Saturday, November 30, 2019

NoNames - End of the Beginning (1983, Vague)

This San Diego-area quartet may have existed during the cultural apex of the 1980s, but they hardly strove to be a product of it, not sonically anyway.  In fact, NoNames didn't blatantly emulate any of their contemporaries either, though you may pick up on trace elements of the Talking Heads and the Cars.  The band's approach wasn't slick and gaudy enough for the Top 40 set, and all the better as they bore a creative and organic modus operandi which ranged from the jazzy percolations of the sprite "10:00 (Life Goes On)" to the rapid, piano-driven rave-up "Ungrateful."  Side two of End of the Beginning is even more rewarding, leading off with "1 2 3 Go!!" a vivacious, two minute power-pop outburst with charm for miles, that wouldn't sound out of place on those homegrown Powerpearls and Teen Line compilations I'm so fond of.  Up next is the appropriately titled "SeeSaw," featuring vocals that pan alternately between the left and right channels, to near dizzying effect.  End... closes out with the thoughtful and strikingly melodic "What Am I," sublimely splitting the difference between guitars and whirring synths culminating in a big, plump hook to play us out.  A big round of applause goes to NoNames keyboard wrangler/mouthpiece Hannes for setting me up with a copy of this winsome record.

01. 10:00 (And Life Goes On)
02. The Masses
03. I Got a Call
04. Ungrateful
05. 1 2 3 Go!!
06. SeeSaw
07. Something in Common
08. What Am I?


Sunday, November 24, 2019

I shook the hands of mafia dons and presidents...

A 2012 reunion album that turned out to be nearly as satisfying as what they produced in their initial back in the '90s.

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


Spiral Jetty - Begin Responsibilities 1981-97 (2000, Hedgehog)

Since it's been a food seven years since my last Spiral Jetty post it's fair to say this is a long belated follow-up.  In fact, this compilation disc features tunes that I shared previously on the trio's wonderful Art's Sandbar and Tour of Homes albums.  The Jetty's were of New Jersey stock, and unfortunately didn't make huge inroads out of the Garden State, leaving their legacy to remain, um...obscure.  Unjustly so, says me, because they were downright phenomenal at times.  Per Begin Responsibilities liner notes the band's goal was, "to write good songs that sounded nothing like anybody else."  In fairness, the Spiral Jetty recipe wasn't entirely assembled from whole cloth, but rather came across like a whip-smart melange of some of the mid-80s foremost subrosa figures, including (but not limited to) the Monochrome Set, Felt, Minutemen, and the Feelies.  In fact, the latter were locals to S/J, and the band was fortunate enough to be in cahoots with the Feelies to wrangle Bill Million and Glenn Mercer to produce their debut, Tour of Homes.  Tension, brittleness and instrumental dexterity were hallmarks of Jetty's formula, and ultimately they did succeed in conjuring up something original.  Not only does Begin Responsibilities span the band's entire career it brings many of their  early recordings into the digital age for the first time, minus the surface noise, naturally.  It's a great place to jump in, but hardly where you'd want to end. 

01. Tourists Send Postcards
02. Weasel in the Closet
03. Muskateers of Pig's Alley
04. Tour of Homes
05. All of This
06. Baltimore
07. Something Will Come
08. Big Down Hill Racing
09. Where the Sun
10. The Beat Goes On
11. Restless
12. Playboy of the Western World
13. Lonesome Catfish Heart
14. Bubba's Li'l Bub
15. Queen of Her House
16. Lucinda
17. Let it Fall
18. My Cat Geoffrey
19. Going to Marsailles
20. Emperor of Ice Cream (coda)


Friday, November 22, 2019

Velo-Deluxe - House of Sin Recordings (unreleased, 199?)

Despite featuring ex-Blake Baby/Antenna John Strohm as part of Velo-Deluxe's three piece lineup in the mid-90s, the band barely caught any traction despite a more than respectable 1994 debut album, Superelastic, and a bevy of surrounding singles.  I point an angry finger at myself as much as anyone regarding this dilemma, as I was a DJ at a college radio outlet around Velo-Deluxe's existence, and even I only managed one or two spins at best from that aforementioned disc.  Simply put, these guys couldn't compete with the Pavements and Green Days of the world, albeit they were still something of a treat.  Nothing too incendiary about this bunch, who stuck to a guitar-driven aesthetic that slid squarely between the alt/indie rock realms.  The House of Sin recordings were tracked at a facility of the same name, presumably near the band's stomping grounds of Bloomington, IN at some point after Superelastic.  We get nervy, distorto-ridden bashers like "Novocaine Novocaine" and "Bothering the Clown" that are countered by comparatively less tense "Dusted" and the heartfelt acoustic "The Ballad of Lobster Boy," which was apparently released as a single in '95, though I'm unaware of the version in this set is the one that made it to vinyl.  Enjoy.

01. Dusted
02. Novocaine Novocaine
03. Fork
04. Bothering the Clown
05. Shiver
06. Jesus Let Me In
07. The Ballad Of Lobster Boy


Sunday, November 17, 2019

Jags and riches, queens and witches.

From 2002.  Turns out there was life beyond the milky way - and it was good.

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


Saturday, November 16, 2019

Mark Freeland's Electroman - American Googaloo (1982, Trelaine) & Come (1986, Beauty of Vinyl)

By request.  Mark Freeland didn't put Buffalo, NY on the map, but within the city and it's environs in the 1980s (and beyond) he ruled, and was the closest thing Western New York had to Frank Zappa or Prince.  Truth be told, Freeland rarely sounded specifically like either of those visionaries at any given moment, rather his dextrous,  DIY pastiche of trendy-ish '80s pop, funk and rap was intricate enough to entice more sophisticated ears, but also bore real accessibility as well.  In addition to his musical endeavors, Freeland was a renown local painter with colorful multimedia skills that spilled over into the two Electroman records I'm sharing today, not to mention the music he would produce thereafter until his untimely death from cancer in 2007.

1982's American Googaloo (perhaps a nod to American Graffiti) packs not only punch but ample groove, with party-down, R&B inflections colliding with less emphasized forays into synth pop.  "I Am Everybody," boldly sets the tone for the entire affair with a funk underbelly, pitch-shifting vocals and Sugarhill Gang-esque throwdowns.  "Beer Makes You Smart" is as jovial and anthemic as you might imagine, "Payday" is a horn-enhanced ode of sorts to being perpetually broke, while the disco-paced "All I Want to Do is Bang," makes for a fittingly frenzied basher to close things out.

Come followed four years later offering longer songs, and intermittently, the incorporation of muscular guitar tones.  A greater reliance of samples is evident, as well as an apparent affection for the likes of early Run-DMC.  In fact, there's a number of hip hop-centric pieces here - "Family Feud," "I Dig New York," and the altogether amusing "Macaroni and Cheese," a playful riff on the simple pleasures that inadvertently arose from the era of Reaganomics. "The Cathy Song" is a gaudy, but fun power ballad in the vein of Meat Loaf, and "True Love" boasted Freeland's increasing melodic chops with near-grandiose aplomb.

If you're intrigued by either of these platters, do check out Mark Freeland's Electrospective 1976-96, a handy twenty song summation of his recording career.

American Googaloo 
01. Cowboy's of Scotland
02. I Am Everybody
03. The Vegetarian Song
04. Beer Makes You Smart
05. Googaloo
06. Payday
07. All the Things I Would Do For You
08. My Baby Got a Thing For Me
09. All I Want to Do is Bang

01. Girl Power
02. The Cathy Song
03. Family Feud
04. The Day You Came Into My Life
05. Macaroni & Cheese
06. True Love
07. I Dig New York

American Googaloo: Hear
Come: Hear

Monday, November 11, 2019

Daddy don't hit me, I'm doing the best I can.

25th anniversary of this one.  A lot of you might find this to be a bit on the simplistic side, but it was and still one of my go-to albums of the '90s.  I also tacked on a gem from later in this band's career.  Enjoy.

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


Sunday, November 10, 2019

Starpoint Electric - Bad Directions (1999, Plastique)

Rock from Chapel Hill, NC that doesn't necessarily sound like it could have come from the realm of Merge Records?   The now long-gone Starpoint Electric weren't entirely oblivious to the more strident forces in the indie realm of their era, yet they bore their own brand of pent-up crankiness, albeit with plentiful degrees of separation from say, Superchunk and Archers of Loaf.  This quartet had an angularity to 'em that landed somewhere between the first couple of Spoon albums, and Tommy Stinson's post Replacements endeavors Bash & Pop and Perfect.  Bad Directions is guitarsy as-all-get-out, with tinctures of chiming minor chords and self-described "dark pop beauty."  Earth shattering?  Not quite, but "December," "Reconnected" and pretty much anywhere else the laser lands make the case Starpoint should have stayed at the party a little longer.

01. Bad Directions
02. Reconnected
03. Let My Brother Lie
04. Bitter Happiness
05. December
06. Radio Wasterland
07. Write You Off


Thursday, November 7, 2019

Atrec Camera - Universal Amphitheatre, 9-18-83

I intend to get to transferring some more wax soon, but until then I thought I'd follow-up one of my more well received live entries from last year, a 1981 Aztec Camera show from Manchester.  Fast forward a couple years and Roddy Frame and Co. find themselves opening up for Elvis Costello on an amphitheater tour of the United States in support of their not-long-to-be classic debut High Land Hard Rain.  Submitted for your approval is a well recorded audience tape of a 1983 Aztec show at Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City, CA featuring the bulk of the songs from that very record.  As mentioned I realize I just fed you one of their vintage shows a year ago, so forgive me if this is overkill.  Cheers.

01. intro
02. Lost Outside The Tunnel
03. Walk Out To Winter 
04. Orchid Girl  
05. Back On Board  
06. The Bugle Sounds Again
07. The Boy Wonders 
08. Oblivious
09. Release 
10. We Could Send Letters 
11. Queen's Tattoos
12. Down The Dip

MP3  or  FLAC

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Winter winds and those summer suns aren't good for everyone...

From 1987.  This legendary British band's semi-conscious effort to make a 'nicer' fifth album.

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


V/A - We Killed McKinley - Music From Buffalo, New York (1988, Maxwell)

The title of this 30+ year old compilation record reads something like an answer to the hypothetical question, "What exactly is Buffalo known for anyway?"  It's of course referencing the assassination of President William McKinely in 1901 at the Pan-American Expo in Buffalo.  A macabre and daring immortilization to say the least, but We Killed McKinley would become an endearing scene artifact, and a representative time capsule of Western New York's subrosa talent circa the late '80s.  Most local compilation discs (from this era and otherwise) seemed to place the emphasis on the "locality" quotient, seemingly tossing together a hodgepodge of bands from a few adjacent zip codes, with little regard to their merit as artists.  McKinley struck me as an exception, given it's relative quality and breadth.  The affair fittingly commences with the shoulda-been-huge Splatcats cutting a blitzkrieg punk rock rampage through the Temptation's "Get Ready," exemplifying their hometown's reputation for merging the traditional with the markedly unorthodox.  Nullstadt and the late, creative Svengali Mark Freeland attach a sardonic edge to the era's fading synth-rock frivolities.  The Ramrods, who I've brought up on these pages in years past, boogie down with "Heavy Shakin' Mamas," The Rain pours down with freewheeling abandon on the driving, riff-searing," and The Pinheads' (once championed by none other than Howard Stern) proto-grunge nugget "Get You Alone" imagines how Van Halen would've carried on had David Lee Roth not been put to pasture.  There's deftly crafted acousti-pop from The Moment, and 1969's modest psych flirtations make "All I Wanted" all the more desirable.  And perhaps the most significant act to ever emanate from the Queen City makes a pre-stardom appearance here too, though just to keep you guessing I'm not revealing them in the track list below.  Enjoy.

01. The Splatcats - Get Ready
02. The Rain - Rumble Down
03. The Ramrods - Heavy Shakin' Mamas
04. Nullstadt - Jimmy
05. The Pinheads - Get You Alone
06. 1969 - All I Wanted
07. Mark Freeland - Girl Lessons
08. David Kane's Decay Of Western Civilization - Tommy 78
09. The Moment - In the Sun
10. Bob Dye - Dirty Blonde Blues
11. Peachy L'amour - Lucille