Saturday, August 31, 2019

The And - Day (1997, J-Bird)

With their origins dating back to the mid-80s, even then in the pre-search engine era, I'd think it a fools errand for any band to dub themselves with such an indistinguishable moniker as...The And.  Really, do you mean to tell me all the good band names were claimed by 1983 when these Wisconsinites released their first 45? Needless to say, uncovering any pertinent knowledge regarding this band was close to an impossibility, save for their Discogs page linked above.  Day's copyright date is 1997, and none other than Butch Vig is listed as producer for half of these songs.  Several of the titles on Day overlap with their Reagan-era singles.  The problem is I can't decipher if we're getting the 80s versions of "How Busy is He?," "Role Models" and "Marshmallow Through a Keyhole," or re-recordings of them.  The latter (and more satisfactory) portion of the album skews towards the aforementioned songs with "How Busy.." sounding like something Off Broadway USA might have conjured up.  Just the kind of skinny-tie power pop MTV might have aired at 3 AM, and ditto for "Who Do You Kiss."  "Marshmallow..." is a synthy confection that's also worth the price of admission.  Elsewhere, The And hop around from resembling a competent bar band to Big Country, with each of their tunes boasting something of a unique persona.  As you might surmise, "I Fall to Pieces" is the Patsy Cline number, with the band doing a fairly robust read of it at that - a lot more fun than Screeching Weasel's rendering of it I might add.  Finally, I track ten on this CD is mysteriously omitted from the track list on the tray card. Enjoy.

01. I Fall to Pieces
02. The World Ain't Round
03. Your Wish (Is My Desire)
04. Heart Fall Away
05. She's Not Alone
06. Marshmallow Through a Keyhole
07. Role Models
08. Hide Your Eyes
09. Who Do You Kiss
10. (title not provided)
11. How Busy is He?


Friday, August 30, 2019

Rarefaction - Modern Man mLP (1986, Jaffa)

Yet another cold case, a Canadian one to be exact.  Despite the noir album jacket, Rarefaction were relatively conventional practitioners of snyth-n-guitars modern rock.  More new wave than indie, but despite a lack of mystique still pretty appealing.  At their most stimulating this five-piece resemble what the Comsat Angels were attempting around the same time (think, 7 Day Weekend-era).  "Open Up Your Heart," "All the Broken Seams," and the title cut are all fairly exemplary, and even when they stumble occasionally on Modern Man, I can't think of anything egregious enough going on here to dissuade you from giving this a whirl or two.

01. I Dreamt
02. Open Up Your Heart
03. Ordinary Man
04. Abstract Minds
05. All the Broken Seams
06. Night Crawler
07. You In Me


Sunday, August 25, 2019

You want a better risk?

Artful and immersive indie rock from 2015.  I love the sound of a band stewing in their own creative juices.

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


Tappi Tíkarrass - Miranda (1983) (feat. Björk, pre-Sugarcubes!)

Of all the records I've shared that I don't possess a physical copy of this is certainly one of the rarest.  Tappi Tikarrass was the band Björk Guðmundsdóttir's (yes she has a last name too) joined before going onto international renown in the Sugarcubes.  If you've ever wanted to hear her as a wee little tyke, or at least in her mid-teens, dive in.  Singing entirely in Icelandic, Björk wasn't TT's original frontwoman, but to my knowledge she sings on all recordings made with the group.  Not as avant as the Sugarcubes or even nearly as shriek-y, Tappi Tikarrass were surprisingly diverse - not straight up punk (albeit borderline at moments) or boilerplate new wave, yet defiantly left of center.  There's nervy aggression aplenty (e.g. "Skrið" and "Drek-Lek") but just as much, if not more residing on the opposite side of the coin with "Íþróttir" and "Get Ekki Sofið" damn-near approaching the tenor of ballads, particularly that first one.  Personally, I prefer this coed troupe when they stake out a middle ground (or sorts).  "Beri-Beri" and "Kríó" are the choicest specimens in that realm, the first being a delightful stab at disco-lite wave pop, with "Kríó" angling in the vicinity of the B-52s of all things.  Wow.  The first 13 tracks comprise the Miranda album proper while the remainder are derived from unknown sources.  Found a fairly spot-on critique of this record here with more background details than what I've revealed in this relatively paltry write-up.  There also a batch of early 'cubes demos that I offered way back when that you're welcome to revisit

01. Miranda
02. Skrið
03. Kríó
04. Íþróttir
05. Tjet
06. Lækning
07. Drek-Lek
08. Beri-Beri
09. Hvítibjörn
10. Sokkar
11. Með-Tek
12. Get Ekki Sofið
13. Mýrin Andar
14. Afi (Björgvin Gíslason)
15. Worlds Collapse (Bless)
16. Yonder (Bless)


Friday, August 23, 2019

Dr. Phibes & The House Of Wax Equations - Whirlpool (1991, 50 Seel Street)

When I plucked this one off the bargain rack, I was reasonably given the impression the band in question was Whirlpool...but upon further examination I was several syllables off.  By all accounts (namely the one I was able to peruse courtesy of the Guardian), Britain's long since departed Dr. Phibes & The House Of Wax Equations were something of a force of nature to witness live.  For most of us however, two scarcely distributed indie albums will have to suffice, Whirlpool being the first of them.  It would seem much has been made of their psych leanings, albeit Dr. Phibes sidestepped the whole Madchester miasma completely, and didn't bear much in common with the Spacemen 3, or even glorious drone merchants Loop.  No, the Phibes vibe was more in tune with the architecture of say, the Family Cat or Compulsion, with less pop appeal mind you.  Epic length ventures abound on Whirlpool, but the overarching effect isn't the stuff of drug-induced profundity so much as clangy, amped-out indie rock.  Guitarist/frontman Howard King Jr. makes for a throaty mouthpiece, yet "Mr Phantasy" and "When Push Comes to Shove" offer ample evidence that when emphasis is expended on melody his trio transcends the power quotient for something genuinely poignant.  As much as I wish there more tunes like the aforementioned populating Whirlpool, it's hard to knock Dr. Phibes enveloping sonic prowess.  A second album, Hypnotwister dropped in 1993. 

01. Eye Am the Sky
02. Marshmallow Madness
03. Mr Phantasy
04. Mirrors
05. When Push Comes to Shove
06. Dovetail
07. Dreaming (Insomnia)
08. Sugarblast
09. Eye Am the Sky


Sunday, August 18, 2019

There ain't no asylum here.

An ingenious covers album that just may encourage you to check out some of her originals.

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


Thursday, August 15, 2019

Calling it a week.

Realistically, I won't be posting again until Monday morning.  Keep yourselves amused in the meantime.  👽

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

A brief review - Those Pretty Wrongs - Zed for Zulu (2019, Burger) & Rob Laufer - The Floating World (2019)

The title of Those Pretty Wrong's second LP, Zed for Zulu, is a nod to something known as the NATO phonetic alphabet (which in 2002 Wilco finagled the same cultural reference to their Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album, but I digress).  The music enshrined within the record is decidedly less esoteric however.  The Memphis by way of L.A. duo TPW was initiated in 2012 when ex-Big Star drummer/Ardent Studios figurehead Jody Stephens and ex-Freewheelers frontman Luther Russell worked on the Big Star documentary, Nothing Can Hurt Me.  The collaboration on the movie inadvertently parlayed into a music outlet of their own, Those Pretty Wrongs, and an album of the same name followed in 2016.  Despite their setup as a duo, TPW subscribe to an insular aesthetic, one which often angles in the vicinity of forlorn, loner folk more than angsty rock.

Abundant throughout this album, Stephens and Russell can't help but echo Big Star's quieter traipses (think #1 Record's "Watch the Sunrise,"on Zed's "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight).  In fact, "Tonight..." even evokes shades of Chris Bell's "You And Your Sister," but generally speaking, the Wrongs opt for a discernibly genteel and straightforward tact, more in tandem with say, early CSN&Y and even Nick Drake than Chilton and Bell's idiosyncratic calling cards. In fact, the going on Zed has a tendency to veer a little too plaintive, flirting with songwriting so linear that it's hard not to predict the latter half of certain couplets.  If anything else, Stephens and Russell compensate with alternating tempos and moods imbuing somber tones to the doleful "Hurricane of Love," and "Life Below Zero," while applying comparatively lighthearted strokes to buoyant "Undetow," and even manage to flex some power pop musculature on "You and Me."  Zed for Zulu's benign tenor lends itself to a breezy, afternoon sway in the hammock, providing the pillow to comfort our collective aching heads in the Trump-era.  You can pre-order it straight from Burger Records or Amazon.

People are fickle about singer-songwriters, especially ones they're wholly unfamiliar with.  This is precisely why so many of them get lost in the shuffle.  Hopefully that isn't the case with Rob Laufer, who actually isn't a newcomer, rather he's taken an extended coffee break (since 2010's Excruciating Bliss to be exact).  His belated latest, The Floating World is his fifth album, and whether virgin ears mistake it as a debut or otherwise, it makes for an often stunning introduction.

Bearing a vocal aplomb that's passable at times to Fountains of Wayne's Chris Collingwood, Laufer's music isn't the stuff of topical, white-collar power pop.  More to the point, he's a sophisticated songsmith with musical chops and an arranging acumen that's anything but everyday.  You won't find much in the way of extremes wafting through this Floating World, though there are nuances aplenty.  "Bolt of Blue" and "Space and Time" are a pair of deftly crafted, up-tempo numbers, bustling with brisk rhythms and substantive prose that split the difference between groove and infectiously melodic prowess.  The denser "As Long As You Belong" richly channels George Harrison by way of Laufer's equally proficient contemporaries Rhett Miller and Jason Falkner, while the pedal steel accented "Highway Machine" is contemplatively bittersweet.  And if it's a consoling comedown you're craving the piano-ballad title track is the type of catharsis this beleaguered world should all get on board for.  The Floating World drops on August 23rd, and will be available from Bandcamp, iTunes, and Amazon.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Woke up screaming, god I hope I'm not bleeding.

Debut from 1993.  I've never been able to figure out why, but it seems as if everything this band ever committed to tape has been lauded in one circle or another...except this album.  No complaints here.

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


Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Dugites - s/t (1980, Deluxe)

Damn where had this band been my whole life?  Um, try Perth, Australia circa the late '70s/early '80s before I was really paying attention to music.  All legit rationale for ignorance aside, the co-ed Dugites were a better-late-than-never discovery, who I just happened to stumble upon while browsing someone's file list on my fave peer-to-peer, Soulseek.  Lynda Nutters straddled the mic for this ace new-wavey quintet over the course of three records, this being the first. She conveys an ever so faint hint of '60s girl-group kitsch to the Dugites formula, but writ large they struck a delectable merger of synth and power pop.  Blondie are an obvious (and frankly lazy) comparison, but Nutters and her compatriots (including keyboardist Peter Crosbie, whom she was married to for a period) were not tarted up, nor was the band particularly in-your-face, so to speak.  At least for this particular record, the emphasis was on tunes, and immaculately catchy ones at that, chockablock with indelible hooks, buoyancy and charm for kilometers.  "In Your Car," "Goodbye," and "Mama Didn't Warn Me," are all par excellence examples of  The Dugites chosen pop niche for their now bygone era, and the land down under was all the richer for it.  Am really grateful to have encountered this one.  Rock on Vinyl blog provides a more exhaustive diatribe on this record than I have, and are even offering a lossless FLAC rip of it. 

01. In Your Car
02. South Pacific
03. Mama Didn't Warn Me
04. Goodbye
05. Gay Guys
06. 13 Again
07. No God, No Master
08. No One Would Listen
09. Amusing
10. Six Weeks


Thursday, August 8, 2019

David Marko & The Trade - My Baby's A Piranha & Other Selected Love Songs (1982, McClintick)

Despite it's strikingly miscellaneous cover art, this record boasted significantly more definition than I was expecting.  The name David Marko & The Trade has the ring of a power pop band, and indeed this trio is guilty as charged, albeit I don't think these guys slotted in too comfortably with the skinny tie brigade.  If anything they hail the old school here, as so much of ...Piranha is steeped in the first couple of Raspberries albums, early Rubinoos, and perhaps even the Scruffs.  Marko and Co. emanate a rather wholesome vibe, screeching just shy of a precious halt on the winsome "Hold Me" and "The Last to Know."  The beefier "Eden Again" is more in line with this disk's '82 copyright, but when all is said and done these guys were classicists who never really intended to rock the boat.  David Marko & The Trade are virtual no-shows on the search engines, and their whereabouts are an unknown quantity.  Perhaps my copy of this album was missing an insert?  Enjoy.

01. Maybe Baby
02. radio
03. Hold Me
04. I Think I Love You
05. Leave Me Alone
06. The Last to Know
07. Eden Again
08. Her Song
09. Kathy Ann
10. Love Me Tonight


Sunday, August 4, 2019

Anything you wanna do, and she'll do it like a fool...

A recent reissue of a 1993 classic, though I think I appreciate the original mix more.

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


Guided by Voices - Waterloo Records in-store, 04/12/01

Yet another tidbit from a band we've given plenty of HEED to over the years.  And I thought today would be appropriate to share this given the unfortunate #daytonstrong theme we're forced to grapple with (even though this is a non-Ohio performance).  This one is fairly straightforward - a fully electric in-store, Isolation Drills-era performance at the most renown music outlet in Austin, TX, Waterloo Records.  Robert Pollard and Co. sound right, tight and refreshingly sober.  Arguably the peak of the non-classic lineup era of GBV, though a couple of obligatory '90s classics round out the set.  The taper neglected to get to Waterloo immediately as the band commenced, hence the partial version of "Run Wild" at the beginning.  Am making this available in it's original FLAC rip as well as downsized MP3.

01. Run Wild (partial) 
02. Skills Like This
03. Chasing Heather Crazy 
04. Pivotal Film 
05. Teenage FBI 
06. Glad Girls 
07. Brides Have Hit Glass 
08. Game Of Pricks
09. I Am A Scientist

MP3  and  FLAC

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Material Issue - What Girls Want promo ep (1992)

This is one of those weeks where I simply don't have an abundance of stuff prepped, but in the interim there's this.  A quick three-song promo released contemporaneously with Material Issue's sophomore album, Destination Universe.  The single, "What Girls Want" pales slightly when stacked against International Pop Overthrows now ubiquitous anthems, yet still thoroughly rocks.  That wah-wah effect on the guitars won't quit - not that you'd realistically want it to.  It's followed up by an exclusive non-LP cover of Grand Funk's "Bad Time, which i actually had more fun with than the original.  This shorty ep closes things out with an acoustic rendition of one of Destination's deeper cuts, "Next Big Thing."

This is one came packaged in a gatefold CD sleeve, and much to my dismay, the clerk at the store I obtained this from affixed a very stubborn price sticker right atop Jim Ellison's head.  I removed as much of it as I could, but still obviously blemished.

01. What Girls Want
02. Bad Time
03. Next Big Thing (acoustic)