Sunday, July 7, 2024

Murder or rape your king's English...

A sublime selection from 1991, often striking me as one of the finest things Mark Burgess never concocted. 

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


VA - New Wave Hell: Double Digit Inflation Pop V.2

This was a quickee, slapped together cd-r compilation offered by a certain power-pop centric label and distro in the mid '00s to incentivize potential customers.  New Wave Hell... isn't one of those legendary or totemic Rosetta stones passed along en masse between music fans, rather a casually prepared yet highly consistent mix-tape highlighting a bevy of obscure, yet still integral artists from the late '70s and early Reagan-era involving the likes of under-the-radar exports The Yachts, Scars, The Nits, Reels and Nick GilderThe Reputations "I Believe You" is an especially worthy and arcane revelation, as are solid tracks from a couple of entities I've enlightened to you over the years, specifically Maurice & The Clichés and the Heaters.  New Wave Hell... is classy stuff, and surprisingly gratifying, and if you're anything like me you can't help but wonder what songs made the cut for Volume 1...

01. Nick Gilder - Amanda Greer
02. The Nits - A Touch of Henry Moore
03. Maurice & The Cliches - It's All Talk
04. Scars - David
05. Robert Ellis Orrall - Baby Go
06. The Reels - Baby's in the Know
07. Yachts - Yachting Type
08. The Reputations - I Believe You
09. The Heaters - Talk is Cheap
10. The Killermeters - Twisted Wheel
11. Modest Proposal - Live Today

Friday, July 5, 2024

Daddy-O - Paris on the Prairie tape (1989)

"Hey, what up daddy-o!"  Um...actually, I don't think that's the vibe here at all.  This bygone Chicago export weren't casual or cheery in the least in fact. Try a decidedly austere, goth/post-punk/noir modus operandi instead and you'll see what Daddy-O had in mind - and they were thoroughly adept at it as well.  The spindly atmospherics and icy, chiming chords that commence "Run to Hide" smack of the kind of gripping latticework early For Against staked their reputation on...that is until Laura Ryan's vocals insert themselves about a minute or so in, transporting the song to a wholly more dramatic stratum, not unlike Siouxsie and the Banshees circa their '80s salad days.  Imbued with more discernable melodic chops, subsequent pieces "16 Days" and "Your Yesterday" curtail the tension a notch, occasionally recalling contemporary Midwesterners The Millions.  You won't find so much as a bum or weak spot on Paris on the Prairie, however this cassette ep (an early credit for indie producer Brad Wood) was all Daddy-O left for us.  This was a primo find.  

01. Run to Hide
02. 16 Days
03. Your Yesterday
04. Rudy's Trunk
05. Two Sharp Clicks

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Johnny if you want to survive, you got to play your part to stay alive.

Vintage goods from the Netherlands.  In a perfect world I would have been tipped off to this one decades ago.

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


Saturday, June 29, 2024

Marginal Man - s/t (1988)

Before I received a request for this one a couple of weeks ago, my awareness of Marginal Man began and ended with their 1984 Dischord Records debut, Identity, wherein the band made a solid case for their hardcore punk bona fides, a la 7 Seconds and Government Issue.  Even back then they suggested further development was on the horizon, and by the time they got around to their third album (this one) they may as well have changed their moniker along with their rebooted ethos.  There's not a shred of the early, proto-emo dabblings from their days of yore to be had on Marginal Man, rather this crew completely traded that inspired guise in for gritty, punk 'n roll vaguely recalling the Lime Spiders, early Snatches of Pink, and likely some more obvious comparisons that I'm blanking on at the moment.  Sounded like these guys were making a play for the radio as well. I certainly appreciate the snarl factor here, and it's a satisfying listen, just quite a 180.  Would be fascinated to learn what led to Marginal Man's drastic transition, because I'm sure there's a story there.

01. Time
02. What Did He Say
03. Metal Madness
04. Gentry
05. Under a Shadow
06. Home
07. I Had a Feeling
08. Mind on Hold
09. Spirits
10. Sea of Sorrow

Friday, June 28, 2024

Painted Willie - Live From Van Nuys ep (1986, SST)

I'm always a bit late to cracking open books I purchase, even when I obtain them relatively close to their publishing date.  In fact I'm usually a couple of years behind the curveball with anything I read, save for the occasional periodical.  Jim Ruland's Corporate Rock Sucks - The Rise and Fall of SST Records has been no exception, and as I write this I'm about three-quarters of the way through the tome in question.  If you've been an early adopter of Wilfully Obscure, Painted Willie might not be quite such an arcane quantity, as this is the fourth post I've dedicated to them, yet despite their SST pedigree there isn't much in the way of ephemera to be had on them, online or otherwise.  Maybe you can chalk up their low-key legacy to the trio's stubbornly "intermediate" aptitude, which entailed no shortage of skate-punky riff-ola, and a prowess for arpeggios which never completely gestated.  Their reliably fun, albeit good-but-not-great penchant did however translate effectively in a live setting, and this bite-sized chunk of a March 1986 gig situated near their home turf is actually a decent introduction for the uninitiated.  The track selection for Live From Van Nuys is wisely cherry-picked, centering on some of the Willie's most immediate and memorable salvos, chief among them the power-chord ridden "The Big Time" and "Crossed Fingers." They plow through Love's "Little Red Book," upping the tempo of the chorus, just shy of butchering the overarching effect. Truthfully, I admired P/W for what they were, meager as their capabilities sometimes were - and therein resided 90% of their charm.    

01. Crossed Fingers
02. The Big Time
03. Kill It
04. Upside Down Town
05. Little Red Book
06. Cover Girl

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Reviews you can use: The Mosquitos, Falling Stairs and sparkle*jets u.k.

In case you haven't noticed I'm way overdue for some reviews of current releases and reissues, and I'm going to try to address that over the course of the next few paragraphs.  I appreciate everyone that has been gracious enough to set up vinyl and CDs.  Being provided with physical media is more of a luxury than ever, and if I haven't been thoughtful enough to those who go to the trouble your generosity is appreciated.  More critiques to come in the near-future, I might add. 

Spandex. Breakdancing. Mullets. And just about dayglo-everything.  For better or worse this is the world in which Long Island's Mosquitos were forced to toil and contend with.  But guess what? They weren't having a lick of it.  In fact, it would seem like this quintet hadn't gotten the bat signal that the world had evolved past say, 1966.  Stuck in their own time-warp, not unlike similarly bespoke San Diego brethren The Nashville Ramblers, this quintet carved out a small niche within the environs of New York's power pop circuit alongside contemporaries The Bongos and Fleshtones, yet their antecedents were entirely steeped in British Invasion and Merseybeat pop, with nary an inclination to the present day - and you can take that literally.  Their discography consisted of a well received 1985 ep, (That Was Then, This is Now), and if you want to get technical a few demo tapes, but that lone record was essentially all that was made available for public consumption - until 2023, which saw the release of the double CD This Then Are the Mosquitos, and the more concisely consolidated vinyl incarnation, In the Shadows.  

The Mosquitos replication of the Cool Britannia epoch was awe-strikingly spot-on, wherein the band's five protagonists uncannily could have slotted in precisely with Help!, Face to Face-era Kinks, or the Dave Clark Five, etc.  They completely had the instrumentation, tonality and poise of the mid-60s down to a science, so much so that "I Know a Secret," "You Don't Give a Hang (About Me)," and "Put Your Foot Down" could have passed for veritable oldies - that is if it wasn't for copyright dates revealing these tunes were actually minted two decades later.  The 'squitos were genuinely expert and adept at the card they were playing, but for every fan they successfully roped in, there was likely to be a dozen or so would-be-listeners that were put off by their schtick, or more realistically, completely checked out in a haze of MTV and video games.  That being said, the bustling forty song-plus This Then... is really aimed at two parties - Brit Invasion aficionados and the Mosquitos small but gonzo fanbase.  Though their studio work was limited (hovering around fifteen numbers) the band was remarkably well documented, with about ten quality soundboard recordings of live gigs surviving over the ensuing decades, yielding much of This Then's... retro-laden manna.  I'd be remiss if I failed to mention The Mosquitos were responsible for writing the original version of the Monkees '80s comeback hit, "That Was Then, This is Now," which might ring a bell to a lot of Gen-X'ers in the audience.  A bit cloying?  Sure, but if you're down for what these not-so pesky insects were dishing out there's a bountiful hive of music to adore here. This Then... is available directly from Kool Kat Musik or Bandcamp

Having surely made your acquaintance with Falling Stairs when I posted their marvelous That and a Quarter mini-album several years ago (2010 if you're keeping tabs), you'll be pleased as punch to know that they've made their slim but estimable catalog available again - physically no less. In  reference to the moniker of this long defunct Queens, NY quartet, you’ll find nary a stumbling block on Falling Stairs first record in 35 years.  Not that everything occupying the twelve grooves on Life is a Kick Trial 1988-1993 is actually ‘new’ per se, considering this is a retrospective absorbing the entirety of the aforementioned, That and a Quarter alongside five scarce and/or heretofore unreleased tracks.  F/S deserved a better lot than their meager exposure on a few left-of-the-dial outposts accorded them, with a warm, reverby vibe that smacked of halcyon era R.E.M., not to mention lesser renown buried treasures like Bleached Black, Beauty Constant and Lifeboat.  From the jackhammer power pop fervor of “Man-Made” to “Good Intention’s” acousti-folk lilt …Kick Trial makes a crucial argument for this combo's neglected legacy. It's available immediately as a limited vinyl and digital release here.

Not unlike the Mosquitos compilation I went on about at the beginning of this piece, my assessment of sparkle*jets u.k.'s 2023 platter, Best of Friends is loooooooong overdue.  So much so in fact the band is actually on the verge of releasing a new album this summer, Box of Letters, which I'll try to share my thoughts in a more timely manner.  So, why am I not dedicating space to the new one, when Best of Friends is several months (if not close to an entire year in the rear view)?  Because for me ....Friends is the most consequential item in the sparkle*jet's long and storied catalog. In a nutshell, back in the mid/late-90s I couldn't get enough of the groovy power pop (and adjacent) music scene emanating from the City of Angels.  It seemed as is every other month during the Clinton-era another crucial, revelatory album from a Los Angeles-based cabal was dropping, be it in the guise of new CDs from the likes of The Wondermints, Baby Lemonade, The Sugarplastic, and more that I'll be disclosing momentarily.  

Best of Friends is a covers album that's a self described "love letter" to the 'jets' local peers - bands and songwriters they shared bills with, came up with, and generally speaking, mutually supported.  It functions both as a flattering tribute and as an ingenious time capsule of sorts, revisiting the music of essential L.A. aggregations Cockeyed Ghost, Double Naught Spies, The Negro Problem, Sugarplastic, Shazam, and Big Hello just to rattle off a portion of those paid homage to here.  You'd think half the rosters of Not Lame and Big Deal Records are represented on ...Friends, because veritably speaking that's practically the case.  And represented reverentially at that, with the coed 'jets in almost all cases impeccably retaining the original arrangements. True, the original incarnations of TNP's "Mahnsanto" and The Wondermints' "In and Around Greg Lake" are stunningly priceless, yet the new coatings of paint they're treated to here illicit a similar visceral rush - a feat than any given tribute album should strive for, yet so rarely achieves. Heck, along the way I even discovered a handful of songs from phenomenal acts like the See Saw and Kompost that were brand new to this set of this ears, offering plenty of motivation for me to investigate their respective bygone catalogs. And with 21 selections, there's no shortage of hooks to engulf yourself in.  Best of Friends can be had directly from Big Stir Records and Bandcamp, digitally or on double-LP and CD.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

I got a ringing in one ear and reason whispering in the other...

From 2006.  This one's a bit more aggressive than what I usually offer, but when I first encountered it two year ago I was utterly compelled.  The second greatest band to ever hail from Bellingham, WA?

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


Saturday, June 22, 2024

The Great Divide - s/t ep (1987, Big Fish)

I'm about to lose some serious indie cred for this one, despite the fact that it's a legit independent release.  The truth is, I had a lot of affection for '80s Top-40 when it was still a going concern.  Although this Cambridge, MA co-ed six piece, whose name was never uttered by Casey Kasem, The Great Divide nonetheless would have fit in like a glove wedged between say, The Hooters and Mr. Mister.  To be even more specific, these folks resembled a carbon copy of one of their equally lesser-known contemporaries, Tuesday Blue.  There's more sheen on this ep then you'd ever attempt to wax your proverbial pony with, but I'll be damned if "The Touch" and "Walk Into the Fire" don't exude the same affectations that had the aforementioned success stories dominating the middle-of-the-dial four decades ago. I'm not quite as moved by the second half of The Great Divide, even taking into consideration the title track's crafty juxtapositions.  True, this isn't quintessential Wilfully Obscure terrain but I stand by it, albeit with some reservations.  

01. The Touch
02. Walk Into the Fire
03. Open Roads
04. The Great Divide

Monday, June 17, 2024

Alter Boys - Counter Intelligence (1995, Ng)

I've taken quite the hiatus from posting anything regarding the Alter Boys - and considering they haven't been a recent proposition I suppose they have as well.  Yep, you heard it here first folks, way back in 2011 when I spoon fed you a 1987 album dubbed Soul Desire, and a few months later an even more stimulating single from earlier in their career.  The Alter Boys ramshackle, Replacements-cum-U2 bash 'n pop was utterly irresistible when I first laid ears on that wonderful debut 45, "Piles," and it still elicits something of a rush. Yet, I know all along that this NYC conglomerate weren't merely a Reagan-era venture, and that Counter Intelligence, a mid-90s reunion album of sorts also existed - and, voila, today it's yours for the taking. Boasting a tighter and logically more mature aptitude, CI beats Soul Desire to the punch in the diversity department, dipping it's collective fingers in a myriad of pies while still skewing to the informal moxie that brought me to the table in the first place. ...Intelligence isn't necessarily one for the time-capsule, yet the Alter Boys casual but committed aplomb yielded a dozen (mostly) solid songs, and functioned as a comforting antidote to the flashier and billowy trappings of it's era.

01. Gashound
02. Hold Me Up
03. Let's End
04. Nothball
05. Ironlung
06. Cry a Little Bit
07. C'n Opn'r
08. If You're So Smart
09. Sundown
10. Diesel Down
11. How Long, Far?
12. Another Lonely Weekend  


Sunday, June 16, 2024

I get ripped apart, pick it up and take it home again.

For me and many of my friends this was one of the most significant records of 1997, maybe even the decade.  It was frustrating not seeing these guys break through to a national audience.  Perhaps there were valid reasons for this, but as the song says, "you can't fight something you can't see..."

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


The High Five - Working For the Man 7" (1984, Big Village)

My apologies for not presenting you with new music this week.  I intend to make it up to you by sharing two items on Monday (one of them most certainly being a Mystery Monday installment). 

Over the years I've featured titles that are bona fide classics (some far more renown than others) that have more than earned their installation in the echelons of indie/alt rock glory.  I'm afraid the single I'm offering today isn't quite of that lofty caliber...though it's still certainly commendable.  The hard scrabble, stick-it-to-the-man, ethos laid out on the comic strip gracing the sleeve of this 45 does indeed lend itself to the modus operandi of Liverpool's The High Five, albeit this quartet's delivery system wasn't particularly punk, pub, wave or the like. That doesn't render the band any less anthemic however, with these gents loosely conveying themselves as a kinder, gentler Big Country or Alarm.  A full length, Down in the No-Go, followed in 1986, and I'm curious to lay ears on it to gauge what their inevitable progression yielded. 

A. Working For the Man
B. Walk Them Back

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Now that you're old enough to lose your own mind...

Deftly crafted, retro-fitted indie pop from 2014.

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


Jules Shear - Demo-itis (1986, Enigma)

I never really caught the bug for Jules and the Polar Bears, and by extension Jules Shear solo/songwriting career that eventually followed. Why?  Maybe  because the Polar Bears were before my time, so to speak, and even though they were the product of a major label, they existed outside the realm of Top 40 radio, an arena I didn't investigate wholeheartedly until the mid-80s.  Nonetheless, I can easily justify the acclaim that was so frequently siphoned onto said band.  

That being said, I'm not sure why I opted to take the plunge with Demo-itis, which technically isn't even a proper album, rather as it's title makes obvious, prototypes of songs to be pursued and perfected at a later date.  Oddly enough, the vast majority of these songs (save for "If She Knew What She Wants" and "She's in Love Again") didn't make the cut for his bona fide solo records.  As Demo's compiler, Sam Franklin is wont to point out in the liner notes, that's not so much a byproduct of these tunes being throwaways, rather the exact opposite - Jules Shear was so prolific and substantive that this collection exists as a means of salvaging many primo compositions that would have otherwise languished on the shelf.  

I'm not sure exactly how many of this baker's dozen tracklist were actually sold or given to other artists to make their own, perhaps for two well known exception, "If She Knew..." which went to the Bangles for 1985's Different Light, and of course, the considerably more veritable hit "All Through the Night" which Cyndi Lauper ballad-ized and took to the bank. Jules' early incarnations of both future-hits sound a tad stiff held up to the more famous versions, yet somehow more earnest than the ones the general public became acquainted with.  Elsewhere, there are plenty more invigorating guitar-pop salvos, including "Deliver Love," "Chain Within a Chain," and the aforementioned "She's in Love" which would have held up to just about anything on the first two Marshall Crenshaw albums. The driving "Trained For Glory" sports a rollicking, Dylan-esque air, "Eligible For Parole" wields Rockpile-ish punch galore, and the synth-endebted "Take The Risk" indulges in some mild concessions to the new wave era. Not bad for a record of glorified outtakes!

01. Deliver Love
02. Chain Within a Chain
03. If She Knew What She Wants
04. Trained For Glory
05. Different Sands
06. Eligible For Parole
07. She's in Love
08. I Didn't Know Your Smile
09. You Are My Heartache
10. He Tore My World Apart
11. Take the Risk
12. All Through the Night
13. I Know You're Not Alive

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Don’t say I’ve got no heart. What I put together, I can take apart.

A collection of this New York quartet's studio recordings circa 1977-78.  It's about as far as I delve into no-wave.

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


Saturday, June 1, 2024

Bastro - Rode Hard and Put Up Wet ep (1988, Homestead)

Often plagiaristicly resembling Big Black (and to a lesser extent Breaking Circus) Bastro's messy, cathartic guitar-laced industrial grind practically worships at the altar of Albini & Co. on their debut ep - and maybe that explains why I can't get enough of it.  Featuring two expats of Squirrel Bait (David Grubbs and Clark Johnson) Bastro, in tandem with their Chicago icons, employed a drum machine. Despite what sounds like a jumbled, claustrophobic mix, Rode Hard... at the very least is not diminished or diluted in the songwriting department, with the bristling "(I've) Ben Brown" effectively hailing the band's breathless arrival.  "Loam" and "Three Eggs In a Sock" breach similar caustic, post-punk depths, and in fact there are virtually no respites in sight on this wonderfully furious record, save perhaps for "Counterrev: Bhutan" a cacophonous instrumental peppered with free-jazz horns. Two full lengths were to follow: Diablo Guapo and Sing the Troubled Beast before Grubbs carved out a niche for himself in the '90s with Gastr Del Sol and Palace.

01. (I've) Ben Brown
02. Three Eggs in a Sock
03. Counterrev: Bhutan
04. Gold Fillings
05. Loam 
06. Extract

Friday, May 31, 2024

Coral - Pillowtalk (1994, Fistpuppet)

Though he fronted Richmond's Coral through the first half of the '90s, when word of Bob Schick's passing was announced late last week far greater emphasis was placed on the band he commandeered circa the Reagan era, Honor Role.  H/R began as an acerbic hardcore punk endeavor that over the course of two albums and numerous singles gradually gave way to a less frantic pace, and were one of the first bands of their ilk to adopt mathy textures amidst a bespoke, artful parlance.  Their concise but challenging song/poem/puzzle type-things were hardly the stuff of accessibility, but their petite catalog rubbed off on aggregations ranging from Seam to Drive Like Jehu.  

Coral, much like Honor Role themselves, entailed a certain amount of concerted observation - probably too much so for someone like myself, circa 1994, who was besotted with the likes of The Posies and Jawbreaker.  Time marches on, tastes become more refined, and the need for instant gratification wanes...and as such, a reassessment of the band in question was in order.  The post-rock inch evidenced in H/R may not stretch a mile or even a kilometer in the guise of Coral, but I'll be damned if what I'm encountering on Pillowtalk isn't considerably more breathable, simultaneous to this band's frequent penchant for all things dissonant. Schick's sung/spoken patois blends in well with Coral's finagling of first generation-emo sonic leanings, yet never concedes to anything wrought or exaggerated.  You'll certainly not unfurl any twee or precious niceties here, but this quartet falls well short of the abrasiveness of say, Fugazi or any of that legend's fill-in-the-blank Dischord Records stablemates.  A torrent of incongruent minor chords goes a long way in coloring-in the tense, cerebral, and all-around obliqueness of Pillowtalk, an album that challenges and ever-so-subtly provokes.  As I've said in reference to a copious amount of unrelated artists on these pages, this one is an acquired taste well worth acquiring.     

01. Figure 8
02. Wallpaper
03. Your Reward
04. Puzzle Me
05. Mime Appeal
06. Soup n' Sandwiches
07. Ruth
08. Big Grab
09. Lil' Buddy
10. Box Truck
11. Get to You
12. Floating By
13. More of the Same

Sunday, May 26, 2024

You checked in with a broken heart, we don't even know where to start.

From 2010. A killer comeback. 

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


Red Lorry Yellow Lorry - World's Collide (aka "Black Tracks" ep) (2004)

Here's another one that god knows I don't have a physical copy of it.  I boarded the Lorries truck pretty late in the game, 1989 to be exact, but caught up quickly, though I never saw them live in any incarnation. Thought they were essentially put to pasture sometime after their independently released fifth album, Blasting Off in the mid-90s, frontman and focal point Chris Reed revived the name for the occasional live gig and this particularly limited edition ep, which is titled Worlds Collide right on the sleeve, yet is more commonly referred to as "Black Tracks." Whatever I suppose, while the tunes are passable, and in the case of "The Only Language" and "Driving Black" pack some discernable punch, it's evident that this is Reed wielding all the instruments or is backed up by a very taut bunch of hired guns, almost certainly not original guitarchitect Wolfie Wolfenden (dare I say I'm mistaken?). At any rate that's how this four-song cookie crumbles, and considering what an adherent I was I gladly lapped this up when it turned up in the post-Napster epoch.

News dropped earlier this year of an impending (and final) Red Lorry Yellow Lorry LP, Strange Kind of Paradise, to surface in the near-future along with some potentially accompanying eps to boot. To tide you over, check out a live 1992 concert that was made available via BandcampBandcamp a couple of years ago, bonus-ized with some modern-era studio tracks.    

01. World's Collide
02. I Need Time (Off My Mind)
03. The Only Language
04. Driving Black

Sunday, May 19, 2024

First he started with furniture, then he moved onto parking lots...

A 2022 compilation that cherry picks the best of this band's four crucial eps dating from 1993-94.

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


Saturday, May 18, 2024

Mettle - s/t ep (1982, RMS)

Once again, Discogs doesn't quite nail it.  "Minimal?" "Darkwave?"  Post-punk yes, but to throw such ominous adjectives in the direction of this London, ON quartet makes me wonder what record the submitter was listening to.  As for the music itself, I'm not complaining in the slightest given Mettle's deft acumen of merging mildly dissonant art rock with warmer, borderline tuneful hues.  I'm gonzo for the texture and tones infiltrating this record's tantalizing "The Second Person" and "Evening Ocean," both accented with Gerry Collin's tingly, clangy minor chords interlocking seamlessly with Chris Jaco's subtle but bouncy bass runs. Not all of Mettle is as transporting as the aforementioned salvos, but these guys were functioning on a forward-thinking wavelength that most of their enlightened new-romantic contemporaries could barely register on, let alone succeed at so effectively.  My understanding is that this record was the sum total of Mettle's output, and a shame at that.  Not much info is available about this crew, with the exception of this site offering some scant background details and the option to stream all the songs. The rip I'm sharing here is from my personal copy.

01. Emotional Desert
02. The Second Person
03. The Invisbles
04. Evening Ocean
05. All You Wanted
06. Five/Four

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

British Properties 7" (1983, LowTown)

Yet another fine single I don't posses a physical copy of, but that hardly makes me any less appreciative. Presumably from Vancouver, BC, this 45 was the one and only arrow in the British Properties extra lean quiver. The duo in question dust off and retell "Eight Days a Week" amidst the motif of cozy, bedroom synth-pop, with a stroke of insightful context winning me over in ways the Fab Four never did.  As for the flip, the equally soft and cushy original, "Niag'ra Falls" oozes with warmth, mid-fidelity moxie, and minimalist efficiency.  I so love this.

A. Eight Days a Week
B. Niag'ra Falls

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Another push, another jab, another round. I'm not on my knees, I'm face down.

From 1993.  This is for Steve, even though he's merely credited here, not a performer.  It's been a sad f'n week. I'll be lucky if I don't bust out crying.

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


His Boy Elroy - It's Only Me tape (1988)

Picked this one up at a much beloved, secondhand music/book shop a few years ago at a price I couldn't refuse. This isn't the same His Boy Elroy that was signed to Columbia about thirty years ago, rather this one is more of a cold case. It's unclear where this HBE hailed from, as there's no correspondence address, but I wouldn't be surprised if their locale was in the environs of L.A. where this cassette album was tracked. It's Only Me is yet another loose alt-rock proposition that with a few more power chords and insipid songwriting could have passed for AOR fodder around the time of it's 1988 copyright date. Instead we're treated to something a bit more sophisticated, a la The Alarm, Rhythm Corps or even a more contemplative Duran Duran, albeit HBR weren't particularly on the new romantic bandwidth. Strong tunes and memorable hooks make this nugget of plastic worth investigating, and I'd outright recommend It's Only Me if the Epic Rumors platter I pitched you a few years back made a positive impression. 

01. New England
02. Tell Me
03. Rain
04. Walk in the Park
05. Something to Say
06. I'm Not Sure
07. Fabled Prophets
08. Only Me
09. Modern Love Song
10. Goodbye

Sunday, May 5, 2024

I haven't got a steady job and I've got no place to stay.

A classic from 1981 surrounded by several crucial bonus tracks from the same era.

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


Friday, May 3, 2024

The Windbreakers - A Different Sort (1987, DB)

No, it's not Chanukah or any other special occasion, so why am I featuring something by The Windbreakers?  Am just fulfilling request is all.  Plus, this is one of the only titles involving Tim Lee that hasn't seen a digital reissue.  Without the involvement of longtime (and recently deceased) partner Bobby Sutliff, A Different Sort is true to it's title in that it takes a different tack than the preceding Terminal (1985) and Run (1986) opting for a slightly subtler approach.  There's no shortage of crunchy guitars, albeit the going here isn't quite as angsty as evidenced by their aforementioned earlier records. Still, a not-so-pristine Windbreakers album is exponentially better than what passed for rock 'n roll on the more pedestrian side of the FM dial, and "Knowing Me," "So Much" and the especially vigorous "Forget Again" all wield the kind of grit and musculature Lee & Co. staked their reputation earlier on in the decade.  I'm making this available in MP3 and FLAC. 

01. Knowing Me
02. Fit In
03. You Closed Your Eyes
04. Better Left Unsaid
05. So Far Away
06. A Different Sort...
07. So Much
08. We Never Understand
09. Forget Again
10. Any Longer

MP3  or  FLAC

Monday, April 29, 2024

V/A - Downtown NYC (1988, Virgin)

I marvel that there was a time when major labels would have the gumption (and purse) to simply take a chance and release something seemingly on a lark.  If not necessarily a full length album by some thoroughly unknown quantity, at least the occasional compilation featuring unproven artists of that ilk, including those doggedly left-of-center.  The ten-song various artists foray dubbed Downtown NYC, released with ostensibly little fanfare in 1988 was just such a record, and a strikingly eclectic platter at that. 

Downtown NYC is not one of those legendary time capsules, like say, No, New York. documenting a certain niche, rather a mish mash of widely disparate genres, for the most part honing in on new and upcoming talent.  The only real semblance of a unity here in fact is the opening cut, a euphoric, soulful spin on Petula Clark's "Downtown" by the impromptu Downtown Chorus featuring members from a handful of the other bands occupying this same 33 1/3, the Uptown Horns, Jerry Harrison, and I would imagine some session musicians to boot. The overall effect is that a of a lively Broadway cast recording.  This leads into the album's finest moment, a just-under three-minute slice of guitar pop genius from Mark Johnson. "Breakin' Rocks" is a perfect-ten that sounds 100% inseparable from anything that might have jumped off the first two Marshall Crenshaw albums, and is quite literally worth every penny of this record's cut-out-bin admission. I'm flabbergasted and will be checking out the arears of this mans catalog soon.  Surprisingly the only band featured here with any Wilfully Obscure overlap is Rude Buddha who's sassy "No More Gravy" is more nervy than anything on their 1985 Blister My Paint ep.  As for Loup Garou, I was never a mark for zydeco, but damn, these gents are mightily adept at their craft. 

Side two offers several pleasant surprises.  Going into this, I wasn't at all familiar with the late Frank Maya, who was a comedian by trade, however more notably on "Polaroid Children" he's backed up on guitar by Naux, a one-time Voidoid and part of the creative heft behind China Shop, a rather arcane but rewarding artifact of New York's no-wave syndicate.  Soma Holiday's syncopated synth-pop boasts more 1980s production indulgencies than one can shake a stick at, the absolutely frenetic and dissonant Ritual Tension are in prime under-your-skin form as usual, and Ok Savant whose discography consists of merely two compilation showings (this one included) involves the talents of Vernon Reid on "Rain."

01. The Downtown Chorus – Downtown
02. Mark Johnson - Breakin' Rocks
03. Rude Buddha - No More Gravy
04. Bernie Worrell - Telestar
05. Loup Garou - Two Step Du Loup
06. Frank Maya - Polaroid Children
07. Soma Holiday - Kiss Of A Stranger
08. OK Savant - Rain
09. Ritual Tension - Like a Slob
10. Songs From A Random House - Sheltered Life

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Monday, April 22, 2024

Mission -- The Last Detail (1983, Frantic)

Not to be confused with the British Mission U.K. (in fact, this Maryland-based quartet may have been responsible for forcing them to graft "UK" to the end of their moniker) this crew ironically sported a vividly evident Anglophile stripe themselves.  Definitely not full-fledged goth in the classic sense, Mission still managed to water down the likes of Bauhaus, with a vocalist in tow (David Jon Cawkwell) whose pipes nonetheless suggested discernable shades of Peter Murphy.  The Last Detail is passable, even satisfying on "What Goes Around," and more so on the positively punky "Interrogation," yet the going on this mini long-player rarely veers towards anything exceptional.  And why is that bands of their ilk/era always felt the need to offer an ironic reading of an overplayed classic rock tune, in this case a tired Monkees retread of all things? I hardly think the world was hankering for a noir take on "(I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone," but for better or worse it was committed to tape. Enjoy (or not).   

01. Dreaming
02. Reasons Why
03. Where Were You
04. What Goes Around
05. The Girl Next Door
06. Interrogation
07. Stepping Stone

Sunday, April 21, 2024

It's April 22, and everybody knows today is Earth Day...

Power pop-adjacent from 1991.

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


Saturday, April 20, 2024

Human Switchboard - Fly-In ep (1977/2019, Fat Possum)

What better way to commemorate another Record Store Day in the books than with a visit to a preceding RSD release?  Perhaps the only reason I never got around to featuring Cleveland's long departed Human Switchboard was because their catalog more or less became available via the handy Who's Landing in My Hangar? Anthology collection in 2011. Oddly enough as seemingly thorough as that album (and it's attendant bonus downloads, if I recall) was that wouldn't be the final H/S reissue in the pipeline.

Naturally, you took note of this records original 1977 copywrite date, and although this coed trio (eventually a quartet) called one of punk's early Meccas their hometown, they hardly bore any overlap with, say Pere Ubu or the Dead Boys, or for that matter other class of '77 mainstays like the Ramones and Talking Heads.  The four song Fly-In ep finds the band slotting in more appropriately with the likes of Question Mark and the Mysterians due in part to a mildly churning undercurrents of organ.  You won't find much in the way of jarring power chords here, rather a comparatively meager, and dare I say tentative lo-fi garage-pop aptitude overflowing with charm and integrity.  Fly-In's concluding number "San Francisco Nights" oozes an aplomb thoroughly steeped in the vein of the Velvet Underground, yet it's derivative nature is it's very selling point.  The 2019 Record Store Day reissue of this was adorned with wonderful packaging, a rather thick, 40-some-odd page black & white zine chockablock with articles, record reviews, gig flyers/posters and such, all pertaining to the band in question.  I didn't have the time or patience to scan the vast majority of the text, but I did sneak in roughly a page of concise liner notes.

01. Fly-In
02. Distemper
03. Shake It, Boys
04. San Francisco Nights

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Nothing left to do but watch the street undo....

Chilled-out, smooth-as-glass pop from 2019.

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


Seaweed - Beasides

I've had a full week to get my act together and rip some new (or more accurately, used) vinyl...but alas, I never got around to it.  Which is why I had to scrounge something up from my hard drive, specifically a fan-made compilation of b-sides and rarities from Tacoma WA's finest sons, Seaweed.  Over the course of five albums Adam Stauffer and Co. were an integral staple of my '90s soundtrack, bearing a distinctive roar that was never quite punk or grunge, but easily appealed to both sensibilities.  Adroit masters of the two minute form, they parlayed the buzz built-up on Sub Pop concoctions Weak and Four, and miraculously, when they took the major plunge for 1995's Spanaway they delivered on said accumulated promise in a monstrous way.  Seaweed were one of those rare beasts that rarely if ever exuded a misstep. 

As far as this somewhat haphazard collection is concerned it is presented somewhat chronologically, and for better or worse is chockablock with covers.  Yes, they pursue Fleetwood Mac's most overplayed hit, but they compensate for it with excellent readings of songs that Beat Happening, The Fastbacks, Jonathan Richman, and even hardcore cult legends The DehumanizersWeak's "Squint" is subjected to a radical remix, while "Losing Skin" is massaged much more subtly, skewing closer to it's original incarnation. And there's plenty more gold to boot.  A big shout out to whomever curated this collection. 

01. Bewitched (Beat Happnening)
02. Foggy Eyes (Beat Happnening)
03. Measure
04. Turnout
05. Taxing (demo)
06. Baggage (demo)
07. Pumpkin (Wwax)
08. Squint - The Killerest Expression
09. Go Your Own Way
10. Losing Skin (remix)
11. She Cracked (Jonathan Richman)
12. Kid Candy (radio edit)
13. Sing Thorugh Me (The Dehumanizers)
14. Shephard's Pie
15. My Letters (The Fastbacks)
16. Brand New Order
17. Days Missed Dearly

Monday, April 8, 2024

in your painted room, your first cameo.

From 2016.

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


Tuesday, April 2, 2024

PopeAlopes - Yolo County Line: The Good, the Bad, The Ugly (2002, P on the K)

This one has been on the burner for at least a decade and a half.  The fact that I had a request for this several months ago was certainly an impetus, but it was almost an inevitability that I would get around to sharing this bountiful three-CD mini box set of scarcities and rarities by the PopeAlopes, a Davis, CA indie proposition responsible for five redeeming and substantive albums through the late-80s and mid-90s.  Heck, I even reviewed Yolo County Line proper in 2011, but wasn't ready to disseminate it's content at the time as it was still available (albeit in small quantities). This likely isn't the case anymore, so without much further ado...

Going into this near 50-song collection of b-sides, outtakes, piss-takes, and concert and cable access TV performances it would be ideal to have some familiarity with the 'lopes, and seeing that I've featured their first couple of proper albums An Adder's Tale and Kerosene it's not beyond the realm of possibility to take that plunge.  A lot of you might be asking what in the hell were these chaps all about.  The aforementioned review can clue you in on that, but I tend to a spirited yet casual mélange of the following: The Reivers, Long Ryders, The Doors, and perhaps more minimally the likes of fIREHOSE, R.E.M. and the Replacements. If you go by what Trouser Press has to say the PopeAlopes come across as acolytes of True West, but my interest in T/W never extended that far to levy such a comparison. At last half of Yolo... consists of live recordings, the audio of which sounds to be culled from soundboard tapes. 

The collection is divvied up between what the band regards as material that ranges anywhere from decent to mediocre to not-so-much, but my assessment is that if they had the cojones to make this material available for public consumption in any amount even "the ugly" quotient of this is set is still relatively approachable.  And oh yeah, there's no shortage of covers populating this thing - "Wichita Lineman," "2000 Light Years From Home," Opal's "Happy Nightmare Baby, Galaxie 500's thoroughly winsome "Pictures," not to mention a riveting reading of T. Rex's indispensable "Telegram Sam."  As for originals, if I had to sweat it down to just one particular song to recommend in the band's repertoire here, I'd settle on the angular yet relentlessly ringing "Blesh." I've provided the entire tracklist directly to your right, and tucked the full artwork including liner notes inside the CD 1 (The Good) folder.  Enjoy. 

CD 1/CD 2/CD 3

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Me and you forever!

What time is it?  Time for four eps, that's what!  I'm not sure if I've featured any of these artists on Mystery Monday before.  Maybe one at most.  Have at it. 

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


Arcwelder - 6/11/09 @ Vera Project, Seattle, WA

I'm not sure how much demand is out there for this but here goes. I haven't dedicated too much space to Arcwelder, simply because most of their catalog is available, perhaps not physically, but at least download or stream. There have been a couple of exceptions over the years, primarily an assortment of singles I bunched together and a rip of their first two albums, This and Jacket Made in Canada. With that out of the way, live material is scarce on the Minneapolis denizens, largely because the band has been mostly inactive for the past 20-25 years, and on top of that they never toured much, presumably because they had day jobs and families that kept them tied down.  

Nonetheless, I took a shine to this trio no less than 30+ years ago, due in no small part to their resemblance to another Twin Cities favorite of mine, Hüsker Dü. I never had the opportunity to encounter them in concert and due to some of the factors I've outlined above I likely never will. That's a shame, because Arcwelder made seven thoroughly convincing albums circa their run in the 1990s. Over the years I have been lucky enough to have come into a couple of live bootlegs of theirs, including this one of a rare out-of-town performance in Seattle in 2009, where they happen to churn out a bevy of fan favorites like "All Mixed Together," "Lahabim" and "Captain Allen."  This is a band that's always scratched a certain itch for me, and by some miracle the boys did us a solid this January reuniting for a Mpls gig, and finally unleashing a brand new album, Continue, their first since 1999.  If you have yet to make your acquaintance with these guys this live set isn't a bad place to get your feet wet, and check out the aforementioned posts in the first paragraph. 

01. intro
02. Lahabim
03. And Then Again
04. Treasured Island
05. title unknown 
06. Criminal
07. Captain Allen
08. Harmonic Instrumental
09. title unknown 
10. All Mixed Together
11. What Did You Call It That For?
12. Do Something Right
13. Cranberry Sauce

MP3  or  FLAC

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Dose - Singleton 7" (1991, C/Z)

Eugene, OR's Dose made their way onto my ever-lovin radar when they dropped the wonderful "Eyesore" on the Teriyaki Asthma Vol. VIII compilation in 1992.  The song in question was a magnificent, three-and-a-half-minute maelstrom of distortion and hypnotic vocals underpinned by a discernable quotient of melody that's never quite abandoned my eardrums in the 32 years since.  And typically, I haven't heard much else from this band that's affected me the same, not even close to be honest.  Nonetheless, a Dose full length, the splendidly titled, The Planet Purgatory Field Companion, made it's way to market in '94, but prior to the album and even preceding the aforementioned compilation gem there was this 45 that was just kinda... there to be honest. If "Eyesore" drew from the skewed art punk of say, Shudder to Think, the A-side of the wax I'm presenting today, "Singleton" definitely boasts a groove (not to mention plenty of wailing rancor), but is considerably underwritten, sans a memorable chorus, if there's any chorus to be had at all.  The flip, the doubly lengthier "Sparrow Song" does fare a tad better, bearing another pronounced bass groove and plenty of pent-up tension, yet not enough to really nail itself to the wall.  At any rate, I'm including my Dose song of choice ("Eyesore") as a crucial appendix to this somewhat iffy single.

A. Singleton
B. Sparrow Song
plus: Eyesore (from Teriyaki Asthma Vol. VIII)

Sunday, March 24, 2024

This could be so much different, but it never will.

Seattle indie rock from 1994. 

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


The Stench - Crazy Moon (1989, Running)

Hailing from Salt Lake City, UT, The Stench were SLC punk by default, although the cult movie referencing the near-non existent scene in that sodium-ridden locale wasn't even a thing when this trio was in business.  There aren't many sources for me to link to online regarding this crew, who according to Discogs had several other releases under their belt. Crazy Moon skews heavily in the vicinity of what 7 Seconds were up to around the same time, and coincidently or not what the Goo Goo Dolls were dishing out on their first couple of albums. If there was a half-pipe or two situated in the Beehive State, The Stench would have provided an apt soundtrack given the gnarly skate-punk vibes coursing through morsels like "Tiny" and "Heart," each boasting considerable melodic chops. Moon is not without a few anomalies; "You Drive," a sensitive, albeit out-of-place ballad, and sequestered on side two a docile piano interlude, "Peacock."  The CD variation of the album offers a host of bonus tracks, which for whatever the reason I have no access to.

01. Downhill
02. Pocket
03. Tonight I Fall
04. Heart
05. Once So Close
06. You Drive
07. Tiny
08. Thoughts of Tomorrow
09. Peacock
10. Never Follow
11. Yesterday
12. Wrong

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Such a slow steady slide, takes away so much inside.

From 1980, bundled with a contemporary EP.

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


Saturday, March 16, 2024

The Blackjacks - Basic Blackjacks ep (1984, Homestead)

Yet more Boston guitar-rawk bluster.  The Blackjacks suspiciously remind me of another Beantown bunch, the equally bar-busting Classic Ruins, right down to the vocals in fact. However these guys are slightly more forward-thinking (along the lines of a more pedestrian Jim Carroll Band) not to mention even more ribald and apolitically correct. I wouldn't refer to these gents as innovators, but goddamn they're super tight and occasionally catchy (see "Dreaming Of Saturday Again"). Elsewhere you might encounter some bluesy or roots rock seasoning, albeit nothing excessive.  Apparently there was a double CD-R compilation of all of their recordings, but I have yet to encounter it.

01. The Generic N.Y.C. Woman
02. Dreaming Of Saturday Again
03. Junk Train
04. The Black Jacks' Manifesto (The Sweet Smell Of Flowers)
05. My Home Town
06. Demon Lover

Friday, March 15, 2024

Exploding White Mice 7" (1988, Greasy/Festival)

Demi-legends in Australia's garage-punk underground, the Exploding White Mice often veered to sheer power-punk overdrive, a la the Ramones to careen their point home. The flip side, of this wax, "Without Warning" is a bruising illustration of this, with an intense, not to mention speedy crush of guitars and all-guns-blazing histrionics in general. "Fear (Late at Night)" doesn't induce quite as much whiplash, but nobody would mistake it for a ballad. EWM released four albums and just as many more singles/eps in their 1983-1999 lifespan, and even gained a little bit of traction in North America by the middle of their tenure, but to a certain extent many of their recordings have been tough to come by in the Western Hemisphere.  

A. Fear (Late at Night)
B. Without Warning