Friday, May 26, 2023

It's a deadly art to take yourself apart.

A well-above average reunion album from 2009.

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


Bad Religion - Against the Grain demos (198?)

When southern-Cali hardcore legends Bad Religion reconvened in the late '80s not only did their new material supersede anything (and quite frankly everything) they put their name on in the first half of the decade, it put to shame anything their punk cohorts were responsible for around the same era. Their initial blush of reunion records - Suffer (1988), No Control (1989) and Against the Grain in 1990 were so consistently gratifying and vital, the band's newfound formula of erudite lyrics, heightened melodic acumen, and breakneck speed, was one that was imitated the world over, but never improved upon.  In fact, this trifecta was so astonishing I can't think of a trio of consecutive albums by any artist (maybe aside from Cheap Trick) that could really hold a candle to Bad Religion in the post-Reagan era. 

As is the case with many if not most bands, BR were no strangers to cutting a demo reel before sealing the deal in a proper studio. Hearing the embryonic stages of songs you come to know and love is always a curious endeavor, and seeking out prototypes by Greg Graffin and the boys proved to be worth the effort, given that there are easily discernable differences between them and the finished product.  So far as Against the Grain is concerned it's not clear how far in advance the nine songs I'm presenting here were cut, nor is it even clear who's playing on them. Drum machines are employed, and obviously Graffin is on the mic, yet it's not evident whose handling guitar and/or keyboard duties. In my estimation axe wielder Brett Gurewitz was the most likely perpetrator.  Nonetheless, what's so revealing about these tracks is how minimal the arrangements were in their nascent form, plus the fact that about half of them were originally written on synthesizers. Amazingly, classic album cuts like "Quality of Quantity," and the title track translate effectively in both analogue and digital contexts, and are delivered with the same breathless pace regardless of what instruments they're conveyed with. Absolutely fascinating insight for any Bad Religion diehards that might be in the audience. Enjoy.

01. Operation Rescue
02. Modern Man
03. Walk Away
04. God Song
05. 21st Century (Digital Boy)
06. Quality of Quantity
07. Faith Alone
08. Against the Grain
09. Get Off

Monday, May 22, 2023

The Cripples - Unfaithful Legends (1987, Dr. Dream)

Roughly five years ago when I shared The Cripples What's in a Name ep I assumed the gentleman on the album sleeve (frontman Shawn O'Brien) was festooned with a pair of crutches to help tie into his band's moniker. Turns out O'Brien had cerebral palsy, and the crutches weren't props after all. In fact, he relied on them during performances. That being said, his predicament is only loosely addressed in one song here, "I'm Your Cripple," and it along with the remainder of the record is a veritable exercise in uplift, not wallowing. As mentioned in my prior Cripples critique, these L.A. area denizens had a very party-up vibe going, a la Buster Poindexter, but they did make advances in terms of maturity on Unfaithful Legends, driving some relatively poignant sentiments home on side two's "Real to Real," which flirts with some discernable ballad-esque tendencies.  

Post-Cripples, O'Brien became an advocate for the disabled, voting rights, and naturally, where the two intersected. His endeavors included running for public office and authoring a book.

01. I'm Your Cripple
02. Our Time Will Come
03. Easy Access
04. Female Christ
05. One Night Stand
06. Unfaithful Legends
07. Die Young
08. Real to Real
09. Heart Like a Boxer
10. Little Affections

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Preconceived in half allegiance.

From 2002.  A project conceived by a duo who fronted separate, seminal indie rock conglomerates in the 1990s. Even when the finished product isn't quite as incendiary or even as memorable as you might expect, it's an experiment that many of us were grateful that was conducted at all.  

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


Saturday, May 20, 2023

Whinging for perfection...

Yep, by the end of the 80s it was confirmed.  I was NOT a fan of Hunters & Collectors. I hadn't purchased any of their records but I gave them a chance. Videos on MTV. Radio singles. Even heard the better parts of albums like Cut and Ghost Nation. Alas, I enthusiastically stamped this band with the great big NO.  Their cred as Aussie alterna-Wunderkinds and all the critical acclaim in the world did nothing for me, and I was convinced they would never lodge my proverbial needle. Why you might ask?  The band's horn section was way to prominent, and I simply didn't gravitate to any of their tunes.  My mind was made up.  Or was it?

Fast forward three decades and some change. I knew full well the band had a larger catalog than I was initially exposed to, but I dared not investigate it, at least on my own volition. Then this record made it's way into my browsing fingers a few months ago at a bargain-bin asking price. Copyrighted 1983. Surveyed the artwork - interesting, even appealing. Ditto for the abstract song titles. What I assumed was the band's debut album (also self titled) was actually a hodge podge of early ep and albums cuts, designed to bait a potential North American audience. I was intrigued. Could there have actually been something in the H&C realm that was remotely enticing after all?  I took the plunge and soon found out. The seven cuts presented here were not the glossy, or even brassy product of the band that made my sensibilities bristle all those years ago, rather the work of inventive, borderline avant-collective who were tapping into a serious post-punk vein, informed by the likes of Public Image Ltd, Japan, and even the earliest endeavors of home-country mates Midnight Oil. And they had plenty of wholly original maneuvers up their sleeves as well. Maybe not out-and-out catchy (often dissonant in fact) but surely competent, edgy and alluring. Am beyond chuffed that I gave this band a second chance. Since most of their catalog is available in one guise or another this will likely be the first (and last) post regarding H&C, but if your initial experience was anything like mine, try to be more open minded than I was. 

01. Tow Truck
02. Droptank
03. Mouthtrap
04. Lumps of Lead
05. Talking to a Stranger
06. Scream Who
07. Run Run Run


Monday, May 15, 2023

I've got love smeared all over my face...

A self-titled debut from 1981. Technically hard rock fare, but with strong pop angularities in spots. Renown record critic Chuck Eddy ranks this one in his top favorite albums of all time. 

My apologies for not getting to any new music this week. I intend to rectify that very soon.

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


Monday, May 8, 2023

I want my cherry flavored, tropical punch over ice.

A Don Flemming-production from 1995. 

**Please do not reveal artist name.**


Sunday, May 7, 2023

Where is Mystery Monday?

Folks, I'm on vacation, so a new installment of Mystery Monday will be live early Tuesday morning. Thanks for your patience. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

VA - Every One a Classic!!! Vol. 3

Before I head out for a brief vacation, I thought I'd set you up with the third volume in the Every One a Classic!!! compilation series. I presented the first two installments a little over a month ago and there are six in total. In a nutshell, and invisible force of some sort across the pond had the good sense to compile a bunch of immensely scarce, not to mention expensive UK powerpop and punk singles spanning 1977-81. The emphasis here is a little more on the punk side of the aisle, but I wouldn't expect any hardcore. For the most part, the fifteen bands involved are fully capable of carrying something resembling a tune, and about three songs in we're treated to one of the sharpest and most indelible songs of this era bar-none, The Letter's riveting "Nobody Loves Me" circa 1980. The Really 3rds brandish a dab of Brit Invasion persuasion, I'd swear Anorexia's "Pets" was born in CBGB's, and Joe 9T and The Buzz's "Insanity" is a sassy slammer with energy and hooks to spare. Have at it.

01. Future Bodies - Terrorist
02. Beez - Do the Suicide
03. The Letters - Nobody Loves Me
04. Really 3rds - Everday, Everyway
05. G Squad - In My Mind
06. Dansette Damage - NME
07. Cybermen - Where's the New Wave
08. Blitzkrieg Bop - UFO
09. Buzzards - We Make Noise
10. A.V.O. 8 - Gone Wrong
11. Push - Cartridge Stamp
12. Private Sector - Just Wanna Stay FRee
13. Valves - It Don't Mean Nothing at All
14. The K9's - Idi Amin
15. Joe 9t & the Thunderbirds - Joe 9t Theme