Sunday, October 28, 2018

Follow all the rodents until the cows come home.

From 1992.

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


Saturday, October 27, 2018

Aztec Camera - De Villes, Manchester, UK 8/14/81

Got a very early Aztec Camera piece for you tonight.  So early in fact that AC front-man Roddy Frame was a mere fifteen years old when this set was performed.  As such, the man in question had not hit his proverbial prime (but would do so a couple years hence at a still fairly precocious age on the marvelous High Land, Hard Rain) but what makes this recording so unique is how spartan and minimal it all sounds.  Chalk this up in part to how prominent the vocals and guitars are in the mix, virtually drowning out any semblance of bass   Also note the percussion - audible, but not the least bit dominant and hardly on an even keel with Roddy's performance.  Sonic characteristics of this particular gig aside, AC were well on their way to establishing a signature sound - cozy and strummy, with a yearning romantic penchant that would echo for decades to come.  And, best of all, this nine-song set features a number of non-album tracks that would never make it past the home demo stage.  You can hear the whole thing in either FLAC or MP3 below.  Check out some rarities from the same era and beyond over yonder.

01 - Just Like Gold
02 - Green Jacket Grey
03 - Up In The Sky
04 - Pillar To Post
05 - Mattress Of Wire
06 - In Another Room
07 - The Spirit Shows
08 - Remember The Docks
09 - We Could Send Letters

MP3  or  FLAC

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Model Americans - s/t (1987)

So...this one wasn't exactly a magnum opus.  Another of my "bought it for the cover" endeavors, and the skate punk I was sure was awaiting me turned out to be relatively nondescript rock with a mildly loungy undercurrent.  Definitely not antiseptic radio pap mind you, but 'frisco's  Model Americans don't take us very far.  The quintet's finest attribute by a long-shot is frontman John Lee's chiming guitar tone, which borders on jangly at moments.  An array of pedestrian saxophone outbursts crop up frequently, and oddly enough don't sound terribly misplaced.  The money shot here is clearly "Radioland," a song that should have led the album off, but was instead shoved to the back end.  Kind of a mellower Tommy Tutone thing happening there.  I suppose a distant second would be the synthy "Life Indoors" which warns the listener about the hazards of inanimate objects. 

01. Changing My Mind
02. Lake of Fire
03. Public Gardens
04. Diesel Train
05. Life Indoors
06. Get Straight
07. Billy
08. Radioland
09. untitled


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Bunji Jumpers - A Two Z ep (1986, Banana)

Well, it looks like another blog (I'll let you figure out which one) got the "jump" on this one before yours truly, but I had such a pristine copy of this record I thought I'd go to the trouble of offering my rip.  Perhaps it was the alternate spelling of their name or this co-ed duo's post-modern poise that set me up with the impression that the Bunji Jumpers were artsy, brooding types with an oblique axe to grind, but...not so much.  The brunt of A Two Z is actually not heavy-handed darkwave or even ostentatious new romantic.  "Be Brave" and "These Days" function just fine as forward-thinking pop highlighted by Eva Dilcue's graceful yet impassioned croon.  "Comrade" is more angular, punctuated with brass that I don't mesh with so well, whereas the concluding "Bigblackboots" points squarely to the Bunji's peacenik ideals, something I can certainly get behind.  This is a damn neat record.

Bunji Jumpers had their antecedents in a Cleveland outfit called The Generators, who bore something of a power pop aptitude.

01. be brave
02. these days
03. comrade
04. bigblackboots


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Chasing Tracy's all I do...

From 1998.  I may have shared this before, but considering how much more it's sunk in with me over the past few years that gives me adequate license for a rerun.  One of the most transcendent indie rock albums to ever grace my ears.

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


Saturday, October 20, 2018

Sonic Youth - Candle promo 12" (1989, Enigma)

Much ado has been made of Sonic Youth's 1988 double album Daydream Nation - and virtually every scrap of praise and critique has been true.  This week marked the thirtieth anniversary of it's release, sparking many a commemoration in social media. 

Daydream Nation was my introduction to Sonic Youth.  Both the video for "Teenage Riot" on 120 Minutes, and it's 'album of the year' designation on at least a dozen critics polls (including the coveted Village Voice Pazz and Jop poll) was all that it took to usher me into a store to purchase a cassette copy.  Despite the sweet, near-melodic charms of "Teenage..." much of the remainder of Daydream was an acquired taste.  By and large it didn't take long to incubate with me.  Acclimating to Thurston Moore's and Lee Renaldo's intricate latticeworks of feedback, ear-shattering dissonance, and con-caved sonic motifs was a right of passage for folks like myself back then, much to the chagrin of my parents, not to mention schoolmates who were still clinging to their Whitesnake albums.  One soon realized that the the insertion of Daydream Nation into their music collection upped it's "cool" ante exponentially whether it be on a record shelf, CD rack, or in my case a shoebox full of tapes.  Sonic Youth never made an album like it before or since.  Wisely, they didn't even try.  Daydream Nation resides on it's own metaphorical plateau you could say.

I'm not at liberty to share the whole album, but I can at least let you have this promo ep, featuring an edited version of one of  Daydream's more approachable songs, "Candle," along with a trio of live cuts and a conclusion that I can only categorize as miscellaneous. 

01. Candle (edit)
02. Hey Joni (live 1988)
03. Flower (live 1985)
04. Ghost Bitch (live 1988)
05. conversation between Lee Renaldo and Wharton Tiers


Friday, October 19, 2018

Contoocook Line - Oliver's Garden (1988, Rughead)

Would you believe another blog got to this one a good fifteen years before I did?  For starters they didn't share the whole record, but they did disclose a kernel of info that would have been lost on me otherwise.  Contoocook Line contained in their humble four-piece lineup future Pavement drummer Steve West, who for some unspecified reason goes by the moniker of Jonah West here.  Hmmm. Anyway, C/L hardly sounded like a logical precursor to Stephen Malkmus' soon-to-be hallowed slack attack.  As the piece on Vinyl Mine notes, Contoocook had more in common with REM (think, Life's Rich Pageant but with less zest) at least on some of Oliver's Garden's livelier cuts.  The chaotic album sleeve, not to mention intermittently rambunctious song titles, belie a fairly garden variety, DIY college rock record with too many sleepy (and even folky) underpinnings for it's own good.  Fortunately, OG awakens from it's slumber for a handful of peppier respites like "Western Sizzlin'" and "Same Ol', Same Ol'" which should still encourage an abundant number of you to tune in.  As for the concluding acoustic ballad, "Go to Hell," the sentiments expressed within are sadly as true today as they were in the Reagan-era.

01. All the Things
02. Western Sizzlin'
03. Allen
04. Acoustic/Blurb
05. Painted Dreams
06. Goliath
07. Sister Time
08. Same Ol', Same Ol'
09. Sour Grapes
10. Go to Hell


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Stark Raving - Sniveling and Whining ep (1987, Incas)

Stark Raving were a Connecticut export whose lone record, Sniveling and Whining came courtesy of Incas Records, one of my favorite indie imprints of the '80s.  Thing is, this fast(ish) and loose co-ed punk trio would have been a more suitable fit for SST, particularly among that label's stable of second-tier acts.  They're a bit on the ramshackle end of the spectrum, and their charm begins and ends there.  Sniveling and Whining produces the occasional gnarly tune, like "Too Much to Take" and the relatively ambitious "New Highways," which vaguely resembles what X were attempting around the same time.

01. Andy's Brain
02. Job With no Future
03. Guns
04. Too Much to Take
05. Crazed New World
06. New Highways


Sunday, October 14, 2018

It's never too late to enjoy dumb entertainment.

From 1980.

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


Friday, October 12, 2018

V/A - The Wiener Dog Comp (2012, Burger) - 71 songs!!

Alright, I practically had to take a day off from work to lasso this one all together.  Per above, 71 tunes, three hours of content spread across two packed cassettes, and limited to a mere 500 copies.  Between digitizing, separating tracks, scanning artwork and the rest of it this took up a good six hours or so of my time.  I hope it was worth the effort, but in hindsight what's on here may be of limited appeal.  You can chalk that up to the Wiener Dog Comp's relative lack of star-power, or it the very least, a roster of veritable unknowns.   

The backstory to this one is pretty simple - a benefit album to cover the expenses of a dachshund's large (and evidently lifesaving) veterinary bill.  Burger Records was a relatively fresh indie imprint at the time (and now something of a fixture).  The idea was to get every band on the label (and beyond) to contribute an exclusive song, making it an extra enticing label "sampler" as it were.  To my knowledge a few songs carried over to subsequent releases by a handful of contributors (Paul Collins and Cleaners From Venus come to mind), but otherwise this material is unique to these tapes, and was never made available digitally.  An L.A. area label (and physical store as well if I'm not mistaken), Burger has a discernible penchant for indie rock of all stripes including punk, garage, psych, and lo-fi.  Over the years they've earned a reputation as ear-to-the-ground taste-makers to boot, and even if they never garner a reputation as lofty as Sub Pop or 4AD, pretty much any act with the Burger Records logo emblazoned on their record is guaranteed a modicum of respect.

And what of the bands that occupy these lengthy reels?  Most I can't impart very much about, but there are a bunch that caught my eye upon seeing their name on the roster: Pop Zeus, The Resonars, Tenement, Gap Dream and more notably Redd Kross and the Three O'clock, both of whom contribute live covers.  Of the more established acts, Thee Oh Sees, The Tyde, King Tuff, and Paul Collins (of Paul Collins Beat fame) all show up and make it count.  You'll find some pleasant surprises along the journey as well.  I was introduced to the likes of the succulent Frausdots, Nightmare Boyzzz, and the Blank Tapes and regard myself as all the better for it.  Finally, I'd be remiss if I failed to point out Dirt Dress' sterling mid-fi spin on Wire's 154-era classic "The 15th."

Click on the images to your left and above right for complete tracklists (though bear in mind the last two songs on side D are errantly printed in reverse order).  If you dig what you hear, you can also check out Burger Record's similarly themed Kitty Comp from the same year right here

Tape A (sides A & B): Hear
Tape B (sides C & D): Hear

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

John Wicks and the Records - Rock'ola (1998, Rock Indiana)

Word went out on Sunday afternoon that John Wicks, who had been battling cancer on and off for the past few years, had tragically succumbed to the disease and passed away in hospice.  As was expected, dozens of social media posts and blurbs from online news outlets touted his inarguable claim to fame as co-founder of The Records and author of the band's signature piece "Starry Eyes." While those details might not be particularly revelatory to you and me, The Records themselves were in fact a sheer revelation for a good lot of us.  Through Wicks and the three near-perfect albums issued during the band's original late '70s to 1982 inception (Shades in Bed, Crashes, and Music on Both Sides), I made a conscious effort to delve deeper into power pop in general (albeit, my discovery of the Records and the genre didn't happen until the mid-90s).  Better late than never, and as it turned out there was a lot more to unearth, including dozens (at minimum) of bands that seemingly took a discernible cue from Wicks and Co.  In short, were it not for The Records, Wilfully Obscure may have taken on a far different trajectory. 

Seeing the original Records lineup in the flesh was long out of the question for me, but I did attend a collaborative gig with John and Paul Collins of the Paul Collins Beat in Pittsburgh, roughly around 2009 or so).  In person and in email John was always gracious to me, though we hardly got to know each other.  The music alone sufficed.

Shortly after I made my acquaintance with the Records posthumous catalog, I learned John Wicks had convened a revamped version of the band.  This incarnation of the group didn't contain any of his original bandmates - Phil Brown, Will Birch, etc, rather a brand new assemblage of players, presumably hailing from America where Wick's had emigrated to in the mid-90s.  The resultant album, Rock'ola was typically released on a European label, but import copies were easy enough to come by.  Though it may not have exuded the warm analogue glow of their big label efforts from two decades prior, Rock'ola managed to revive all the telltale calling cards - penetrating hooks, reliable chord progressions, and the linear but occasionally witty aplomb that made the Records so vital to begin with.  A lot had changed...but thankfully far more hadn't.  "Her Stars Are My Stars," "That Girl is Emily," and the Townsend-y-riff fest "Union Jack" are sheer charmers, and Wicks even dedicates ten percent of the album to his idols the Beatles by way of "Liverpool 6512."  The man in question really hadn't lost a thing over the years, and though we've sadly lost him, his legacy speaks (or more acurately, sings) for itself.  R.I.P. John Wicks.

01. Edges of a Dream
02. That Girl is Emily
03. So Close to Home
04. Different Shades of Green
05. Liverpool 6512
06. Every Word We Say
07. Union Jack
08. Cry a Million Tears
09. Her Stars are My Stars
10. Forever Blue


Monday, October 8, 2018

I'm so caught up in the tree of stars falling in my backyard...

From 1996.  I'm pretty certain a good 30% (or more of you) have heard this one, but to anyone who hasn't, try to set aside some quality time - say a little over an hour.


Friday, October 5, 2018

Doughboys - Turn Me On (1996)

By the time the Doughboys turned in 1993's wonderful Crush, this celebrated Montreal crew with an ever-evolving lineup had graduated from melodic hardcore to something a little more down-tempo on the continuum, still resembling punk, while gracefully sidestepping grunge.  The subsequent Turn Me On was to be their parting shot, and given the band's continuing development it's kind of frustrating that was the case.  Still capable of pulling off ferocious, and visceral slammers like "Nothing Inside" and "My Favorite Martian," John Kastner and Co. indulge in a little dumb fun to boot on the looser "Diamond Idiot."  The more subdued yin to the Doughboys characteristically raucous yang turns up in spades as well, on the not-quite-ballads "It Can All Be Taken Away" and Everything and After."  Turn Me On was the most varied, and perhaps polished record they had tracked to date, but a slightly mellowed Doughboys never yielded the kind of yawn-worthy muck their contemporaries were pumping out at the time.  At the end of the day, all I you can really fault the band for was not sticking it out.

01. Lucky
02. I Never Liked You
03. Everything and After
04. My Favorite Martian
05. Diamond Idiot
06. Coma
07. It Can All be Taken Away
08. Perfect Garden
09. Nothing Inside
10. Slip Away
11. Tears
12. Down in the World