Sunday, July 31, 2016

Bonus tracks.

The bonus tracks, and only the bonus tracks from the reissues of three relatively esteemed indie rock albums originally released in the twentieth century.  Yep, I'm throwing something new at ya'll this week.  Enjoy.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Viv Akauldren - I'll Call You Sometime (1987, Akashic)

Viv Akauldren sprouted from the remnants of an early '80s Detrot combo, Trancegland, who amended their moniker after a roster shakeup in 1985.  A co-ed trio featuring axe-slinger Jeff Phry and drummer Deb Agolli mixing things up on the mic, Viv Akauldren brewed a subterranean alchemy in a cauldron (get it?) of their own warped design, purloining heavily from psych, but also inserting goth, and even folk flavorings.   I'll Call You's howling opener "Of," is full-bore intensity with all the subtlety of a Mack truck.  While there's precious little else here that's on quite the same frantic wavelength, Viv's sophomore effort tantalizes in varied ways on the distorto-pop pearl "Firewater," and the icy, noir "Inn'er Circle."  And maybe it's just me, but the sprawling spoke/sung "City Magic" strikes me as something of a template for Sonic Youth's "Eric Trip."  Hmmm.  The extensive liner notes in Viv's final album, 1990's Vivian's Fountain, imparts the following regarding I'll Call You Sometime.

"...a concept work of titanic proportions.  It encompasses vast space and subtle nuance...a classic winter time record which requires attention (and headphones).

My copy of the record was furnished with a bonus single featuring two swirling, stem-winding live cuts, both nearing nine minutes in length.  They are included in this download.

01. Of
02. Is This It?
03. Firewater
04. The Chain
05. The Secret
06. The Maker of the Sun and the Moon
07. City Magic
08. Along the Way
09. Inn'er Current
10. Farrowbone
11. As You Wish (live)
12. The Titanic Mind (live)


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Random Hold - two singles (1981-82)

So I've been running into Random Hold's records for a long time, and as often is the case, I dare not take the plunge on an unknown quantity until the price is too reasonable to refuse.  Presented here are the fruits of my thrifty spoils.  I had casually pegged these fellows (and furthermore a woman, who would later be added to the final incarnation of the band) as being cut from cold/chillwave cloth.  That assumption proved to be inaccurate, and so were even more egregious prog-rock comparisons leveled by certain music junkies (I suppose a connection to Peter Gabriel might engender that sort of thing).  In actuality Random Hold boasted palpable, post-punk bona fides that were best exemplified on their earlier releases (Etceteraville aThe View From Here) which sadly I don't have.  Not like I could share them anyway since they're back in print, but I digress. 

That brings us to two singles that were released after Random Hold split in 1980. A year later the band's moniker was dusted off and revived to represent a much different lineup (all the gory details are available on Wiki) featuring a new mouthpiece, Susan Raven.  RH v. 2.0 lose some of the original combo's creative edge, but maintain an intelligent air with adequate amount of world-weary tension to hold your attention.  I presenting these four tunes from a static-y vinyl rip, and would encourage you to buy the double CD set, Differing Views, a bonus-sized reissue of RH's Raven-era recordings for a considerable audio upgrade.

The March 7" (1981)
01. The March
02. Dance Feeling

Walking on the Edge 7" (1982)
03. Walking on the Edge
04. Camouflage


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Synchronize my afterlife.

From 2011.  Curveball time.  Glitched-up electronica with occasional '80s tangents.  Don't worry, nothing to dancy.  I heard this one in-store a couple months ago and have been listening to it just about every day since.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Romantics - Bomp Blues live 1980-83 + Bomp demo

Even at their inception The Romantics must have struck more than a few people as passé.  With skinny ties, leather suits and fluffy hair in tow who wouldn't chalk them up as a passing fad?  Perhaps, but for those who explored the Romantics beyond their two of three mega hits were rewarded with some ace bar rock-cum-power pop that never left a hook to the imagination.  This bootleg compiles a live New Years eve radio broadcast from 1980, a live CBS studio session from the same period, a handful of more concert tracks from 1983, and the band's demo for Bomp Records.  Yep, the smashes are all accounted for - "What I Like About You" "Tell it to Carrie," and the rest.  To the Detroit quartet's credit, "Talking in Your Sleep" and "National Breakout" are more stimulating on stage than the already decent enough album incarnations (though the version of "Breakout" here is truncated - someone didn't hit the record button in time).  The demos sound strikingly similar to the finished versions, not that I'm complaining.  Enjoy.

Live Atlanta 12-31-80
01. National Breakout
02. 21 & Over
03. Tomboy
04. Forever Yours
05. A Night Like This
06. Poor Little Rich Girl
07. interview
08. What I Like About You
09. Ain't Got You

Bomp demos (197?)
10. Tell it to Carrie 
11. Runnin Away
12. First in Line
13. Let's Swing 

Live in CBS Studios, NYC December 1980
14. Ain't Got you
15. What I Like About You
16. A night Like This 
17. Poor Little Rich Girl

Live in San Antonio, TX October 1983
18. When I Look In Your Eyes
19. Gimmie One Chance

20. Keep in Touch
21. Talking in Your Sleep


Friday, July 22, 2016

Velvet Crush - 10/4/96, CBGB's, New York

My apologies if entries have been a bit scarce lately.  Haven't had much time to rip any fresh vinyl, but on the heels of my Velvet Crush assessment the other night I thought I'd share this rather exemplary live set from a CBGB's gig from a couple decades ago.  The Crush was touring behind their 1996 platter Heavy Changes, but there's plenty of tunes in this setlist to be had from Teenage Symphonies to God.  I do believe this is a soundboard tape.  Check it out in your choice of MP3 or lossless FLAC below.

01. Playing for Keeps
02. Standing Still
03. My Blank Pages
04. Think it Over
05. Hold Me Up
06. Goin' to My Head
07. Why Not Your Baby
08. Atmosphere
09. Ash and Earth
10. Used to Believe
11. Live For Now

MP3 or FLAC pt. 1 & pt. 2

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Velvet Crush - Pre-teen Symphonies (2016, Omnivore) - A brief overview.

Before I go into any sort of rambling (or otherwise) critique of this release and the band in question, I should mention this is not a new Velvet Crush album, or career-spanning anthology, rather an addendum and/or companion to their 1994 full length Teenage Symphonies to God.

First, let's put things into perspective.  Back in the mid '90s, as if it wasn't enough to have to contend with a whole 'nother dominant strain of rock and roll (grunge, duh) consider how much competition Velvet Crush had in their own power-pop wheelhouse - Teenage Fanclub, The Posies, Adam Schmitt, The Gigolo Aunts, Material Issue, Matthew Sweet, Greenberry Woods, Lemonheads, Jellyfish - and to boot, a recently reunited and recalibrated Big Star were all crowding the pool.  Comprised of Ric Menck, Paul Chastain and Jeffrey Borchardt, the Providence, RI-situated three-piece still managed to make a dent, albeit not a commercially seismic one.   

Named after a Brian Wilson rumination, Teenage Symphonies... followed up their independently issued, '91 debut, In the Presence of Greatness, not to mention a bevy of singles ("Butterfly Position" anyone?).  Released under the auspices of Creation Records in England and Sony in the States, Symphonies... didn't waft out of stores as briskly as say, Cracked Rear View or Jagged Little Pill, yet it seemed like everyone who encountered it experienced something on the level of a revelation.  The choice of Mitch Easter as producer was more than apropos, given that Menck and Chastain had teamed up about a decade prior in VC-antecedent bands like Choo Choo Train, who owed more than a wink and a nod to "new music" acts like Let's Active and Game Theory, whom Easter had either performed with or produced.  But there was more to this album than tricky jangle maneuvers and oblique prose.  Forward thinking as Velvet Crush were, they revered elders like Alex Chilton and Roger McGuinn to the hilt.  In fact, Symphonies... was remarkably linear and streamlined, yet never succumbed to anything rote or routine.  Lived-in perhaps, but hardly another day at the office.  Some 22 years on, this deftly crafted thing of beauty, hooks, and then some is frequently regarded as the trio's finest hour (give or take twenty minutes). 

That brings us to Pre-teen Symphonies, which again, isn't a reissue of the aforementioned TStG, rather a collection of eight demos, the bulk of which would eventually be re-cut for the album.  As far as prototypes go, the nuances between the demos and the final album takes are often subtle.  Nonetheless, seasoned ears will pick up on the frenetic fervor pumping through rawer, nascent stabs of some of the album's more assertive selections, specifically "My Blank Pages" and "This Life's Killing Me."  Teenage Symphonies..., mind you, didn't merely contain visceral rockers, but some consoling comedowns as well - "Time Wraps Around You" and "Weird Summer," both appearing here in their rough-cut incarnations.  As to whether which versions are superior, that's for you to decide, but the inclusion of two very capable album-worthy outtakes "Not Standing Down" and "Turn Down" are sure to be universally embraced by aficionados of Chastain and Co.

The second half of this collection concerns an eight-song excerpt from a '94 Chicago performance at the Metro, and an FM broadcast at that.  Not only does it exude more Teenage gold - "Atmosphere" and "Hold Me Up" to name a couple, the set revisits relatively old-school VC nuggets "Window to the World" along with "Ash and Earth."  The proverbial cherry on top is a faithful run through 20/20's signature piece "Remember the Lightning." 

This neat (and in many regards essential) package is available this Friday (July 22) direct from Omnivore, Amazon, and wherever fine music is sold. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Forever with you, ever without you...

Their 1984 double album was lauded and acclaimed as they come, yet this pair of follow-up releases from just a year later seemed to go relatively unnoticed.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Whirlaway - Pompano (2004)

Sort of a dream-pop revival thing going on with this quartet, who ostensibly monikered their album after their Florida locale.  An AllMusic critique emphasizes Whirlway's affection for My Bloody Valentine, but that influence isn't as heavy handed as they make it out to be.  This is closer to the American corner of the shoegaze grotto, a la Ultra Cindy and Drop Nineteens.  Definitely some '90s Britpop inflections too, but nothing obnoxiously prevalent there either.  The heavier, up-tempo songs are the most effective on Pompano, including but not limited to "The Blinded" and "Strangeplanes."

01. Walkthrough
02. Without, Within
03. Strangeplanes
04. Drones
05. What I See
06. Gone By Now
07. On My Way
08. The Blinded
09. Idiot Song
10. Tumble


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Restless - s/t (1984)

In terms of vintage garage-cum-power pop in the environs of Buffalo, NY, the Terry Sullivan helmed Jumpers are one of the few names still readily recalled from the late '70s/early '80s "punk" era.  I featured them eons ago on these pages via their '79 "Sick Girls" 45.  A classic, local or otherwise.  Ironically, after the Jumpers disconnected, Terry went on to front the altogether more ambitious and visible The Restless.  I say ironically in the respect that the Jumpers who only released a local single are lauded and talked about way more than the Restless, who not only recorded a full length, but issued it under the auspices of a major label, Mercury, to be exact, in 1984.  Per the norm with '80s mainstream albums, The Restless skewed to the more pedestrian side of the spectrum, but the songs were often well above average.  Shades of the Tubes, not to mention the more flattering side of Reagan-era Cheap Trick abound on sassy, bristling slammers like "The Contender," "1000 X"and "I Wanna Know."  Although they ran circles around most of their AOR contemporaries, The Restless weren't particularly distinct, ergo they were one of many neglected big label casualties of their time.  Maybe folks were too preoccupied with watching the summer Olympics that year.  Mystery solved!  Enjoy (you will).

01. She's So Fine
02. I Wanna Know
03. One Step Closer
04. 100 mph
05. You'll Know Better
06. It's Over
07. Contender
08. 1000 X
09. Funny You Should Ask
10. Wildcall


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Connections - Midnight Run (2016, Anyway) - A brief overview.

Pity the music scribe who employs an over-reliance of band comparisons as a substitute for natural eloquence.  Case in point, take a gander at the lengths the folks behind Wilfully Obscure blog went to a couple years back to drive the point home that Columbus, OH's Connections were the spittin' image of Guided By Voices.  Oh...wait a minute...that hack happened to be me.  So soon I forget.  At any rate, the comparison seemed more accurate than lazy at the time, but as the case with any good movie, book or a storyline in general, character development is the secret weapon to keep things from going stale.  Midnight Run, Connections' not-so-difficult third album is anything but.   

Kevin Elliott & Co. gracefully embellish their nascent mid-fidelity penchant with (slightly) lengthier song structures and an even stronger semblance of reverb and warmth, curtailing the gobs of feedback a notch or two.  And while we're on the subject of sonic acumen, Midnight Run is informed not merely by the Fading Captain, but a raw, sinewy aesthetic that hearkens back to many of their '80s forerunners as well.  If you're anything like me, you might hone in on trace elements of Great Plains, the Embarrassment and Volcano Suns, yet Connections distill these scraggly components into a more tuneful context.  And deliberately or otherwise, they have the post-punk angle covered as well, if only by virtue of a mild distortion effect (or so it would seem) on Elliott's mic.  Ultimately, it boils down to the songs.  Their stripe of indie fuzz rawk isn't erudite or sophisticated on say, the level of Tolstoy or Nietzsche, but it is lovingly worn-in and slowly endearing.  Midnight Run rarely deviates from  Connections' assuring modus operandi, save for the atypically bubble-gummy "Weapons," and a couple of offbeat interludes.  In terms of guitar-centric aggregations, this quintet easily ranks among the top twenty infiltrating the ether right now.

You can experience Midnight Run on wax or digital for yourself on July 22, directly from Anyway Records, or Amazon and iTunes will have you covered as well.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

There's trouble in paradise, your heart is gonna pay the price.

Quite simply, if you haven't heard this album yet you really should.


Friday, July 8, 2016

Anton Barbeau & the Joy Boys - No More Love Guitars tape (1990)

The origins of how this selection found it's way into my robust cassette archive are all but elusive, but as the saying goes, I'm not complaining.  Mr. Barbeau & his joyful twenty-somethings (guestimating from the cover pic) dabbled in wry, ironic pop, occupying a quartet of seats in the same ballpark as Jellyfish, Crowded House, and perhaps even Aztec, though the execution employed on ...Love Guitars is considerably more homegrown.  The title track alone is enough to suck you in, bearing not one, but two enduring hooks.  From there on, the "magic" advances and recedes, with the nearly as appealing "Magazine St.," not to mention power-pop fireball "People Like..." and the rootsy "Take the Bottle From Baby," all accounting for the most satisfactory slices of this pie's hefty thirteen servings.  Some of the more ballad-esque numbers never quite settle into a groove, and I could do without the dainty waltz ("Dancing With Nancy") altogether.  The wanderlust-ful, eight-minute jam "Leaving Icy Behind" is truly in a field of it's own.  All in all, Guitars' most convincing moments make a compelling case for Anton Barbeau, apparently a denizen of Sacramento, CA at the time of this release.  Subsequent to No More Love Guitars, a steady stream of releases ensued, including his most recent compendium, Magic Act.

01. No More Love Guitars
02. Magazine St.
03. Pudenda Song
04. Marshmallow Man
05. People Like...
06. Dancing With Nancy
07. Girl Like That
08. Back to Balmain
09. Pilot, Passenger, Plane
10. Keeping Pace With Pidgeons
11. In This Jungle
12. Take the Bottle From the Baby
13. Leaving Icy Behind


Sunday, July 3, 2016

All-American pop.

Hardly the stuff of patriotism, this singer-songwriter salvo from 2001 is at the very least tangentially appropriate for the day at hand.  Enjoy the Fourth folks.


Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Bobbies - Supersongs (1993)

Even after it's nearly two decades old expiration, I'm still excavating artifacts from the '90s, and some pretty damn enticing ones at that.  Veritable unknowns from Queens, NY, The Bobbies would have slotted comfortably into the more amped-out environs of the era's power pop revival.  Their apparent DIY angle put them slightly left of center, often sounding like an amalgam of Cheap Trick, Enuff Z' Nuff, and a smidge of '90s Buzzcocks to boot, especially on saucy, aggressive pieces like "Money Makes Honey" and "Afraid to Fall."  Further in, the going gets a little Beatles-esque on "What Else is There to Say" and "Please Pleasing Lady."  So, in the net-net of things does Supersongs live up to it's not-so-humble title?  If you gravitate to any of the aforementioned (and for that matter Material Issue) dig in and see for yourself.  A further critique of the album can be had here.

01. You Cannot Deny
02. Money Makes Honey
03. The Ballad of Me & You
04. Afraid to Fall
05. What Else is There to Say
06. Your Touch
07. Don't Hold Me Back (That Look)
08. Please Pleasing Lady
09. What We Need is Love
10. The Man That Time Left Behind