Monday, October 30, 2023

Reboot: Fictions - s/t (1980, Intercan)

At long last the drought is over.  Finally some new content...sort of. I went into this Canadian troupe's lone album cold a few years ago, but it wasn't until recently that I purloined an original copy, and as such a cleaner rip...and a more thoughtful reassessment. Fictions' album sleeve exuded seemingly telltale art/post-punk vibes. Was really expecting to parachute into a noir-ish new wave neighborhood, but ended up landing amidst something all the more lighthearted, even jovial at times in fact. There are some lightweight punky inclinations here (see "I Let Go" and the skinny tie endowed "Snob Appeal") albeit don't hold your breath for any political overtones or preachiness. Elsewhere "Shuffle" and "Fixation" could go toe-to-toe with anything the Cars were dishing out around the same time. In a nutshell, I was expecting something along similar lines to the Comsat Angels, and wound up with something more in the vicinity of the Pointed Sticks or early Joe Jackson. Go figure.

01. Won't Wash Away
02. I Let Go
03. Don't Look Down
04. Shuffle
05. Better
06. Fixation
07. Snob Appeal
08. Jersey Shore
09. Dimestore Romance
10. Do it With the Lights On
11. Praying for the World

Sunday, October 29, 2023

To the memories in your mind that misbehave.

From 2020. Smooth, but forward-thinking indie pop exuding a deftly balanced blend of gits and keys. Signposts point to everyone from Roxy Music, China Crisis, Merchandise, and I'm sure you'll draw your own conclusions as well. 

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


Sunday, October 22, 2023

Take me back to 1979 so I can find my open eyes.

A debut album from 2003. The last throes of Brit-pop, or a new chapter altogether?  Give this a few listens to sink in.

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


Friday, October 20, 2023

Dwight Twilley - Between the Cracks - Vol One (When!/Not lame)

The passing of Dwight Twilley on the 18th of this month was more than just another celebrity R.I.P., it was more akin to the passing of an era. Yes, there were a couple of noted Top 40 entries to his credit, but it was really the dedicated power pop cognoscenti that really felt the brunt of this loss. Occasionally whispered in the same breath as Big Star and Badfinger, Dwight Twilley (with the closely associated Dwight Twilley Band that found him paired with the late Phil Seymour in the late '70s), he wasn't always the immediate practitioner of the form that people associated with the genre.  Though musically active (perhaps right up until his unexpected passing) visibility was another story, despite the caliber of his recordings, especially the two landmark DTB albums, Sincerely (1976) and Twilley Don't Mind (1977) that veritably thumbtacked power pop on the proverbial map. 

A lot of you have no doubt read a flurry of remembrances on social media, or have found yourself spinning Twilley albums over the past couple of days. I had no personal connection to him, nor do I necessarily consider myself a major fan, but I appreciated his music, even ravenously at times. Most of what he had to offer is still available via paid download and streaming (and even the occasional reissue), and as of right now, the only thing I have to offer that's even slightly under the radar is this 2000 compilation composed out of outtakes and such, that ranges from 1973 to '94. Per the liner notes a good half of the songs are situated from 1983, just prior to his  '84 Jungle album, the last record of his to score a charting hit by way of "Girls."  That little morsel of trivia out of the way, for an album of abandoned material Twilley exuded a remarkable amount of quality control across a disparate and diverse selection of tracks. So much so, that even if you're a newbie to the man in question, Between the Cracks functions as a representative sampler of his arc as a songsmith.  It's another reminder of a bona fide talent that even the most observant of us took for granted, especially in the latter decades of his career.

01. Black Eyes
02. Let Me Down
03. Don't You Love Her
04. Lullaby
05. Forget About it Baby
06. Round and Around
07. Reach For the Sky
08. Too Young For Love
09. Eli Bolack
10. Oh Carrie
11. Living in the City
12. Christmas Love
13. To Get to You
14. Where the Birds Fly
15. No Place Like Home
16. Perfect World

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Reboot: Ultracherry Violet - I Fall to Pieces (1994, Bedazzled)

This one has been a long time coming. Shortly after I shared this in 2014 it was pointed out to me that the third track on this album, "Remember" wasn't the song in question, rather a duplication of another album track, "Losing My Friends." Indeed this was frustratingly the case, the byproduct of a careless mastering job on Ultracherry Violet's one and only LP, I Fall to Pieces.  Heck, I should have been alert enough to notice it before I posted the thing nine years ago.  Nonetheless, when I became conscious of this snafu, I didn't pull the link because the album was otherwise perfect.  It never occurred to me to reach out to anyone in the band...but many years on someone else did, and although doing a repress of the CD wasn't in the cards, the missing piece of the puzzle (the aforementioned "Remember") was recently posted on YouTube

I've updated the folder with the corrected track and have made it available to download per the link below.  The original write-up for the album can be accessed here, and for the uninitiated, if you're an aficionado of '90s dream pop from either side of the Atlantic, this one is something of a revelation. A big thanks to Sam who alerted me of this truly "lost" recording. 


Sunday, October 15, 2023

Poetry has given way to this.

 A debut album from 2004.

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


Drive me up to London now it's got too dark to see...

Thanks for being patient with me while I find an adequate amount of time to prep more vinyl for some uploads in the very near future. Until then I'm happy to offer you a clutch of 1990 demos from Ride, tracked just prior to a spate of then-forthcoming classic eps and albums. The birth of dream pop, or merely the next essential segment in the evolving continuity of shoegaze in general?  You be the judge.  "I'm Fine Thanks" is the most under-released nugget here, eventually appearing on the rarities compilation Firing Blanks, but to my ears this is a different incarnation, or at the very least mix of the tune.  One version of 
 "Chelsea Girl" has the beginning chopped off, and likewise with the ending of "Unfamiliar," which is a real pisser, but what can we do?  Enjoy in either MP3 or FLAC. 

01. Chelsea Girl #1
02. Drive Blind #1
03. I'm Fine Thanks (aka You Fuck Me Up)
04. Chelsea Girl #2 (cuts in)
05. Drive Blind
06. All I Can See
07. Close My Eyes
08. Unfamiliar (cuts out)

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Straightjacket your own beauty, because it's just a breakdown away...

Four eps.  It's been a few months since I've done one of these. Two decades spanning two millennia represented.  

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


Cotton Mather - Kontiki teaser tape (1986)

So I had some internal debate on whether to share this or not, but if not on Wilfuly Obscure, where?  Per the picture to your right, it's pretty easy to discern this wasn't made available to the general public (but soon would be in a slightly modified guise).  Austin, TX power pop mavens Cotton Mather made a few ripples when they're near-perfect debut, Cotton is King was dropped in 1994, but it's '97 follow-up, Kontiki, was significantly more lauded and met with far wider embrace. Prior to the album's release, Cotton main man Robert Harrison apparently distributed a few hand made tapes of new material he had been working on. One of those cassettes was handed off to a leading luminary/tastemaker in the scene, as it were, and decades later I was fortunate enough to have it fall in my hands. 

As per the title of this entry, this little three-song reel wasn't an advance for Kontiki, so much as a teaser or appetizer.  The first two tracks, "My Before And After" and "Spin My Wheels" would soon feature prominently on the album, with the third, "Innocent Street" being relegated to a b-side. "My Before.." strikes me as either a demo or unmixed version of the final product, which I like to think bears a slightly more organic hue here. "Spin My Wheels" is definitely an alternate take of the song, and an electric version at that. It was later released on the bonus CD of the 2012 deluxe edition of Kontiki.  In addition, that expanded version of the album included "Innocent Street" as a bonus selection too, albeit in an acoustic iteration whereas my cassette provides a differing electric take.  So there you have it. Three songs from 1996 that eventually saw the light of day a year later...with a few discrepancies. Enjoy.

01. My Before and After
02. Spin My Wheels
03. Innocent Street

Monday, October 2, 2023

Bobby Sutliff - Only Ghosts (1987/2023, Jem) - a brief review.

It's nearly impossible for a recent passing to not overshadow the music of the artist involved. In the cases of high profile specimens like John Lennon and Kurt Cobain it took years for a lot of fans to come to terms with their premature deaths before they could simply sink back in and enjoy the music again. For better or worse, Bobby Sutliff was not a household name, even at the arguable apex of his career in the mid-80s, but fans of both his solo endeavors and the work he did with the more renown Windbreakers certainly felt something when it was announced he lost his battle with cancer in August of 2022. There was really no controversy or prolonged drama tethered to Bobby, and those like myself who didn't know him personally were still able to associate him exclusively with his catalog of music.  Unlike the aforementioned Lennon and Cobain, however, when someone of Bobby's small-of-fame stature departs, their loss tends to exist in a vacuum, one in which there is no media pile-on or ubiquitous airplay on Sirius XM.  But above all else the music lives on with their faithful minions, and a recent reissue of his 1987 solo LP, Only Ghosts Remain is a much needed reminder of his relevance.

Making his bow in the early '80s from the somewhat unlikely locale of Jackson, MS as half of the songwriting quotient of the Windbreakers, Bobby, partnered with Tim Lee, would be responsible for three memorable albums of collegiate guitar pop (Terminal (1985), Run (1986) and A Different Sort (1987), not to mention a handful of preceding EPs. Fortified with national distribution, despite being anchored to smaller indie labels the Windbreakers were something of a staple on left-of-the-dial radio outlets, and were a decent live draw, but they didn't come close to breaching the mainstream.  To fans of jangle-laden indie rock coming remotely from the same environs as R.E.M. (and maybe less so the Dream Syndicate) the Windbreakers were a breath of fresh air.  They were advanced enough to exist in the '80s, yet managed to thoroughly sidestep the most egregious and embarrassing trends of the era. When OGR was released the 'breakers were still a going concern and from what I've been able to glean there was no acrimony between Sutliff and Lee.  That said, it was advisable for Bobby to put the album's eleven songs under a separate umbrella.

Just to get a little bit of trivia out of the way, Only Ghosts..., essentially began life as a Mitch Easter-produced five song EP, the lovingly dubbed Another Jangly Mess, that was only available as a European import which I've seen conflicting release dates of 1986/87.  Another one of Bobby's collaborators, not to mention erstwhile music publicist Howard Wuelfing was so enamored with what he heard that he encouraged PVC/Jem Records to bankroll the recording of another batch of songs, once again with Mitch Easter at his fabled Drive-in Studios to flesh out an entire LP.  Thus, Only Ghosts... was born. Despite being culled from two sessions the album doesn't feel patchworked together in the least, and is as consistent if not more so than anything the Windbreakers had been responsible for up until that point. 

During the era surrounding OGR's recording/release, the Windbreakers was ostensibly Bobby's main meal ticket - yet not one iota of the record sounds half-hearted, or casually strewn together. Retaining much of the 'breakers edgy, forward-thinking pallor while simultaneously emboldening Bobby's overarching sonic heft, this was an album that seemingly had one foot steeped in indie rock aesthetics, with the other sporting an ambitious stride that could have instantly impressed more pedestrian ears. 

The Windbreakers were partial to downcast themes and moreover, were known to exude a pessimistic tenor when it suited them, but as a solo entity Bobby was discernably more assured, and even downright confident. The driving, decided "Same Way Tomorrow" made for a primo opening salvo, declaring something of a brash clarion call. "Always Love You" and "Couldn't Help Myself" mine a similar, if slightly less strenuous vein. Further in, Only Ghosts... reveals itself as more of a mid-tempo specimen, albeit our protagonist is wont to circumvent traditional ballads. The overall effect is comparable to the first couple of Matthew Sweet albums, not to mention the Sweet-adjacent Velvet Crush precursor Choo Choo Train. Intoxicating jangly and strummy notions like "Won't Be Feeling Blue" pour down like an unremitting waterfall, and while the context of any given Bobby Sutliff tune is a cinch to glom onto, there's more than surface level depth at play here.  OGR may not rewrite or out-innovate anything that came before it (by the Windbreakers or otherwise) but it's nonetheless a life affirming example of par-excellence power pop, with an aptitude that's nothing short of wholly earnest. 

As mentioned above, Only Ghosts Remain has been given a new lease on life on the label that originally minted it, Jem Records.  The album's original running order has been bested with eleven additional cuts from three of Bobby's subsequent albums (Bitter Fruit, Perfect Dream and On a Ladder). Amazon has you covered via CD or digitally.

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Numb to the world and it's dangers, dumb to the world and it's strangers.

An expanded edition of this English band's 1987 debut. 

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


Upangybottoms - Upangymania (1987)

You'd be forgiven if you took this band's moniker as anything less than frivolous, but fear not, Oingo Boingo Upangybottoms weren't. Light hearted? Indeed, jovial even, yet while the emphasis on Upangymania is certainly fun this Edmonton, Alberta trio were deft pop-craftsmen in that early Posies (say Failure) sort of way.  For all of it's inherent cheekiness, this album is relatively situated in the power pop realm with "Cry," "Christine" and "She's Gonna Let You Down" are all representative examples of the three minute form.  Elsewhere, the brisk "Tell Me Why" bears an acousti-folk bent, while the comparatively wacky "Egyptian Holiday" sports the goofball motif it's likely to imply.  

01. She's Gonna Let You Down
02. Tell Me Why
03. Cheryl My Friend
04. Cry
05. Pushin' Up the Daisies
06. Christine
07. Mister Adams
08. Egyptian Holiday
09. How Many Times
10. Boys and Girls