Sunday, May 29, 2016

The roof has caved in, that's the only thing happening.

The magnificent 1997 album from San Diego's self-proclaimed purveyors of "audio karate." 


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Erectus Monontone/Polvo - El Sid 7" (Merge, 1992)

Thought this would be a suitable follow-up to my Raymond Brake post from the other night.  I first became conscious of the fact that I was a record collector somewhere in the mid-90s, and this split single was one of the first "rare" records I couldn't track down.  Thing was, it never was particularly rare, just a bit hard to find.  Eventually I just forgot about it until I ran into a copy of it at a recent record show.  So here you have it, two of the most left-of-center bands to ever bear the Merge Records trademark.  I've yammered on about Polvo before, a band whose crooked, Sebadoh meets Sonic Youth pastiche was mildly addictive back in the day, especially on their earlier releases.  "In The Hand, In The Sieve" appears here in a lengthier iteration than the version that landed on their debut, Cor Crane SecretErectus Monotone had more of a scuzzy art punk thing going for them, boasting a co-ed lineup to boot.  Never investigated them too extensively.  "Fragment (Pam)" appears to be exclusive to this record.  Both bands crossbreed on the the altogether avant and warped b-side "Anything's Fine."  Consider yourselves warned.  

A1. Erectus Monotone - Fragment (Pam)
A2. Polvo - In the Hand, in the Sieve
B. Erectus Polvotone - Anything's Fine


Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Raymond Brake - Piles of Dirty Winters (1995, Simple Machines)

Nineties indie rock in North Carolina.  On one hand you had the "kingpins" like Superchunk, Archers of Loaf, and technically (though they stuck out like a sore thumb) Ben Folds Five.  On the other were a bevy of striving hopefuls including, but not limited to Polvo, Spatula, Minerva Strain and The Raymond Brake.  I was pretty wowed with Piles of Dirty Winters when it dropped some twenty-one years ago.  More recently, my adherence to this one has wavered.  Back then I picked up on RB's pop overtones which were somehow more evident at the time, but in retrospect it's obvious this Greensboro quartet took Polvo's fractured ball o' dissonance and ran with it big time.  That being said, Raymond Brake had a heightened awareness of melody embedded within the noisy. tone-bending confines of "New Wave Dream," "Dolley Madison" and "Philistine" - I just wish that same magic had reared it's head on a more consistent basis.  Midway trough Piles... we're offered a bit of a respite from RB's copious feedback-laden angularities via the lo-fi acoustic "The Long Sleep."  There were singles surrounding the album as well as a subsequent ep, Never Work Ever.  In addition to Polvo, if Edsel and Half Hour to Go did the trick for you, check this out.

01. Philistine
02. Filthy Lucre
03. Shooting in the Dark
04. New Wave Dream
05. Funeral Bride
06. Laying Down
07. The Long Sleep
08. Dolley Madison
09. Slink Moss
10. Never Felt Better
11. Whistler
12. Visit to Bdlam


Sunday, May 22, 2016

That’s how it goes when you hate your friends…

From 1994. Might this band include an ex-Lemonhead in their lineup?  They might indeed.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

VA - Lost in the Haze Vol. 14 - Super Duper Uber Obscure Late '70s Power Pop

As if ordering hard to find CD titles from the now sadly departed Not Lame Records wasn't enough of a treat back in the '90s and  '00s, the kind proprietor of that power pop label and distro would incentivize those who made an online purchase by tossing in a handmade and self-curated cd-r compilation of impossibly rare songs that never made their way into the digital era proper.  God knows how many volumes  existed in the Lost in the Haze series alone (at least 14, obviously).  Accompanied only by a tray card track list with no other pertinent details about the music presented, these compilations were stuffed into paper cd envelopes, and would tend to accumulate in various piles in my house.  With a veritable absence of artwork they went out of sight and out of mind for years, until a few months ago when I organized the roughly twenty Not Lame freebies I had gradually piled up.  I'm presenting one of these to you today.

The Lost in the Haze series was focused on the arcanest of the arcane independent and privately pressed records in the lofty collection of the Not Lame archivist and music obsessive that for now shall go unnamed.  Volume 14 features eleven songs by uber-obscure acts, none of whom to my knowledge I've shared on Wilfully Obscure.  All I can tell you is that the songs originate from the late '70s with many of the participants skewing towards the Nick Lowe, Paul Collins Beat end of the power pop spectrum.  There are some phenomenal moments here by the Features, Treble Boys, Fans and a host of others, but I don't have a lick of info to impart on them, not even so much as the label and years they originate fun.  The point with these comps was to get the music out there in no frills fashion, and with that in mind that's how they're presented here.  Enjoy, set your browser to, and get ready to plunder your savings account if you wish to own the original wax these songs were derived from.

01. The Features - Don't Let Them Know 
02. The Shout - I Wanna Be There
03. Treble Boys - Julie-Ann
04. The Fans - You Don't Live Here
05. Modest Proposal - Nobody Says No
06. The RPM's - Don't Wanna Be Young
07. News - It Doesn't Matter
08. Loose Lips - Kyle
09. Kids - You're My Baby
10. The Frenchmen - No Surprise
11. Orbits - You Make the Rules


Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Press - Fodder for the Critics (1979, Laser)

Recently had a request for this, although I don't own a physical copy myself.  It's apparently impossible to locate from what little nosing around I've been able to do.  The Press were four Sydney, Australia based lads who had the benefit of absorbing the gamut of punk and pub rock in the handful of years preceding their lone LP, Fodder for the Critics.  Their Anglophile bent was unmistakable, albeit eschewing the rebellious tenor of the Sex Pistols, Clash, etc, while retaining the driving power chords.  Sonically, the Press had more in common with Pistols spinoffs the Rich Kids and Professionals than the antecedent band itself, not to mention the Stranglers, and perhaps a smidge of Eddie and the Hotrods to boot.  Fodder... was a damn intelligent and spirited record that clearly deserved a better fate.  Considerably more info (with band commentary tucked in the comments) can be found at Wallaby Beat.

01. Someone New Somewhere
02. I Think I'm Gonna Go Right Out
03. Night
04. Out of View
05. Rock Capital
06. She Wants it All
07. Walking in the Heat
08. Trapped in the Wreckage
09. Alcoholic


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Posies - Amazing Disgrace (1996) bonus disc (only)

Not exactly the biggest revelation I've pitched in your direction, but a nice follow-up to my Posies review last night.  Submitted for your approval, the four song bonus disc which accompanied the Australian tour edition of the band's fourth album Amazing Disgrace.  It kicks off with the fairly common b-side, "Going, Going, Gone" and continues with covers of Zombies, Hollies and the Bee Gees tunes in that order.  A nice, concise roundup of non-LP goodies from the era, and would have certainly incentive-ied me to buy the album.  Some of these songs have cropped up elsewhere, so this may be a limited engagement.  Enjoy while you can. 

01. Going, Going, Gone
02. Leave Me Be
03. King Midas In Reverse
04. Every Christian Lionhearted Man Will Show You


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Posies - Solid States (2016) - A brief overview

Ok, suppose your favorite band zigs when you expected them to zag.  And suppose that grouped penned a significant chapter for the genre they had left a sizable footprint on.  True, Solid States is technically a post-reunion album (their third, following up on 2005's Every Kind of Light and '10s Blood Candy), and as such, expectations aren't quite as lofty for a new Posies record to begin with.  Then again, this is after all the work of Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow, and given their collective resumes and reputations, there's bound to be sizable scrutiny.  To cut to the chase, Solid States is palpably distinct from any other Posies release in that it (gulp) tamps down on the guitars, of all things - dramatically in some cases.

If you've encountered any hype surrounding this record, it no doubt concerns the reconvened band's embrace of electronic textures and other implements and innovations once foreign to their palette.  States has it's share of synthesized tangents and diversions to be sure, specifically on the syncopated "M Doll," and "The Definition," not to mention the commanding opener "We R Power."  It hardly sounds like a typical day at the Posies office, but if that strikes you as too much of a quantum leap consider how advanced Frosting on the Beater was held up to the witty acousti-folk of their debut, Failure.  And speaking of wit, the Posies old school charm isn't exactly in abundance here, an aspect that to one extent or another has plagued the so called "reunion" records.  In fairness, Solid States does occasionally concede to the Posies aesthetic of yore, indulging in telltale Auer/Stringfellow harmonies on "March Climes" and the quite excellent "Scattered," while the shuffling "Titanic" strikes a middle ground.  And it may be something of a guilty pleasure, but I'm getting a charge out of "Rollercoaster Zen's" cosmopolitan stride.

In the net-net of things, it's hard to sum up this disk with any overarching generalities.  Is it a transitional record of merely a detour?  It's not their Kid A, New Adventures in Hi-Fi, Smiley Smile or even their Turbo (God forbid).  Not quite amazing, but light years from a disgrace, Solid States is where the Posies stand today, idiosyncratic as that stance may be.  For the life of me, I still can't tell Ken's and Jon's voices apart, so maybe not as much has changed as I thought.  Solid States is available from all the usual suspects, including Amazon, iTunes, and hopefully a shop near you.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Your little problems, they're not yours they're mine.

Four eps from four unrelated artists.  Something for everyone, and that's not an exaggeration.  For true.


Friday, May 13, 2016

The Wishniaks - Nauseous and Cranky ep (1988, Bloodmoney)

This ep is a scant fourteen minutes, but hard as it may be to believe Philly's Wishniaks don't waste a nanosecond.  The quartet's winsome power pop formula was partially derived from the Stones rough-hewn nonchalance (albeit presented in a much more modest context here) and lusciously paired with deftly crafted jangle-tones, populating so many left-of-the-dial outlets of the day.  Aesthetically, this may not scream "cutting edge" but the Wishniaks arrangements are forward thinking and the band exude chemistry for miles, foreshadowing the like-minded pastiche that would eventually be thrown down by the Figgs and Sloan.  Nauseous and Cranky my ass, more like visceral and inspired.  Expect more Wishniaks to come on these pages.  

01. Point of No Return
02. Distraction
03. Double Takin'
04. 6 AM
05. Marianne Faithful


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Wonderul World of the Pursuit of Happiness (1996, Iron Music)

Back in the twentieth century it was all too easy and convenient to ignore import releases.  Even fans that flocked to TPOH's 1988 magnum opus Love Junk had either long moved on, or were entirely unaware of ...Wonderful World when it landed in the band's Canadian home turf circa '96/'97.  Indeed, by the time this fifth LP quickly came and went, Moe Berg & Co's. prominence had waned, but living so close to the border of Ontario didn't give me as much of an excuse perhaps.  At any rate, TPOH fans who passed on this one did so to their own detriment, as Wonderful World follows a close third to Love Junk and One Sided Story (1990) in terms of out-and-out quality and gratification.  Their third salvo, Downward Road was no slouch, nor was the less spoken of independently released follow-up Where's The Bone in '95, but in virtually all respects TWW of TPOH is the clear cut winner in the band's post-Rundgren era, as it were.

Though I can't confirm it's a concept piece, TWW sure operates like one, both thematically and in continuity.  There are multiple references to a love interest dubbed Tara, and the songs generally pertain to lovesick reveries, countered with some occasional flashing yellow lights on Moe's otherwise utopian love train.  The album's brief manic moments of tension arise in two rock 'em, sock 'em surges.  "She's the Devil" is a riff-roaring punk-cum-Aerosmith romp that rocks harder and more fervently than anything TPOH ever committed to tape.  That snarling as-all-get-out blast is paralleled in "Hate Engine" where again, Berg channels his inner Tyler/Perry more effectively than the graying, real McCoy were capable of at the time.  But surrounding these thunderous slammers were a bevy of thoughtful ballads illustrating the intoxicating spell of romance that the man of hour (Moe Berg) was evidently under.  It's within this strata that Pursuit really shine, especially on harmony-enhanced numbers "What You Did to My Girl," and "I'm Just Happy to Be Here," proving those years under the wing of Todd Rundgren paid off.  I'd be remiss if I neglected to mention a few of the exemplary songs that fall between the two extremes namely "I Like You" and "Carmalina."

Just one note of caution you'll no doubt notice the song-to-song transitions were hastily edited, so jarringly notable at times they frustratingly divert your attention from the music at hand.  These segues aren't as distracting when listening to the CD uninterrupted, but of course you'll likely be partaking of this on your phone or iPod.  Fair warning, but the material itself is by and large excellent.  I've also updated the links to the previously posted TPOH demos and the I'm an Adult Now ep, as well as Moe's early '80s endeavors facecrime and Modern Minds.

01. The Wonderful World Of
02. Tara
03. I Like You
04. Carmalina
05. Metaphor
06. She's the Devil
07. She Kiss Away
08. I'm Just Happy to be Here
09. Tara's Theme
10. What You Did to my Girl
11. Let's Not Play
12. Hate Engine
13. Back of my Mind
14. The Truth


Sunday, May 8, 2016

We were holders of hands, we were make-believers...

Debut album action from 2003.  Should have been huge.