Saturday, October 30, 2021

Lost Loved Ones - Outcast (1985)

Here's one I was introduced to relatively recently.  Better late than never.  Something akin to a major label miracle, especially given it's era, Lost Loved Ones were an honest to goodness post-punk trio from the UK signed to Epic Records. Outcast, their one-and-done LP wields more street cred and sinewy, noir seasoning than their contemporaries like Sad Lovers and Giants, who to my knowledge never made a break for the big leagues.  Beneath the echoing guitar fanfare and the jagged, icy veneer LLO did in fact bring some accessibility to the table (obviously they had to, considering this record was released by the same label Michael Jackson called home, on the heels of the biggest selling album ever no less, but I digress).  Nonetheless, even Outcasts' most marketable tunes, "Raise the Flag" and "The Dark" never found their way into the hearts and minds of a public all too consumed with Duran Duran and Frankie Goes to Hollywood.  Given the caliber of this record, it's a wonder this band isn't mentioned in the same breath as the Comsat Angels or Killing Joke. There's not much in the way of relevant details to be had on the Loved Ones, nor has this album been digitized, save for the work of some appreciative fans, one of whom I graciously obtained the files from. More than anything I've posted in recent months this platter really deserves a full fledged reissue. In addition to the ten LP tracks I've tacked on a vital b-side, "I Found You," which is veritably more radio-friendly than anything occupying the grooves on Outcast itself.  Enjoy.

01. Raise the Flag
02. Lost Loved Ones
03. Outcast
04. Echos of the Past
05. The Dark
06. Celebrate
07. This Hopeless Pride
08. In Silence
09. The Prospect
10. Freakshow
plus: I Found You


Reviews you can use: Swell Maps, Tommy Womack, The Brothers Steve, and The Armoires

Even in their earliest iteration as a band, for the Swell Maps, pressing "record" on a 4-track recorder (or perhaps even more primitive appaaratus) was about as natural as plugging their instruments into amplifiers.  I know of no other artist (save for perhaps Marc Bolan) who left so much excess material on the cutting room floor.  By my count this is the fifth full length collection of outtakes and demos from a band who only gave the world a quartet of singles and two proper full lengths: 1979's A Trip to Marineville, and Jane From Occupied Europe one year later.  The newly released double LP, Mayday Signals, which from what I can surmise consists entirely of unheard music - 36 songs (or fragments thereof) that at the very least is era-specific. 2006' Wastrels and Whippernasppers scraped the bottom most reaches of the Maps well of discarded recordings, excavating a bevy of dreck and dross that upon closer inspection was almost self-explanatory as to why it's contents was shielded from wider release to begin with.  Mayday's focus however is almost exclusively on the band's earliest demo recordings, a good chunk of which were home recorded. Interestingly the Maps lineup hadn't quite congealed in the years 1976-78, which is when most of this music is derived from. The song (things) here were not merely the product of what would become the group's primary lineup - brothers Epic Soundtracks and Nikki Sudden (who passed in 1997 and 2006 respectively) and Jowe Head, but three unheralded participants: David "Phones" Barrington, John Cockrill and Richard Scaldwell.

As Jowe Head explains in Mayday's sleeve notes the band in their earliest incarnation were finding themselves - and their instruments quite literally.  Coming from humble means, the band gradually cobbled together something resembling a drum kit, and were no strangers to secondhand guitars and other used accoutrements. Sonically, the Swell Map's aesthetic ran somewhat parallel to upstart and oblique post-punk contemporaries the Fall.  From day one their penchant was shambolic and abrasive, with the occasional "sweet" chord or manicured shred of instrumentation occasionally penetrating the din.  Splashes of found-sounds and even glints of Krautrock were tucked in, subtly or otherwise, but in the grand scheme of things the eventual trio pared down to Soundtracks/Sudden/Head yielded a sound uniquely their own.  Amidst Mayday's hefty track listing are revealing early takes of some of the Maps' signature pieces - "Vertical Slum," "Read About Seymour," City Boy's (Dresden Style) and "International Rescue."  There are a couple of thoroughly unique things here that really deserved some proper fleshing out once they got signed to Rough Trade- "Off the Beach," Deliferous Mistail," but the majority of this collection consists of prototypes of slightly lesser known songs in the Map's oeuvre - that and scads of  lo-fi noodling and noisenik experimentation.  Perhaps not the most ideal indoctrination for the unacquainted (or squeamish), Mayday Signals is a welcome dispatch to the Maps' most adorning adherents. It's available right now from Easy Action Records and Amazon on your choice of wax or CD. 

The phrase "cult following" seems to adhere to Tommy Womack like white on proverbial rice. I suppose it's a reasonable assessment since he's not the stuff of household name status, despite his rep as frontman for Nashville local yokels Government Cheese in the '80s, and a little further in with the Bis-Quits. By the late '90s he spun off as a solo artist, and has gone strong ever since (not counting a serious and temporarily debilitating car wreck, and a stint in rehab).  Tommy is a troubadour that's nearly seen and done it all, and he gives it right back to his audiences and fans via a telltale, sung/spoke delivery system that's nakedly frank, plaintive, and amusing. A worshiper of the Heartbreakers and vintage New York punk, his spin on things (at least for his latest, I Thought I Was Fine) is a tad less raucous, veering more in the vicinity of Cracker and occasionally Paul Westerberg, albeit twangier.  Whether he's extolling on the autobiographical in "I Thought I Was Fine" or "Job Hunting While Depressed," or spinning unlikely anecdotes about Elvis, Tommy is if anything refreshingly earnest. If you crave songwriting with a linear, but utterly human tact this guy just might occupy the top slot on your wish list.  I Thought I Was Fine is available straight from the folks who brought it two market a couple weeks ago, Schoolkids Records.  You'd also be wise to peruse a recent article on him here.  

Though the lineage behind The Brothers Steve (BTW, no one in the band is a "Steve") might be insignificant to some, it's an outright selling point for me.  This quintet contain no less than three alum, from one of my favorite bands of the early aughts, and that would be an L.A. contingency monikered Tsar, whose self titled debut circa 2000 made me and a few thousand of my like-minded musical cohorts instantaneous fans.  POWER pop baby, of the most dazzling and engrossing variety.  The Brothers Steve, now up to their second LP, Dose indeed exude vestiges of their aforementioned predecessors, but what they have in their own right is thankfully pretty substantive, not to mention less grandiose.  The group's modus opernadi is power pop of a less engulfing sort, generally in the same ballpark circa Redd Kross' Phaseshifter.  The first half of Dose treads a bit uneven, with the oomph factor (or deficiency thereof) being a detriment, save for the T-Rex inclined "Wizard of Love."  The latter portion of the album fares better bearing gratifying, melodious bashers like "Electro Love" and "Griffith Observatory." Another glammy stomper, "Better Get Ready to Go," is a more than satisfactory note to end the proceedings on. Fill your prescription for Dose over yonder at Big Stir Records or Amazon.

And speaking of Big Stir Records, the label succeeded in pulling off a clever and prolonged "prank" between this year and last, releasing a steady stream of digital singles from an array of new and emerging artists with names like October Surprise and The Ceramic Age. In actuality these up and coming hopefuls were none other than the label's house band The Armoires featuring the proprietors of Big Stir Records themselves, Rex Broome and Christina Bulbenko. Yes, they even had me fooled! Each of the half dozen (or so) singles in this series encompassed slightly different musical pastiches, touching on jangle, power pop and even country, occasionally incorporating abundant harmonies and occasional orchestral flourishes.  The overall effect resides somewhere between Pugwash and The Rooks (remember them)?  Among well above-average originals "(Just Can't See) The Attraction" and "Ohma, Bring Your Light Into This Place," are a flock of interesting covers by the likes of XTC, John Cale, 20/20 and Andy Gibb. This myriad of mysterious singles have been gathered and housed on the Armoires aptly titled Incognito, available now directly from Big Stir and Bandcamp.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

A few restored links.

By request.

The Acid Drops - 7"

American Standard - Wonderland & 7"

Aviators - Deed to a Ranch ep 

Jim Basnight and the Moberlys - s/t ep

Beat Temptation - Concerned About Rock Music?

The Bent Backed Tulips (Dramarama) - 7"

Bring Home the Lobsters - tape

Paul Collins Beat - live NYC 1979

Diodes - Survivor  

Doll Congress - s/t ep

The Donner Party: Complete Recordings -  Disks 1 & 2

Drive - covers 7" 

The Figgs - Rejects & singles

Fingers - Video Games ep

For Squirrels - Baypath Rd & demos

Gem - Hexed & I Am a Tree ep 

Glass Eye - Huge ep, Marlo & Christine ep

Gentleman Jesse and His Men - Singles and Rarities

Greg Kihn Band - Next of Kihn

Gunbunnies - Paw Paw Patch

Hummingbirds - LoveBuzz & singles 

Husker Du - Zen Arcade demos/outtakes & Psychepowerpopapunk   

I Can Crawl - Desert

I-Rails - Panharmonium, Nine Songs From Nowhere, Unfocused, Valentino Says, Same Old Me 7", live 1990 

The Iodine Raincoats - I Wonder ep 

The Killing Field - Courage tape

Killjoys - Starry, Gimme Five, Melos Modos, One Night and a Morning After

Lines - Standby ep

Lonesome Strangers - Lonesome Pine  

Math Bats - Bat Day ep

Nashville Ramblers - The Trains 7" (MP3/FLAC)

Native Tongue - s/t ep

New Sweet Breath - singles

Todd Newman - Too Sad for Words & Temporary Setback

The Nines - demo tape 

Nuns of the Great West - The World Ain't Safe ep 

Odolites - Chimes 7" & Persistence of Memory

One Plus Two - Once in a Blue Moon 

Orange Humble Band - Down in Your Dreams ep

Our American Cousins - demo

Poole - two eps

Prodigys - Another Lazy Wednesday

Raves - Past Perfect Tense 

The Records - A Sunny Afternoon in Waterloo & live Dallas 1979

Retriever - Greatest Moments of Doubt & Three Second Stereo ep

Rollerskate Skinny - Trophy & Novice eps

The Seen - Under the Sun/In the Rain/

Shins - Nature Bears a Vacuum ep

Something Blew - s/t ep

Sometime Sweet Susan - Fuse, Point ep & The Coming Lights 

Stag - Kickstart the Ramparts

Swimming Pools Q's - Pow Wow Hour

Trikona Frame - tape 

UV Prom - Field of Vision ep

V. Card - Pool Shark ep & 7" 

Velocity Girl - singles  

Venus in Furs - Real Moral Fibre

Ward 8 (Winter Hours) - tape

Wishes and Water - s/t ep

Wishing Wall - Maybe  

Wolfie - Necessary Sailing tape

V/A - Been There, Done That

V/A - Power pop special: Paul Collins Beat, 20/20, Sinceros live 1979

V/A - Powerpearls Vols. 4 & 5

V/A - Propeller

Sunday, October 24, 2021

She says nothing I'd like to erase.

It's time for another round of four eps. Get your fill of a quartet of diverse, but thoroughly unrelated acts you didn't know you couldn't live without.

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


The Outlines - High on a Wire 7" (1987, Gusto!)

Singles. 45s. Good things come in small packages, right?  Well you hope anyway when you're just taking a chance on a 7" with an interesting picture sleeve.  Was holding out for greatness here, but settled for something half-way decent.  Prior to listening I expected The Outlines record might be something of a treat given its copyright date, and the fact it was a private indie pressing from a Georgia combo. Given the pedigree of indie bands that called Athens and Atlanta home, I thought a quartet from an another big Georgia "A" town, in this case Augusta, would be worth a shot. In any case, this foursome certainly didn't jangle like R.E.M. nor did they operate on the same creative tier as Pylon, but a subterranean ethos was still at play. "High on a Wire" is angsty, but economic post-punk, with a mean, angular riff permeating the entirety of it's two and a half minutes. The Outlines don't succeed as effectively on the less pent-up "No Idea," which suffers from underwritten lyrics and a lack of a discernible hook. It appears this single is all this band had to offer the world.  A few scant details regarding the Outlines and some other indie Augusta, GA hopefuls from the same era are available in the text blurb accompanying this YouTube clip.

A. High on a Wire
B. No Idea


Saturday, October 23, 2021

Streetcar Named Desire - Life Begins ep (1983, Desperate)

Yet another in a long line of good bands that time and the internet seemingly relegated waaaaay to the back burner. As you might guess a search on this band's moniker brings up a deluge of irrelevant matches, but I can pretty safely say Streetcar Named Desire hailed from Toronto, ON. Emanating a placid mix of keys and guitars, with some tasteful saxophone fills this five-piece played a contemplative card without wandering into anything overtly melancholic. More wave than post-punk, they gracefully managed to avoid the more exploitative sonic trappings of their era (didn't hurt that they produced and likely released this on their own label).  Life Begins won't be making it into my desert island stack, but it's both a pleasant and rewarding listen with "A Month of Sundays," "Yesteryear" and the comparatively bustling and elaborate "World War Son" making the most significant impressions.

01. A Month of Sundays
02. Someday Your Ship Will Come (Dance Mix)
03. Illustrated Man
04. Life Begins
05. Yesteryear
06. World War Son


V/A - Songs From the Streaming Audio folder, pt. 1

So it's come to this.  I'm plundering semi-random MP3 folders on my hard drive in hopes of sharing something unique with you good people.  And to my credit, several of the twenty songs within this file are relatively unique, not to mention some of which that are unavailable virtually anywhere.  I did something similar with my "letter folders" comps (sorry, the links are dead) several year ago, though I put that project on hold indefinitely for whatever the reason.  So what the hell is my "streaming audio" folder, and how might it pay dividends to you?  If you don't mind the spiel I'm about to unfold, read on

Most of the music I download is procured via purchasing it through legit sites, using file sharing platforms (think Napster and such), music links provided by fellow bloggers, and finally, files that are passed along to me by friends/acquaintances/various music pushers in emails, texts, etc. Usually it's just a matter of tapping the left button on my mouse and selecting the folder or directory I wish to route the files to. But what about all the music I can't so easily download, whether it be through video sources (YouTube, etc), Soundcloud. Myspace and other webpages I inhabit (or have formerly) where I can check out all the music I desire...but analogous to the Hotel California, the audio can never leave the webpage or video player it's resident to?  Well, the solution to alleviating this conundrum has been remedied through audio capturing applications like MediaHuman (which literally creates an MP3 of any Youtube video you drag into the software interface), however this technology is relatively recent.  In the past (and occasionally to this day) I need to utilize slightly less convenient streaming audio recorders (e.g. SoundTap), which captures whatever music I'm listening to on my PC in real time in the form of MP3s or wav files. Over the years I've accumulated a few hundred tracks by this latter method, and have kept them in a folder labeled "streaming audio," that I never get around to sorting or relocating. What resides in this folder, much like my greater MP3 library is very much specific to my tastes. You won't find many household names in there, but to me some of this music is priceless, as it's never been offered commercially, or even been locatable through a download-friendly resource.

Today I'm sharing nearly two dozen of these oft un/under-available tunes.  I realize the actual source folder on my hard drive where they're derived from is pretty much irreverent to you, as from your perspective it's merely a collection of tunes in a folder.  But as I said, the unavailability factor of the songs make them that much more precious (at least to me).  I'm not going to provide a track list, per normal, but here' a few spoilers.  You'll regale in some pretty splendid covers of (not from) artists as diverse Sonic Youth, NOFX, The Posies, Elliott Smith and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart.  As for wholly unreleased tunes you can partake in scarcities from the likes of Dreams So Real and Fickle Friends.  There's also a very early prototype of a song that would eventually be fully fleshed out for an album that would sell well over a million copies in the '90s. Best of all, if you're an aficionado of obscuro power pop circa it's golden era, check out rare single sides from the Frenchman and the Defendants. This is a true, blue hodgepodge to be sure, and with any luck you'll find a rewarding earworm or two amongst this haphazard collection. Enjoy!


Sunday, October 17, 2021

Don't save me when I'm starting to drown...

From 1988.  A fairly comprehensive assemblage of early eps and singles from these legendary psych/garage/punk Aussie's.

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


Saturday, October 16, 2021

Drive - Grease Girls mLP (1991, First Strike)

I thought this would be apropos follow-up to last night's Sugarblast post.  Drive. A short-lived trio of Liverpudlians who not merely held their own with UK contemporaries Mega City Four and Wonderstuff, but were seemingly groomed on the finest of American indie-rock (Hüsker Dü, Dinosaur Jr., Moving Targets, etc).  I shared a covers single by them several years ago when this site was in it's infancy, and today I've got an LP (or damn close to one anyway) for you comprised of two eps, Greasegun and No Girls.  All around solid, deftly honed tunes fleshed out with a veritable bouquet of incisive power chords, squalling solos and poignantly tuneful arrangements. Despite their influences Drive weren't blatantly plagiaristic of anyone, rather they were in the throes of enormously good company.  A more thorough Discography collection by Drive is available if you wish to delve deeper. 

01. Drive
02. Greasegun
03. Light Reads Heat
04. Drive Out
05. No Girls
06. Peephole
07. Vegan in Furs
08. Process White


Friday, October 15, 2021

Sugarblast - Mind ep (1992, Emergo Insight)

From the sound of it, this little spoken of UK quartet had an ear for a couple of their contemporaries, namely Mega City Four and the Senseless Things. Less vigorous than the almighty Megas, Sugarblast nonetheless had a keen melodic acumen, buttressed with an enticing cavalcade of ringing chords and bright vocals. No filler takes residence in this Mind, though the band opt for a curious, galloping rhythm on "Believe," and for the concluding "Stabbed" they get the notion to lay on the wah-wah pedal. This ep and the subsequent Sunny Outside ep (released that same year) were bundled onto one disk, though it appears Sugarblast's slim discography was an import-exclusive affair. 

01. Mind
02. Spinning
03. Mighty High Opinion
04. Believe
05. Stabbed


Sunday, October 10, 2021

I’ve got all the right questions but she doesn’t want the answers.

From 1991. Last week we lost he frontman/nucleus of the act I'm sharing this week. Though he was better know for his earlier and rawer records, the relatively conventional indie rock strains of this LP managed to reel me in.   

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


Saturday, October 9, 2021

Colin Lloyd Tucker - Toybox (1984, Plastic Head)

Little did I know a few months ago when I posted the Plain Character's Invisible Yearnings album I also had stashed away a then un-listened to used copy of a solo record by one of the Characters, Colin Lloyd Tucker, a mercurial and an avant-inclined musical sort, who's had his fingers in many a pie since the early '80s.  As with the aforementioned entry, I'm once again going to direct you to Nothin' Sez Somethin' blog for more pertinent details on Colin's extended body or work, but I'm going to concentrate specifically on his debut album here.  

From my vantage point, Toybox is a conceptual piece, the gist of which being of a fictitious and fanciful nature, minus any real heavy-handedness.  Still, it's sophisticated stuff that doesn't often skew toward conventional pop/rock constructs.  Instead, think Syd Barrett or even Robyn Hitchcock's more oblique handiwork (in and out of the Soft Boys).  He shoehorns a few Bowie-isms in too, but perhaps my radar is honing in on Colin's timbre here, any likenesses to may be a sheer coincidence.  For Toybox, our protagonist doesn't bait you in with obvious hooks, rather he opts to finagle with texture, temperament, subtle mystique.  If you're salivating for something as immediate and enticing as say, Ziggy Stardust, or the Soft Boys' Underwater Moonlight, I'll break your heart right here and now.  Nonetheless, Colin is a stickler for wearing his influences on the sleeves of his wizardly garb - and he dispenses them to engaging effect on "Rock'n Roll Pinocchio," "Bat Watch" and  "Casey's Last Trip." In the grand scheme of things Toybox is an acquired taste worth acquiring. 

01. Toy Box
02. Mrs. Donovan-Jones
03. The Young Boys Belonging To Mr. Brown
04. Bat Watch
05. Little Girl In The Red Plastic Mac
06. The Roundabout And The Wigwam
07. Rock 'n Roll Pinocchio
08. Found An Old Wheel In The Woods
09. Straight Forward
10. Casey's Last Trip
11. What Lies Inside The Wizard's Hat?
12. U.F.O. Report No 1


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Gleaming Spires - Songs of the Spires (1981), Walk on Well Lighted Streets (1983) & Welcoming a New Ice Age (1985) (Omnivore 2021 reissues ) - An overview.

Say it's the late 1970s.  You're in a promising but utterly struggling Los Angeles power pop outfit called Bates Motel. You play gigs frequently. You cut demos. Despite no shortage of talent record companies just aren't biting the line.  As fate would have it you and your bandmates are fans of Sparks, who by this stage in the game are established auteurs and visionaries in electronic music around the world. You and one of your fellow com-padres in Bates Motel eventually get up the gumption to approach brothers Ron and Russell Mael of Sparks to check out one of gigs at a local dive to sell them on the idea of producing your humble but hungry outfit.  The Mael's accept your invitation, but instead of them working for you, they invite you to work for them as Sparks new rhythm section.  How could you possible decline? 

That in a nutshell was the unlikely alliance of Bates Motel's David Kendrick and Leslie Bohem with a (slightly) higher profile artist who at this point in their already storied career have racked up lauded albums like Propaganda and Kimono My House, among roughly half a dozen more LPs.  This merger officially put to pasture Bates Motel, and moreover buoyed Kendrick's and Bohem's confidence.  Couple this with the fact the duo still had their own creative juices flowing, and no shortage of motivation to start a new combo parallel to their gig in Sparks, dubbed Gleaming Spires. Thus began a six year odyssey that would grant the aforementioned gents the opportunity to record three, creatively distinct albums, earn themselves a minor, but still coveted new wave hit forty years after the fact, and gain them national if not international renown.  Omnivore Records have once again done yeomens work with model reissues of the Spires entire catalog, almost all of it on compact disk for the first time, featuring generous bonus material and thorough annotation, right down to song-by-song insight from Les and David themselves.

As debut albums go, 1981's Songs of the Spires was actually more of a glorified demo. Produced by a then emerging Stephen Hague, the album's nine songs were really designed to be shopped around so to speak, more as a means than an end. A copy landed of the tape landed on the desk of Posh Boy Record's honcho Robbie Fields who was so floored with what he'd heard, he insisted that he release the Spires demos as-is, against Les and David's wishes to re-record the tracks so they'd be more presentable to mainstream ears.  Ironically, Songs of the Spires didn't bear a discernible sonic adherence to Sparks, despite much of the music being saturated with keyboards as much as guitars. In fact the record's mid-fi production qualities and sardonic pop acumen more closely resembled what Todd Rundgren was churning out with Utopia at the time - and to a much more diminished extent, Gary Numan. 

Unlike the dude that unlisted from the Tubeway Army, the Spires weren't merely artful but genuinely fun. Case in point, the irresistible "Are You Ready for the Sex Girls?" Sounding like the most clever and lascivious four minutes the Tubes neglected to commit to tape, local "new music" peddlers KROQ FM made sure the tune was seared into the noggins of the greater metro-L.A. region, and it quickly and endearingly became Gleaming Spires signature song.  It took a deft set of hands and mouths to concoct the likes of such a banger without straying into novelty territory, but this duo were up to the task. The other close brush with a "hit" from this era/album, "How to Get Girls Thru Hypnotism" was issued as a proper single. Deeper cuts on Songs... proved to be nearly as rewarding, namely the stark "Big Hotels," and the persuasive enough ballad, "While We Can." Songs of the Spires really wasn't one of those untouchable debuts per se, albeit the Spires were never able to surpass it in terms of sheer consistency.  We're treated to no less than ten supplemental tracks, including the entirety of the subsequent Life Out on the Lawn ep from 1982.  It's three songs were more left-field, not to mention less memorable than the album, but still approachable.  What's especially revelatory here are half a dozen songs from the Spires/Sparks precursor band stated above, Bates Motel. For a traditional power pop act these fellows were surprisingly diverse and gave rise to the stunning "The Way Marlena Moves" and the sassy 'n raw "Only the Young Die Young." 

Fast forward to 1983.  Time for some changes in the house of Spires, and fairly significant ones at that. For their follow-up, Walk on Well Lighted Streets, the duo had now doubled in population to a quartet, adding Bob Haag on guitars and Jimbo Goodwin on keys. Second, they moved to a much more sizable label (does PVC Records ring a bell with anyone?). Bog Hague was re-enlisted as producer, but I'm sure it soon became evident to him that he was dealing with a demonstrably different ball of wax than the lads who cut Songs of the Spires. WOWLS marked the band's first legitimate grasp for the brass ring, with Hague modernizing and honing their technique enabling the Spires to compete with the A-list.  No, they hadn't morphed into Duran Duran or Oingo Boingo, but the album depicted to your right boasted a similar finesse you'd encounter with many of the group's synth pop/top-40 crossover colleagues. As such, ...Streets doesn't falter so much as iron out the creases and kinks of the more acerbic tones and ironic prose that made their debut such a treat.  The Spires were still considerably far from generic, but they were clearly en route to more routine environs.  "A Christian Girl's Problems" is something of a respite for more established customers, hearkening back to the edginess of the first album, while "At Together" is curiously tension-addled and prickly. There's a veritable album's worth of bonus tracks to be had, many of them culled from the 1984 Party ep, an indulgent and perhaps loosely satirical spin on dance pop of the Spires era. "Funk for Children" packs a more propulsive groove than you might expect, and "Brain Botton" is delightfully surreal.  Also in '84, the band's increased visibility landed them on the Revenge of the Nerds soundtrack with two numbers including a full band reinterpretation of "Are You Ready For the Sex Girls?" which sounds significantly blunted stacked up against the tune in it's original incarnation.

Gleaming Spires last gleaming, so to speak, arrived with their third album, 1985's Welcoming a New Ice Age. If there's anything to be said about this LP writ large is that it's hard to cast generalities as so many of the songs seem to occupy their own slice of airspace.  The commencing "Mercy" is a bold, taut pop-rocker wielding genuine power chords, accented with just the right allotment of keyboards. It could realistically compete as their finest moment.  The title piece and "No One Coming Over" exude appealing new-wave affectations, without getting too heavy handed.  Further in, "What's Coming Next" might have been a more suitable fit for the previous album. "Unprotected" seems to aim for a certain degree of grandiosity but misses the mark by several notches.  For the concluding "Harm" the band tossed in everything they had including fretless bass, tribal percussion, found sounds, and treated vocals.  An offbeat but fitting way to put a nightcap on both the album and their career.  The bonus material here does little to supplement ...Ice Age, but is likely to fascinate the few diehards in attendance.  Appended are five compositions that intended to compose a good chunk of the soundtrack to School Spirit, a cheesy teen-sex romp that apparently went straight to video, with said soundtrack never coming to fruition.  The tunes are as pandering to the target audience as you might expect, and don't get me started on the near-monstrosity that is the Spires' ridiculously forced rendition of Elvis' "Suspicious Minds."  Then again, it was the mid-80s. Rounding things out are couple of numbers from a punky, one-off project dubbed Eleven Blue Men, comprised of Les and David alongside 45 Grave's and Dream Syndicate's Paul Cutler.

All three Gleaming Spires albums are available directly from Omnivore with compact disk and download options, and ditto for Amazon.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

The gang and the government are no different...

Although we encounter it infrequently at best, some bands opt to go with a live tape for their debut album: Hüsker Dü, MC5 and The Make-Up to name a handful. To me, this 1987 platter outshines most, if not all, that I've heard in this particular realm.  

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


Saturday, October 2, 2021

The Sunset Strip (w/ John Dowler) - Holocaust ep (1989, Au-go-go)

If you liked the Sunset Strip's Move Right In disk I posted a few years back, you just might fall in love with this precursor ep. Why?  Well for one, these guys deliver their absolute finest tune, "I'd Die Instead," a rich, deftly crafted piece suggesting everyone from Robyn Hitchcock to Television, that also just so happens to fuse together the most attractive attributes of psych, garage and jangle pop.  "I'd Die..." is accompanied by no less than three outstanding covers, starting with the Stone's ace 1968 b-side "Child of the Moon."  It gets even better from there with an adaptation of the Alice Cooper Band's Easy Action-era nugget "Caught in a Dream." The record finishes off with Big Star's dour but crucial downer ballad "Holocaust," featuring Aussie music scenester John Dowler on guest vocals. All in all this ep is nothing short of wonderful.

01. I'd Die Instead
02. Child of the Moon
03. Caught in a Dream
04. Holocaust


Friday, October 1, 2021

The Nameless - rumble ep (1990, Wise)

This Chicago trio were fortunately not as non-descript as their namesake implied, thanks to frontman Leonardo Biciunas' icy post-punk guitar runs that color so much of this ep with a healthy dose of sonic mystique. Oddly enough, The Nameless rarely balance things out with equivalently oblique lyrics, though the demeanor on rumble is certainly downcast, almost to a naval gazing fault. A poignant sense of melody goes a long way in compensating for this combo's plaintive prose, with "Concede to the Sun" winning considerable points with yours truly. Btw, fretless bass aficionados will appreciate Johnny Ortiz's nimble playing.  

01. Fall
02. Concede to the Sun
03. Slow Day in Hell
04. Restless