Sunday, September 30, 2018

When I met you on the outskirts of town...

So you wanna know what Vaporwave is all about?  Of course you do.  I've got two prime examples for you below. 


Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Swimming Pool Q's - Pow Wow Hour rarities 1982-86.

More request fulfillment.  I didn't have much of a relationship with the Swimming Pool Q's music during their '80s heyday.  In fact, you might argue that they didn't have much of a heyday at all at least not commercially, but on their two albums for A&M (1984's self-titled effort and Blue Tomorrow a couple years later) they made a noble run for the big time.  A coed quintet from Atlanta, the Q's favored forward-thinking rock with rootsy undercurrents and themes that often reflected the dichotomies of operating as such in the deep south.  

In 2013, A&M reissued the band's output for the label in a limited edition CD collection.  The deluxe variant of this set included alongside the aforementioned records, an hour-long compendium of b-sides, outtakes and such all funneled under the title of Pow Wow Hour.  Only problem was, the packaging fell a bit short and shoddy, and nowhere in the liner notes is the rarities portion mentioned or acknowledged.  Translation: I can't tell you much of anything about where these songs were originally derived from, other than the time period of the mid-80s.  Listening to it however, you do get a sense of the Q's diverse aplomb and overall tenor as a band with mainstream crossover potential, albeit with enough stubborn integrity to ensure they never sounded like a slick product of their era. 

I'm not sure if I'm going to share the proper albums themselves at some point, as they might still be available from the usual suspects, but I'm pretty certain that the Pow Wow Hour tracks are unavailable at this point.  Enjoy.

01. Power and Light
02. Baby Today
03. The Bells Ring
04. Fading Star
05. Purple Rivers
06. Baby Today
07. Pretty on the Inside
08. Think
09. She's Lookin' Real Good (When She's Lookin')
10. Last Goodbye
11. Blue Tomorrow
12. Tears of a Clown
13. Miss Sensitivity
14. 14-More Than One Heaven (Scott Litt Remix)
15. El Presidente
16. Make Me Bigger Than The U.S.A
17. More Than One Heaven (Jeff Vocal)


Friday, September 28, 2018

The McGuires - Start Breathing (1987, Righteous)

Recently had a request for this one.  The McGuires were a pop-centric San Francisco treat with something of an acoustic bent.  Think a more pedestrian Camper Van Beethoven with a few glints of Crowded House, and to an even lesser extent Aztec Camera and R.E.M.  On Start Breathing (apparently their one and only record) the McGuires launch a decidedly digestible and plaintive attack, but incorporate an ample amount of cheeky observations and heart, not to mention heightened tuneful sensibilities, acutely illustrated on "Russian Hill," "Talk About Love," and "Problem With Decision."  And in case you're wondering "TV Party" isn't the same tune as the Black Flag classic, but is pretty appealing in it's own right.

01. Talk About Love
02. TV Party
03. Looking Glass Neighbor
04. She's a Lawyer
05. Start Breathing
06. Just Pretend
07. Russian Hill
08. Problem With Decision
09. Let You Down
10. Eliahu
11. The Barbecue Song (Time to Go)
12. You Won't Find It


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Red - s/t ep (1986, Lost Moment)

Not to be confused with the American '80s band The Reds, the band we're dealing with today, The Red were obscuro Brit exports whose self titled EP was bifurcated into "fast" and slow" sides.  The "fast" tunes arrive on side A, and only rapid by sheer comparison to the other half of the coin.  Sounds like these guys were putting an Anglo spin on Stateside contemporaries Wire Train.  Not quite straightforward new wave, "Promises" and "Hell and Morning" are inviting, forward-thinking slices of modern rock rife with melody and ringing guitars.  Sorta predates what bands like the Ocean Blue and Then Jerico would soon have in mind.  "Sail Away," one of the slower pieces, is indeed more subdued, not to mention polished.  Overall this record is a solid thumbs up.

01. Promises
02. Hell and Morning
03. Sail Away
04. Conclusion Festival


Sunday, September 23, 2018

Dark clouds are moving in, dogs howl out in the wind...

Two late '80s albums from a Washington state quartet who have been defunct for a good two decades now.


Are these words distraction to the words you want to hear?

What would possess someone to gather up every single take and remix of U2's "Two Hearts Beat As One" and have it pressed to CD risking the repercussions a bootleg such as this might entail?  Not sure, but despite it's inherent redundancy I'm happy Two Hearts and Other Strange Things exists.  It's certainly not the most iconic song off of War, and for that matter it strikes me as a tad underwritten on certain listens.  Nonetheless, it's a perfect snapshot of Bono & Co's development since Boy and October, if not lyrically, sonically.  "Two Hearts..." delights with an alluring, bittersweet chorus hook and the chiming, jagged fretwork is quintessential Edge.  There's a semblance of restraint here that would expand exponentially on future U2 records, yet it doesn't cut the line completely with the band's earlier aesthetic.  In short, a downright respectable balance.

The thirteen variations of "Two Hearts" is followed up by a thirty minute extraction from a late '87 acoustic jam session with Bono and the Edge, fleshing out two new songs we never saw the finished versions of, plus previews of "Heartland" and "Van Diemen's Land" songs that would soon crop up on Rattle and Hum

Two Hearts Beat as One - thirteen versions
01. vocal session take
02. vocal rough take 1
03. instrumental alt take
04. alternate vocal take 1
05. alternate vocal take
06. vocal mix take
07. vocal rough take 2
08. vocal classic mix take 1
09. vocal classic mix take 2
10. instrumental classic take
11. vocal dance take
12. instrumental dance take
13. avantgarde mix take

14. acoustic jam session, Nov 1987


Friday, September 21, 2018

X-Teens - Big Boy's Dreams ep (1980, Moonlight)

I've been meaning to post this for awhile as a follow-up to the X-Teens LP I shared a good four years ago.  This co-ed NC five piece come armed with a Wurlitzer (or some stripe of organ) and boy, did they know how to wield that sucker!  The preceding Big Boy's Dreams ep is cut from even brighter cloth than the full length, kicking off with "Johnny's Having Fun," sounding like the love child of early Go Go's and Pointed Sticks.  "Fragile Beings" is another inviting slice of DIY wave, but by far and away the real prize here is "Venus," a primo power-poppy nugget with nods to X-Teens overseas contemporaries Elvis Costello and the Freshies.  What I wouldn't do to have a band of this caliber around today. 

01. Johnny's Having Fun
02. Fragile beings
03. In a Grey Circus
04. Venus
05. Big Boy's Dreams


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Newsbreak - s/t ep (1983)

I'm down with the band, the frontman, not so much.  Tomy Brennan passes himself off as a goofy caricature of David Byrne, drooling all over everything with sardonic, amusingly unhinged vocals, that were so in vogue circa the era this record found it's way into the marketplace.  At the very least, the L.A.-based Newsbreak manged to redeem themselves with competent players like Richard Lo Guercio who peels off a bevy of dandy guitar leads alongside bassist brother Randy.  More 'modern rock' than 'wave,' exuding the faintest modicum of reggae, so slight it may not make it onto your radar.  This four songer closes out on a relative high note with "Hidden Eyes."

01. In Your Eyes
02. Why You Do Me
03. Victim
04. Hidden Eyes


Sunday, September 16, 2018

Everything won't be ok all the time...

From 1994.  Their first (or third) album, depending on how you're counting.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


Wednesday, September 12, 2018


Realistically, I'm probably not going to be able to post anything else for the remainder of the week.  Maybe on the weekend, but that's a slim chance.  In short, please stop back Monday.  Cheers.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Notes on new music: Bird Streets, Guadalcanal Diary, St. Lenox, Dot Dash & the Jeremy Band.

Here's a rundown of some new releases recently sent my way.

Throw a dart an any given project or musical entity Jason Falkner is associated with and if you’re don’t land precisely on the bulls-eye, anywhere in the near-vicinity is at the very least satisfactory.  John Brauder, an as-yet-to-be heralded singer/songwriter from New York was conscious of this as anyone.  Upon reaching out to Falkner (former mastermind of such vaunted outfits as Jellyfish and The Grays, not to mention Beck’s current road guitarist) with a fresh batch of songs in mind, the two settled on a new collaboration, ergo Bird Streets.  Neither party set out to reinvent the wheel here, and luckily they didn’t necessitate such an endeavor given Falkner’s penchant for rich, contrarian pop smarts and Brauder’s contemplative, albeit narrative prose.  At its most intoxicating, Bird Streets peels off resonant pearls in the guise of “Direction” and “Same Dream,” not only recalling channeling its two architects but just as rewardingly Nada Surf.  Likely a coincidence, but I’ll take it.

Guadalcanal Diary were one of the more neglected "should've made it" propositions of the '80s, and furthermore were a huge credit to the Georgia's already vibrant alt-rock milieu of the Reagan-era.  Murray Attaway and Co. were responsible for four full length albums, the last one, 1989's Flip Flop saw them depart on something of a flat note with a record that just didn't have the oomph a lot of fans were accustom to.  The band reconvened in the winter of 1998 for a two night stand in Atlanta, and were pleased enough with the results to commemorate the occasion, and perhaps Guadalcanal in general, with a privately released live record in '99, At Your Birthday Party.  It became a minor collector's item over the years, and is now enjoying a bona fide widespread release on Omnivore.  Say what you (or more, acurately I will) about their aforementioned lukewarm swan song, because I'll be damned if the fellas didn't cook live, even when running through some of the Flip-Flop's paces like "Pretty is As Pretty Does" and "The Likes of You."  The brunt of the record concentrates on earlier material, dipping all the way back to the independently released Watusi Rodeo ep.  Assertive and affirming Guadal classics "Litany (Life Goes On)," "Lips of Steel," and "Trail of Tears," among an assortment of others, are all present, accounted for, and brought back to shimmering life again.  ...Birthday Party is a primo bookend to GD's career, and truthfully, not a bad way to sample their legacy if you're a newbie.  Both this and Bird Streets are available now from Omnivore.

“You asked me what I like to do for fun in East Columbus, and I told you I wrote poetry to music in my mind” intones St. Lenox’s Andy Choi on “First Date.”  However, my friends, Choi is not your run of the mill poet cutting third rate material, rather a singular force of nature who’s back with his third spellbinding collection.  Possessed with a bellowing vocal range and a knack for stitching together verbose, cathartic diatribes that eschews mundane metrical composing (i.e. “rhyming”) entirely, the bard in question goes straight for the jugular.  Adopting a discernibly more stream-of-consciousness tact on this go-around, Ten Fables of Young Ambition and Passionate Love isn’t always as soaringly melodic as St Lenox 2015 debut, ...Memory and Hope.  Yet despite the fact that the hooks aren’t consistently frontloaded, you won’t mind chilling a few seconds longer as Choi waxes on a bouquet of romantic quandaries, and throws down a fever dreams's worth of cathartic, rapid-fire truisms throughout.  And pay close attention to the presumably semi-autobiographical “Gold Star,” which loosely analyzes why he isn’t keen on relinquishing his day job for the full time music career that St. Lenox fans (to our tortured chagrin) wish he would just finally embrace. Ten Fables is available September 28 from Anyway Records or Amazon.

But what, there's more.  Dot Dash have just dropped LP #6.  The D.C. area denizens whose antecedents lie in such esteemed indie rock conglomerations as Swervedriver, Tree Fort Angst, and Strange Boutique among others have been pumping out a deluge of strident, clangy power pop, with lite post-punk affectations (not to mention a solid dollop of wit) for almost a decade now, and Proto Retro is another sturdy link in the chain.  Dot Dash aren't ones to alter their recipe, as what they started with was downright effective.  One borderline anomaly on Proto I'd be remiss if I failed to mention is "TV/Radio," a fun, briskly paced cut with Anglo-punk leanings, briefly name-checking some rather recognizable public figures.  A video for "Unfair Weather" recently dropped here, and the album is available as we speak from The Beautiful Music and Amazon among other sources.

Last but not least, Portage, MI's finest son Jeremy Morris is back with a new collection of plaintively, pleasant guitar pop, in the guise of Joy Comes in the Morning.  Credited to his most recent ensemble, The Jeremy Band, the album is a continuation of his jangle-inflected, chin-up aesthetic that's as reliable as a rooster's morning croon.  Call it twelve, middle-aged symphonies to God (and otherwise) if you will.  And being it's a Jeremy record, the ageless hippie in him doles out his usual allotment of psych guitar treatments as well.  Joy Comes... is available now straight from Jam Records

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Tell those men with horses for hearts...

Debut from 1981.  Falls a few notches short of landmark status, but still a hell of a way to kick off a career that's still in progress.  Two bonus tracks on this one, the latter of which is an extremely scarce b-side.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


Friday, September 7, 2018

Swing Set - Life Speeds Up (1986, Blackberry Way)

When doing what research I could on this one, I discovered that Minneapolis' long defunct Swing Set ironically had something of recent posthumous profile boost, courtesy of the inclusion of this album's "Blackout" on an episode of Stranger Things.  The TV show in question, of course, is based in the '80s.  Otherwise, Swing Set hasn't exactly been on many lips.  Life Speeds Up is above average modern rock that's not particularly exotic, accented with keys that thankfully don't dominate in the way the band's era was  renown for.  I could certainly imagine these guys digging on the likes of SVT or some of the more pedestrian acts who roosted on 415 Records.  Pretty straightforward stuff but a solid listen.

01. Blackout
02. Laying Low
03. Runaway
04. Victim
05. Walking in the Night
06. Lost Track
07. The Dance
08. I'm On Fire
09. Rain on Our Parade
10. So Long


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Absolute Grey - Painted Post ep (1987, Midnight)

I was in for a bit of a shock when I first heard this one, expecting the same Absolute Grey who dazzled me (albeit posthumously) with their '84 debut, Green House.  The Rochester, NY co-eds' initial proposition was that of a neo-psych band, with ample nods to their west coast contemporaries the Dream Syndicate.  For the predominantly acoustic Painted Post, the quartet was paired down to Mitch Rasor on guitar and bass, and Beth Brown on the mic.  It's such a departure that I'm inclined to regard PP as less of an Absolute Grey record, and more of a solo vehicle for Brown.  Those observations aside, the record by and large succeeds on it's own premise of contemplative, unencumbered ballads that are virtually impossible not to appreciate...just don't expect much in the way of mystique or guitar feedback. 

01. Closer Apart
02. Painted Post
03. Gardens (remix)
04. Sylvia
05. Abandon Waltz
06. Fences


Sunday, September 2, 2018

Webster gave me light, Judy gave me poem...

The 1997 follow-up that bested his debut.

**Please do not reveal artist in comments!**


Zipgun - 8 Track Player (1992, Empty) & Baltimore (1993, Empty)

I can't believe I've neglected Zipgun this whole time, considering I've been listening to them waaaaay longer than I've been doing this site.  Anyway, even if they've evaded you're proverbial radar altogether you can be forgiven.  Every sweepstakes garners only a handful of winners, and this Seattle foursome finished well behind in the Emerald City's grunge/punk contest.  Not that they were deliberately pursuing the grunge angle (so far as I could tell) but they were plenty vigorous for the punk circuit.  And damn competent at it too, falling squarely in league with such contemporaries as Swallow, the Supersuckers, The Derelicts (of which Zip guitarist Neil Rogers was a member of) and even beloved Denver cousins the Fluid.  Zipgun's lifespan was accordingly brief as their catalog, which consisted of two full lengths and a clutch of singles.

8 Track Player hit the racks in 1992.  It's subterranean scumfuck quality was evident, but not overpowering.  Z'gun were undeniably groomed on Motorhead and Raw Power and not the latest NOFX offering.  Like the aforementioned acts they were akin to, Zipgun were upping the ante to something meatier and more potent than what proto-Warped Tour skate punks were getting off on.  Suggested (first) listening: "Together Dumb," "The End," and "Cool in the Cell."

Arriving just one year later, Baltimore is doubly more assertive, tighter and balls-out rockin' than the already blistering debut I just got telling you about.  I'm tempted to dole out some recommended selections, but this sucker is an all meat, no gristle affair.  Relentless in it's breakneck pace and muscular aptitude, you could argue that Baltimore served as a precursor to just around the bend speed punks like Zeke and REO Speedealer.  As for the album sleeve, I'm really not sure what the hell Zipgun had in mind, but it sorta works.  More info available on Wikipedia.

8 Track Player
01. Forward
02. Down in the Hole
03. Together Dumb
04. The End
05. Hallway
06. Ego a Go-Go
07. Put Me Away
08. Cool in the Cell
09. Third Prize
10. Feel it Wearin'
11. Can't Think Straight
12. 10
13. Chase the Ace
14. Backwards

01. Long Hot Kiss
02. Home at Last
03. Just the Way it Sounds
04. Highball
05. Through the Roof
06. Shadey
07. 4th Prize
08. I Can't Wait
09. Missionary Miracle
10. In the Wire
11. Holiday
12. Hades

Find both on Amazon.