Sunday, May 29, 2022

When I wed I will dream in a champagne haze of my first affair.

Reissue of a 1985 album. Word arrived last week that the vocalist for this Irish combo passed away on the 18th. Without giving much more away I can definitively say this - he leaves behind one hell of a legacy.  This LP is a huge component of that. 

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


Saturday, May 28, 2022

La Danza - s/t ep (1983, Frodo)

The somewhat oblique purple and green animal-type-thing occupying this otherwise ebony album jacket belies a record with a half-dozen smart yet accessible post-punk tunes from an Austin unit I can't find a shred of info on, save for a token Discogs entry. La Danza's moniker of choice translated into English is The Dance, the band's ep kick's off with a cut dubbed "Why Do I Disco?," and these guys (and girl) owe more than a wink and a nod to Gang of Four...yet these folks won't necessarily have you cutting a rug. Irony aside, each song on this extended player sports something of it's own personality, with the aforementioned "Disco" tapping into La Danza's emerging counterparts Pylon. Further in, the more melodic "Silhouette of a God" finagles a morsel of U2's sonic aptitude, and "Vouchsafe's" marshal rhythms suggest an appreciation for Wire, without making it too obvious. La Danza may not astound, however it manages to consistently impress. 

01. Why Do I Disco?
02. Italian Song
03. Astrology
04. Silhouette of a God
05. Everything is Mine
06. Vouchsafe


Lazy - Fire Escape 7" (1997, Elastic)

Lazy (aka The Lazy Music Group) were one of hundreds of '90s indie also-rans that deserved a better fate, granted the sheer amount of competition thrown their way. Sounding like a product of the west coast, but evidently calling Cincinnati home, Lazy were a co-ed, female fronted punk trio, not necessarily cut from the same mold as the Avengers or X, or even contemporaries L7 of Sleater Kinney. There's a keen mid-fidelity aesthetic employed on these three frenetic, not to mention aggressive numbers, with an abundance of bratty pizazz to really drive their proposition home. The Fire Escape 7" was preceded by two albums on Roadrunner Records. 

A. Fire Escape
B1. What You Want
B2. California Screamin'


Sunday, May 22, 2022

You couldn't have stayed in flight forever...

Disk two of a 2003 box set containing 35 b-sides and ep tracks from this band's halcyon era. 

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


Saturday, May 21, 2022

The Secrets - Success Without College (1980, Rio)

It seems as is there are more bands named The Secrets than records made by bands named the Secrets (or even by combos sporting that word's singular incarnation). To be more accurate, these Secrets were Canadian, and were touted as having contained members of the Viletones and The Diodes, but this foursome weren't wholly indebted to punk or even power pop. Though they explore a myriad of tangents within just ten tunes in under a half-hour here, these guys were unabashedly rambunctious rock and rollers.  They play it straight down the middle on "Suzie Peroxide" and "All the Girls in the World," kick up some nervier dust on the aptly dubbed "Rock Music," and propel "New Blood" with an irresistible roots rockin' kick. You'll find a handful of anomalies to boot on Success Without College, namely "Strictly From Cough Syrup," a full fledged dive into the blues, while "Zoom" finds the Secrets pulling off an a capella doo-wop cover (originally by the Collegians) with ease. Finally, their run through Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman" outdoes Van Halen's wanky take by a longshot.

01. Suzie Peroxide
02. Teenage Rampage
03. Pretty Woman
04. All the Girls in the World
05. Zoom
06. Tatto City
07. Rock Music
08. Strictly From Cough Syrup
09. New Blood
10. Take Another Look


Thursday, May 19, 2022

The Muffs - Really Really Happy (2004/2022, Omnivore) - A brief review

The very fact that The Muffs spent the better part of a decade (that would be the '90s) on a major label is as wholly logical as it is a bit antithetical. Logical in the respect that front-woman/guitarist Kim Shattuck, bass wrangler Ronnie Barnett and drummer Roy McDonald composed a power trio who were of classicist pop stock - so much so that one of the band's most obvious calling cards was built on a foundation of '60s girl group harmonies. The Muffs penchant for songs averaging approximately 150 seconds in length lent even more cred to their accessibility factor. In fact, it was this swift in-and-out brevity that helped ingratiate them with certain contingents of the punk community, even after they made a break in the early-90s for Warner Bros. As for why it was a relatively antithetical, if not ironic choice for the Muffs to hitch themselves to such a corporate behemoth...well, the group's moniker alone probably wasn't a big selling point to suburbanites, despite their charming image. Furthermore, though Kim was able to carry one hell of a tune and dole out devastating hooks, she wasn't what most would call a natural singer. Her incorrigibly sassy and fractured whine (not to mention famous intermittent roars) were immediately endearing to those who enjoyed such savage proclivities, yet they were hardly the kind of affectations the general public were tolerant of - even if they were the same folks responsible for propelling Green Day's Dookie into umpteenth-platinum status. 

Over the course of three dynamite records for the WB (The Muffs, Blonder and Blonder, and Happy Birthday to Me) commercially, the Muffs never really caught a break. And despite a strong emphasis on creative control and no shortage of muscular power chords our protagonists never slotted comfortably with any of the given punk sub-genres of their day, be it grunge, ska, Epitaph/Fat, post-hardcore, etc.  Though I don't know the circumstances surrounding their departure from Warner Bros, such a fate often brought bands of the Muff's stature to their knees - and often to a logical dissolution. They did not in fact split up, but instead soldiered on for their first independent full length, 1999's Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow on Honest Don's Records. It would be another half decade before the world received their next Muffs fix, 2004's Really Really Happy, which has been reissued by Omnivore who've appended a half-dozen rarities from the same sessions, plus a heretofore unreleased disk of Kim's home recordings housed under the title of New Improved Kim Shattuck Demos

Free to really let it crank and let their aggro-punk flag fly, ...Really Happy curiously enough finds the trio even more disciplined despite having regained a firm footing in indie-land.  The overarching ambience exuded by the Muffs here is about as composed and linear as they've ever sounded, with leaner guitar tones and an even more economical sonic palette than what they were aiming for a decade prior. When ...Really Happy initially surfaced in 2004 it was heartening to discover the band were definitely not trying to out-heavy or out-punk themselves, but doubly more relieving was that Kim's raw vocal panache was thoroughly intact, sounding as indulgently and utterly human as ever. Not a career-defining record, ...Really Happy was nonetheless phenomenally consistent, brandishing all of the Muffs' telltale facets including no shortage of bubble-gummy overtones permeating numbers like "Everybody Loves You," "A Little Luxury," and "How I Pass the Time."  Simultaneously simple yet somehow flabbergasting in its execution, The Muff's formula never yielded a completely unsatisfactory song. In addition to ...Happy's proper seventeen songs the CD version of this reissue appends three more from foreign variants of the record, along with a handful of outtakes including a primo half-minute salvo, "Just the Beginning," and the promising fragment "I Hate Gym."

Kim Shattuck passed away on October 2, 2019 after a valiant but ultimately fatal battle with ALS. Her diagnosis wasn't disclosed to the public until that time. In the liner notes to the reissue of ...Really Happy, bandmate Ronnie Barnett addresses her directly, stating that her demos were "accomplished works of her own that were truly special."  Barnett was thoroughly on the money, and after hearing the New Improved Kim Shattuck Demos portion of this collection you not only get an inside seat to the makings of the record, but a sense of how strenuous her quality control was. Accompanied by basic percussion tracks, these early incarnations of the songs were largely representative of what the finished product would amount to, albeit presented in a slightly more spartan and streamlined context. We're even treated to a song that never made it past the prototype phase, the subdued "Even Now."

The nicely expanded Really Really Happy is available on double CD and a single LP directly from Omnivore or Amazon.  The Kim Shattuck Demos also saw a stand alone vinyl release this past Record Store Day.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Locked down, shut out, and your smile is just throwing fuel on the fire.

From 2006. I can vouch for the entire album, but more specifically,  tracks 2 through 4 deliver a seismic, melodic k.o.

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


The Psycho Daisies - Pushin' Up Daisies (1985, Sublapse)

Not as high strung as their moniker suggests, for their debut mini-LP, The Psycho Daisies dealt us a cheeky melange of Americana tinged with lightweight Paisley affectations. Truth is, perhaps with the spaghetti western bent of "Killed or Be Killed" this quartet don't really hit us over the head with anything. Instead, on most of Pushin' Up Daisies, you might pick up on traces of Green on Red or post-Days of Wine and Roses Dream Syndicate, but in the grand scheme of things the Daisies are an earnest bunch in love with guitars-y mid-temp rock and roll, sans the patently bad gimmicks their era was so insistent on accentuating.

01. Did it For Her
02. Kill or Be Killed
03. Blew Me Away
04. Get Off on Your Porch
05. Doesn't Come Around
06. In Doubt
07. Wrap Your Arms Around Me


Friday, May 13, 2022

Notes on new music: mercvrial and Collider.

It's been about three years since we've heard more from mercival aside from a volley of recent singles, but after soaking in 2019's rewarding the stars, like dust ep, I'm more than ready for a full length. brief algorithms is indeed the long player in question, and for these America-expats (now residing south of the border) the equation hasn't changed that much for the band whose indebtedness to Anglophile rock and post-punk is still very much the the unshakable bedrock they're wont to reside on. Managing to retain an austere poise, but breathable enough to encourage some discernible flexibility, this Mexican quartet balance the precise instincts of forebears For Against with the empathetic fortitude of the Chameleons and Catherine Wheel. They haven't completely shed the more omnipotent dream-pop sensibilities of the aforementioned the stars... ep, but I'll be damned if ....algorithms isn't a much more lucid beast, capably demonstrated on "Dance in the Dark," and the outright stunning "Dark Stars." "Be That Someone" propelled by a volley of ringing guitars is equally hard to resist, while the concluding "Cats of Cavtat" pulses along like late '80s Wire.  mercvrial's overarching sonic aplomb can get a tad formulaic, but they mix things up with a couple of poignant and not-so-obvious covers, namely Pink Floyd's "Matilda Mother," and the early Ultravox chestnut "Hiroshima Mon Amour." Laudable taste for sure, given they've tackled primo signature tunes from the likes of The Chills and Fudge previously. brief algorithms, is available on the UK Crafting Room Records imprint, and can be had on white vinyl or digitally via the increasingly essential Bandcamp

In the where-the-hell-did-this-stroke-of-genius-come-out-of-left-field-from? file, we have Washington D.C.'s Collider, who I gratefully happened on just a month ago.  Let everyone else slobber on their Wet Leg and give me a coed troupe like this any day. Some thirty years ago I couldn't get enough of such heavy-handed shoegaze interpreters as Lilys and the Swirlies on my side of the pond who ingeniously tweaked what their comparatively straight-laced prodigies in the UK had bequeathed.  In a nutshell, Collider are exuding a similar vibe, albeit with even more heart and sincerity. Striking a visceral charge from the word go on "Now What," you pretty know what you're in for on Fell, the band's second full length. It never ceases to amaze me what wonders a little flanged guitar and a robust array of effects pedals can do. The truth is most of Collider's nugaze contemporaries are reluctant to go overboard and really indulge, and while this foursome exercises plenty of impulse control, they're not afraid to wield a modicum of "weird" now and again.  The band's creative and dynamic chops are wed to incredible melodic structures, with perhaps their only peers being Amusement Parks on Fire. Younger ears may find Fell to be something of a revelation, whereas Gen X'ers like myself will bask in a gauzy, sonic soup that's at once seemingly bygone and brilliantly refurbished.  Fell can be had for a modest fee here.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Are you sick with a lack of imagination?

A long overdue, not to mention frequently excellent solo album from 2019.

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


Los Punk Rockers - Los Exitos de Sex Pistols (1978, Nevada/Dial Discos)

If there's anything I've brought you over recent months/years, this one will certainly qualify as a bona fide curiosity at the very least. The Sex Pistols, along with their LP Never Mind the Bollocks and it's attendant singles were a worldwide phenomenon spanning perhaps every continent with the possible exceptions of Africa and Antarctica. Nonetheless, in Spain circa 1978, it must have cost something of a small fortune to license foreign releases, even if the foreign nation was part of the same continent, much less within a few hundred miles as the crow flies. The truth however is that ...Bollocks did see an official release in Spain, ostensibly in limited quantities - and perhaps with a hefty price tag affixed to it. 

For whatever the reason (a few have been speculated here) some enterprising individual in Spain seized on a way to cash in on the "wave," so to speak and orchestrated a bunch of studio musicians accompanied by a snarky unnamed mouthpiece to recreate ...Bollocks note-for-note - or at the very least as similarly as possible.  This is where Los Punk Rockers, a nameless cabal of Hispanic punk interpreters swept in to fill in this perceived void. It's been rumored the perpetrators who ghost-recorded the album consisted of members of Spanish prog-rockers Asfalto.  This which might explain what lends any professional sheen to Los Exitos de Sex Pistols whatsoever. The band's rhythm section is fairly tight, and whomever is mimicking Steve Jones guitar parts doesn't deliver them as robustly as the real McCoy, but close enough I suppose. As for the man they chose to put on the mic, this individual's pipes are questionable at best and demonstrably insufficient at worst. Within the first dozen or so seconds of "Holidays in the Sun" it becomes glaringly apparent that the unaccredited vocalist doesn't possess a mastery of the English language.  Further into the record he seems to emanate some sort of mangled hybrid of English and undecipherable warble, the latter of which could be a dialect of Spanish that I'm unable to discern. I'll give credit where it's due in terms of this dude's overarching sneer, which doesn't quite rival Johnny Rotten's but at times sounds authentic enough.  

Again, this album's sheer existence is a real mystery given that the Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks saw an actual Spanish pressing. Nonetheless, those who've been able to find a copy of Los Exitos de Sex Pistols over the years will attest that it's one of those long lost, "so-bad-it's-good" cult classics. I'm presenting it here, although I don't own an original copy, so a big thanks to whomever ripped it and provided album art.  A more thorough examination of the album came be read here.   

01. Holidays in the Sun
02. Bodies
03. No Feelings
04. Liar
05. God Save the Queen
06. Problems
07. Seventeen
08. Anarchy in the UK
09. Submission
10. Pretty Vacant
11. New York
12. EMI 


Sunday, May 1, 2022

Always blow your kisses you mistake for adulation..

The lone 1991 album from a band gone too soon they neglected to tell you about. Sorry for the lack of content last week folks. Was out of town. Will try to get to restoring some files/requests very soon. 

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