Sunday, January 31, 2021

...but up 'til now no vaccination to give you back your reputation.

From 1987. This album was a revelation for me at the time, and got the ball rolling, so to speak. 

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


Saturday, January 30, 2021

Reptile House - Listen to the Powersoul (1988, Merkin)

Reptile House slithered out of Baltimore, MD, circa the mid-80s and boasted enough visibility and talent for Dischord Records to take notice, who consequently released the band's debut ep, I Stumble As the Crow Flies in 1985.  A fine record, sporting a quartet of four inspired and emotive post-hardcore salvos with well placed melodic undercurrents.  They waited three years for the follow-up, and given the tendencies of any young and fledgling artist, Reptile House had evolved significantly from those promising rumblings.  I'm just not sure if they traversed in a more preferable direction.  The songs on ...Powersoul are considerably lengthier - not necessarily a negative development in itself, but frontman Daniel Lindenstruth brings a shoutier vocal parlance to table this time (loosely in the vein of Die Kreuzen) that doesn't always flatter what his band seems to be attempting, especially on the eight-minute concluding piece, "Sky Head."  Reptile's aesthetic is varied here, but despite the occasional lack of focus they manage to land some memorable moments like "ParaPolyAnna," the title track, and the ornately poetic and verbose "Mother Michigan" all of which benefit from some measure of tuneful persuasion.  Members of R/H later found themselves in the lineups of more prominent combos ranging form Glenn Danzig's Samhain, Distorted Pony and Lungfish.

01. Power Soul
02. Ike's Hammer
03. Evil Iron Any Day Now
04. ParaPolyAnna
05. Engine
06. Mother Michigan
07. Sky Head


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Spinning Jennys - It's It It It 7" (1991, Tea Time)

Not to be confused with the Bay Area band of the same name (and approximate spelling), these Spinning Jennys were from Norfolk...Britain.  And they definitely sounded like they were a product of the UK, merging the aggro, guitar-lacquered surge of contemporaries the Wonder Stuff and Senseless Things with a mildly hazy dream-pop subtext (though I'm sure no one was mistaking this five-piece for My Bloody Valentine back in their day). Pitch in a healthy dollop of melodic chops and dense arrangements and you've got a downright keeper on your hands.  Of the three cuts here, the chiming, bass-driven "Supermarine" is this 45's anomaly, evoking the more lucid tones that the Stone Roses were taking to the bank.  This single and a few compilation songs were the only recorded provisions the Jennys left us. 

A. It's It It It (Part VII)
B1. Supermarine
B2. I'd Laugh If Your Head Exploded


Sunday, January 24, 2021

We can rip apart those socialists and all their damn taxes...

The Japanese variant of this band's 2012 sophomore album.

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


Saturday, January 23, 2021

SFT Boys - s/t ep (1983)

Blatantly superficial as this judgement may strike you (maybe because it is) this quintet from Pennsauken, NJ had a couple of strikes going against them right off the bat.  Based on what, pray tell?  None other than the SFT Boys' token lineup pic on the rear sleeve of this EP, plainly exhibiting the cardinal sin of no less than two band members adorning headbands...and another chap with a mustache and potential mullet.  I know, I know, it was the '80s, but such a sight never diminishes my instinct to shudder, however briefly.  The music fares better, especially on side one, featuring two radio-ready slices of power pop, "What You're Up Against" and "As a Matter of Fact," both zesty bangers with impressive harmonies and a well chosen emphasis on guitars over synths.  The flipside throws us a rather patent but tolerable ballad, "Tomorrow Boy," and the concluding "Underground" doesn't give me much excuse to grippe, save for some faint, randomly inserted robotic vocals. It appears this DIY ep may be all the Boys submitted for public consumption.  

01. What You're Up Against
02. As a Matter of Fact
03. Tomorrow Boy
04. Underground


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Matthew Sweet - Catspaw (2021, Omnivore) - A peak under the hood.

There are untold artists who initially accumulate a respectable following based on a few minor/moderate hits only to see diminishing returns with successive albums, yet still manage to maintain a modest core audience of dedicated adherents. A lot of them put the emphasis on touring, and put writing and recording on the back burner, while some have never strayed from the prolific work ethic that established them with a fanbase to begin with.  A few troubadours that come to mind in this category would be Pete Yorn, Juliana Hatfield, and Matthew Sweet.  As for the initial swath of fans that flocked to Sweet during his power-pop heyday that made 1991's Girlfriend his signature success (not to mention subsequent triumphs Altered Beast and 100% Fun) a good swath of them gradually fell off the bandwagon.  Of course, this is a loss to Sweet and the aforementioned, especially in terms of sheer revenue - but those former listeners are missing out on a wealth of new music in the process.  From a spreadsheet standpoint, his latest, Catspaw is likely to rack up only a fraction of the sales Girlfriend, or even say Blue Sky on Mars garnered.  Luckily, for those who haven't tuned-out, music is an un-quantifiable commodity, and the man in question seems to be angling for some fresh chords, not to mention a tact that wasn't present on his more renown works of yore.

Catspaw squeezes a dozen cuts into about forty minutes - immensely par for the course in terms of Matthew Sweet records. But straight from the get-go, on the initiating "Blown Away" something feels different about this one. Not only does Sweet sing, but his guitar does just as much so, peeling off searing fills that would sound perfectly at home on a vintage Neil Young and Crazy Horse album.  In fact the demeanor of "Blown Away" sounds considerably more sobering and beleaguered than we're accustom to hearing from him, and while the tunes that immediately follow it ("Give a Little" and "Come Home") are comparatively lighter in posture, the sonic context of Catspaw arches, aches and quite frankly cranks like Young, not to mention other heritage-worthy purveyors of classic rock.  Nonetheless this is unmistakably a Sweet record with no shortage of chorus hooks and plaintive ruminations on romance and self-actualization. If you're looking for respites more in keeping with say, his last few records like Tomorrow Forever and the Record Store Day-exclusive LP, Wicked System of Things, you're likely to latch onto "Coming Soon" and "Stars Explode." Not 100% Fun, nor 100% flawless, Catspaw is bejeweled with wailing guitar textures and creative impulses that nicely contrast with what we typically hear from this semi-charmed, power pop maven.  By the way, as a first, Sweet is responsible for handling all instruments here, save for drums which are commandeered by his longtime accomplice and Velvet Crush veteran Ric Menck. Catspaw is available direct from Omnivore, Amazon, and I would hope a physical vendor in your own corner of the world.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Let’s re-dress this mannequin and let these ghosts in...

From 2000. Some people would term this post-hardcore. Others, emo. Me?  Both of the above, but I'd be remiss if I didn't factor in this quartet's cunning, left-of-center agility.  

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


Friday, January 15, 2021

Blue Spots - s/t (1983, Sound Machine)

With it's rather budget constrained, Apple McIntosh-generated graphic (which truthfully, I love) adorning it's light silver sleeve, it's kind of tough to go into this one with any firm prejudices in mind.  If the cover strikes you as random, you'll be happy to learn that Kalamazoo, Michigan's Blue Spots didn't have much of a fixed modus operandi either - except perhaps to score a record contract.  Per an archived 1983 article in the Kalamazoo News, the trio essentially regarded what would be their lone LP as a glorified demo to field to prospective labels.  In the same article, the band indicates they were definitely not angling for the Top 40 market.  To their advantage, virtually nothing here remotely resembles a hit, rather the Spots run through a pastiche of styles and tempos yielding a dozen spartan, homegrown tunes with nods to new wave/art rock to more conventional fare.  Never quite seizing on a definitive sound, coupled with a charming, amateurish aptitude, not everything they flung onto the canvass made an impression, but the overarching impression I'm left with is that these chaps functioned most effectively in relatively concise confines.  The punky "Two Fools" is a nervy and appealing 85-second delight, as are other short 'n sweet morsels "Don't" and "Time Out."  Blue Spots' modest chops were a work in progress to say the least, and probably more by sheer coincidence than intention, they would have slotted in appropriately with the late '70s Cleveland and Akron, OH art/proto-punk circuits.  I wouldn't expect anything visionary from this record, but I can't help but wonder what they would have come up with had they stuck it out for another album or two, and more importantly, developed a stronger sonic acumen. There's little info to be had on Blue Spots, so you're more than welcome to enlighten me.

01. See Her in the Sun
02. Don't
03. I Always Miss
04. Experiment That Failed
05. I Wanna Be With You
06. Life in the City
07. Girl
08. Two Fools
09. Rock 'n Roll's Ok
10. Industrial Waste
11. This Girl is Mine
12. Time Out


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Senseless Things - The First of Too Many (1991) - R.I.P. Mark Keds.

(Sigh).  I hate presenting music in conjunction with a passing.  In fact, it wasn't until about 24 hours ago that I had any intention of sharing this LP at all.  NME and other credible news sources reported yesterday that Mark Keds (actually Mark Myers), frontman for London, UK's Senseless Things (among other less renown acts) passed away on January 10, unexpectedly from what I understand.  Yet another filament of my adolescence had abruptly blackened out.  If you've familiarized yourself with S/T, you're almost certainly acquainted with this album (technically the only one they released in the States).  The Things were loosely clustered in the same camp as then-contemporary, British aggro-pop acts like Mega City Four, Ned's Atomic Dustbin and the Wonder Stuff.  Skewing most closely to the Megas (not to mention Montreal's Doughboys), Keds lead his quartet by way of a melodic maelstrom of punky power chords and strident vocals, with an upbeat but often bratty demeanor that at the end of the day was fairly indigenous. My interest in the band may have started and largely revolved around The First of Too Many, but didn't end there, even though I failed to investigate their other albums until several years after the fact.  

The album's title was a bit of a misnomer, as it wasn't the combo's debut (that honor goes to 1989's Postcard C.V.) rather their sophomore effort.  And definitely not a "difficult" follow-up record at that, as it perfectly conveyed the Things penchant for brash, riff-happy salvos paired with themes that exuded just enough frivolity to lighten the mood of anyone within earshot.  Drawing on inspirational antecedents like the Buzzcocks, and generally keeping tunes in the two-and-a-half minute range, the Senseless Things didn't exactly set the table for Britpop, but they managed to churn out a few modest hit singles in the UK during that ballyhooed era.  On the other side of the pond ...Too Many proved to be the band's lone offering, outside scarcely seen and pricier imports of subsequent albums.  There's rarely a wasted nano-second here, with "Everybody's Gone," "Easy to Smile" and "Ex Teenager" proving to be some of their most definitive moments.

Kerrang! offered a lengthier piece on Mark Keds life and musical exploits, though I (along with other fans) have suspicions about the actual circumstances that lead to his death.  In addition to ...Too Many, I previously shared S/T's third album Empire of the Senseless.  Finally, I'm sitting on several folders of b-sides, rarities and live tracks, so who knows, this may not be Wilfully Obscure's final word on these folks.  

01. Everybody's Gone
02. Best Friend
03. Ex Teeneager
04. It's Cool To Hang Out With Your Ex
05. 19 Blue
06. Should I Feel It
07. Lip Radio
08. Easy to Smile
09. In Love Again
10. Got it at the Delmar
11. American Dad
12. Radio Spiteful
13. Chicken
14. Wrong Number
15. In Different Tongues
16. Fishing at Tescos

Now reissued and expanded on Cherry Red!

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Forever learn as time goes by.

You've probably heard of them...but have you heard them?  This 1990 compilation is the ideal jumping off point. 

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


A relatively acute case of underblogging - Best of the blog mix 2020.

Well, it wasn't my intention of going the entire week without sharing any fresh, vintage tunes, but at the very least I was planning on my latest annual compendium, which is usually get to early in January than this.  Hopefully this will be the exception and not the rule.  Needless to say I didn't partake in as much record shopping this year as I normally do.  While we can chalk that up to a one very obvious (and tragic) aspect, I've accumulated so much stuff over the past few years that I really didn't have an excuse for being so slack in posting entries.  Hard to say what 2021 might hold, but content-wise thus far I've been less than generous - but hopefully I'll be turning the corner on that soon. 

The 26 songs occupying the folder that you may opt to capture to your hard disk of choice, are arranged loosely at best, with most of the more fun, less heady selections occupying the first quarter, with the last quarter placing the emphasis on the opposite tenor, you might say.  What's in between varies in terms of mood/mode/modus operandi, but I'll let you draw your own conclusions. I'm pressed for time to elaborate on any particular titles, though I plan on attaching links to the original artist entries, if not later today, soon.  As usual I've tossed in a handful of previously unshared kernels that are noted with an asterisk.  Speaking of which, I'm looking for a quality rip of Ghost Of An American Airman's Some Day LP from 1988.  I'm assuming few copies made it to mainland America from the band's native Ireland.  At any rate, dig in.

01. Great Outdoors - World At My Shoes
02. Cool It Reba - I Saw Snakes
03. The Choice - Candy
04. Secrets - Uniform*
05. Rockin Beats - Foreign Girl
06. Ring Theatre - Mrs. Ann
07. Children's Crusade - Your Time is Through
08. Chicken Scratch - House the Size of Your Mind
09. Quinn the Eskimo - Samantha Rain
10. The Waxmen - Hands That Speak
11. Ghost Of An American Airman - I Hear Voices*
12. Airstrip - English Guns
13. Eyes - Disneyland
14. Sgt. Arms - Company Girl*
15. The Seen - Younger Than Yesterday
16. The Heats - Night Shift
17. 11th Hour - Pictures In My Room
18. The Glory Box - Aarr
19. Jet Black Factory - Tonight
20. Crashing Plains - I Dream of Structures
21. Nothing But Happiness - Buried in the Flowers
22. Friends of Ghosts - Eleven Boy
23. Red House - 25 Reasons
24. Bond Bergland - Found Wonder
25. Nice Strong Arm - Minds Lie
26. Lifers - Wealthy Additions


Sunday, January 3, 2021

...blowing bucks into banks with no shame.

From 1992.  By major label standards this one was downright murky, offering grungy, but cagey sonic maneuvers that belied chilly post-punk undertones. Practically became a way of life for yours truly, and I had the t-shirt to prove it.

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



Friday, January 1, 2021

Baby Boom - Driven too Far ep + 7" (1987, Cheese)

Believe it or not there's more than one band that christened themselves Baby Boom, but this one happened to roll out of Red Bank, NJ in the mid-80s.  Not pandering enough to appeal to the hard rock set, nor did they emanate enough ingenuity to make them a fixture at college radio, B/B nevertheless locked in on a formula that should've accorded them something more significant than mere local notoriety.  The distinctly rocking "Working Women" loosely borders on power pop, but the quartet's janglier tendencies amidst "Out of Nowhere" and "Reason to Hide," definitely skewed closer to that vein.  My copy of Driven Too Far was bundled with a bonus 1986 7", titled The Baby Boom Garage Sessions.  "Raining Glass" is four swell minutes of ringing, melodic guitar pop, that for a few seconds there recalls R.E.M.'s "Gardening at Night."  Heartfelt as the flip, "The Problem With Vicky and Laura," is, I found it a little too ballad-y for my discriminating ears.  For better or worse, there's really not any further details to be had on these folks, save for Discogs who inform us of a preceding single.  

01. Working Women
02. Out of Nowhere
03. Reason to Hide
04. Broken Records

bonus 7"
A. Raining Glass
B. The Problem With Vicky and Laura