Sunday, January 30, 2022

Killed the truth and called the liar.

A two-fer this week. The second and third albums from this New Orleans quartet, issued in 1983 and 1984, respectively. 

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


Saturday, January 29, 2022

V/A - Good Music to Avert the Collapse of American Democracy: Ultra condensed version (2020)

I've been toying with the idea of sharing this for what some seems like ages, but in reality it's been closer to a little over a year. In the lead-up to the 2020 general election two compilations, available as paid downloads on Bandcamp were posted in October of that year to benefit Fair Fight, a voting rights organization set up to combat voter suppression in the United States. The very notion an organization with this goal in mind would have seemed utterly preposterous even just twenty years prior, but welcome to the real world homies. Ergo the two volumes in the Good Music to Avert the Collapse of American Democracy, two-off compilation series that featured no less than 117 artists between them. Most of the contributors were of fairly un-renown indie stock (see the complete tracklists here and here), but there were a few household names too, with few limits in terms of genres, albeit nothing too left-field. The one commonality is that about 98% of the participating artists were very much current and active.

The songs contributed were virtually all-non LP material, with demos, covers and live material composing the brunt of each compilation. The draw was not only to raise funds for Fair Fight, but to treat listeners with exclusive material, the vast majority of which remains indigenous to the Avert the Collapse compilations to this day. But there was one HUGE catch. Not so much the price tag, but the limited availability to purchase them - a mere 24 hours in each case. That aspect seemed to be a bit arbitrary and shortsighted, but nonetheless, tens of thousands of dollars in proceeds were raised for the cause. Instead of taking an obvious risk in sharing the entirety of these collections, I've cherry picked 18 songs/artists that seemed most in keeping with the fare I've shared and written about on these pages over the years, just don't expect much in the way of '80s or '90s acts (though there is the occasional exception).  Enjoy.

01. Death Cab for Cutie - The New Year (Live in Seattle, WA 2020)
02. Frankie Cosmos - Another Piece
03. King Tuff - Evergreen (Demo)
04. Matt Berninger - In Between Days (The Cure Cover)
05. Surfer Blood - New Direction
06. Superchunk - Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing (Minutemen Cover)
07. Bob Mould Band - In A Free Land (Live in Seattle, WA 2019)
08. PUP - Edmonton
09. Thurston Moore - L’Ephemere
10. Guided By Voices - Game Of Pricks (Live from the Teragram Ballroom, LA on 12-31-19)
11. Old 97’s - Southern Girls (Cheap Trick Cover)
12. Nada Surf -  Stories Going ‘Round
13. Wolf Parade - ATA
14. R.E.M. - Begin The Begin (Live in Hampton, VA 1989)
15. Arcade Fire feat. David Byrne -This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) (live)
16. Real Estate - People’s Parties (Joni Mitchell Cover)
17. Perfume Genius - Jory (Demo)
18. The War On Drugs - Eyes To The Wind (Live)


Sunday, January 23, 2022

I guess it's safe to say it consumes me every day.

From 2000.  Features Ted Leo as guest vocalist on two tracks.

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


Saturday, January 22, 2022

Bell Jar 7" ep (1994, eMpTy)

I had encountered this 7" with it's curious and charming looking sleeve multiple times before I finally dove in and claimed it a few years back at a price I couldn't refuse. Bell Jar (alternately spelled Belle Jar on the labels of the wax itself) were an all-female, Seattle trio who happened to buck the more conevntional trends of their era and region, specializing in fuzzy, mid-fi indie rock, not so much on the grunge or riot grrrl tip. Still, these young women were not afraid to get a little abrasive, not to mention insular and even a tad dissonant. Bright and cheery music this certainly is not, occasionally recalling what Sonic Youth were attempting around the same time (check out "Hornet"). They throw a lot of minor chords around, the lyrics are a little underwritten, and guitarist Kellie Wohlrab and bass-wrangler Heather Garden aren't always perfectly in pitch, yet this warts 'n all penchant is what helps this record succeed, generally anyway. It was to be their one and only release, with Garden eventually migrating to the equally obscure Small Stars later in the decade. 

01. Dear Mom
02. Waste
03. Hornet
04. Here


Groovy Religion - Thin Gypsy Thief (1986, Psyche)

Bearing a sound that's thankfully not emblematic of their moniker, Quebec's Groovy Religion didn't fall into the trappings of their chosen decade.  The primary conundrum with this four-piece was forging something of a definitive identity, not to mention cobbling together enough quality material for an album. Nonetheless I wouldn't go to trouble of sharing Thin Gypsy Thief if I deemed it totally devoid of substance. The band's sparse sonic template lends oodles of breathability and dynamics wherever the needle lands, but only about half of the time do they seem capable of renting out all the empty space. With a general aptitude that suggests post-punk (or at the very least some permeation of "modern rock") GR actually make a solid go of it on the opening "Dark My Girl" with it's sneaky, stealthy verses punctuated with rubbery, fret-less bass fills countering some enticing, melodic guitar salvos. "Beautiful" threatens to bust out into an all-out punky barnburner in that Lords of the New Church sort of way, but doesn't quite build to the apex I was so hoping for.  Then there's the six-minute "Charlie," whose promising first half of which is saturated with clangy, moody chords and William New's ominous vocal parlance...before deflating entirely into a pile of random bass notes and drumbeats. Finally, the boys manage to segue a minute or two of the Animals' "We've Gotta Get Out of This Place" into their own much duller original, "Kitchen Boy." Whatever amount of potential this mini-LP suggested, wouldn't  reveal itself until Groovy Religion's  Tom - A Rock Opera saw the light of day in 1995.

01. Dark My Girl
02. Beautiful
03. Sun Up
04. Diamonds
05. Charlie
06. We've Gotta Get Out of This Place/Kitchen Boy
07. Younger Calls


Sunday, January 16, 2022

I can touch the ceiling with my fingers, but I am stuck under your feet.

My favorite album from 2018, and at the time I would have said the best thing I'd heard in the last five years. It still might be, even though I'm not as reeled in today given the state of the world. Sugar soaked euphoria with an angst-ridden subtext that you might not surmise was even there.  BTW, this band dropped a new LP last week.

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


The Cars - Pre-Elektra promo concert (1977)

Alas, I'm still in the process of digitizing fresh vinyl for this site, but in the meantime I'd like to offer this - an early Cars performance that I may or may not have an exact date for. Per the meta-data of the files, a date of 4/28/77 is rendered, but no location is provided. Ultimately I was unable to confirm the specific date. When I obtained this show it was simply billed as The Cars pre-Elektra Records promo show, so 1977 certainly seems accurate. Our protagonists possess a more meager sonic aplomb than what would follow in just another year, and the crowd they're performing for sounds equally as meager, if not downright sparse.  

Interestingly, it was early enough in the band's tenure for them to reach back to Ben Orr's and Ric Ocasek's preceding band Cap'n Swing for material, specifically the songs "Strawberry Moonlight" and "Lover and a Holiday," both of which slid into the Cars mold fairly comfortably.  Another pleasant wrinkle is the inclusion of a totally unreleased title, "Looking to See You," that with a little modification would have made for a decent album cut on the band's auspicious debut.  If that wasn't enough in the rarity department, they also play "Wake Me Up," an early tune that never made it past the demo stage (originally included on the expanded version of The Cars). Naturally, the crowd is treated to a plethora of soon-to-be Cars standards, not to mention international smash hits.  The setlist quite frankly sells itself, and this tape may even be a soundboard recording. Enjoy

01. Just what I Needed
02. I'm in Touch with Your World
03. Strawberry Moonlight
04. Lover and a Holiday
05. Bye Bye Love
06. Wake Me Up
07. Cool Fool
08. Looking to See You
09. Don't Cha Stop
10. You're All I've Got Tonight


Sunday, January 9, 2022

I know how I rant, I know how I rail...

From 1996. Melancholy, guitar-laden histrionics cloaked in passionate prose and empathetic gestures. In plain English, this band was to die for. 

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


The Dickies - We Aren't the World: The ROIR Sessions (1986/1990, ROIR)

No much time for a write-up today, but this one generally speaks for itself.  Since the mid-90s when I finally got the notion to investigating what The Dickies were all about...and as they say I never looked back.  Well, actually I did, considering by then they had recorded the vast majority of their records prior to that, and I was desperate to catch up.  The long and short of it all this L.A. helmed by frontman Leonard Graves-Phillips and guitar-slinger Stan Lee (and accompanied by a revolving door of drummers and bassists) was responsible for some of the finest punk pop this side of the Descendents and Buzzcocks, with an even snarkier m.o. than those two hallowed institutions. 

1986 saw the release of the originally cassette-only Dickies compilation We Aren't the World, released by legendary New York tape label ROIR. It was subsequently reissued on CD four years later, and the picture of the original cassette sleeve is worth looking up, as it's a hell of a lot more sardonic then the cover to your above let.  It commences with the four-song 1977 demo the band shopped to various record labels. A&M bit, and the rest is history.  The bulk of this album consists of live material culled from five separate performances spanning 1978-85. The exact where/when are provided on the tray card in the download folder.  Given the time frame, the sets draw heavily from the band's wonderful first two albums, The Incredible Shrinking Dickies and Dawn of the Dickies. And while nothing can substitute for seeing this band's antics in the flesh, a live Dickies album is nothing less than a cherished memento. The tracklist is below, with songs 5-25 being all live.  I've also recently updated the links to the pair of Dickies Archives fanclub albums I shared awhile back.

01-Hideous (demo)
02-I'm Ok, You're Ok (demo)
03-You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla) (demo)
04-Walk Like an Egg (demo)
06-Give it Back
07-Sounds of Silence
08-Got it at the Store
09-Eve of Destruction
10-Rondo in a Major (Midget's Revenge)
11-Infidel Zombie
12-Curb Job
14-Nights in White Satin
15-You Drive Me Ape (vers 2)
16-Pretty Please
17-Poodle Party
18-She's a Hunchback
20-(I'm Stuck in a Pagoda With) Tricia Toyota
21-Manny, Moe, and Jack
22-Fan Mail
23-If Stewart Could Talk
24-Bowling With Bedrock Barney
25-Banana Splits


Friday, January 7, 2022

Another acute case of slighty underblogging - Best of the Blog mix 2021.

2021. A second year in a row that no one was quite expecting, and one that some of us hadn't preferred how it played out as it did, myself included.  As you've probably noticed I haven't been posting/writing/sharing/provoking on Wilfully Obscure to the extent I once had, say, six or seven years ago, and certainly not as prolifically when I kicked this whole endeavor off in 2007, almost entirely on a whim I might add. 2021's diminished amount of postings wasn't the byproduct of lack of enthusiasm on my part, so much as fatigue, anxiety, life events and a little bit of laziness. To those of you who still visit daily, weekly, occasionally or even rarely, I thank you, and you definitely make the effort worth it. I haven't started 2022 with much of a bang either, but before I delve into the usual onslaught of previously unshared music over the next twelve months, I like to take a peak back and corral what I consider to be some of the highlights from the year just past. 

Once again I find myself pressed for time to offer a track-by-track, blow-by-blow of the twenty some-odd tunes I've curated in this playlist. Nonetheless if you wish to access the files and write-ups of a particular artist everything is archived, and I might be able to post direct links to the original entries later this weekend.  The songs, while somewhat strategically sequenced, aren't necessarily designed to be played in any specific order per se, so it will do you no harm to listen to whatever piques your curiosity in random order.  In keeping with what's become a tradition with these compilations I've tossed in a handful of previously unshared nuggets from artists I haven't covered before, or at least not thoroughly. They are noted with an asterisk. Enjoy, and thanks for checking in.

01. Creatures of Habit - Forever
02. DT and the Shakes - I Found My Disguise
03. Land of the El Caminos - Boxed in a Wind Tunnel
04. Reptile House - Mother Michigan
05. The Slugs - Back to the Playgrounds
06. Brakes - The Way I See It
07. Blue Spots - Two Fools
08. Sicko - 80 Dollars
09. Sugarblast - Believe
10. Lost Loved Ones - I Found You
11. Well! Well! Well! - What Life's About
12. First Man Over - Diamond Mind
13. SFT Boys - As a Matter of Fact
14. Darius and the Magnets - Unusual Girl*
15. F.A.B. - Happy People*
16. Thin King - The New One
17. Choir Invisible - I Walked Away
18. radioblue - instead
19. Plain Characters - Counting Sheep
20. Holiday - John Buffalo
21. This "Blue Piano" - I Before E
22. The Flex - New Wavelength
23. The Farewell Party - 32 Views of Emma
24. NNB - Uruguay 1983*


Sunday, January 2, 2022

You fumble your keys and I throw the latch...

An officially released collection of demos cut in in preparation for a now renown 1993 album. 

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


Saturday, January 1, 2022

Dig Circus - Shekkie II: Electric Boogaloo (1993)

"...and Dig Circus is playing on Saturday (thank god)"
                                                      -Ron Hawkins

This past week has amounted to another drought of shares on behalf of yours truly, and unfortunately this has become the rule rather than the rare exception. I'll be posting my annual best of blog compilation for 2021 shortly, but wanted to put this one into the ether in the meantime.

Dig Circus were part and parcel of Toronto's fabled Queen Street West scene, or at least the tail end of it in the early '90s. A few bands from this circuit garnered minor to moderate mainstream renown including Barenaked Ladies and Lowest of the Low, the latter of whom affectionately name-checked Dig Circus in one of their songs. Not dissimilar to the aforementioned, D/C adopted for a fun and somewhat fraternalistic tenor that was sonically rooted in folk-pop sensibilities that for whatever the reason never translated into mass appeal on either side of the border. That's a real shame, because at least a handful of songs on Shekkie II possessed some real staying power, not the least of which the hooky and socially-conscious "Eighteen Indians," and equally as stimulating "Wishing For a Sail," the closest this six-piece ever came to breaching power pop. "The Story from Kate's Bed" comes in a relatively close third, or at least that's what my ears tell me. Despite an overly-prominent bass-line, a cover of the Velvet's "What Goes On" works quite convincingly, while a radical overhaul of the Sex Pistols "God Save the Queen" is an exercise in sheer irony that only a decade like the anything-goes-90s could've served up. As fate would have it, the closest Dig Circus ever came to tasting success occurred several years after their breakup when the Nickelodeon series Caitlin's Way, tapped "Wishing for a Sail" to be the program's theme song. 

01. Eighteen Indians
02. Broken Umbrellas
03. Wishing for a Sail
04. Groove Farm
05. The Story From Kate's Bed
06. Overcome by Love
07. More
08. What Goes On
09. God Save the Queen