Sunday, February 16, 2020

What would life be without burgundy?

From 1989.  Rock that pops...but not necessarily power pop.

Hear

Friday, February 14, 2020

11th Hour - Shapes and Things to Come + Alder St. ep (1990/87, Substitute)

Sorry I haven't set you up with much in the way of fresh sounds this week, but hopefully this compensate. In fact, I was thinking about saving this for one of my Chanukah presentations, but why not pull the trigger early?  11th Hour were a Pittsburgh combo who may have disbanded as long as three decades ago (though I uncovered evidence of a 2018 reunion gig).  The band's straight-up power pop modus operandi possessed a strong jangly bent, but the Shawn Harrison-fronted quartet were flexible enough to spill over into ballsier garage punk on "I'm Comin' Down," gravitating in the vicinity of locals The Cynics, and less obviously the Lime Spiders.  They even dabble briefly on the psych side of the fence on the fleeting "Garden of Sleep," but 11th Hour's penchant for lingering in more conventional guitar pop environs yields at least half a dozen startlingly great tunes on Shapes and Things to Come including "There's No Danger," "Can't Get Through to You," "Go to the Edge" and "Pictures In My Room."  Shapes and Things to Come concludes on a fitting note with a wailin' reading of the Eddie and the Hotrods classic, "Do Anything You Wanna Do."  BTW, Huw Gower of The Records has a co-production role on several tracks!

In addition to Shapes... proper, the CD incarnation appends the just as valuable Alder St EP, initially released as a double 45 in 1987.  Bearing an even rawer aplomb, it hones in on 11th Hour when they were fully ensconced in sweet, ringing guitars, wielding even more delirious and devastating hooks. This is stuff of immensely grand proportions, and you need to make your belated acquaintance with these guys NOW.

01. Release You
02. Can't Get Through To You
03. The Changing Of The Guard
04. Confusion
05. I'm Comin' Down
06. Live Your Life Again
07. Go to the Edge
08. Garden of Sleep
09. Don't Sell Me
10. Under the Fire
11. There's No Danger
12. Pictures In My Room
13. Do Anything You Wanna Do

Alder St. ep (1987)
14. The Seasons
15. She Goes Away
16. There's No Danger
17. Can't Wait Another Day
18. The Bells of St. Mary
19. Find Some Meaning

https://www77.zippyshare.com/v/XrOuxeNs/file.html

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Honey, you ought to leave your phone on when you leave Fredonia.

From 2017.  Call it what you will.

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

Hear

Timco - 20th Century Masters: The Singles Collection (1991-94)

Way back in 2011 when I addressed Timco's Friction Tape LP, I mentioned a collection of their singles would be forthcoming.  Well, a full nine years later the forth has belatedly come.  Since this is a band that hasn't been active in roughly a quarter century I can't enlighten you much more than I already have.  Nonetheless here are the basics.  The fulcrum of Timco were two alumni from one of a really choice, not to mention noisome indie rock troupe from the '80s I've oft featured on these pages, Nice Strong ArmKevin Thompson parlayed his frontman role in NSA to Timco, and also brought along Ethel M. Deathel from his old group.  Timco eschew much of NSA's wailing maelstroms, instead reveling in emotive, and sometimes highly dynamic downer rock bristling with texture and sobering resignations.  If that description strikes you as a bit of an oversimplification, maybe it is, and while it may apply to their albums, the aforementioned Friction Tape and 1996's Gentleman Jim, Timco's first blush of short-for
m releases reveal a more varied story.

Birds, Bees & Cherries, a double 7" ep delivers a quartet of four-track demos cut by Thompson in '91.  The commencing "Dragg Dabb" is the most engaging, anchored by a low roar of melancholy vocals and a gradually escalating crescendo of layered post-punk fretwork.  Sheer magic.  "Water Sucks Bugs" is even rawer and more amped-out and just about the closest Timco ever came to stretching back to Nice Strong Arm's sonic posture.  The two songs occupying the second 45 are more subdued - not to mention a bit sardonic, proving Thompson possesses something resembling a sense of humor, idiosyncratic as it may be.

Another single, The Hotel Radio surfaced about three years with two songs culled from a radio session on KPFK in Los Angeles.  The A-side, "Gone" is relatively spare but effective thanks to a devastatingly powerful vocal hook.  This song would reside comfortably next to work of Timco contemporaries Seam and Versus.  The flip, "Louisiana" is a ballad of dark proportions, although Thompson's dialogue leading into sounds a tad disingenuous.

The final single, also from 1994, features two live tracks from the Friction Tape-era. Ironically, Friction... itself was cut live in studio, and it's almost impossible to tell these singler versions apart from the album.  The angsty "Walking Papers" is the epitome of what Timco were all about, while"Screw You" is an insular kiss-off if there ever was such a thing.  Enjoy (or not)

01. Dragg Dabb
02. Water Sucks Bugs
03. Alegria
04. Lovelie
05. Gone
06. Louisiana
07. Screw You
08. Walking Papers

1-4 from Birds, Bees & Cherries 2x7" ep (1991, Communion)
5 & 6 from 7" (1994, Insignificant)
7 & 8 from 7" (1994, Basura)

https://www80.zippyshare.com/v/wpts2e8E/file.html

Friday, February 7, 2020

Ring Theatre ep (1985, Out)

I keep finding great unsung Austin, TX bands from a good 30+ years ago and though I don't know much about Ring Theatre's collective bona fides, I'm happy to report they're well above average.  Not resembling or mimicking anyone in particular, the quartet's serrated guitar pop dabbles in lightweight punk chords on the feisty opener "Mrs. Ann" and "Second's Romance."  Elsewhere the going never gets too middle-of-the-road thanks to RT's organic power pop angles and humble garage tendencies.  In fact, this platter isn't far removed from such other cold cases I've dispensed to you over the years by Public Bulletin and Signal Thirty, arcane as those references may be.  This appeared to be Ring Theatre's one and only vinyl offering. If anyone in the audience has more details don't be a stranger.

01. Mrs. Ann
02. Julia
03. Second's Romance
04. Kill Yourself
05. Remember May

https://www118.zippyshare.com/v/rcYNMesZ/file.html

Sunday, February 2, 2020

I can't make out what has gone wrong. I was good at what I did.

The 1981 and 1983 records from a post-punk colossus that as of last week appears to be no more.

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

Hear

Minor Alps - Köln, Luxor 4-3-14 (file under: Nada Surf/Juliana Hatfield)

If Minor Alps haven't made it onto your radar by now, it's safe to say it's going to remain that way, as the duo of Matthew Caws (Nada Surf) and Juliana Hatfield (Blake Babies) haven't been particularly active since their debut 2013 LP, Get There.  The collaboration seemed to be a one-off, as there was never a follow-up, but it's two participants did some touring behind the album, including a handful of dates in Europe.  The April 2014 gig in Köln, Germany that I'm sharing today is an acoustic performance, and while not necessarily exciting or even climactic, it's a treat if you're an established fan of either Hatfield or Caws (in my case both).  If not an out-and-out revelation, I thought Get There really played gracefully to the more austere, melancholic strengths of both of them without delving into anything heady or dramatic.  This show, largely derived from songs from that album, follows suit with some poignant examples of this ethos like "I Don't Know What to Do With My Hands" and "Far From the Roses."  As you might expect, given Hatfield and Caws' deep song catalogs outside of Minor Alps these are dipped into as well, albeit some of their more obvious signature titles are passed over in favor of less familiar ones.  No complaints from my end there.  Just a hint, track 21 is a cover...as if I had to tell you.  Anyway, I'm making this whole shebang available in MP3 and FLAC below.  Major thanks to whomever tracked this show and supplied pics/artwork. 

01. I Wanna Take You Home
02. If I Wanted Trouble
03. Far From The Roses
04. Buried Plans
05. Candy Wrappers
06. 'taking three steps forward'/Bob Dylan banter
07. Wish You Were Upstairs
08. Live On Tomorrow
09. Maxon
10. Such A Beautiful Girl
11. Inside Of Love
12. Waiting For You
13. Out There
14. Beautiful Beat
15. Lonely Low
16. The Moon Is Calling
17. Airscape
18. I Don't Know What To Do With My Hands
19. Away Again
20. The Way You Wear Your Head
21. Bette Davis Eyes
22. Fruit Fly

MP3  or  FLAC

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Alternative Radio - First Night (1986)

This Liverpoolite brother act (Rob and Alan Fennah) had only negligible chart success in the mid-80s, despite bearing a smart yet accessible wave-pop sound that put them roughly in league with contemporaries The Korgis, Split Enz (and perhaps more coincidentally The Three O'clock).  First Night is a cobbled-together compendium focusing on Alternative Radio's initial blush of (mostly) synthy singles, and offers delightful confections aplenty like the the title track and the yacht-rocky "Strangers in Love," alongside strummier forays "No Indispensable Man" and "Emotional Disaster."  A couple of proper full lengths arrived belatedly in the mid-90s (and another in 2008), but these days the brothers are said to be scoring show tunes.  Do check this one out. 

01. First Night
02. Valley Of Evergreen (long version)
03. No Indispensable Man
04. Everybody Wants To Be Loved
05. Strangers in Love
06. Concertina Ballerina
07. Harmony
08. Emotional Disaster
09. What a Dream
10. Summer 85
11. First Night (Long Version)
12. Strangers In Love (Long Version)

https://www70.zippyshare.com/v/GH4rLYIg/file.html

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Marshal Crenshaw - Miracle of Science (1996/2020, Shiny-Tone) - A brief review

For an artist who arguably peaked on his first two albums, Marshall Crenshaw has remarkably not pumped out a subsequent steady stream of diminishing returns.  That's no easy feat given the caliber of 1982's Marshall Crenshaw and the following year's Field Day which are revered by both guitar pop purists and early adopters of the gentleman in question.  In fact, from a creative standpoint things never really went "south" so to speak for Crenshaw, rather just on divergent tangents.  Nonetheless, some of his albums (roughly a dozen of 'em) fared better than the rest, and there are even ones I've modestly taken exception with (Life's Too Short anyone?).

If anything else, a good chunk of the man's catalog has been neglected, specifically a slew of albums he cut in the mid-90s through the 2000s that didn't bear a major label imprint.  His seventh studio LP, Miracle of Science, circa 1996, was his maiden indie foray, and is now being released on vinyl for the first time, with a rejiggered song sequence and significantly refurbished sleeve art.  And it's not a bad album to revisit at that, as it proved to be one of his loosest and varied affairs.  Thing is, virtually every album Marshall Crenshaw brings to market feels like casual day at the office, with Miracle... being especially representative of this modus operandi.  The commencing "What Do You Dream Of," with it's serendipitous flow of acoustics and electrics, is the kind of pop tune that would seem a miracle of musical science in the hands of any other singer/songwriter, but for M/C it emanates as naturally as putting on a pair of slippers.  Another absolute stunner, "Starless Summer Sky," harkens back to the aesthetic of his breathtaking early records, brandishing a structure that smacks of the finest Field Day had to offer.  "Laughter" and "A Wondrous Place" amble along on a considerably lackadaisical path, particularly the latter which features strings, marimba and some faint flamenco affectations.

Amidst the inspired originals on Miracle reside a pair of covers.  A reading of Dobie Gray's 1964 oldie "The 'In" Crowd" isn't much of a revelation, but how about a Grant Hart solo cut?  And not just any old Hart song, but one of the finest the sadly departed Husker gave rise to, "Twenty-Five Forty-One." Truth be told, it wasn't the original incarnation that Crenshaw became acquainted with, rather Robert Forster's version on the I Had a New York Girlfriend covers collection, but no matter. It's great. 

"Seven Miles an Hour" winds Miracle... out, but not before M/C messes with us by prefacing it with a backwards take of the song in it's entirety, included as a bonus cut.  Furthermore the vinyl variant of the album is coupled with a bonus single of two more recently recorded songs (both remakes including Michael Pagliaro's "What The Hell I Got").  Elusive Disc will take care of you if opt to spin the black circles, while Amazon is holding down the CD and digital fort.  Available as we speak.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

January Re-ups, Part 3

Another mondo set of reruns based on your requests and my better judgement.  Hopefully this catches us up for a bit.  Dig in.

The Pursuit of Happiness - Live 1989, Love Junk demos, The Wonderful World of..., I'm An Adult Now ep
The Raspberries - From the Vault - MP3 or FLAC
Blake Babies - Sunburn demos & Nicely Nicely ep
Guided By Voices - Learning to Hunt
Superchunk - On Paper it Made Perfeect Sense ep & Precision Auto 7"
Close Lobsters - demos, Janice Long Session ep, Nature Thing CDS
Element (101) - Future Plans Undecided 
In One - Ascension & Fade
Killjoys - Onenight and a Morningafter
Sometimes Sweet Susan - Fuse & Point ep
Wolfie - Necessary Sailing tape 
The Opossums - (marsupial eruptus)
The Oysters - Green Eggs and Ham
27 Various - Hi
Lucy Brown - s/t LP
Wooden Igloo - s/t LP
Toyboat - s/t LP
Ripe - Filterfeed
Barkmarket - Easy Listening
John's Black Dirt - Perpetual Optimism...
Indian Bingo - Scatological & Overwrought
Candy - Whatever Happened to Fun demos & live Houston 1985
Screaming Broccoli - s/t LP
The Bounce - Things That Go Bounce in the Night ep
Wobble Test - trixinickybambibo tape 
UV Prom - Field of Vision ep
Jim Basnight & the Moberlys - s/t ep
Nuns of the Great West - The World Ain't Safe ep
The Movement - s/t ep 
Nixon's Head - Traps, Buckshot & Pelt ep
V/A - Shreds, Vol. 1
Afraid of Stairs - s/t ep
New Sweet Breath - singles & album sampler 
Zumpano - singles
Wynona Riders - singles
Latter Day Saints - Plaster City 7"
Springhouse - Menagerie Keeper 7" 
No Such Thing - 7"
Spiffy - two singles
Dangtrippers - Incantation 7" 
How Happy - 7"
The Slurps - HrrSheeCom 7"
Rubber Sole - Appetite for Mayhem 7"
Mysteries of Life - Going Through the Motions 7"

Sunday, January 26, 2020

All the love's been taken away.

A chilly, murky and thoroughly immersive sonic tempest from 1993.

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

Hear

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Elton Motello - Pop Art (1980, Passport)

Just four short months ago I posted an Elton Motello single, and was enthused enough about it to spend some quality time with his second long-player, this one.  You can refer back to that original entry for some pertinent biographical specifications.  Pop Art is a minor new wave masterpiece, exuding just about everything that was creative and incisive about that genre's nascent era, while gracefully sidestepping any of it's patently negative shortcomings that would become ubiquitous over the next couple of years.  A fantastically nervy strain courses trough virtually every morsel of this album, that sonically points to the acerbic modus operandi of some of Elton's (actual name Alan Ward) contemporaries likes Devo, Donnie Iris and to a lesser extent Gary Numan.  Some surprisingly rollicking and punky outbursts crop up here in the guise of "Pocket Calculator," "In the Heart of the City" (not the Rockpile tune but just as ripping) and "Panic in the Classroom," and if you're looking for par excellence power pop the title piece is both flashy and a hell of a lotta fun.  Enjoy.

01. Pop Art
02. Can't Explain
03. Night Sister
04. Falling Like a Domino
05. Out of Limit
06. 20th Century Fox
07. In the Heart of the City
08. Pocket Calculator
09. When All the Boys Are English
10. Queen
11. Pay the Radio
12. Panic in the Classroom

https://www24.zippyshare.com/v/azXolSN5/file.html

Sunday, January 19, 2020

You been swearing to god, now maybe if you'd ask...

The expanded edition of this legendary band's somewhat maligned final record from 1990.  Despite what many have opined it ranks as my fourth favorite by them.

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

Hear

January Re-ups, Part 2

My apologies for the absence of new posts this past week. I was (and still am sick).  In the meantime here's the latest tranche of re-ups, with more to come.  

The Figgs - Rejects 
TSAR - King of School & SBN session
Popealopes - An Adder's Tale and Kerosene 
Geek - Herasure tape
Seething Grey - Big Table demo
Diamond Fist Werny - tape
Confuse a Cat - Ankles tape
Joey Sweeney - Barely and By Default tape 
Popular Front - This is the Rubicon tape
V/A - Neapolitan Metropolitan 
V/A - Groin Thunder: Troggs tribute
Nashville Ramblers - The Trains 7" - MP3 or FLAC
The Waking Hours - 7"
Trotsky Icepick/Vena Cava - split 7"
Teeny Records - 7"
Potential Frenzy - 7"
Naked Soul - tape
Lusting After Mary - 7"
Frontier Salesman - 7"
Band of Susans - Blessing and Curse ep
Bitter Sons - 7"
Drive - SST tribute 7"
Pods - It's a Bummer About Bourbie 7" ep
Polvo/Erectus Monotone split 7" 
The Drones - Red 7"
Jigsaw Seen - Shortcut Through Clown Alley
Pitchfork - Needle in a Haystack tape
V/A - Echos From the Nation's Capital
Sometimes Sweet Susan - The Coming Lights
Black-eyed Susans - s/t
Lifeboys - The Living Class ep
Bevil Web/3 Dream Bag - split 7"
Stems - sampler
Curtain Society - tape
Holiday Slides - Ornate Coalmine
Timco - Friction Tape 
 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Is it better to be up in the air or flat on the ground?

Hey.  You've got power pop in my indie rock!  You've got indie rock in my power pop!  From 2015.

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

Hear

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Nice Strong Arm - Reality Bath (1987, Homestead)

And so I present you with the final piece of the Nice Strong Arm puzzle, their debut, Reality Bath.  I've featured their subsequent platters Mind Furnace and Stress City eons ago, and a convenient thing that since both were extractable from CDs.  Reality Bath, on the other hand, was a vinyl/tape-only proposition.  Those in the know about these angsty New Yorkers, fronted by one Kevin Thomson, will no doubt boast their noisenik credentials, and rightfully so I suppose, but these folks were emanating from points of catharsis and artful sensibility, not so much full bore aggression. 

On second thought, it's damn near impossible to deny that Reality Bath isn't chockablock with raging, dissonant notions and eardrum-frying sprawl.  Even relatively likeminded contemporaries Live Skull and Red Temple Spirits couldn't quite compete with NSA's near-disorienting sonic alchemy that often fell just shy of surreal.  No, taking this proverbial Bath won't be of Calgon proportions in the least, and dare I say there's not much here that's "fun," but despite it's miles-deep layers of sinewy latticework, the going rarely gets difficult.  Furthermore there’s more guttural, emo pathos at play here than Rites of Spring ever thought to fling in our direction.  If you're looking for some comparatively melodic respites, you may want to dive in at "When Truth Comes Around," "Minds Lie," and "Free At Last."  This one's an acquired taste that's well worth acquiring, and check out NSA's second and third records linked above

01. Life of the Party
02. Date of Birth
03. Copperhead
04. Disenchanted
05. When Truth Comes Around
06. Life is So Cool
07. Minds Lie
08. Free at Last
09. Notes From a Gut
10. Dying Skin

https://www19.zippyshare.com/v/3Pz2GmIz/file.html

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Rescue me or here I'll stay, a traffic island castaway.

A handy 17-cut roundup of virtually every song that mattered by these Clash-y Brit post-punks.

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

Here

Smashing Orange/The Sunflowers - split 7" (1992, Clawfist)

In the early '90s British-based Clawfist Records was responsible for a spate of split singles featuring (mostly) indie band covering one another on the same piece of wax.  Way back, I featured one of their 1991 specimens, Poster Children/Thin White Rope, and some ten years later I'm sharing another in the Clawfist series.  Smashing Orange (not to be confused with you-know-who) were one of my small-of-famers back in the day.  A fantastically noisome blur of manicured noise and dream pop ethos who responsible for handfuo of eps and two albums, The Glass Bead Game being the foremost of the pair.  On this split 45 they cover The Sunflowers, a combo I'd never really investigated before.  Per Discogs the band only released a few singles, and ironically the tune Smashing Orange take to task here, "Something You Said" didn't materialize on any of them.  Nonetheless, it's glorious noise-pop overdrive if I've ever such a thing.  The Sunflowers return the favor by doing a rendition of one of my go-to Smashing Orange songs, "Collide" nailing it quite capably at that.

A. Smashing Orange - Something You Said
B. The Sunflowers - Collide

https://www17.zippyshare.com/v/cXowiKJp/file.html

Saturday, January 4, 2020

A slight case of underblogging - Best of the blog mix 2019.

It's cherry picking season again.  Here's my annual postmortem assemblage of the creme de la creme of what I just offered you a year prior.  A taster, or sampler if you will.  I'm really not sure if these yearly distillations are really hitting their desired audience (neophytes, stragglers, etc) or if I'm merely preaching to the choir.  At any rate, I've plucked 23 of the most succulent feathers from the wild array that was 2019.  As was the case in 2018, I've grown increasingly slack in the amount of shared content, and as such offered even less in the past year.  Turns out though that a decent chunk of what I managed to get up '19 was of particularly high caliber.

Thing was, I presented such a haphazard pastiche of styles and genres that it made sequencing this mix a bit of a bitch, but I think I pulled it off, beginning with a cluster of acts that loosely skewed to the power pop end of the spectrum.  Midway, I sort of hit a downcast stride with the emphasis on post-punk, but managed to conclude this playlist on a surprising note of levity.  I don't have an adequate amount of time to elaborate on individual cuts, though I plan on attaching links to the original artist entries later this weekend.  Included are three additional, previously unshared kernels that are noted with an asterisk.  One item not to be overlooked is that of a virtually unknown and unsearchable quantity, La Voix Celeste (circa 1983) who deliver the melancholic, minimalist wave piece "Phases," which doesn't just strive for mood, but a sublime hook as well.  This whole package concludes with one of my most listened to songs of the past couple years, a sleeper if there ever was one that you can read more about here.  Enjoy.

01. White Flag & Kim Shattuck - Dont Give It Away
02. NoNames - 1 2 3 Go!
03. X-Teens - All Day Long
04. Giddy'Up Einstein - Wasteland
05. Beat Feet - She's on Time
06. Start - Where I Want to Be
07. Signal Thirty - Wild With Me
08. The Big Picture - Poison Town
09. Honour Society - Ambition
10. Matt Finish - Fade Away
11. Monkey 101 - French Feelings
12. Popdefect - Can't Catch Up
13. The Necessaries - Back to You
14. Tirez Tirez - Razorblade
15. B Team - Right
16. DUSTdevils - Life Guarder
17. Actuel - Just Imagine
18. The Howl - Red is Red
19. La Voix Celeste - Phases*
20. Unity Station - History
21. Rarefaction - All the Broken Seams
22. The Expression - With Closed Eyes
23. Episode 1 - Maggie
24. The Dugites - Mama Didn't Warn Me
25. Koo De Tah - Body Talk*
26. Maria Takeuchi - Plastic Love*

https://www117.zippyshare.com/v/FWJpH3Wg/file.html