Thursday, May 31, 2018

Röövel Ööbik ‎- History Of The U.S.S.R. ep (1989, Stupido)

And we have our first Estonian entry.  For reals yo.  Röövel Ööbik wafted their way onto my radar a couple years ago, most likely through a genre search on Ebay, but I can't recall for certain.  Their moniker translates to "Robber Nightingale."  Going by the sleeve art and brief liner notes, it appears Röövel fancied their ethos as punk, yet from the sound of it they seemed to take a shine to American indie rock, angling towards the lo-fi and to a lesser extent, emo variations thereof.  Delivering their lines in an apparent merger of Estonian and English automatically lends some mystique to this quartet, however this chip off the 'ol Soviet bloc has a unique sonic aesthetic to boot, often rich in sweet ringing guitar lines and fuzzy distortion.

To get an idea of where Röövel Ööbik's heads were at in terms of a social conscience at the time of this recording, check out this blurb from the record insert:

Estonia has been for over 50 years a part of the Sovjet Union, thanks to Hitler-Stalin pact.  It is only now that they have started to claim their lost independence back.  And one good weapon is always music.

Was this little 'ol record part of that collective "weapon" that helped bring down the Berlin Wall in 1989?  Probably not, but it's pretty inviting nonetheless, particularly the second cut in, "The Dead Ones."  Things unravel on History's caterwaul of a closer “Handguide to Happiness,” but I wouldn't let that dissuade you from passing this ep up.  Believe it or not, there's more to be had from Röövel on Amazon downloads.

My apologies for the fairly discernible skip in the midst of the title track.  I was unable to adequately remedy it.

01. History Of The U.S.S.R.
02. The Dead Ones
03. C'mon Cheri
04. God Morning
05. Handguide to Happiness


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Cry - s/t (1980, RCA)

I'm not sure if the then-ascendant Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson made a genuine impression on this Canuck five-some, or if these guys mined a little bit of their collective panache to hop onto the bandwagon.  In any event, The Cry certainly sound sincere, wielding a blue collar penchant with something resembling a poignant romantic aptitude.  The band these fellows most immediately remind me of are the tragically obscure A's, a Philly combo who were in existence simultaneously to The Cry.  The Elvis comparison is all the more obvious when Robo MacPherson gets the frequent urge to pound on some very organ-y sounding keys.  Another wrinkle is frontman Kimball Fox, whose timbre occasionally recalls Tom Petty, but that could well be a coincidence.   While not a front-to-back embarrassment of riches, The Cry by and large make their debut count, and it just might compel you to investigate the rest of their catalog, which from what I can tell entails two more LPs.

PS: Track three is a Kinks tune.

01. Crackdown
02. Something Like That
03. I'm Not Like Everybody Else
04. Last Laugh
05. Guitar
06. Can't Get Close
07. You
08. Razor's Edge
09. Little Sister
10. Who Cares


Sunday, May 27, 2018

We all got balls and brains, but some's got balls and chains.

The zaniest and perhaps greatest covers album ever. 


Saturday, May 26, 2018

Tinted Windows - The Bat Bar, Austin 3/21/09, SXSW

Two members of the short lived and briefly hallowed Tinted Windows had legit power pop bona fides to their credit - Bun E. Carlos from Cheap Trick, and Adam Schlesinger, courtesy of Fountains of Wayne.  Yet the other half of this supergroup equation, James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins) and frontman Taylor Hanson (from you know where) came from backgrounds that weren't terribly off the mark, and they jumped into their respective rolls of guitarist and lead vocalist seamlessly.  Tinted Windows power pop premise was a simple but sturdy and effective one, and the quartet bashed out indelible three-chord salvos aplenty on what was to be their only album in 2009, which was something of a godsend coming on the heels of a decade of bad nu-metal and ostentatiously 'serious' indie rock.

This set was tracked from the band's March 2009 appearance at Austin's SXSW, just one month prior to the release of the Windows record.  The band resisted what must have been at least a moderate urge to backtrack and dole out material from their more renown endeavors, but instead, they stuck strictly to originals, and good on them for that.  All the hits are here - "Can't Get a Read on You," "Cha Cha," and of course "Kind of a Girl."  Boogie til you puke ya'll.

01. Take Me back
02. Can't Get a Read on You
03. Without Love
04. Dead Serious
05. Messing With My Head
06. Back With You
07. Cha Cha
08. We Got Something
09. Nothing to Me
10. Kind of a Girl
11. The Dirt (aka Sensitive Information)
+ a bonus studio cut


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Basic English - Images of Love 7" (1988)

Dare I say this band's collective hairdos preceded them (not to mention the music)?  Truth be told, this bygone Canadian export weren't nearly as edgy or enthused as their appearance.  Looking like a glammed-up hybrid of U2 and the Replacements, Basic English's equation tallied out to be loosely akin to what the Rolling Stones were responsible for around the same era, albeit with less charm and an even greater deficiency of effectiveness.  The ballad-esque "Images of Love" could pass for a weak Tattoo You or Undercover outtake, while it's bluesier and snappier flip-side "Outside the Law" incorporates a reasonable amount of rhythm and sway, even going to the trouble of throwing in a little harmonica.  Two years after this single dropped, Basic English were scooped up by a major label, and an LP, Sweet Panic ensued.  I wouldn't mind hearing it, but paying for it is another matter. 

A. Images of Love
B. Outside the Law


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Ten Ten - Ordinary Thinking (1984)

I encountered Ten Ten's sophomore album, Walk On, very briefly several years back, and could have sworn they were on something of a power pop tip.  Maybe I had them confused with another band, because their debut, Ordinary Thinking found the combo on a slightly different wavelength, vaguely channeling U2.  There are some post-punk inklings at play on this one, but not nearly radical enough to dissuade or out-cool the more pedestrian audience Ten Ten seemed to be angling for.  Frontman Mark Lewis is a dead ringer for Cactus World News mouthpiece, Eoin McEvoy, but likely a coincidence as Cactus was barely in their infancy at the time.  Sonically, T/T weren't far removed from their Irish contemporaries, evidenced by the tingly guitar splay exuded on some of Ordinary's livelier numbers, like "Giving In" and "Four Pieces."  If you enjoyed the Epic Rumors record I put up a few years back, this is thoroughly along the same lines, and is sure to be a welcome addition on your hard drive.

01. Tell the World
02. All You Want
03. Look In My Eyes
04. Your Word
05. Ordinary Thinking
06. Four Pieces
07. Giving In
08. Doesn't it Seem Strange
09. In the End


Sunday, May 20, 2018

No clue.

One of 2011's best debuts. 


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Antenna - Sleep ep (1992) & For Now ep (1993)

Antenna *sigh*.  Essentially the Blake Babies sans their most effective ingredient, ex-frontwoman Juliana Hatfield.  John Strohm and Freda (Boner) Love just weren't enough of a selling point.  Antenna lasted for two albums (Sway and Hideout), and a pair of eps, the latter of which you're getting here.  In an era of aggro, flanneled machismo and sheik/brash Brit exports, Antenna, with their relatively linear guitar pop m.o. hardly stood a chance.  Along the same lines as contemporaries Best Kissers in the World, the band placed integrity on the front burner - and sorta got burned themselves.  Antenna's tunes deserved a better fate, and to your good fortune you can hear eight of them here (actually, more like seven since "Wall Paper" appears on both eps in slightly altered incarnations...but who's counting.  The Sleep ep concludes with a fairly straightforward reading of Wire's "Outdoor Miner."  Enjoy (or not).

Sleep ep
01. Sleep
02. All I Need
03. Wall Paper
04. Outdoor Miner

For Now ep
01. For Now
02. Wall Paper
03. Swoon
04. Given Way


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Harvey Street - What About George? ep (1995, Spinning)

Yet another cold case, this one ostensibly originating from Massachusetts.  Harvey Street were a rough hewn riff-savvy quartet whose m.o. wasn't particularly innovative, yet they possessed an amateurish bent and an all-important quotient of potential.  If combos like the Figgs and Big Drill Car do the trick for you, H/S have that sorta angle going for them, but those vague likenesses are likely more coincidental than not.  Per Discogs, What About George? was their only wax. Unfortunate that, because subsequent and perhaps more developed albums might have been exponentially better than this already fine start.

01. Screwed
02. Tables Gonna Turn
03. Things Have Changed
04. Things Have Changed (version)


Sunday, May 13, 2018

I'm not a fruit machine, a nineteen sixties dream...

Here's one song you've heard...and about twenty you haven't.


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians - 11/22/85 Atlanta, GA

I'm a little pressed for time, so this write-up is going to be on the short side.  Then again, one doesn't have to extrapolate much when selling a Robyn Hitchcock live set.  And this one really is a peach, featuring the man in question not long after his stint with the Soft Boys wrapped up.  There are a handful of SB tunes in the show, but the bulk of the set consists of material from Robyn's especially grand early solo outings like I Often Dream of Trains and Black Snake Diamond Role.  Some truly cult classics here as well, like "My Wife and My Dead Wife," "Uncorrected Personality Traits," and "Bells of Rhymney."  Sounds like this was culled from a board tape or a well above-average audience recording.  Enjoy.

01. Kingdom of Love
02. America
03. Cars She Used to Drive
04. My Wife and My Dead Wife
05. Only the Stones Remain/Queen of Eyes
06. Man With the Light bulb Head
07. Strawberry Mind
08. I'm Only You
09. Acid Bird
10. Where are the Prawns?
11. President
12. Brenda's Iron Sledge
13. Heaven
14. I Often Dream of Trains
15. Uncorrected Personality Traits
16. Listening to the Higsons
17. Bells of Rhymney


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Too Much Education - s/t (1988)

This synth-enhanced DIY effort would rank as pretty miscellaneous if it weren't for Abe Glazer's spoke/sung tact and dry sardonic wit.  Too Much Education's puts his premise front and center, one that is sure to illicit cheers or jeers...and not a whole lot in between.  Side one concludes with the winsome, "Nuclear Days," featuring guest vocalist, Laurie Stapinski.  This relatively satisfactory number makes me wish she had been on the mic for the entirety of the record, but Education's flip side fares better than the first, with Glazer embracing sweeter guitar tones on "You're Not Too Old" and the genteel post-punk finale "Knobs."  If you dig stuff along the lines of Agitpop, TME just might be your bag.

01. Not Ready
02. Don't Fall in Love
03. Honesty
04. Nuclear Days
05. You're Not Too Old
06. Bungee Girl
07. Modem Head
08. Knobs


Sunday, May 6, 2018

I was raised here and I'll die, underneath this Georgia sky.

The third and final album from this beloved deep south trio.