Sunday, July 25, 2021

Speak the new language!

I think I outdid myself in terms of "avant" specimens for this week's Mystery Monday. Surely this 1994 disk is one of the most artistically daring and downright bizarre albums to bear a major label logo. And would you believe the drummer later became an SNL alum and this years Record Store Day ambassador? 

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


Saturday, July 24, 2021

Well! Well! Well! - What Life's About 7'' (1986, Big Store)

I said it ten years ago when I shared their first album (...And Rise) and I'll say it again - it's impossible to believe Well! Well! Well! weren't born and bred in the States, based on that record, and this single which I came into possession of even more belatedly. These four gents made music that smacks of what your typical Homestead Records band would amount to if Mitch Easter took them under his wing - though I can't seem to think of any direct comparisons to their contemporaries on either side of the pond.  The clangly, chiming guitar-work is to die for, and the bittersweet edge WWW seemed insistent on incorporating into both songs here (doubly so for "Killing Memories") is icing on an already delectable cake. I definitely need to get my hands on more of their stuff, which is cheap enough from the usual vendors, so long as you're willing to shell out $20 for shipping, but anyway.  Enjoy.

A. What Life's About
B. Killing Memories


Monday, July 19, 2021

Pounding Serfs - s/t (1989, K)

This strummy, Calvin Johnson-produced quartet gave deference to both electric and acoustic guitars, with the latter winning out in terms of frequency employed on their debut (and finale) LP for the storied K Records imprint.  Seizing on a mid-fidelity sweet spot, the Pounding Serfs were about as "folk" as say, The Walkabouts and Feelies, yet not rambunctiously high strung either (one fine exception surfacing in the slice-of-life tale of mistaken identity "Let Go," wherein the combo kick up some angsty aggression).  Sticking to a plaintive and often topical songwriting formula, the Serfs don't necessarily hit you over the head with too much of anything, save for relentlessly earnest charm, well placed harmonies, and a penchant for warm, raw analogue hues. This is a fine way to spend a half hour.  John Lunsford eventually graduated to The Crabs, and Dale Robinson spilled over to Gravel

01. Calling Colleen
02. Let Go
03. Slightly Salted
04. All Day Long
05. Spend Some Time
06. No Big Story
07. She Drove By
08. Big Foot
09. Gravel Road Girl
10. To Go Nowhere


Sunday, July 18, 2021

I tried to wish you away, I'll do more than wishing someday...

My apologies for not posting much of anything last week.  Fatigue really got the best of me. At any rate there's four eps in this weeks bundle. Hopefully one (or more) is just right for you. 

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


Sunday, July 11, 2021

Maybe you would like to see the tug of war that goes on inside of me.

Hard to believe it's already the thirtieth anniversary of this one. Absolutely no sophomore slouch here.

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



Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Notes on new music: Amusment Parks on Fire - An Archaea (2021, EGB Global) & Deadlights - s/t (2021)

Picture this. Christmas party 2006.  A friend who knows I'm a pretty substantial musichead approaches me about what's been rocking my boat lately. A few names surely came to mind, but the only one I distinctly recall telling him was Amusement Parks on Fire, who's Out of the Angeles from earlier that year still had it's tenterhooks in me. He let off a bit of a scoff, bemused by the band's moniker.  Truth be told APOF's name of choice is both a blend of savage iconoclasm and the stuff of over-the-top, grade school fantasy. The defilement and destruction of the ultimate symbol of juvenile hedonism, if you will.  By and large the music produced by this Nottingham combo isn't quite that incendiary or apocalyptic, but since their 2004 inception, APOF have delivered a consistently visceral experience, entailing a voluptuous dose of heady, effects-laden dream pop with the bruising intensity of muscular alt-rock purveyors on our side of the pond, ranging from Hum to the Deftones. By the way, they took some profoundly serious cues from their own contemporaries and countrymen My Vitriol, if that name is of any significance to you. Between 2004-2010 the Parks were on a concussive tear, unfurling a trio of vital albums and twice as many singles and EPs. As the teens rolled around, the Fire had been extinguished, albeit temporarily, until the band reconvened for 2017's "Our Goal to Realise" single and their 2018 follow-up, "All the New Ends," picking up exactly where they left off on 2010's wonderful Road Eyes.  In the intervening years frontman and fulcrum, Michael Feerick kept busy with the similar sounding Young Light, who gave us a primo EP in 2013, and had involvement with a couple of other projects I have yet to acquaint myself with (Red Shoe Diaries and We Show Up on Radar).  Finally, there was Moral Mazes, his collaboration with J. Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines) among other musicians that yielded one of 2020's best singles.   

APOF's much belated fourth full-length, An Archaea just saw the light of day June 25th, and the band's self described "88-month moratorium" is officially in the rear-view. The album's opening salvo, "Old Salt" find Feerick and Co. tenacious as ever, melding consoling vocals to a dynamic backdrop of heaving, distortion soaked chords, inhaling and exhaling at the precisely apropos moments.  "No Fissions'" startlingly dramatic beginning soon settles into the mid-tempo forte they've made their current calling card. "Breakers" is a serrated, dream-gaze stunner that builds to an absolutely divine hook, and "Boom Vang" finally scratches that Loveless itch the band has been stretching for all these years.  An Archaea offers some uncharacteristically "ambient" (for lack of a better word) reprieves in the guise of "Gamma" and the moodier "Diving Bell," while the poppy, piano-steeped title track emanates an innovation altogether unique in the Parks oeuvre.  

Even when this album doesn't consistently ascend to the heights of past triumphs like their 2004 debut single "Venosa." or their aforementioned sophomore masterstroke, Out of the Angeles, An Archaea is utterly representative of APOF's strengths which are still as indigenous and gratifying as ever. You can experience the entire thing on your format of choice (even hot pink vinyl, arriving later this fall) via Bandcamp and the band's store.

When is a Well Wishers album not a Well Wishers album?  To get the definitive skinny on this you'd have to go straight to the source, in this case none other than Jeff Shelton. To save you the effort I'll try to sum it up in a nutshell.  The Well Wishers, is Shelton's musical meat and potatoes proposition of which he's staked his power poppin' reputation on over the course of roughly ten albums and shorter form releases since 2010.  Somewhere in the vicinity of 2012, he had conceived a stash of songs that were slightly more aggressive leaning than the fare he normally relegated to Wishers records (not to mention his like-minded predecessor act the Spinning Jennies). With that, Hot Nun was born, as a new vehicle if you will for his brattier "alter ego."

Additionally, Shelton has always had an affection for Anglophile post-punk (think The Chameleons), not to mention shoegaze.  Over the course of the pandemic, his muse led him to hone an entire album that would extrapolate these tangents that have seemingly been accumulating inside him for decades. With that, a whole 'nother umbrella was opened to corral a new set of raindrops, and Deadlights was established.  There aren't 180 degrees of separation between Deadlights and the Well Wishers, or for that matter 90 or even 45 degrees, but the ten songs populating this album rightfully deserved a neighborhood of their own.  I wouldn't go into this one expecting the kind of woozy, tremolo soaked vistas My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive graced us with three decades past, however the driving and loudly ringing guitar-chitecture informing the distortion addled "Breaking Down," "Come Down Slowly," and "Lazy Eye," exude robust textures and a dense firmament we're not accustom to experiencing from indie-pop's favorite well-wisher, so to speak.  Elsewhere, Deadlights' roar is curtailed into dreamier and lucid sonic swells when the chiming "The Knowing" and "Carefree" infiltrate your earbuds or audio portal of choice.  Shelton's newest endeavor is still ultimately rooted in pop, albeit with a decidedly contemplative subtext...and more effects pedals.  Deadlights is available to have, hold and purchase at Bandcamp and Amazon.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Kill me if I'm sleeping 'round.

This week it's a little spoken of 1998 indie rock platter from a trio that resided in an equally under-the-radar locale, Norway.

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


Bamboo Steamers - (I) Walk Alone 7" (1985, Pajamarama)

Yet Another single Discogs managed to miss (one of these days I'm going to have to become a contributor on there).  The Bamboo Steamers were four New England lads with a correspondence address in Springfield, MA, who on the a-side of what's ostensibly their lone 45 tear it up on the splendid garage-pop rager "(I) Walk Alone," with urges and inclinations not far removed from the likes of the Flamin' Groovies and even the mighty Lime Spiders.  The flip "Mary Carney," subtitled "Oct '69" accurately suggests that it's mining a period-piece vein, in this case, acousti-folk with some mild flamenco seasoning. I was so impressed with the eloquence and wit of their accompanying bio, I went to the effort of scanning it in for you.

Per their FB page (linked above) the Steamers may still be rolling at full boil, with what might have been their first album dropping last year.

A. (I) Walk Alone
B. Mary Carney (Oct, '69)


Saturday, July 3, 2021

I Love Ethyl - s/t (1987, Mad Rover)

Did they?  Did they really love Ethyl that damn much that they not only took that notion and parlayed it into their namesake, but also turned it into one of their song titles?  Or maybe these fellas were simply inspired by a random tattoo or something. Who knows, but all signs point to this trio hailing from Sacramento, CA - and not giving a damn about fitting in with the likes of INXS or other such contemporary chart-toppers.  I Love Ethyl played with a relatively casual gait and were organic in that left-of-the-dial way I so appreciate.  Frontman Jebby K. peels off sweetly echoing guitar lines that don't dominate or saturate so much as they gently imbue on "I Know" and "Beautiful Fascist," suggesting what a mashup of the Comsat Angels and the Red Rockers would have yielded in some alternate universe. A cover of "I Am the Walrus" goes down more pleasantly than you might expect, so much so that I think I prefer it to the original.  The simple, DIY album jacket schematic belies surprising depth that never gets to heady.  BTW, the whole LP was cut live - side one in front of an audience, with the flip side captured in the studio.

01. Real World
02. Primary Concern
03. I Know
04. I Am the Walrus
05. Sound Society
06. I Love Ethyl
07. Beautiful Fascist
08. Haven't Got a Clue