Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Paul Westerberg - 54 Minutes of Your Time Life (2008)

Hey.  It's going to be at least another 24 hours until I can get something more formal up on these pages, but to tide you over, here is a download of Paul Westerberg's internet only demos collage from 2008.  It was dubbed 49:00, and it was exactly that length, showcasing 24 unreleased songs all smooshed into one MP3 that was available very temporarily from Amazon downloads.  It's been available to stream on YouTube, and I believe even Soundcloud since then, but here's your chance to grab it for your MP3 emitting device or computer, phone, whatever, and you won't have to worry about eating up your monthly 4G allotment.  Hot on the heels of 49:00 came the companion 505, offering a mere five minutes (or so) of music, and that's included in the folder as well.

The full tracklist and spiel is available here.


Sunday, January 28, 2018

Crying all my life. This straight jacket fits alright.

Released in 1995 and consisting of singles and non-LP treasures from '92 to '93.  Few bands have donned the indie rock crown this gracefully since.


Hangtime - Invictus Melodius (2017) - A brief review

Will wonders never cease?  Toronto denizens Hangtime slipped off my radar entirely since they dropped their debut Plug In, way back in the 2010.  That record impressed my punk-pop sensibilities aplenty, signaling the band's (and my) mutual affection for the likes of the Doughboys and All.  In fact, it's a love affair that stated for them in the mid-90s via their predecesor band who I've also featured on these pages, Shortfall.  The front-man contingent of Hangtime features Shortfall alum Warren Gregson and Rock Burns, carrying over from Plug In.  And speaking of things carrying over to their belated follow-up, Invictus Melodious (loosely translated from Latin to: melodically invincible) the same spirit and verve is largely intact, despite the seven year layover.

Their aptitude not only reflects the comparisons I rattled off above, but to a certain extent the stable of powerful yet tuneful combos that graced the rosters of such renown labels as Epitaph and Fat, specifically those active during the Clinton-era.  Hangtime don't go out of their way to reinvent the wheel, but they very well may have tweaked a spoke or three on the roiling opener "Let It Be," sounding like the best thing Goo Goo Dolls haven't churned out in a good twenty-years.  It's an intimidating act to follow, and often, Invictus... doesn't really feel like it's heated up to full boil until mid-album, but once addictive slammers like "Trust In Me" and "Alone" careen into your ear canal there's no going back.  They even save the best for last on the concluding "Lost," which I'm willing to declare as their finest three-and-a-half minute salvo to date.

Invictus Melodious is yours to have, hold and listen to over at Hangtime's Bandcamp outpost where a physical CD is available in addition to download, plus you have your usual digital vendors iTunes and Amazon

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Odd Numbers - "Holiday" 7" (1996, Side1)

In the mid '90s Odd Numbers' singles and compilation appearances were ubiquitous, especially if you frequented indie retailers.  Not only were their records common, but at the time my ears found the Odd Numbers as a sort of by-the-numbers proposition, whose riff-heavy power pop wasn't too dissimilar to the likes of the Smugglers, and to a lesser degree, the Fastbacks.  In short, my fickle ears weren't having it, at least not at the time anyway.  Fast forward a couple decades, when a bargain priced copy of their 1996 wax, "Holiday" made it into my shopping bag on one of my music plundering excursions. Truth be told, it was their spin on the Buzzcocks "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't Have?") went a long way in getting me through the door here, and I'm glad I stepped foot inside, because the Numbers were significantly more worthy than I recalled.  Hard to believe I was so dismissive of them, because both original composition on this 45, "Holiday" and "If I Only Had You," are kinetic and inspired as-all-get-out.  These tunes sort of exist in a nexus between their fellow colleagues the Figgs and Parasites, and that's phenomenal company to be in.  I'm going to have to get caught up on this trio at some point in the very near future.

BTW, the Odd Numbers reconvened last year with a new album and single to show for it.

A. Holiday
B1. If I Only Had You
B2. Ever Fallen in Love?


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Wooden Igloo - s/t (1989, Broken)

The rather panic-y visage adorning this album jacket belies a tamer and often romantically thoughtful modus operandi from this long-departed New Hampshire crew.  Wooden Igloo had something a little fuzzier than punk rock in mind, both in terms of their sonic palette and overarching sentiments.  It wouldn't be too far of a leap to speculate the band had warmed-up to the strains of then contemporaries, the Replacements, but this Igloo was constructed via sparser and humbler DIY means.  Faint resemblances to New Zealand pop-niks Toy Love and Yankee indie scenesters like the Magnolias and Junk Monkeys might make themselves evident here, but are likely sheer coincidence.  Something of a slow buildup, Wooden Igloo's finer moments predominantly seem to occupy side two, but "You're My Girl" is a cheeky tale of a fellow who's grateful for his better half's financial support.

01. You're My Girl
02. Turning Gray
03. When I'm With You
04. Night Time
05. My Marie
06. Walk Away
07. Save Me
08. Lost Weekend


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Loomis - How Much is Too Much (1999, Sun, Sea, Sky)

This one is a tad belated.  Make that eight years belated.  Then again, demand for Loomis has been limited as best, even when they were active in the mid/late '90s.  I'm following up on an entry I did for them in 2009 for the first and only proper album, You're No Tiger, Meow, Meow, Meow which dates back to 1996.  Back in the day, those who took notice of these Madison, WI gents were treated to the quartet's sobering, but muscular brand of thoughtful indie rock, that really did bring the rock on most occasions.  Well, in addition to that seemingly "lone" LP was this exhaustive 34 song compendium of singles and mostly unreleased material, damn near three albums worth to be exact.  The brief sleeve notes fail to provide recording dates, but it's safe to say that some of their earliest recordings are situated at the beginning of disk two.  Loomis apparently began life as pop-punk aficionados, and during this phase of their tenure, they came up with raw, Husker Du and Doughboys informed assaults like "Boxspring," "Spoke" and "Beige."

In my earlier piece on Loomis, I observed sonic similarities to their Chapel Hill, NC contemporaries Small 23.  That same observations applies to much of the remainder of How Much..., but these guys tinged the brunt of their handiwork with bittersweet inflections, stopping far shy of gloomy or maudlin.  It's a formula that worked well to their advantage on the relatively subdued "Twinkle Toes" and "Liberace."  Regardless of what mode the band chose to revel in, the real beauty of How Much is Too Much, is the sheer quantity and quality of material offered.  Before you make room for this on your hard drive, you can sample all of it on Bandcamp (who for some reason aren't offering HMITM as a download).  If you're brand new to these guys, do check out the aforementioned You're No Tiger... LP as well.

Disk 1
01. pillow
02. liberace
03. beige
04. two inches deep
05. down
06. elo
07. lunch tuck
08. paper mache
09. she moves like a lazy susan
10. home/a piece of resistence
11. secret asian man
12. when i move
13. win!
14. hookers
15. twinkle toes
16. butterbean
17. i'm a reader

Disk 2
01. girl of your choice
02. spoke
03. wait inside
04. chop suey
05. names and words
06. boxspring
07. rototiller
08. chunks
09. twerp
10. clerk
11. ballad of a handgun
12. untitled number one  
13. train
14. iriwn am
15. hi-tech swimpsuit
16. i don't speak porpoise
17. untitled number two


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Pterodactyls - We've Done it Now ep (1987, Meltdown)

I feel like a bit of a scavenger when I usurp a piece of music from, say, a file sharing platform, and share it without being in possession of a physical copy myself.  Then again, I'm usually getting it for free, and passing it along to you likewise, so maybe I'm just...blathering.  The Pterodactyls ep is a case in point, so I'd be remiss if I didn't thank whomever went to the trouble of digitizing this utterly scarce record.  The tiny label responsible for it, Meltdown, was based in Palmerston North, on the northern island of New Zealand.

This clangy, post-punk quartet tracked their entire ep in one day in 1987 in Auckland.  It sounds like some degree of local cross-pollination was at hand here, and it wouldn't be unwise to suspect the Pterodactyls may have been keen on the Bats and Tall Dwarfs, not to mention some other winged clergy on the Flying Nun roster.  It would have been really interesting to see where these lads might have taken things on subsequent releases, but I think this was their sole outing.  Brief as their catalog was, you'd be wise to console yourself with the poignantly melodic "Germs," We've Done It Now's should-have-been greatest hit.

BTW, Meltdown Records was home to a couple of other bands whose records (or at the very least, MP3s) I'm anxious to get a hold of.  If anyone can tip me off to such long lost Kiwis as Three Leaning Men and the Remarkables, by all means get in touch!  You'll be rewarded handsomely for your efforts.

01. Cockroaches
02. Ode
03. Germs
04. Gravel Pit
05. Born Again


Sunday, January 14, 2018

And will the whole damned world fall down...

A comprehensive two disk round-up from a dapper, '80s Brit contingent that managed to keep a relatively low profile. 


Saturday, January 13, 2018

A Witness - Sacred Cow Heart (1986, Twilight/Ron Johnson)

1986 was a doubly good year to be a fan of The Fall - but even die hard acolytes may have been out of the loop.  That year, not only did the band release Bend Sinister, but an unrelated cabal of Fall protegees from Manchester, A Witness, dropped an LP of their own, specifically this one.  Mere footnotes to Mark E. Smith and Co., A Witness nonetheless bore an uncanny resemblance to their inspiration antecedents - right down to the vocals and oblique lyrical motifs in fact.  Sacred Cow Heart (released in the UK as I Am John's Pancreas) is a challenging, but thankfully not altogether off-putting piece of avant rock.  Beefheart-ian monikerd, post-punk salvos like "Smelt Like a Pedestrian" and "Nodding Dog Moustache" weren't exactly grist for the pop radio mill, but the latter for example, boasts a near-irresistible groove and swagger.  And the Fall had precious little in their teaming oeuvre that satisfied as instantly as Witness' "Raw Patch" and "Red Snake."  Even a couple of failed experiments on Sacred Cow don't diminish it's overall effectiveness, though like the Fall,  A Witness' prevailing tenor won't be for everyone.

01. Smelt Like a Pedestrian
02. Red Snake
03. Dipping Bird
04. Sharpened Stick
05. The Loudhailer Song
06. Faglane Morris Wind
07. Nodding Dog Moustache
08. Raw Patch
09. Legs Be Sturdy
10. Hard Days Love


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Blue Peter - Up to You ep (1982, Ready)

Not to be confused with the cartoon of the same name, Blue Peter were a Toronto pop/wave export who in the '80s made waves in their home country, albeit registering mere ripples in the States.   Up to You was one of their later releases, but not a bad place to start if you're getting your feet wet.  The EP is bookended by it's title track, and a variation thereof for the finale.  I really dislike flaunty, trumpet-laced dance rock, which "Up to You" is sadly steeped in, but the four songs ensconced in between, range anywhere from good to excellent.  One of their signature titles, "Chinese Graffiti" brandishes an irresistible power-pop hook.  Unpredictably, "Graffiti" segues into the comparatively dark and "Guilty Secret," an edgy number reminiscent of the Comsat Angels.  And "The World Stops Here" illustrates that Blue Peter's reach should have extended far beyond Canada, and I'm sure for awhile it probably looked like that scenario could have transpired.

As goes heavy ringwear on the jacket, so goes the fidelity of the record, and this one is no exception.  I did my level best to tamp down some of the surface noise, but plenty of crackle is evident.  If it's an unblemished listen you desire you can check out Blue Peter aplenty over at their Soundcloud hovel. 

01. Up to You
02. Chinese Graffiti
03. Guilty Secret
04. Around You
05. The World Stops Here
06. Up to U


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Drink me like a case of wine...

From 1993.  If this record isn't conducive to the icy throes of winter I don't know what is.


Saturday, January 6, 2018

V/A - Propeller tape (1981, Propeller)

The tale of the tape - and a tricky one at that.  Let's see...well, I only learnt of this comp some three decades after it was released.  Found it browsing on Ebay, at a pretty reasonable price I might add.  The Neats were absolutely the draw for me.  And much like the Neats, every other participant on here was based in Boston (or thereabouts).  I wasn't familiar with anybody else on Propeller, but the concept of cassette-only compilations is as precious to me today as it was in the '80s.  So, I went ahead and did the buy-it-now thing.  Picked it up at the P.O. box a week or so later and had my way with it - or at least I assumed I would.   Propeller lifted off with a bang by way of a delightfully serrated punk-pop salvo, "The Law" by Art Yard. Catchy as all-get-out I thought to myself, and I hadn't even gotten to the first Neats tune ("Do the Things") yet.  I did a few minutes later and accompanying it was a discernibly squeaky noise, which only made itself more evident and aggravating as the tape progressed.  After having similar results in the other well of my cassette deck and even my car stereo, I chalked the problem up to being a worn-out tape.  I never asked for a refund because I had no desire to return it.  It was still a great little curio.

As it turns out, I learned this week that all copies of Propeller suffered from the identical defect as mine.  Per comments on Discogs:

Yes, all copies are defective, but it's not damage, per se, it has to do with a flaw in the binder between the magnetic surface and the backing. Even if you can play the first couple of songs, eventually the surface starts peeling away from the backing and you get this screeching noise.

It goes onto mention that the master tapes were lost in a fire...but someone must have made a backup, because a corrected version of the entire album recently found it's way online from an unknown source.  It was my original intention to share Propeller with you many years ago, but the faulty condition of my tape would have made that impossible.  Now that it's thankfully been remedied, not so much.

Ironically, the band I mentioned a few paragraphs back, Art Yard, were the least artsiest of the bunch here.  Nonetheless, idiosyncratic and art-damaged post-punk reigns on Propeller - some dissonant and tuneless (CCCP TV and Wild Stares), but elsewhere, V: and Dangerous Birds exude comparatively warmer hues.  As for the Neats tunes, "Do the Things" and the live "Another Broken Dream" are fairly nascent and formative, but if you enjoyed their albums on Ace of Heart Records I wouldn't hesitate to partake in these tracks.

01 Art Yard - The Law
02 People In Stores - Cat and Mouse
03 Neats - Do The Things
04 Chinese Girlfriends - Let's Be Creative
05 CCCP-TV - Follow It Through
06 V: - Ich Liebe
07 White Women - Midge
08 Wild Stares - No Escape
09 Lori Green - Town Without Pity
10 V: - In The Suburbs Of The City Of Pain
11 Wild Stares - China Song
12 CCCP-TV - Downtown Address
13 Dangerous Birds - Catholic Boy
14 Lori Green - She Won't Hear You_Pink Dress
15 People In Stores - Cheap Detective
16 Art Yard - Something In Your Eyes
17 Neats - Another Broken Dream


Thursday, January 4, 2018

A slight case of overblogging - Best of the blog mix 2017.

2017 was probably my least prolific year on these pages, and quite frankly, on many occasions I felt a self-inflicted flogging was in order (metaphorically, of course).  Yet after assembling this compendium of highlights, not only is it my opportunity to offer you a "shortcut" or a taster, or whatever, it became apparent that the past year wasn't quite as fruitless as I was wont to convince myself.  In fact, despite 2017's relative deficiency of content, this 25 song exercise turned out to be one of my most cohesive and gratifying collections to date, bejeweled with some pretty seismic left-off-the-dial nuggets.  There's a bevy of tunes from excellent one-album-wonder outfits like the Casual T's, Holiday Slides, Suburban Sprawl, Cement Trampoline, Plasterscene Replicas and the Fingers that were worth tuning in for alone.  And how about not one, but two paeans to the nation of Canada, courtesy of the Ceedee's and Macchu Picchu?

You're also getting perfect tens from the likes of Fire Town, Chixdiggit, The Fingers, and Fudge, not to mention true-blue obscuros Red Buckets, Squirrels From Hell, Our American Cousins, and The Clamheads.  As has been tradition, I'm tacking on a handful of tunes that haven't been made available previously.  Real beauts too, like a primo, non-LP prize from the Pezband, and a vintage, unreleased kernel from Guided By Voices.  And lend an ear to Rebel Waltz, a bygone Wisconsin punk-pop quartet, whose glorious Rubber Walls LP has been reissued digitally.

01. The Reels - Prefab Heart
02. Macchu Picchu - Canada
03. Pezband - Waiting in Line*
04. Cement Trampoline - Pushing the Panic Button
05. Soup - Hangin' Out With Myself
06. Chixdiggit - Best Hung Carrot in the Fridge
07. Rebel Waltz - Highway of Doom*
08. Our American Cousins - Ice 9
09. Side Effects - French Forest
10. Squirrels From Hell - Cinderella Girl
11. Holiday Slides - The Fall of Rome
12. Glass Penguins - Out of the Rain
13. Seven Simons - Lavendar Bubbles
14. The Pony - Broken Kites
15. Suburban Sprawl - Serious
16. Casual T's - Rose Colored World
17. One Plus Two - Much More
18. Red Buckets - Palm Sunday
19. Plasterscene Replicas - What Could Be Incomplete
20. Fudge - Patty Hearst Machine Gun
21. Fire Town - She Reminds Me of You
22. The Clamheads - Everybody Loves Me Cept You
23. Fingers - Too Young
24. Ceedees - Patriotic Song
25. GBV - Tell Me*

* = Appearing for the first time.


Monday, January 1, 2018

Night was her best companion I've heard it told.

A debut album that turns 28 this year.