Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Decorators - Tablets (1982, Red Flame)

I've never been big on saxophones, and unfortunately Tablet kicks off with plenty of them.  Luckily, The Decorators compensate with a mucho-spiffy album sleeve.  This UK sextet's lean Wiki bio touts them as post-punk, but proto-indie would be a more appropriate categorization.  Some sweet, clangy guitar licks occupy these eleven grooves, albeit they can be teasingly fleeting.  Mouthpiece Mick Bevan is a more prominent element than his five cohorts,  otherwise I'm struggling to pinpoint his combo's m.o.  The contemplative "Red Sky Over Wembley" is Tablet's runaway keeper.

Prior to splitting in 1984, the Decorators released an ep with their variation on the Flamin Groovies "Teenage Head" on side A.  Check out the video below.

01. Strange One
02. We Know It
03. Hidden Hands
04. Headlights
05. Absent Friends
06. Red Sky Over Wembley
07. American Ways
08. Half World
09. Without You
10. We Know it Part Two
11. Curious


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Hellbent in this would-be heaven.

This week I'm commemorating the anniversary of the passing of this group's frontman, who left us almost one year ago to this day.  These songs were recorded between 1991-93, and released in 1994.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Flesh for Lulu - s/t + singles (1984)

Even when Flesh for Lulu arguably peaked in 1987 (circa Long Live the New Flesh) they were regarded as little more than a post-new romantic flash in the pan (at least in my side of the Atlantic).  By the time lead-lulu Nick Marsh succumbed to cancer in the spring of 2015, his band barely qualified as a footnote, with the majority of the FFL catalog woefully languishing out of print.  Their big (and perhaps only) break arrived with the inclusion of the bittersweet "I Go Crazy" inserted into the soundtrack to the coveted John Hughes flick Some Kind of Wonderful.  The equally bittersweet followup single "Postcards From Paradise" possessed a stronger hook than "Crazy," but was merely relegated to cult classic status. 

Unlike much of their '80s ilk, FFL, did not in fact peak on their debut.  Flesh for Lulu isn't particularly deep or inventive, and even resorts to incorporating less-than-necessary female backup vocals.  Nonetheless, I have to pay homage to some of their better ideas, namely the nervy "Subterraneans" and "So Strong."  Think a vaguely less cerebral Psych Furs and you'll get the gist of what they had to offer in 1984.  Props to the individual who digitized this record, and for tacking on an ep's worth of singles and such.

01. Restless
02. Dog Dog Dog
03. Hyena
04. Coming Down
05. Jigsaw Puzzle
06. Subterraneans
07. Brainburst
08. Peace and Love
09. So Strong
10. Heavy Angel

non-LP singles and b-sides
11. Coming Down (alt vers)
12. Lame Train
13. The Power of Suggestion
14. Why Me?
15. Gurl at the Bar

Looks like this one has been reissued with tons of extras.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Rogue Wave - Cover Me (2016, Easy Sound)

I tend not to open new vinyl releases, and that extends to Record Store Day titles as well.  In fact, I held off unsealing this one for two whole months in hopes that a digital version of Rogue Wave's wax-only, Black Friday RSD title Cover Me album would surface, but this time no dice.  Granted, it was only limited to 1500 copies, plus it didn't come with a download code...but anyway.  So far as the band goes, I was hip to Rogue Wave's 2003 debut, Out of the Shadow, even before Sub Pop picked it up a year later.  I warmed to Zack Rogue's DIY adaptation of the Death Cab For Cutie homage thing quickly, but by the time his band's fourth or fifth album rolled around they had assumed a more "professional" indie rock penchant that was too samey and slick for my ears. 

Nonetheless, this record composed of renditions of nine mainstream-ish tunes, circa the Reagan-era, was enough to get me back on board.  It's hard to make generalities about Cover Me, much like it's difficult to make generalities regarding Rogue Wave themselves.  If there's a common thread binding this endeavor it's that straight covers aren't an option for Zack and Co. - even if that means retooling ZZ Top's "Sharped Dressed Man" with Casios.  It's the more faithful interpretations on Cover Me that translate best - "In Between Days" (Cure), for example.  I'm reluctant to give this type of criticism, but taking a dull piece like Genesis' "That's All" and altering it into something even more flaccid isn't a hot idea, nor is expanding "Under the Milky Way" into a languid, yawn-inducing, six-minute exercise.  I kinda dig what they did with "She Sells Sanctuary" and "Let My Love Open the Door."  As for RW's take on "Bette Davis Eyes," I believe I find more merit in Alvin and the Chipmunks rendering of the Kim Carnes classic.  Make of this what you will.

01. Rescue
02. In Between Days
03. Let My Love Open the Door
04. That's All
05. Bette Davis Eyes
06. Sharp Dressed Man
07. She Sells Sanctuary
08. Under the Milky Way
09. Talking in Your Sleep

Now available through Amazon

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Reviews you can use - New music from Gracie Folds, The Jeremy Band, and Great Good Fine Ok.

I suppose comparisons are inevitable when you're the offspring of piano-pumping troubadour Ben Folds.  Sure, she tickles the ivories, and even demonstrates some of dad's pentameter and such...but here comes the kicker.  At merely seventeen years of age, Gracie's themes and ruminations are more conducive to that of a woman who's weathered the entirety of her twenties.  Having seemingly eschewed rote teen-angst to the back seat, her prose is a precocious melange of Nick Drake and J.D. Salinger, while on the sonic front, loosely paralleling Fiona Apple.   Gracie's opening slot for her father on the Ben Folds w/ yMusic tour last summer stunned me, and while she wasn't offering much in the way of merch, an ep, Pink Elephant, surfaced a few months ago online.  Not unlike her pop, she's well on her way to crafting sophisticated vignettes like "Harper" and "Nathan," curiously referencing a font type, of all things, in the latter.  As if her piano songs weren't enough of a revelation, Gracie straps on an acoustic for the equally effective "Yearbook Song," agilely slipping into a mode not dissimilar to early Suzanne Vega.  Pink Elephant is a petite, but stunning volume of music.  Catch it by the tail on iTunes, Spotify, and better yet Bandcamp where you can take in a couple of demos as well.

I'll now juxtapose to a not-so new comer, specifically pop veteran Jeremy Morris.  I've lost count of how many records he's made at this point (25 to 30 perhaps?) but Hit You With a Flower might be the first with The Jeremy Band trio, rounded out by Dave Dietrich on drums and Todd Borsch on bass.  Fans of the man in question know what to expect with virtually anything he affixes his name to - plaintive songwriting, an overarching sunny disposition, and jangly pop instincts that flirt with pleasing, psych-kissed guitar tones.  In a nutshell Jeremy doesn't alter the recipe with ...Flower, but the title track is one of the most hook-savvy tunes he's committed to tape since his '90s signature piece "I'm Flying."  Not sure where to dig in with Jeremy's deep catalog?  My best recommendation would be to start here, straight from the source at Jam Records.

Guilty pleasure confession time.  In 2009, I was bit by the "poptronica" bug and fell head over heals for Passion Pit's Manners album.  Ever since I've been looking for new-school techno pop outfits that I might become equally besotted with.  I hit the jackpot with Brooklyn's Great Good Fine Ok, whose sly synth salvos belie sumptuous, cosmopolitan grooves.  GGFO aren't the types I give much coverage to, but genre be damned, 'cos they've concocted some of the most devastatingly delicious music I've encountered in the last five years.  On their latest, (III) a maxi-ep of sorts, the dynamic duo of Jon Sandler and Luke Moellman lay down seven unapologetic love ditties couched in a polished modus operandi that all but compel you to shake a leg (or three).  An '80s veneer infiltrates the proceedings, not to mention Sandler's relentless falsetto, but neither maneuver is overplayed so as to gum up the works.  "Everything to Me" jump-starts a benign frenzy, "Already Love" is awash in bachelor pad sheik, while the concluding slow jam, "Thinking" finds the boys sauntering towards full fledged R&B.  Take selected GGFO III cuts for a test drive on Spotify, then finalize your purchase on Amazon or iTunes.  Physical copies can be had at their merch table, both online or in the flesh.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sometimes I can't help falling down.

'90s pop from Scotland, approved by Kurt Cobain. 


Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Falling Wallendas - s/t (1995, IMI)

Ever run a genre search on Ebay?  A query for "power pop" brought this one up week after week, until I finally relented and found an inexpensive copy on Amazon.  As it would turn out, the cleverly monikered Falling Wallendas were not true-blue adherents to the form, but they slotted in perfectly well on the more credible end of the alt-rock spectrum of their day.  You might discern trace elements of Jellyfish and the Judybats here and there, just nothing outright visionary.  My main beef with The Falling Wallendas is it's length, spanning no less than fifteen numbers when nine or ten would have sufficed.  You'll find your fair share of "better" tracks - "A Good Thing," "Dummy," and "The Adorable Horrible," but unfortunately a good number of lesser ones as well. 

01. A Good Thing
02. The Adorable Horrible
03. hyde & Seek
04. Monkey's Uncle
05. Mitchell Cooper
06. Hanging
07. Venus Kicked the Stars
08. Backwards Going
09. My Big Brain
10. Damn Spot
11. Sleeping Beauty
12. What Ever Happended to Jenny Fountain
13. Dummy
14. Lion on the Lamb
15. Agatha


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Green Magnet School - Blood Music (1992, Sub Plop)

I've been at this thing for almost ten years now, and it just occurred to me this week to feature something by Green Magnet School, a bygone Boston, MA enterprise whose tone might ring a tad abrasive stacked up to what I normally offer.  Blood Music sounds like the byproduct of copious Big Black listening binges, but Steve Albini had no hand in the creation of this album.  GMS bore an icy post-punk demeanor, cloaked in a skittishly avant latticework, absorbing Joy Division’s urgent pulse and Sonic Youth’s artful mystique.  Their arrangements were challenging and bustling, often exuding a fever dream intensity with a bedrock of dissonance at their core.  Blood Music indulges in freaky guitar squalls aplenty, not to mention more frantic arpeggios than you can shake your proverbial stick at.  It's all-out Defcon 2 on the bristling opener, "Ellipse" while the Dadistic disco stomp of “Sonic Extermination” taps into an early PIL vein escalating to something even more enticing as the tune builds. “Noxin” delivers an even more compulsive groove, but surprisingly, the record concludes on a near-melodic note of resolution in the guise of the six-minute "Windshield."  Blood Music fascinates and transfixes with it's myriad textures, dynamics and motifs, making it's messy viscous stream of red and white cells well worth the spillage.    

01. Ellipse
02. Throb
03. Package
04. Sonic Exterminator
05. Caldwell
06. Noxin
07. Barmecide Room
08. S
09. C U
10. Windshield

Sounds better on Bandcamp.

Sunday, January 15, 2017


No other clue this week other than a 1994 release date.  That should help narrow things down, right? 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Chixdiggit - Best Hung Carrot in the Fridge ep (1995/99, Lance Rock/Delmonico)

Their moniker begins with a "C," but the adjectives that describe them most appropriately begin with the thirteenth letter of the alphabet - muscular and melodic.  The little band that could from Calgary made waves when their self-titled LP on Sub Pop detonated in 1996.  Piledriving, fun, tight, and eminently powerful, Chixdiggit! was composed of every iota of these aesthetics, which coincidentally or not worked wonders for Chix key inspirational antecedents, The Ramones.  A crush of guitars, KJ Jansen's bratty prose, and an unyielding, propulsive rhythm section made this Canadian quartet keepers, and after imbibing their full length a few dozen times I was itching to hear more. I took it upon myself to do a little backtracking, and I obtained their 1995 7", Best Hung Carrot in the Fridge on the Nanaimo, BC Lance Rock label.  The title track, a cheeky but bracing punk pop ditty concerning ones...let's say, nether regions, was nothing short of the finest 126 seconds of tuneage I had encountered this side of anything on Flip Your Wig.  Not a nanosecond is wasted, and Chixdiggit's surge of power-chords and hooks won't relent to save your life (not that you'd want 'em to of course).  "Best Hung Carrot" was backed by two songs including a punchy rendition of George Michael's "Faith."  I'm presenting the 1999 CD reissue of the single in question, which pads on five bonus tracks entailing among others the popular Chixdiggit! demo, "I Should Have Played Football in High School."

01. Best Hung Carrot in the Fridge
02. Grungebaby
03. Faith
04. I Should Have Played Football in High School
05. Mila, Caroline and Me
06. King of Kensington
07. Church
08. My Debutante


Sunday, January 8, 2017

I'm waitin' for the record sale.

A double-barreled, Ramonesy assault from down under.  This compilation purloins the best from this Aussie outfit's 1990-93 recordings.


Pixies - Gone to Heaven live 12-22-91

Given that this will sell itself, I'll keep the text brief.  I never subscribed to the notion that the Pixies peaked on their first two albums, Surfer Rosa and Doolittle, urgent and incendiary as they were.  Their final album with the original Francis/Deal/Santiago/Lovering lineup, Trompe le Monde was hardly a slouch, surging from one euphioric blast to another.  This live boot captures the Pixies at the nadir of what was expected to be their final run (an ongoing reunion would commence in 2004).  They hardly shied away from the then-current Trompe... material, and the gig was all the stronger for it (though they really should've shoehorned "Planet of Sound" somewhere into the setlist).

01. Rock Music
02. Cecilia Ann
03. Gouge Away
04. Motorway to Roswell
05. Alec Eiffel
06. Velouria
07. Crackity Jones
08. Distance Equals Rate Times Time
09. Manta Ray
10. Mental Dance
11. Lovely Day
12. Subacultcha
13. Letter to Memphis
14. Palace of the Brine
15. Ed is Dead
16. Wave of Multilation
17. Monkey Gone to Heaven
18. Bird Dream of the Olympus Mons

MP3  or  FLAC

Saturday, January 7, 2017

V/A - Best of the blog mix 2016.

Well, I'm about a week tardy in dispensing my annual distillation of the creme de la creme of my presentations from the year just passed.  If you discount all of the temporary "Mystery Monday" entries, I shared approximately 140 titles in 2016, down a good hundred or so from say, three years ago.  I'm getting more slack, and I don't reckon that 2017 will be the year I rebound, but we'll see.  No less than eighteen of the 23 selections this hypothetical mix-tape involves came to market in the 1980s, illustrating just what a fertile and rewarding decade that was.  I've been hip to some of the names on this roster for what seems like an eternity - the Dangtrippers, Wishniaks and The Ocean Blue, while others like the Water Walk, Grey Parade, Beef People and Gone Daddy Finch made their way onto my sonar a lot more recently.

I sequenced the music from mellow to mid tempo to decidedly heftier and freewheeling, employing a similar build up schematic that I have in years passed.  There are going to be fluctuations in volume MP3 bitrates, that I didn't have the opportunity to balance out, so my apologies in advance.  I've hyperlinked the artist names to take you directly to the original entries.  Enjoy this veritable feast of ones and zeros, and of course, don't be a stranger.
01. The Water Walk - Anyways
02. Dream Academy - Poised on the Edge of Forever (early vers)*
03. Ocean Blue - Vanity Fair (1988 demo)
04. Beef People - Fragile
05. The Upbeats - The Laser Beam Boys
06. Psychic Archie - No Pictures of Dad*
07. Fossil - Martyr's Wife
08. Christmas - Stupid Kids
09. Reaction Formation - Teenage Jesus
10. Lovers Under Pressure - Epitaph
11. Wishniaks - Point of No Return
12. Gone Daddy Finch - Sunshine Sister
13. Dangtrippers - When Time Runs Out
14. Drones - Red
15. Trunk - Sunbake
16. UV Prom - Upper Room
17. Figure 5 - I Get Lonely
18. Grey Parade - Flags Are Burning
19. Dead Neighbors - The Ultimate Goal
20. The Restless - The Contender
21. Rolls Rock - Peggye's on Qualudes
22. Flys - 16 Down
23. The Sweat - You Gotta Lotta Nerve

*previously unshared


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Didjits - Signifies My Go-T tape (1986). R.I.P. Doug Evans

Word went around New Year's Eve that Didjit's bassist Doug Evans passed away at the age of 53.  Evans constituted one third of the Champaign by-way-of Mattoon, IL's punk-n-roll legends, whose penchant was sardonic yet nothing short of euphoric.   The Rick Simms-led combo tapped out in the mid-90s on the heels of their 1993 LP, Que Sirhan SirhanTouch & Go Records has kept the band's five albums and one ep in print (if only in the cloud), but prior to their debut, Fizzjob, the Didjits christened their high-octane enterprise with a series of demo tapes, one of which I'm making available here. On these nascent 1986 recordings the barnstorming trio have all their bricks
in a row, with the mortar to follow in a few years time on exponentially more sophisticated platters like Hey Judestar and Hornet PinataSignifies My Go-T is but one of three early cassettes included in the Didjits Wikipedia discography, original copies of which must be rarer than hens teeth.

A Gofundme donation til has been established to help defray Doug Evans end of life expenses.  You can read more about the Didjits here.  The link for their semi-offical live album, Backstage Passout has been revived as well.

01. Jerry Lee
02. Stumpo Knee Grinder
03. Shavehead Monkey Duster
04. One Dead Hippy
05. Signifies My Go-T
06. Jumbo Macho Big
07. See My Scar
08. Pet Funeral
09. (Ridin Your) Train
10. Fix Some Food Bitch
11. Do Smiles Give You Away
12. What Gives You the Right


Sunday, January 1, 2017

He hands the drill to his son, and he says "go to it."

The second b-sides and rarities collection from an indie rock institution.  Includes Magnetic Fields, Motorhead and Verlaines covers all within the span of about an hour.  Will wonders ever cease?