Sunday, February 27, 2022

Ask me again, I’ll tell you the same way...

In 1996, the disk I’m featuring this week was the best thing this side of a new Archers of Loaf album (and we even managed to get one of those too).

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


A note on re-ups/dead links.

Alright, finally time to stare down the elephant in the room.  Roughly 80% to 90% of the download links on this site have EXPIRED.  Some five or more years ago.  My apologies for this. For a good six seven years I've been using Zippyshare as my file hoster. While they've been reliable on a short term basis, several of you have complained about dodging adware and porn links in order to get to what you're really after, the music. In a nutshell, Zippyshare links remain active until a file hasn't been accessed in over thirty days.  For years now I've been playing an endless cat and mouse game of responding to your requests by way of comments that I'm often very tardy in reading. There's such a backlog of dead links and perfectly well intentioned and reasonable requests that I simply don't have time to realistically address. In short, I need a more permanent solution, even if it means going with a paid file hosting option that will retain the links I upload provided I pay an annual or semi-annual fee.

By and large, the out-of-pocket expenditure is not an immediate concern (so long as I'm employed). One option appears to be MediaFire.  Their site claims to guarantee up to 1 TB of file hosting for what seems like a reasonable fee (about USD $50 for the first year), but can anyone attest to how reliable they are with hosting data (i.e. MP3s) that may be copyrighted (even if is completely out of print)?  If you're a fellow blogger who has used MediaFire, have you ever had anything scrubbed from their servers, particularly without warning?  Ideally I wish to make all previous links on Wilfully Obscure active again, provided that the content hasn't been made commercially available since I originally shared the files. I just want to ensure the next file hoster I opt to go with is copacetic with my overarching objective.  Any input would be helpful.  I will try to attend to some of your more recent requests in the near future. Thanks.  

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Eternal Triangle - Touch and Let Go (1984, Situation 2)

Bargain bin find here, and a slightly above average one at that. Hailing from the UK and containing a guy from Fischer-Z (Steve Skolnik) the co-ed Eternal Triangle entangled their new romantic pastiche with a dash of this and that, with the finest results yielding themselves on the chilly "Small Town" which smacks of the same austere poise that made the early Comsat Angels such a pleasure. The quartet's ambitions, writ large are commercially ambitious by comparison, and even if the title track, issued as a single, is less than thrilling, E/T compensate with the uptempo, extroverted "I Need You," and "Nothing But a Friend." There's a couple more highlights lurking among these grooves - "Stay With You" and "Only In the Night," but Touch and Let Go ends on a rather inglorious note, with the sappy, naval-gazing soliloquy "It's a Story" playing this affair out. 

01. Touch and Let Go
02. I Need You
03. Small Town
04. Nothing But a Friend
05. Can't Blame Me
06. Stay With You
07. Same Mistakes
08. Only in the Night
09. Won't Work
10. It's a Story


Sunday, February 20, 2022

I’d like for each of the senses I wear behind my sunglass lenses…

The entire discography from one of the Deep South's best kept secrets, spanning 1984-87. One critic described them as "Earth's strangest pop band. Utterly unclassifiable and stunningly possessed."

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


Reviews you can use: Urge Overkill, Rave-Ups and Marshall Crenshaw.

When Urge Overkill parted ways in 1997, due largely in part to a reported falling out between the key nuclei of Nash Kato and Eddie "King" Roese, the band already seemed like something of an afterthought. To mainstream alt-rock fans the band's two minor flashes in the pan, the single "Sister Havana" from their 1993 major label debut Saturation, and a cover of Neil Diamond's "Girl You'll Be a Woman Soon" featured in Quentin Tarantino's iconic Pulp Fiction in 1994 were already in the rear-view.  Not much was heard from them in the new millennium, save for an independently released Kato solo album Debutante in 2000. Urge rekindled the urge once again in 2004 and a reunion ensued minus longtime drummer Blackie Onassis. By this time the band's presence was a shadow of their Clinton-era heyday, and despite dropping a satisfying new album, Rock & Roll Submarine circa 2011 it didn't do much to elevate their profile. Seemingly Kato and Roese took another extended sabbatical. As luck would have it, the boys have fired up the Americruiser with a decade-belated follow-up in the guise of Oui.

If a genteel Neil Diamond cover seemed ironic for a band who once had records minted on Touch & Go, recorded with Steve Albini, and toured with Nirvana, you can imagine the shock value unfurled when Urge Overkill inexplicably place a cover of Wham!'s "Freedom" front and center on their seventh platter. Playing somewhat fast and loose with the arrangement, and even futzing with the melody a tad, they casually rebrand the '80s nugget as their own. Further in, they flex discernible musculature on "Follow My Shadow," "Forgiven" and the Dino Jr-esque "I Been Ready," albeit nothing on Oui outright pumps like the band's punkier forays on Saturation. Then there's the curious character study, "A Prisoner's Dilemma," a tune which ponders none other than Amanda Knox - to catchy effect no lessThe record winds-down on a comparatively sobering note with our protagonists extolling bittersweet hues on "I Can't Stay Glad@U" and "Snow." To draw a parallel to the Stones, Oui is Urge's Steel Wheels or Voodoo Lounge, and given Kato and Roese's intermittent longevity that's not a bad spot to reside in. You can check it out for yourself courtesy of Omnivore

Despite coming up with like minded contemporaries Uncle Tupelo and the Long Ryders in the mid-80s (and a little bit beyond), The Rave-Ups have been given short shrift in terms of nostalgia and reverence for the Americana contingent they were part and parcel of.  Why is that you might ask?  Obviously, fame and stature can be difficult if not utterly impossible to quantify, so I dare not make even a feeble attempt. As a quick backgrounder for the uninitiated, The Rave-Ups were an L.A. quartet with frontman Jimmer Podrasky originally having taken root in Pittsburgh. By 1980 an early incarnation of the band was formulated with intentions to pursue a punk rock modus operandi. Fast forward a few years with the line-up being fortified enough to enter the studio to cut a pair of independent records, 1983's Class Tramp ep, and the more renown Town + Country seeing the light of day two years later. By this time the band had matriculated to more mature pastures, with a telltale country inflection apparent amidst a more conventional rock ethos. A few notches removed from genuine "cow-punk" terrain, the band made a go of it in the big leagues releasing two albums, The Book of Your Regrets and Chance issued in 1988 and '90 respectively via Columbia.

Tomorrow, recently released on Omnivore earlier this month, marks the Rave-Ups first return to the studio in over three decades.  It finds the quartet to Podrasky, Terry Wilson, longtime drummer Tim Jimenez and Tommy Blatnik picking up not particularly far removed from when they pressed pause in the early '90s, with a penchant for playing it right down the middle of the country/rock divide. Absent is some of their youthful rancor, but a plentiful quotient of pent up vigor manages to infiltrate the comparatively high strung "So You Wanna Know the Truth?" and the tight, irresistible hoedown "Brigitte Bardot." If Tomorrow is dominated by any particular sonic motif it's the slower, mid-tempo air of "She and He," "Cry," and the pedal-steel soaked title track - none of which are outright remarkable or visionary but undeniably pleasant.  A soundtrack for the hammock on a clear 75° day if there ever was one. The closest Tomorrow comes to offering any sort of anomaly is "Coming After Me," a relaxed excursion into pure guitar pop. Though not wholly representative of the small legacy they carved out for themselves in their original epoch, longtime connoisseurs of the Rave-Ups, not to mention acolytes of modern alt-country will find plenty to feast their ears on here. Tomorrow ironically, is available today here and from the label that brought it to fruition, Omnivore.

Contrary to the title, #447 is actually the second in a series of revamped and reissued albums in Marshall Crenshaw's catalog, specifically the records he cut for the Razor & Tie label during the 1990s. An overhaul of his first album for the label, 1996's Miracle of Science, saw the light of day two years ago on his in-house Shiny-Tone imprint with the original LP presented along with two newly recorded bonus cuts. The same premise follows for the reissue of '99s #447.  You might be asking yourself, what's the relevance of that particular number in the first place?  For all we know it could be a closely guarded secret, or an exercise in sheer randomness. If the latter, that arbitrary logic folds in conveniently with said album, given it's an eclectic patchwork almost to a fault. But what #447 lacks in flow and connective tissue it compensates for in stimulating song-craft. 

Crenshaw hasn't been a straight-up power pop guy since the early '80s, but there are couple of concessions here that point squarely to the reputation he forged on his self-titled debut, and it's follow-up, Field Day. The economically acoustic "Glad Goodbye," and what could be #447's most gratifying number, "Right There in Front of Me" (curiously billed as a demo) skew in the vicinity of his younger self without amounting to deliberate throwbacks. "Tell Me All About It" and "Television Light" adhere to a similar ethos but boast a more relaxed delivery system. A pair of instrumental pieces caught me a bit off guard here, namely the loungy stride of "Eydie's Tune" and the even more appealing "You Said What??" I'd also be remiss if I failed to mention that Crenshaw is aided and abetted by no less than a dozen guest musicians on this record including Brad Jones, Bill Lloyd, and even an ex-pat from the E. Street Band, David Sancious.  As was the case with the recently reissued Miracle of Science, there are two factory fresh recordings appended to #447 proper, the plaintive "Will of the Wind" and "Santa Fe" that don't necessarily enhance the album but fortunately don't detract from it either.  The slightly modified and lovingly reissued #447 is available from Amazon and here if you're seeking the vinyl variant.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Whirling Dervishes - Strange and Wonderful (1992)

Though this Westfield, NJ setup (who recorded this album as a six-piece) is potentially still playing live gigs, their discography ceased in 1994. Furthermore Whirling Dervishes don't seem to channel any particular niche on Strange and Wonderful, their one and only album surrounded by a handful of eps. Still, you're bound to pick up some stray and slight noir touches, and a slick but earnest acumen belying heartfelt, every-man notions. They sounded just about ripe for modern rock radio, with the caveat being that said format was opting for a grungier tact that what these fellows were striving for. Strange... is colored from a strikingly diverse palette, and if I had to sweat it down to one tune that really presses my proverbial buttons, the arrow would land on the ballad-esque "What's Left of My Mind," a tune that maximizes it's money-hook without over emphasizing it.

01. Madison Avenue
02. To Define You
03. Strange and Wonderful
04. The Deadliest Pause
05. Norman
06. Death of the Party
07. Cop
08. Dance For Your Life
09. Death of the Party (R.S.V.P.)
10. What's Left of My Mind
11. Your Little Finger
12. Watch You
13. Madison Avenue (radio edit)


Sunday, February 13, 2022

This winter is lasting forever, at least for tonight...

I just missed the two-decade anniversary of this one.  I didn't suspect this would be a timeless album upon it's release, but low and behold...

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


Saturday, February 12, 2022

Crawl Away Machine - s/t ep (1985, CD Presents)

Definitely a good 'un, but as with the situation with scores of other records on this site, another sheer cold case. Released on San Fran's CD Presents (the label that brought us the Avengers classic album) Crawl Away Machine bore a clangy, post-punk veneer with an emphasis clearly on substance over style. A co-ed five-piece (featuring male vox almost exclusively). Vaguely recalling everyone from Comsat Angels to The Fixx, and even a dab of Bauhaus, CAM had the downcast, anglophile thing down pat without resorting to anything trite or calculated to arrive at that destination. Not a bum tune in the bunch with my only complaint being that four weren't nearly enough.

01. Maps of Asia
02. Look Down
03. Americana
04. Pieces


jade - Syrian Border ep (1990, Merkin)

Yet another record in my collection with an album jacket that's not so reflective of the music housed within. Was expecting indie rock of some stripe (goth maybe?) but instead I was treated to four slices of mid-tempo skate punk. jade, a Maryland foursome don't have squat on the likes of say, Big Drill Car and the Hard-Ons, but they pile on an avalanche of gnarly riffs and ever-so-slight metallic undertones. Despite a deficit in the melody department what they're able to sport on the half-pipe almost works to their advantage on "Blackeyed Susan" with mixed results elsewhere. Contrary to this ep's title, jade hardly strike me as a worldly lot, and a lack of a lyric sheet doesn't help to decode what they're ranting about. It would've been interesting to see what this crew's next move would have been, but aside from a demo tape Syrian Border appears to have been the final word from jade.

01. Over Now
02. Black Eyedsusan
03. Ten Million Times
04. Line


Sunday, February 6, 2022

If only they could see when you touch me I tingle.

Music from 1988-89. The album featured is a tad uneven, but entails some genius moments. Appended to it are nine songs from surrounding singles and compilations that fare even better. Enjoy. 

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


Bad Sneakers - Beat the Meter (1984, Now & Then)

No, I don't know if they named themselves after the Steely Dan tune, but I can assure you that Bad Sneakers don't sound a stitch like Fagen & Becker. With that out of the way, this quartet (ostensibly from Delaware) deliver a solid and a fairly consistent album of radio-friendly power pop, that believe it or not could have competed with the work of contemporaries like Tommy Tutone, early-80s Rick Springfield, and dare I say even Todd Rundgren/Utopia. Despite this album and two surrounding ones, seeing the light of day on a small-time indie imprint, it certainly sounds like the Sneakers had loftier ambitions than playing the local club circuit - and why not with hook-savvy numbers like "Caught in the Act," "Pictures of You," and "Man Overboard" to vouch for? Beat the Meter might have been short of innovation, but the songs certainly compensate for that. I'll have you know the band established a website where you can stream this album and their others, but this rip came from my own copy and naturally, is fully downloadable. 

01. Caught in the Act
02. Ground Zero
03. Man Overboard
04. Blue Light
05. Down to It
06. Invisible Man
07. Pictures of You
08. All I Want to Know
09. Anesthesia (live)
10. Invisible Man II


Saturday, February 5, 2022

The Thought - I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night 12" (1983, Index)

I'll try to get a full length onto this site sometime within the next twelve hours or so, but here's something to tide you over.  Hailing from the Netherlands and having evolved from a power-pop/pub outfit dubbed The Rousers in the early '80s, the band was rechristened The Thought and opted for a new-wavish modus-operandi...but you might not know it from this particular disk, which features a faithful execution of the Electric Prunes' "I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night," rife with a telltale, whirring keyboard line. It's backed with two b-sides that are far less psych-endebted that still manage to buck many of the new romantic trends of their era. 

A good quotient of my record collection still needs to be organized, and is so unwieldy that I'm not certain if I have anything else to offer from this outfit, but if I do I just might be inclined to share the spoils at a later date

A. I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night
B1. There's a Boy (remix)
B2. Am I