciously to the last vestiges of '70s pop/rock.  To their credit, the Lienke's have the acumen down pat with Top 40-ready morels "In a Plane" and "Caroline."  And then there are the deal-breakers.  "It Started to Get Good" humps a Bee Gees groove that I'm totally not in the market for, and I was just as desperate to escape from their token swing number "Hotel Black."  Consider yourselves warned.

01. The Observer
02. Hotel Black
03. When I Was Young
04. Well What About It
05. Caroline
06. It Started to Get Good
07. Squeeze Play
08. Innocence
09. Once Before
10. In the Jungle
11. In a Plane
12. Nothing to Lose


Friday, January 29, 2016

The Miamis - We Deliver - The Lost Band of the CBGB Era (1974-79) (2015, Omnivore) - A brief overview.

Say what you will, but there was more to the sonic netherworld of New York, circa the '70s, besides the Ramones, artsy proto-punkers like Television and insular no-wave merchants...but you'd be hard pressed to become enlightened to anything going against said grain in the volley of rock and roll textbooks dedicated to this era.  The Miamis, helmed by brothers James and Thomas Wynbrandt, weren't merely fixtures in NYC havens like CBGB's and Max's Kansas City, they were sunny-side up anomalies.  This Big Apple quintet's primary hindrance wasn't a disinterested public (per the liner notes, they headlined a 1976 New Years Eve concert in Central Park), and certainly no shortage of exuberance on the band's part, rather lack of a record contract.  The phrase "best kept secret" has been bandied about from time immemorial it would seem, but in the Miamis case it's wholly apropos, as the only way to experience them was to attend one of their gigs, invariably in Manhattan's Bowery district.

Contract or not, the band did indeed step into a recording studio or two, albeit their repertoire consisted of roughly a dozen original compositions, comprising the meat and potatoes of We Deliver.  If this 23-song set was pared down to an EP of the title cut, "I Want a Girlfriend," "Another Place, Another Time" and "Just Too Many People (In the World) one could easily cast the Miami's off as power pop prodigies with an affection for Utopia and the Rubinoos.  For better or worse, there was also an innately cheeky madness to their method on wry, politically bent jabs "We Need a Bigger Navy" and Détente (That's What I Want).  "Wang It" is a strikingly camped-out ditty that just might make contemporaries The Sweet blush, "Dancin' Together" indulges in a New York Dolls groove minus the pomp, and "Let There Be Pain" is a patented, '50s soda shop romantic lament.  We Deliver is further bolstered by a handful of alternate/demo takes and virtually an album's worth of live cuts from a pair of 1978 CBGB's performances.  The Miami's were frequently accompanied on stage with a horn section, contributing that much more to the overarching uplift quotient.

As much of a rollicking blast this compilation frequently is, I can't help but wonder what the Miami's legacy would have amounted to if say, Seymour Stein had thrown a hundred grand at these cats to make a couple of proper albums.  Twas not to be, but to our good fortune We Deliver will suffice.  Get it straight from Omnivore, iTunes or Amazon.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Highway Men - s/t ep (1986, I Wanna)

Oh boy.  I have a feeling this Dayton, OH bunch may have gotten an earful from another band of Highwaymen making the rounds around the release of this humble four-songer.  No, the surnames of these profoundly less renown Highway Men did not entail the likes of Jennings, Cash and Nelson in their stable, but so be it.  This not-so-supergroup of Midwest everymen did however deliver a solid dollop of twang to the table on the pedal steel-enhanced "After the Sun," an earnest, ballad-esque slice of Americana.  My palate finds driving, assertive rave-ups like "Burndown" and the band's concluding theme song to be considerably more stimulating, in a manner not far removed from say, The Reducers.  The Highway Men eventually relocated to Austin, TX and rechristened themselves Loose Diamonds.  On a purely trivial note, I Wanna Records was also responsible for Guided By Voices' debut wax, Forever Since Breakfast, which dropped the same year as this record. 

01. Burndown
02. Wearin' Away
03. After the Sun
04. The Highwaymen


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Be careful what you say, actions will make words blush.

Bubblegum induced, riff-savvy rock from 2001.  This one is probably well outside my demographic...but sometimes
it's best to err on the side of melody.  Truly intoxicating at times.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Big Tube Squeezer - I Have A Thing For Love (1989, Candy From a Stranger)

Granted I got this one gratis (thanks to a sadly defunct sharity blog I used to visit) but I can't help being a little flummoxed with Big Tube Squeezer.  On this Jack Endino-produced effort, the band commence I Have a Thing for Love with a couple of genuinely promising numbers ("Black Velvet" and "Rain") oozing the same sort of frenetic moxie as contemporaries fIREHOSE, Nice Strong Arm and Vomit Launch. I thought I was in for a while record's worth of nimble fretwork and subtle hooks and such, but the good ship BTS looses steam almost immediately thereafter, indulging in inconsequential and sometimes corny jams - just the kind of offbeat frivolities their namesake would suggest.  There's a Fugs cover ("Couldn't Get High") and a bastardization of a Lou Reed classic.  The guys sorta recover their momentum on "Lamp of Life," but by then the record is finito.  You can check out the Big Tube's rendition of "Sweet Jane" on YouTube.  Thanks to whomever ripped and edited this wax.

01. Black Velvet
02. Rain
03. The Fire
04. Dreams of My Love
05. Ball and Chain
06. Bill
07. Couldn't Get High
08. Mother (For Yours)
09. Walk On The Suicide
10. Feelin Eye Dog
11. Lamp Of Life


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

I will sing this victory song...

Late yesterday afternoon the television told me that a certain veteran singer/musician had kicked the bucket.  And with the announcement came the requisite signature song to accompany that bit of sad news, in this instance "Already Gone."  My thoughts were instantly ushered to the memory of a lesser known incarnation of the tune, one which slathered on an acute and utterly ironic punk-pop gloss no less.  Enter Mandingo (aka Man Dingo), a desert-bound Arizona outfit I introduced you to in 2008 by way of some fine material they cut in the '90s.  It was this unheralded trio that tipped their collective hat to Glenn Frey and Co. on a 7" ep containing two more classiq rock covers that I'll attend to shortly.

For now let's get one thing straight - despite all the punk rock bellyaching, the reality is The Eagles were tolerable in minute doses.  Indeed, they're essentially what propelled the Ramones into existence.  Furthermore, Don Henley and his scruffy cabal of privileged, coke-snorting brats have clogged up more radio airtime than the Stones and Beatles combined, and over the decades the best-selling fossils in question have been accorded way too much credit for their ersatz melange of "country rock."  As you might guess, with all that being acknowledged, this isn't a group I'm particularly fond of, or the least bit dedicated to in fact, but for the record, "Already Gone" is pleasant long as it's not endured for more than say, once every election cycle.  Ostensibly, pop-core speed demons Mandingo had settled on this realization as well, or at least long enough to bash out a peppy, two minute remake of it (but jeez, go a little easier on the snare next time guys).

The Mandingo treatment fares less logically on Huey Lewis and the News actually not-half-bad Sports momento, "Walking on a Thin Line," and as for Van Halen's "Romeo Delight" I don't have much to gauge it by considering it's somewhat of a deep cut that I have minimal familiarity with.  To their credit, the 'dingos original compositions could best be described as commendable Big Drill Car impersonations.

And in case you're wondering, I didn't offer any Bowie covers last week as I couldn't think of any that you probably haven't already encountered.  At some point, maybe I'll piece together every version of "Queen Bitch" I can find, but don't hold your breath.

01. Already Gone
02. Walking on a Thin Line
03. Romeo Delight


Sunday, January 17, 2016

I lost it all when I broke that deadly saw...

Athens, GA rock 'n roll, circa 1989.  I actually featured this one way back in 2008, when I estimate I was only getting 29 hits per day.  The link has long been removed, so I'm making it available again, if only on a temporary basis.


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Superscope - Generally Electric ep (1995, CItadel)

This quite possibly defunct Aussie export have something the vast majority of their Wilfully Obscure compatriots do not - a websiteSuperscope strutted their pop-sided, power chord-addled shtick in the environs of that noted musical hotbed of Perth, sticking it out long enough to track a pair of eps, and even a full length, Torpedo, by the time 2002 hit.  Generally Electric is the only item I've encountered by them, and I really hope that changes, because this trio could have easily held their own versus contemporary country-mates Pollyanna and Screamfeeder, not to mention Silver Sun a couple continents away.  Ain't a misstep in sight on this one, though the particularly high-strung slammer "Cow" stands out like a sore thumb.

01. Home + Away
02. Replacement
03. Windmill
04. Dead
05. Cow
06. Constipate


Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Drones "Red" 7" (1995, Apostrophe)

The Drones were a noisome power-trio, presumably from Massachusetts, bustin' out full tilt in a none-too-dissimilar fashion to Sugar, though fulcrum Buddy Bell doesn't sound a stitch like Bobby Mould.  Incrementally, I'm picking up traces of Small 23 and Garden Variety, but even those acts rarely had songs as visceral and rugged as the melodically drenched "Red," easily a 'nine' out of your proverbial 'ten.'   The flip, "Wanna Be" sports dissonant minor chords, but manages to accentuate something of a pop undercurrent.  Primo '90s indie rock that I'm just getting turned onto twenty years after the fact.  Sorry for the bumpy vinyl noise.  Will see if I can come up with a cleaner copy of this one down the road.

A. Red
B. Wanna Be


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Prodigys - Another Lazy Wednesday tape (1991)

Whether you're having a lazy Wednesday or not, what better day than hump day than to present this little morsel?  If this collegiate Erie, PA foursome was prodigious of anyone, Aztec Camera and Crowded House it would most palpably be, although The Prodigys had nothing on Roddy Frame or the brothers Finn.  In a nutshell, this is lilting guitar pop with jangly tendencies.  The band's homegrown wit and occasional candor managed to shine through the flannel era, if only on this cassette and within the confines of local clubs. 

01. Somewhere Over the Rhine
02. Princess of the Xerox
03. Tell Me
04. The Weathering Blues


Sunday, January 10, 2016

I never knew you threw so hard.

Today it's one of my guiltiest pleasures.  G-rated, sparkly pop from 2006, reissued two years later with an album's worth of bonus tracks (guess what version you're getting)?  Some startlingly cheesy synth maneuvers here, but when the hooks hit they're nothing short of colossal. 


Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Fluid - 4-19-91 Lounge Ax, Chicago

One month ago, almost to the day in fact, I offered an exhaustive array of Fluid rarities and scarcities for one of my annual Chanukah posts.  I effectively declared I had nothing more to offer from Denver's finest, that I hadn't shared previously.  It's safe to say that was a lie, if not a half-truth, as I've decided to cap off a grunge-centric week with a 1991 gig from the very band in question.  Either a primo audience recording or a soundboard tape, this gig was performed around the release of the Fluid's Glue ep, not long before the band inked a contract with Hollywood Records for the purplemetalflakemusic LP.  It's an exemplary set not merely in terms of the performance, but the wide swath of material too, ranging from the '89s Clear Black Paper to songs that had yet-to-see-light-of-day.  The track list follows.  Enjoy (or not).  BTW, a hearty thanks to whomever taped and organized these files.

01. Pretty Mouse
02. Black Glove
03. Cop a Plea
04. Cold Outside
05. Human Mill
06. Waves
07. Tin Top Toy
08. unknown
09. Lies
10. Closet Case
11. Hooked
12. Fools Rule
13. Is It Day?
-----(1st Encore Break)-----
14. Static Cling
15. Girl Bomb
16. Our Love Will Still Be There
17. (2nd Encore Break)
18. Candy 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sleep Capsule - mousepuss (1994)

In keeping with the theme I laid out with last night's Loveslug post, Sleep Capsule not only sounded like the product of the world's most infamous grunge outpost, they were actually residents thereof.  And like Loveslug, S/C had next-to-no affiliation with Sub Pop Records (save for a well-under-the-radar single in 1996)...but get a load of their 1994 debut, mousepuss.  Behold, salvo upon billowy salvo of distorto-punk sludge, like so much lava hurling from a volcano, yielding a scalding wad of obsidian, out-bludgeoning the Melvins or even Bleach-era Nirvana.  Sleep Capsule's m.o. wasn't unlike that of fellow Northwesterner's Unwound, albeit this power trio were operating on a warmer frequency.  In fact, the Cap's dissonance and loose song structures were not without tuneful shadings – the band’s saving grace, in fact.  I'm hearing frantic elements of Die Kreuzen on this record as well.  You can check out a trio of S/C singles that surrounded mousepuss (and their follow-up, Pink Eye) here with some additional observations that I didn't want to be redundant about in this piece.

01. minus
02. kevin's bacon best
03. the kind
04. crawlspace
05. toot
06. jeremy stick
07. eat it's tongue
08. something to ride
09. took
10. thousand trails
11. gray clouded theory
12. lump
13. mobility
14. hyenas
15. mousepuss


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Loveslug - Beef Jerky (1990, Glitterhouse)

On the face of it, one is/was liable to dismiss Loveslug as little more than frivolous metalli-punks by no other measure than Beef Jerky's simpleton album jacket.  In fact, had the back cover been adorned with only a track list and no subsequent text, I would have slung this sucker right back in the rack.  To their credit, this long departed Amsterdam quartet had the good sense to enlist Jack Endino as producer.  Furthermore they won mega points with me for extolling props to Mudhoney, The Fluid, and Maximumrocknroll alum Mykel Board in the credits.  Loveslug could have passed for grunge stock, yet the only Sub Pop signees they truly recalled were Tad and the Afghan Whigs - and those comparisons are limited to a mere song or two at best.  Coincidentally or not, the folks these guys most sonically resembled were Aussie contemporaries the Hard-Ons, and much like them, for every bright idea Loveslug had ("Blood Like Ice" and "Last Man Alive") there was a turkey around the corner.  The incorporation of brass and saxophone simply fails to accomplish whatever these chaps were thinking, but luckily those accouterments don't appear from song-to-song.  Beef Jerky isn't without it's merits, so if you celebrate the era this disk harkens back to give 'er a spin.

01. Dogfood Sandwich
02. Coyote Date
03. Blood Like Ice
04. Lily is Dead
05. Love Ransom
06. Last Man Alive
07. Buttbuster
08. Turn the Tide
09. (I'm a) Party Member 
10. Work is a 4-Letter Word


Sunday, January 3, 2016

The future’s uncertain and bleak.

The past week has been all things Lemmy, at least in my particular sphere.  While Motörhead won't be making it on to these pages anytime soon, I have been inspired to revisit a pair or albums from an unrelated band who owe a rather intense debt to the Vampire of the Sunset Strip.  How does 32 songs in the space of 39 minutes grab ya?  Strap in - you'll thank me at the end of the ride.

RIP Mr. Kilmister.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Rolls Rock - s/t (1981, Caveat)

It took a little poking around but I finally came across a well maintained (actually, sealed) copy of the lone record from Rolls Rock a power-trio who rolled out of the northern California enclave of Eureka.  Opening up for the likes of Rick Springfield, Van Halen (wow!), Eddie Money and Loverboy, R/R weren't necessarily the straight up AOR types you might suspect.  Yes, they're hard rockers at heart, but you'll no doubt discern traces of nervy power pop a midst these ten numbers, especially on the biting "Peggye's on Qualudes," and "Jealousy," both of which indicate the first three Cheap Trick albums may have caught this band's collective ear...just try not to get too excited.  You can read an interview with former Rolls Rock bassist Rob Ruiz here, and you can stream "Get a Gun" on YouTube if you have any apprehensions before delving into the whole thing.

01. Gamma Rock
02. More Than You Know
03. Peggye's on Qualudes
04. Roulette World
05. Middle Class Man
06. Baby Beware
07. Drifter
08. Jealousy
09. More Than Ready
10. Get a Gun


Friday, January 1, 2016

2015: The Year in Rear View - Top 30 album picks for the year.

Low and behold we just emerged from the tail end of a year in the twenty first century that was actually praiseworthy, music-wise anyway.   In 2014 I struggled so arduously to come up with a legit roster of my top album titles that year, I subsequently buckled and instead made a list of my most listened to albums of that year, be they current or otherwise.  Luckily, 2015 didn't give me the same excuse.  Chalk that up to so many returning and established favorites like Ben Folds, Mew, Motion City Soundtrack, Passion Pit, The Church, Silversun Pickups, not to mention a reunited Swervedriver and Failure!  None of the above delivered their career-best mind you, but still managed to convey genuinely commendable titles in most instances.

'15 saw the emergence of white-hot upstarts in the guise of Meat Wave (think Hot Snakes meets the Wipers), the urgent dream-pop revisionism of Weed and Infinity Girl, Viet Cong's inventive guitar melees, and the relatively conventional pop of Britain's Fickle Friends whose "Velvet" would likely qualify as my favorite song of the year were I to compile a ranking of such.  Elsewhere EZTV brought something toothsome to the power pop dinner table with their first record, Calling Out, Philly's Beach Slang fulfilled the promise of two '14 eps on their premiere full length, and Brooklyn's Regal Degal truly arrived with their vibrato-laden, post-punk stunner Not Now.  

Key among the welcome spate of newcomers was St. Lenox, the aka for Andy Choi whose soaring, soulful timbre conjured up everyone from Stevie Wonder to Jeff Buckley.  This compelling early 2015 arrival (and my #3 pick) Ten Songs About Memory and Hope boasts slice-of-life songcraft to die for, independent of Choi's devastating pipes.  Also filling out my top three is the euphoric second ep from one of my current addictions, Great Good Fine Ok, 2M2H's sly incorporation of urban-contemporary grooves into a frenzied techno-pop pastiche could break them big in 2016.  For the first time in eons, I had an overriding favorite pick for my album of the year.  If Neon Indian's 2012 stunner Era Extrana was a surreal melding of shoegaze-cum-electronica, VEGA INTL. Night School found headmaster Alan Polomo shifting a bouquet of samples and shifty, labyrinthine grooves straight to the dance floor in ways that Prince could only hope to encounter in his wildest fever dreams.

2015 was the year that Deerhunter and Tame Impala moved me firmly into their camps, via some successfully sonic tweaking on Fading Frontier and Currents, respectively.  Juliana Hatfield reunites with her two boy buds Todd Philips and Dean Fisher for a new JH3 album and it just might be the best thing she's put her name on in a good ten years or so.  Nai Harvest's latest is  a deliriously skilled distorto-punk pop mini-masterpiece.  And finally, one more notable title.  Do try to check out Funeral Advantage's Body is DeadIt's smoothed-over, dream pop bliss that's sure to propel it's way to the upper echelons of your chill-out soundtrack.  And about that's directly below.  BTW there is no "sampler" or audio companion to accompany this entry.   I've offered such in years past only to have it struck down by some of the higher ups.

01. Neon Indian - VEGA INTL. Night School (Mom + Pop)
02. Great Good Fine Ok - 2M2H ep (Ultramusic)
03. St. Lenox - Ten Songs About Memory and Hope (Anyway)
04. Nai Harvest - Hairball (Top Shelf)
05. Regal Degal - Not Now (Terrible)
06. Meat Wave - Delusion Moon (SideOneDummy)
07. Funeral Advantage - Body is Dead (Native Sound)
08. Mew - +/- (Play it Again Sam)
09. Juliana Hatfield Three - Whatever, My Love (American Laundromat)
10. Weed - Running Back (Lefse)
11. Tame Impala - Currents
12. Fickle Friends - Velvet ep + singles
13. Swervedriver - I Wasn't Born to Lose You (Cobraside)
14. EZTV - Calling Out (Captured Tracks)
15. Motion City Soundtrack - Panic Stations (Epitaph)
16. Failure - The Heart is a Monster
17. Ben Folds and yMusic - So There (New West)
18. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - The High Country (Polyvinyl)
19. Deerhunter - Fading Frontier (4AD)
20. Viet Cong - s/t (Jagjaguwar)
21. Marietta - As it Were & Cuts ep
22. Passion Pit - Kindred
23. Beach Slang - The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us (Polyvinyl)
24. Infinity Girl - Harm (Topshelf)
25. Ringo Deathstarr - Pure Mood (Real Cool Trash)
26. Slanted - Forever 
27. Tenement - Predatory Highlights (Don Giovanni)
28. Fire in the Radio - Telemetry (Wednesday)
29. The Church - Further/Deeper (Unorthodox)
30. Silversun Pickups - Better Nature (New Machine)

Honorable mentions:
Maritime - Magnetic Bodies/Maps of Bones
Urban Cone - Polaroid Memories
Beach House - Depression Cherry
Heat - Rooms
Poncho - s/t ep 
Killing Joke - Pylon
Royal Headache - High
Twerps - Range Anxiety 

And of course, there's all the new records I meant to investigate but never did: Built to Spill, Pleasure Leftists, Wire, Tommy Keene, Car Seat Headrest, Doleful Lions...overwhelmed as usual.