It should come as no surprise that a band named the Golden Calgarians hailed from Calgary, Alberta. With that near-obvious fact out of the way, this appears to be one of the quartet's final releases, preceded by two full lengths I have yet to hear a note of. Said to have gigged with the likes of D.O.A. and the Diodes way back when, G/C weren't full throttle punk, albeit not terribly removed from it either. The gents bore a sardonic edge, that thankfully didn't supersede their overarching shtick. The lead-off title cut packs the same kind of wily edge and slicing guitarwork their contemporaries the Screaming Blue Messiahs had a penchant for, while the chiming "Summer of '87" is more attuned to my sensibilities. On the back sleeve the Calgarians give a shout out to the Sioux Indians "for keeping the spirit of rock alive." Not sure how they came to that realization, but who are we to argue? Four songs total, one's just right for you.
01. Guitar Curse
02. Summer of '87
03. Night of Miracles
04. I Feel Like...
Had a request for this one. Traditionally I'm not exactly agog over straight-up AOR rock from the '80s, or just about any decade. Then again, I've been known to contradict myself once in a blue moon, as was the case with last year's share of the surprisingly appealing Stealer. As for Nowherefast (that's right, all one word), I've give them credit for not pulling any outright embarrassing maneuvers. Granted, I can easily envision these guys on a bill with Loverboy or solo Sammy Hagar back in the day, but they don't strike me as the types that were sliding on their knees in spandex or gratuitously sticking their tongues out. "Feeling Better" and "Nowhere to Run" boast comparatively strong hooks, but otherwise this is par for the radio rock course. Love the album cover though. A hearty thanks to whomever went to the trouble of ripping this.
01. First Time
02. Sometimes I Wonder
03. Feeling Better
04. Strange Reason
05. Nowhere to Run
06. View Through a Tear
07. As I Am
08. No One With Nothing
09. Feeling Like Loving You
As Dan Vallor's liner notes in Across the Barrier...smartly advise, to regard this sprawling 24-song collection as a "lost" Game Theory album is deceptive and inaccurate at best. By 1989 and '90, which is when most of these recordings originate from, G/T as most fans had known them was a thing of the past, given the departure of guitarist Donnette Thayer, and other bandmates whose tenure was less established than hers. In terms of veteran members, G/T were slimmed down to a duo of frontman/prime mover Scott Miller, and Gil Ray, the group's erstwhile drummer who by this point ceded his kit in favor of guitar (both passed away in 2013 and 2017 respectively). This final incarnation of the group settled upon a quartet with Miller recruiting The Three O'Clock's (and interestingly enough, former Game Theory producer) Michael Quercio to handle bass and accompanying vocals. Also aboard was Thin White Rope/True West expat Jozef Becker on percussion, who incidentally played in Scott's pre-G/T combo Alternate Learning.
You might say the only hindrance of this lineup really pursuing a sixth proper Game Theory record was quite literally the tyranny of distance with Scott and Ray continuing to reside in their established stead of the Bay Area, and Michael and Jozef's reluctance to relocate from the L.A. area Ultimately, this version of G/T existed primarily as a live entity, with a touring regimen that skewed almost entirely to California circa 1990, but Scott was chockablock with song ideas for a prospective record...and to our good fortune demos of which were committed to tape, comprising a large portion of Across... Many of the songs, while not fully realized in the studio with the newly constituted Game Theory appeared in finished form on Plants and Birds and Rocks and Things, the debut album from Scott's spinoff band The Loud Family in 1993.
The 25-song Across The Barrier Of Sound: PostScript is if anything else a bit scattershot, presentation-wise anyway, with a good ten songs relegated as "bonus tracks," which is a bit confusing for a mock-up of an album that was never conceived in any tangible form to begin with. You might say the Script quotient of the title is wholly appropriate since none of these songs made it to full fruition under the guise of Game Theory. While I'll get into the specifics of some of the tracks in a moment, the overarching tenor of the material here is more akin to G/Ts idiosyncratic double LP Lolita Nation than it's follow-up, the relatively linear, 2 Steps From the Middle Ages. But more discernibly, the bulk of what's here are Scott's lo-fi home recordings, stripped of of G/T's traditionally robust arrangements, often times just pared down to vocals and guitars. Listening tohis "solo" traipses is not unlike witnessing the intermediate construction phase of a home - a relatively sturdy foundation had been poured and the frame was undeniably taking shape - but Miller was nowhere close to breaking out the paint cans, or even driving the last nail into the roof.
That being said, there's a bundle of sheer jewels in the gestation phase to enjoy here - "Laurel Canyon," "Treat It Like My Own" and "the Come On," all possessed The earmarks of classic Game Theory and would have made pristine additions to the band's storied catalog. Furthermore, there's a bevy of prototypes that eventually made the migration to that aforementioned first Loud Family record - full band recorded versions (plus supplemental acoustic demos) of "Inverness" and "Idiot Son," alongside homegrown takes of "The Second Grade Applauds," "Even You," and the phenomenal "Go Back To Sleep Little Susie (Aerodeliria)." And there's covers, even! Eno's "Needle in the Camel's Eye," a semi-acapella reading of the Beatles "All My Loving," and Rundgren's "Forget All About it" receive the bedroom treatment, and even more riveting a radio session take of Big Star's "Back of a Car" from 1989 that's been making the rounds among Game Theory bootleg aficionados for ages. Michael Quercio gets some time on the mic as well via "Water," initially appearing on a G/T fan club cassette release, and a home recording of the Three O'Clock's 1983-era "A Day in Erotica."
Again, I don't fully grasp the rationale for why some of the bonus cuts weren't included amidst the main course (and vice versa), but that contention aside, Across The Barrier Of Sound: PostScript is manna for Game Theory fans still holding out for wholly unique and unreleased Scott Miller tunes. A bit of a hodgepodge? Sure. Moreover, couldn't half of this album been alternately categorized as Loud Family demos, and set aside for say, a Record Store Day release? It's hard to argue not, but in the grand scheme of things we're blessed to have this embarrassment of riches at our disposal - and to get a glimpse of where Game Theory might have been headed had circumstances played out a little differently.
It's available now on CD or double LP vinyl straight from Omnivore. Itunes and Amazon will take care of your digitally as well.
Here are as many requests I could get to. If I missed any you can let me know in the comments. If anyone has the files for the P.S. I Love YouHeart of Stone disc I uploaded last year please get in touch. I seem to have lost them entirely and can't locate the original CD right now. Thanks.
Sorry of it seems like I've taken another sabbatical. I've got to work on giving you more content than I have been. These are phenomenally wack times, so I thought I'd go with something today that sort of exudes a similar WTF? quotient. Like a lot of discs I share, there's little to no relevant details online pertaining to 3rd Degree, save for a Discogs entry and a couple Ebay listings that chalk this one up to be nothing more than synth pop. That borders on grossly inaccurate and shortsighted. I don't think this trio (ostensibly from Los Angeles) had much intention of skewing to a particular genre, but All You Wanna Do? radiates an undeniably pronounced, not to mention dark, energy. A good 50% percent of that energy resides in the drumsticks of skin-basher Thom Douglas whose savage, bongo-enhanced
attack would've been enough to make John Bonham or Keith Moon wilt on a
good day. The man's fearsome, tribal-rhythmic assault permeates near
every damn nook and cranny of this disc, but beyond that, a band is
obviously more than just percussion, and on many songs (especially
those occupying side one) frontman Jan Alan Henderson is a malestrom on
the mic, channeling the intensity and fervor of such '60s counterculture belters as Edwin Starr and Barry McGuire. There's more than a little
of that Vietnam War-era urgency on All You Wanna Do?, and even if it
lends a slightly dated feel to 3rd Degree it's well suited for such
sociopolitical screeds as "Stop Molesting the Earth" and "Voodoo Rhythm." Additionally we’re treated to some icy, post-punk guitar constructs on
the aforementioned “Stop Molesting...” plus "Deadly Innocence," and the all instro “Solar Surf,” the most legit
examples of this trio’s supposed "new wave" bona fides. Nonetheless 3rd Degree weren’t
about to give Killing Joke or Siouxsie a run for their money anytime soon. So yeah, this one is a bit of a challenge to pinpoint, but in the era of Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, and conversely, sacred indie totems Husker Du and the Minutemen, this threesome were in a veritable league of their own. This appears to be the band's first and final offering. 01. Put Me On Hold 02. Invisible Man 03. Voodoo Rhythm 04. Solar Surf 05. Light Year 06. Deadly Innocence 07. Stop Molesting the Earth 08. All You Wanna Do
Five decades is a long time to be playing the rock and roll game. Yes, technically that's how long the Pedaljets career has spanned...if you count the 2020's and almost two full decades of inactivity between the early 90s stretching well into the 'aughts. And for what it's worth we've been on their tail since 2007 when I shared tracks from their phenomenal 1988 debut, Today, Today.
Gestating in Kansas all the way back to 1984, the 'jets brand of serrated guitar-jangle was a tangy and sometimes insular approximation of contemporary icons REM and the Replacements. If not wholly groundbreaking, there was a subtle mystique at play making Today, Today, and a well circulated demo tape from a couple years prior, staples among the few thousand fans who were lucky enough to have made their acquaintance. Fast forward a couple years to the band self-titled second album, which brought a leaner and sturdier Pedaljets to the fore. Perhaps not as distinctive as their debut, 1990's Pedaljets exuded some discernible muscularity and tighter songs. Not satisfied with the original mix of that record the album underwent a significant re-calibration and reissue in 2008. Coincidentally or not, right around the same time the Pedaljets started to play gigs on their own home turf again, and in 2013 their belated third album, What's In Between surfaced.
If fans thought they were lucking out with a reunion record seven years ago, how about an even better and more consistent follow-up to that? Amazingly, still boasting their original core lineup of leadman/guitarist Mike Allmayer, bass twiddler Matt Kesler and drummer Rob Morrow The Pedaljets have not only defied the longevity odds but have returned with what is arguably the best disc they've put their namesake on in over thirty years. The freshly minted Twist the Lens is not a throwback to their college rock days of yore, but a bold assertion of where their creative impetus has been residing in the here and now. Things start off with a veritable bang on vigorous opener "Disassociation Blues," a taught, infectious riff rocker. This formula is repeated to even greater effect on "Loved a Stone," "One Away," and Lens' punky closer, "The Fader." Nonetheless, this album isn't all pent-up aggression mind you. Things are tempered considerably on mid-tempo keepers "Placid City Girl" and "Uncounted Heads," suggesting an absorption of '90s Wilco and the like, and the Jets even pitch us a couple of bona fide ballads in the guise of "Sleepy Girl" and the melancholia-laced "What Only Cats Chase." In fact, there isn't one iota of triteness or cliched maneuver in sight on Twist the Lens, a remarkable feat for any band of veteran status. You can hear the results for yourself at Amazon downloads, or buy a CD or album (blood red vinyl, kids) straight from the band.
Sorry for another "drought" folks. Haven't had much time to digitize lately, so I went with one of the dwindling out-of-print CDs left in my collection that isn't available from the usual sources. As was the situation with last weeks post of Quinn the Eskimo, City Giants were another UK cold case from a particularly golden era in the British isles indie pop scene.
With a shelf-life spanning merely a year and a half, C/G were composed of four North Wales to London transplants whose discography prior to this anthology CD was a 1987 7" ep (represented here on tracks 3-5). Seemingly inspired by early Aztec Camera, and to a lesser extent The Smiths, the Giants belied their larger than life moniker with a considerably modest sonic aptitude, not far removed from contemporaries The June Brides and Bodines. Like the aforementioned there's a preciousness to their music, but these gents stopped just short of any overt twee transgressions. Of the fourteen studio cuts here you'll find little that is brash or overpowering, and while Provenance isn't uniformly revelatory it is consistently satisfying. Two selections in particular stick out as comparatively polished, "Stay Heartbroken" and "Forgiveness" recorded during the band's waning days in '88, and pointed to some serious commercial ambitions had they stuck it out a little longer. Guitarist Paul Davies published a a book in 2014, not so much about music, though there is a brief detour where he discusses the band. Unfortunately, this reissue was almost as limited as the band's now collectible single, and it took some time before I came across a reasonably priced copy, but as usual, I digress. Dig in.
01. The Wednesday Girl
02. Million Faces
03. Have You Got Any Idea
04. Little Next to Nothing
05. Where Love's Concerned
06. You're the Only Person
07. The Hardest Book to Read
08. The Paragon
09. She'll Twist Me Up
10. Stay Heartbroken
12. Heat And Inspiration (live)
13. Jamming On A Sunday (live)
14. Let's Make Him Wanna Wanna (live)
15. My Soul Is Your Home (live)
16. The Athletic Affair
17. A Collection Of
18. I Ate My Lucky Star
2007 compilation featuring no less than 31 key tracks from this band's catalog, albeit not always the album versions. Per the liner notes: This is for the people who have everything we ever released or the ones who have nothing we ever released.
**Please do not reveal artists in comments!** Hear
If Quinn the Eskimo strike you as a "lost" band from the Brit C86 indie pop scene...that's pretty much because they were. So lost in fact, the quartet surprisingly haven't been anthologized on any of the myriad of recent/semi-recent compilations documenting their rather revered stripe of music. Groomed on the likes of The Smiths, Orange Juice, early Sarah Records, etc, the quartet in question may not have arrived at the table first, but their jangle/strum aesthetic was tempered by mild folky undercurrents (thankfully not in the same wheelhouse as say, The Proclaimers. Typically with bands of Quinn's ilk I gravitate to the more upbeat songs, and with that in mind, "Samantha Rain," "Eastwood," and the Byrds-ian persuasions of the sprite "Breathing" begged many a repeat listen. Despite their moniker, you'll find no Dylan-isms to unfurl on any iota of this record. A concise blurb summing up The Mountain is a Dandy can be perused here. Enjoy.
01. Samantha Rain
03. Big Hedge
04. The Haymaker
05. Like a Flame
07. Once Upon a Day
08. The Wreck
10. The Importance of Being Honest