Saturday, October 31, 2020

Silver Jet - Plastiqa ep (1996)

Silver Jet's only crime was signing to a major label (Virgin) too early in their career before having a chance to garner a reputation, and even more egregiously, credibility.  Funny thing was if you were one of the lucky few that got a hold of their lone album, 1997's Pull Me Up, Drag Me Down, this threesome proved they had the latter in spades.  Too high-strung to be adopted by the power-pop revivalist crowd, and not dangerous enough even for the low hanging "punk" minions, Silver Jet's album simply came and went.  The four song Plastiqa is a concise and convincing appetizer for Pull Me Up, hinging on two album cuts, plus a demo of another LP track ("Kid") and a cover of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust era "Star."  If Redd Kross' Show World (also released in '96) and the first TSAR LP shook your world in the least, you'd be hard pressed not to enjoy these guys.

01. Plastiqa
02. Star (demo)
03. Meant to Be
04. Kid (demo)


Crashing Plains - Kamikaze Gospel tape (1988, Sticktime)

Even in the big bad old '80s when the DIY cassette album peaked (almost to be outdone by similar ubiquity in the early/mid '90s), it was rare to find ones of consistency by genuinely talented artists.  Ventura, CA's Crashing Plains are one of the relatively few bands I've featured that by and large managed to nail it on their 1988 cartridge, Kamikaze Gospel.  It helps to have memorable songs I suppose, and this now rarely mentioned and long departed indie rock trio boasted some really killer ones, in roughly the same vein of Twin/Tone-era Soul Asylum.  "I Dream of Structures," "History Starts Now," and the blistering "Reoccurring Dream," all pack a solid dollop of bite, verve and serrated guitar lines.  The Plains cool their heels on "Bury the Past," while "Holy War," is highlighted by a poignant, extended a cappella intro, before busting out into something more savage.  Kamikaze... infrequently lags here and there, but overall is a well above average keeper. 

Frontman Mike Schulte has assembled a lengthy YouTube playlist, predominantly of songs he's performed, including a handful of C/P tunes including this early rehearsal recording.  

01. Someone Else's Beat
02. Holy War
03. I Dream of Structures
04. We're All Sinners
05. Bury the Past
06. History Starts Now
07. Nothing at All
08. It Must Be the Heat
09. Nowhere to Go
10. Reoccurring Dream
11. When the Search is Over


Sunday, October 25, 2020

You threw the bricks that built this wall.

Four eps from four fairly disparate artists, with no less than three different decades represented.

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


Saturday, October 24, 2020

Mavelous Sauce - s/t (1991, Eureka)

Leading something of a double life, Marvelous Sauce hailed from Buffalo, but had a solid foothold a few hundredths of a latitudinal degree due north in nearby Ontario, Canada where their label, Eureka, was based, as was much of their following. The then-fresh faced foursome bore a loungy slant, falling far short of being mistaken for a "lounge act."  Overtly pop, with nary a grungy overtone or cavalcade of distortion pedals to fall back on, Marvelous Sauce were content to be their own animal, and a refined one at that. They vaguely resembled a more spartan Jellyfish on "The Amended Will," with some of their more piano-centric tunes suggesting what Ben Folds Five would have in mind later in the decade. "Sister Knows What to Do," wields a well-placed dash of blue-eyed soul, and if straight-up guitar pop is your hankering you'll find abundant charm ensconced in "Medium" and "On My Floor," the latter of which was accompanied with a pro-shot music video.  The band is known to reunite on occasion, and if you want more details on M/S this archived Buffalo News article is your best bet.

01. Sister Knows What to Do
02. Animals and Bicycles
03. The Amended Will
04. Medium
05. Strength and Sobriety
06. Talk About You
07. Move on Living
08. On My Floor
09. Underwater
10. Temporarily Aside


Thursday, October 22, 2020

L'etranger - Sticks and Stones ep (1986)

Per the bio on their Wiki page, Toronto's L'etranger began life as punks, before closing their career out with this four-songer, which found them sporting a modus operandi in tandem with the more pedestrian strains of the left-of-the-dial spectrum.  In short, Stick and Stones isn't the most distinctive record of it's era, but the quartet gets by with amply appealing and catchy tunes.  If you enjoyed what Crowded House, and to a lesser extent, the 415 Records contingent was up to in the mid-80s, you'll probably have a thing for L'etranger.  The danceable title cut features an extra funky bass-line, revealing a luscious guitar-pop center.  

01. Time and Place
02. Trail of Tears
03. Wrestling With the Nice Stuff
04. Sticks and Stones


Monday, October 19, 2020

Notes on new music: The Well Wishers and The Black Watch.

The Well Wishers's Jeff Shelton is among the first of several artists forced into involuntary quarantine this year to actualize the fruits of their labor during this inadvertent downtime.  In the five-month span Shelf Life was written, mapped out and executed, the man in question did not master any exotic instruments like an Alphorn or Sarrusophone, nor did he tap into his subconscious for a concept piece on nucleosynthesis, and heck, Shelf Life isn't even that long-promised album of Deftones covers he's had on the back burner for waaaaaay too long now (gonna keep us in suspense another year, huh Jeff?).  In the grand scheme of things, Shelton's eleventh entry into the Well Wisher's saga is essentially business as usual.  Thematically, Shelf Life isn't steeped in the trials and tribulations of the odious pandemica that is 2020.  Instead it's another airtight collection of linear power pop, teasing the Posies and what seems like a never ending wellspring of inspiration so many of us absorbed back when Not Lame mail order ruled our snail mail and in-boxes.  Plenty of crunchy delights here ("We Grow Up" & "Hide Away"), the occasional amped-out surge ("All the Same") and even a comparatively tranquil respite "Secrets and Lies."  Shelton's overall trajectory is a gracefully maturing one, but you'll no doubt mistake Shelf Life for anything other than a Well Wisher's album. You'll find it on Bandcamp, Amazon and Kool Kat.

Boasting a prolific stripe wide enough to give Robert Pollard a run for his money, this year, L.A.'s Black Watch are kickin' Covid's derriere as well, with Fromthing Somethat checking in as the band's second full length of 2020, following quickly on the heels of Brilliant Failures. So much of what I opined of that record I'm tempted to cut and paste here, but, I did something with Fromthing that I typically vow from doing with any current release that I'm dedicating press to - I read the accompanying bio.  

Frontman John Andrew Fredrick reveals that there were no rehearsals for the album. I would assume this isn't to say that not everything we hear is the first or second take, but dense, billowy constructs "Saint Fair Isle Sweater" and "Such Like Friendly Demons" sound gloriously labored over, and hardly bear the vibe of something knocked off in a couple hours.  Furthermore, this is one of the most diverse records B/W have spawned, skirting from "The Nothing That Is'" danceable, New Order-esque textures to the post-punk throb of "The Lonesome Death of Mary Hansen," to the melancholic but sonically bold strains of Fromthat's penultimate "For Always Then to Keep." As is almost standard for a Black Watch record there's no shortage of Fredrick's Anglophile-caressed connective tissue emanating throughout, upping the depth ante all that higher.  With their nineteenth album in the book, the Black Watch make the perfect case for a millennium-spanning, open-ended career.  Fromthing Somethat releases this Friday on Atom Records, and is also available physically and digitally through Bandcamp.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

And Jimmy's number 101, he knows one day he'll be one.

Debut from 1978.  Relatively speaking, a basic, then again I'm still surprised how many people haven't heard this record in it's entirety.  Nice crisp, tight production really helped this album stand out, and the band never conjured up a follow-up quite as consistent as this.

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


Cool it Reba - Money Fall Out the Sky ep (1982, Hannibal)

On their lone ep this cheeky NYC bunch blended rhythmically sentient yet accessible new-wave flavorings with temptingly clangy guitar lines.  Known to frequent CBGBs, and even having the good fortune of landing opening slots for REM and Billy Idol, Cool it Reba struck me as being a phenomenally well kept secret.  It's difficult to base a band off of merely four songs, but to their credit, with such a lean oeuvre I have to hand it to CiR for making it a challenge to pick a favorite. If I was to remark on any of Money Fall Out the Sky's quadrant of entries, the title piece concerns a literal interpretation of it's premise, wherein millions pour from the heavens and such matters as say, inflation, are instantly relegated to sheer triviality.  Am digging the chiming chords in "I Saw Snakes" which briefly channels the aptitude of then-contemporaries Pylon.  Should you be so inclined, feel free to browse an archival blogsite of Cool it Reba memorabilia and such here.  

01. Money Fall Out the Sky
02. History of Love
03. I Saw Snakes
04. Out Where the Buses Don't Run


Saturday, October 17, 2020

The Mirrors - s/t (1987, Banger)

I had seen copies of this one floating around for awhile before finally taking the plunge, or more accurately examining my reflection in The Mirrors.  Thanks to usurping such a ubiquitous word for a moniker, researching this five-some made for a hapless task. From a sonic standpoint these alt-leaning, albeit demonstrably AOR grounded Huntington Beach dudes could have been riding high on the crest of a major MTV wave had they been blessed with major label validation.  No, you won't necessarily find boatloads of mystique as you fix your gaze into The Mirrors, but this affair is more inviting than you might expect thanks to frontman Brian Boru's heightened melodic chops and Paul Gilette's and Nick Random's assertive attack that threatens to propel "Black Slax" and "Roll Along" into rugged power pop terrain. The album can be previewed in it's entirety on YouTube.

01. Roll ALong
02. One More Kiss
03. Gp With Me
04. Angelina's Dream
05. Black Slax
06. WM. Mirror
07. Bracelets
08. The Only One
09. Cutting Through the Crowd


Sunday, October 11, 2020

If that's your girlfriend in the corner, why's she looking straight at me?

From 1994.  Another frontman gone way too early.  

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


Saturday, October 10, 2020

New Marines - No Peace mLP (1985, American, Enigma)

So far as I know there's not one copy of this record in existence that doesn't skip all over the place.  That includes my two copies, the ones sent out to DJs and press people, or even the stray version of the New Marines No Peace that might be chilling in the used section of your local record dispensary.  This sadly, structurally flawed disk existed only on vinyl, enjoyed one initial pressing in '83, and evidently no gatekeeper at Enigma sat down for a mere half hour to scrutinize a test copy for any hiccups or irregularities.  An unbelievable set of circumstances, and given the now aged time frame of it's release there's no evidence the issue was officially addressed.  

So why am I going to the trouble of sharing it, warts and all?  A couple reasons, namely I found a rip of No Peace where a good half of the tunes play back relatively smoothly.  Secondly, audio imperfections aside, it's a stimulating concoction of new-wave and mainstream-ish pop rock, with catchy and incisive cuts like "No Peace Through Chemistry" and "When We Were Young," that maintain enough of a nervy edge to keep things interesting and warrant repeat listenings.  By the time you hit "J.O." that's where things get bumpy and the blemishes become glaringly obvious.  Some great music here, but as I've observed I have serious doubts that a properly functioning copy of this album ever made it's way to market.  If any of ya'll have any insight into what went awry with No Peace, or can offer a superior digitized version, don't be a stranger.  Thanks to whomever went to the effort of making the rip I'm presenting today.

01. No Peace Through Chemistry
02. She Won't Wear That Collar
03. When We Were Young
04. Style is the Way
05. J.O.
06. Lift Pad
07. Do it For Science


Thursday, October 8, 2020

Venus in Furs - Real Moral Fibre (1986, Backs )

I was nothing short of buoyed upon hearing the first track off this crackly slab of wax, "Love Lies," a wondrous six minute salvo of new romantic synth pop oozing a great Peter hook-style bass line, the rhythmic propensity of A Flock of Seagulls, all couched in the more accessible vestiges of Echo and the Bunnymen.  And then...I heard the remainder of Real Moral Fibre, and soon learned that said Venus in Furs jewel of an opener was very much the exception, not the rule.  It isn't that the rest of the LP isn't worth tuning into, so much as the going takes a turn for the difficult quickly.  ViF definitely had a Jones for insular prog ("Mashima's Sepukko") and more so goth ("New Terrorists" and "Verve").  Not the most unenviable plateaus for a band to be stranded on, but if you're salivating for anything resembling a hook, ...Moral Fibre may as well begin and end with the aforementioned "Love Lies."  Apologies in advance for the abundant surface noise on this record, which despite my misgivings really deserves to be remastered for a digital medium of some sort.  

01. Love Lies
02. Your Lover Just Called
03. Verve
04. Mishima's Sepukko
05. Terrorists
06. Wunderkind
07. The Hand That Squeezed The Heart


Sunday, October 4, 2020

… but this is hopeless I’m handing in my notice, giving my four days…

A b-sides and rarities compilation from 1997 from one of my Aussie go-to bands of this era. Tons of covers to indulge in as well.

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


Thursday, October 1, 2020 return soon.

Hiya. Won't be able to share any new tunes this week kids, but I might be able to revive some of the dead link requests this Sunday night (yes, I've been seeing your comments and emails).  Thanx.