Sunday, July 23, 2017

Ever wonder why they kill the weak ones, baby?

From 2003.  Listen without prejudice. 

Here

Fire Town - live and demos

Oh, to be a footnote in musical.  Madison, WI's Fire Town are sadly relegated to that stature, as whenever they're name-dropped it's surely in the context of their famous drummer, Butch Vig.   As most of us are painfully aware, Vig went onto preform in the far more commercially viable Garbage, and an equally viable production career, commandeering multi-platinum albums by Nirvana and the Pumpkins.  Yet, Fire Town (and like-minded precursors Spooner, whom Vig also had the same funtion in) were responsible for two very strong albums bustling with primo songs that warranted attention purely on their own merits.  Problem was, F/T were a very straightforward sounding proposition, specializing in vaguely edgy, but to most ears, pedestrian AOR.  God knows there was plenty of that filling up the airwaves in the late '80s, and despite sheer consistency and indelible hooks, they just weren't moving the needle, or for that matter records.

 A couple of the most flattering comparisons I can suggest are also some of the most accurate, namely their neighbors to the north Northern Pikes and the Grapes of Wrath.  Good company to be in, so long as you've got the right A&R guy priming the airwaves and press for you.  Their debut, In the Heart of Heart Country, landed on the local imprint Boat Records in 1986, and was scooped up by Atlantic Records a year later.  The move didn't garner them much more in the way of notoriety, nor did FT's sophomore salvo, The Good Life, arriving in '89 which saw the band fanning out from trio to quartet.  Heart Country was the (slightly) hipper sounding of the pair, with Doug Erikson's wielding jangly guitar leads a plenty.  The Good Life, rarely strayed from this formula, but was nonetheless tinted with a faint Americana bent.  The songs presented here, both live and studio, surround The Good Life-era.  Many songs from this management curated promo tape carried over to the record, but we're treated to a healthy amount of outtakes as well.  Established customers will delight in these dozen and a half songs, and if you newbies fancy what you hear, you'll be happy to know that reissues of both Fire Town records are still attainable. 

live
01. I Could Be the One
02. Baby I'm Not Home
03. Standing in the Light
04. Shadows Fall
05. Train Song
06. Trouble in Mind

studio
07. Sleeping
08. Love Survives
09. Out of the Blue
10. Everything Falls Apart
11. Turn to You
12. Street of Dreams
13. I Could Be the One
14. Baby I'm Not Home
15. She Reminds Me of You
16. Street of Dreams (2)
17. I Don't Want to Lose You
18. Miles Away

http://www34.zippyshare.com/v/12jNerfj/file.html

Friday, July 21, 2017

Capstan Shafts - Environ Maiden (2007, Rainbow Quartz)

Guided by Voices inspired dozens of slavish imitators, pale and otherwise.  I like to think Capstan Shaft's Dean Well's is one of the more genuine and well intentioned proteges of that ever growing cadre.  Environ Maiden is just one representative example of over a dozen digital compendiums of Well's handiwork, primarily spanning 2004-11.  The man in question skews heavily to GBV's lo-fi aesthetic, circa Bee Thousand...albeit dispensing not as much charm, but he comes close on "Oil From Greenland" and "Elected Head of Her Anarchist Group."  Wells possesses a timbre closer to Tobin Sprout than Robert Pollard, with the songwriting acumen of the latter.

The average song length clocks in at a good, oh let's say, 90 seconds or thereabouts.  With 29 tracks in this particular playlist, many get lost in the shuffle, but there's enough keepers to compel repeat listens, and further exploration of Capstan's deep trove.  Full track list is to your right. 

http://www1.zippyshare.com/v/nos21kkJ/file.html

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

American Vandals - History Skid (1988)

With a name like the American Vandals they have to be punk...right?   Hailing from the suburbs of Rochester, NY (a proposition alone that's cause for concern), this quartet was hardly in that league, but not thoroughly removed from it.  Louis Rossi's keyboard toys should qualify his band as new romantic propagators, but guess again.  This pack of DIY mavens were in fact very much themselves, and in many instances that's not entirely flattering.  Thomas Peter isn't the most compelling mouthpiece, though his off-pitch stride befits the Vandals tight but amateurish aptitude.  On the other hand, Doug Harradine's geetar roar is an asset, and would be even more so if he pitched us a solo now and then.  "Causalties" is mildly satisfying once you get acclimated, "Ultraviolet" exudes a vague Paisley pop sheen, while "Queen Anne" is embarrassingly goofy fodder they should've flogged themselves for.  Typically, the Vandals collective (and often meager) strengths finally come to full meld on History Skid's concluding "The Ugly Noise," a sharp, melodic salvo that's indicative of some genuine potential.  It doesn't appear this album generated enough buzz to warrant a follow-up, or so one is led to believe. 

01. Casualties
02. Do You Remember
03. Lovedogs
04. Queene Anne
05. Ultraviolet
06. Sir Thomas Moores Cafe
07. Days of Wine and Roses
08. The Ugly Noise

http://www32.zippyshare.com/v/QqU68q8O/file.html

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Go ahead, defy your better judgement.

Still loving this one after almost thirty years.

Here

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Lions and Dogs - demos (198?)

It all started like this.  In the late '90s I became a slightly belated super-fan of a 1992 album, Topeka Oratorio, put out by a couple of Midwestern-ers who incorporated themselves as The LeatherwoodsTopeka was sadly a one-album-wonder, chock full of power pop melodies, and humble yet smart daily observations on romance and the like.  Paul Westerberg guested on a few songs (under the assumed moniker of Pablo Louseorama), and coincidentally or not, Topeka Oratorio's overarching, lived-in tact resembled that of All Shook Down era-Replacements.  The record's architects were Todd Newman and Tim O'Reagan, the latter of whom had a hand in The Jayhawks. Devastatingly good stuff, and I was desperate to hear more.

Thing is, there would be no more, save for something miraculous like a reunion (low potential at that I suppose).  Around the time I discovered The Leatherwoods, the net was still in it's relative infancy, but low and behold my  trusty AltaVista search engine pointed me to an article on the duo, wherein I learned of a predecessor to the 'woods, Lions and Dogs.  I'd direct you to the piece if it was still available.  Lions and Dogs was partially the handiwork of Todd Newman, their principal frontman.  Sometimes operating as a quartet, at others a trio, Lions and Dogs were not unlike the Leatherwoods - an earnest, low-profile collective who had an inkling of what was gestating due northeast in Minneapolis, but also possessed an ear for the rockier hues of Americana.   There would be no formal L&D releases, but the song "Be My Something" was comped on two occasions.  I'm presenting it here with about sixteen more demos and select live cuts, including prototypes for a few tunes that would be hammered out in Todd's subsequent outfit, the Leatherwoods (i.e. "Tell Me Another" "Jamboree," and "Don't Back Down on Me").  Among several inspired originals, there's a very sweet live take of Josie Cotton's "No Pictures of Dad" and a heartfelt interpretation of Big Star's "What's Goin' Ahn."  I don't have the running order for any of these songs, but in the folder is a Word doc with song-by-song liner notes.  You can read about one of Lions and Dog's relatives, Psychic Archie here, and check out two of Todd Newman's solo endeavors over yonder.

Be My Something
Chippewa Love Stomp
C'mon Bess Armstrong
Dear Anyone
Don't Back Down on Me
God Loves the Beach Boys
Jamboree
Kill Myself for Christmas
New Year
No Pictures of Dad (live)
On the Waterfront
Stupid Enough
Tell Me Another
To Win Her Back
Top of My Head
What's Goin' Ahn
Winner Runs Alone (live)
Wish I Had

http://www52.zippyshare.com/v/saYARL2k/file.html

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Seven Simons - Clockwork (1988, Sky)

I can't believe I've waited this long to post something by Seven Simons, especially since I've owned this as long as I've been doing W/O.  That aside, the Simons were a not oft spoken of band from that noted '80s hotbed, Athens, GA.  Their debut, Clockwork, doesn't necessarily boast the aesthetics that region became synonymous with, but it's not entirely removed either.  There's more than a scintilla of a collegiate pop penchant here, vividly recalling the Smithereens and Miracle Legion at moments. "Sasparilla" has a mildly serrated, post-punk undercurrent, "Sadder Sound" is a sublime slice of acousti-pop, and "Lavender Bubbles" hangs a wily hook occupying a sweet spot between Husker Du and Men at Work.  The Simons reunited last year in fact, reconvening for a belated "third" album, Post, which predominantly consists of vintage outtakes, and even a handful of new songs. 

01. King Archidej
02. Sasparilla
03. Wish of the Sundial
04. Long Time Coming
05. Father Figure
06. Lavender Bubbles
07. Murder Creek
08. Sadder Sound
09. Amber
10. Sweet Bitter

http://www4.zippyshare.com/v/vUhbndUl/file.html

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Looking Forward: The Roots of Big Star, Featuring Chris Bell (2017, Omnivore) - A brief overview.

No, this isn't a rehash or repeat of Chris Bell's posthumous, I Am the Cosmos, solo album material, nor is it a re-visitation of his contributions to Big Star's # 1 Record.  Truth is, Big Star's "crazy diamond," had a wealth of experience under his belt before he encountered Alex Chilton et al, but up until now Bell's pre-Star recordings/collaborations have been scattered, smothered and not always so well covered on an array of "supplemental" releases including the little publicized Rock City CD, the Keep An Eye on the Sky Big Star box, and The Ardent Records Story compilation.  Looking Forward... is not a leave-all-stones unturned clearinghouse of Bell's entire body of work (though a much more thorough vinyl box set just might deliver such in the near future) but it nonetheless provides an ample overview of his antecedent ventures in Memphis that informed his crucial input to that first Big Star album and beyond.

To you, the established Bell/Big Star acolyte who remember the sadly deceased singer/songwriter as a wellspring of palpable angst, yearning, and a romantic frustration...well, that Chris Bell doesn't turn up so frequently on Looking Forward.  In fact, on his early endeavors (which I'll elaborate on further in a moment) the man in question rarely took the lead mic, or moreover, exuded his inner ravaged soul...though I wouldn't let that stop you from investigating.
 
Specifically, you might be asking, what of Chris Bell's pre-Star enterprises?  One of which that is brought up extensively in the liner notes, Christmas Future, isn't represented on the CD.  I mention them, because it's with this project Bell would align with Terry Manning, one of his key early collaborators who is involved on virtually every recording amidst Looking Forward.  The whole ball of wax got rolling for Bell somewhere in the vicinity of 1967 when Christmas Future was conceived with another co-conspirator, Steve Rhea.  Manning would join soon after, but with no recorded evidence on file we'll jump ahead to the next project, Icewater (yes, all one word).  Operating as a trio and sometimes a quartet, Icewater weren't markedly advanced or nearly as auspicious as Big Star.  We get four fully realized songs by them here, including this record's title piece, "Looking Forward," which features Bell singing it's slow-burning, bluesy refrains.  The liners boast of an occasion when Icewater auditioned for a record label, only to be rejected for resembling the Beatles too much for their own good, though you'd barely get that impression here. 

Rock City was the next pit-stop on Bell's trajectory, a band whose repertoire and depth was more pronounced than Icewater.  Manning was held over after the Ice thawed, and Tom Eubanks entered the RC fold, fulfilling most of the vocal duties.  As with Icewater, Rock City didn't necessarily wield a defining calling card, yet they occupied a wavelength that ascended a tad higher than many of their early '70s contemporaries.  We encounter them on about ten instances on Looking Forward.  "Lovely Lady" weaves a sweet jangly web, "I Lost a Love" mines a proto-classic rock vein, but the most dazzling Rock specimens are exposed when we're treated to a pair of Bell-fronted songs that would be translated virtually note for note on Big Star's # 1 Record a couple years later.  The "preview" Rock City iterations of "My Life is Right" and "Try Again" (the latter also featured in the Big Star Bio-pic Nothing Can Hurt Me) are as intense and soul searching as the more well known Star versions.  I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that there was serious B/S foreshadowing taking place on "My Life is Right" which just so happened to feature Jody Stephens occupying the drummer's stool.

Amidst what I've outlined so far, we're also introduced to the Wallabys, a quartet featuring the aforementioned Terry Manning and Steve Rhea, which also involved Chris Bell on guitars.  And there's one thoroughly solo Bell take here, "Psychedelic Stuff," a work-in-progress faintly recalling Syd Barrett of all things.  I'm not enthused with Looking Forward's anticlimactic closers, a clutch of voiceless Icewater backing tracks.  One that's worthy of inclusion, purely for historical reference, the Alex Chilton penned "Oh My Soul" would have been more suitably sequenced in the middle of the album, and not so much as a finale.  This aside, ...Forward is a curious and revealing window into the world of Chris Bell prior to his fleeting halcyon days in the first permutation of Big Star, and somewhat posthumously as a solo artist.  It's available straight from Omnivore Records, Amazon and iTunes

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Summertime can be such a drag.

Power pop from 1999, produced by Chris Stamey.

Here

Saturday, July 8, 2017

FM Knives - some singles (2002-03)

They made themselves known to the world at large as the FM Knives, but this Sacto quartet may as well have been named the Heartbreakers because that's exactly what they did to moi, and virtually ever fan who was awaiting a followup album to 2002's Useless & Modern.  Their only proper full length, Useless... was a dizzying and deliriously intoxicating merger of the Buzzcocks by way of hi-octane, American indie punk not dissimilar to the likes of the Didjits.

For whatever the reason, a second FM LP simply wasn't in the cards and little was heard from the fellows since, but before vanishing the band found a day or two in 2002 and '03 to lay down a few more songs for a couple of ace short-stack releases.  The Estrogen ep delivered more of U&M's souped-up, melodic moxie, wielding instant charmers "Just Like William Tell" and the title track.  2003's "Keith Levine" 45 found the knives curtailing their blistering tempos half a notch, still flagrantly bowing at the alter of Shelly/Devoto/Diggle, making yet another convincing argument for sticking around a few more years.  Twas not to be, but the FM Knives had a keen influence on the Marked Men.  Rumor has it the Knives reformed for some concerts this year. 

Years ago a few unreleased Knives surfaced online (possibly from the Keith Levine sessions), and I'm supplementing them as a bonus in this download.

Estrogen ep (2002, Smartguy)
01. Estrogen
02. Can't Afford You Now
03. Just like William Tell
04. Cassavettes vs. the Moneygoround

Keith Levine 7" (2003, Dirtnap)
A. Keith Levine
B. Valentine

presumably unreleased
Secret of My Success
Penicillin
1988
Men With Style
Terrified
Two Swords (English Beat cover)

http://www70.zippyshare.com/v/6sABtb9U/file.html

Blank Schatz ‎– The Grand Prize (1988)

I've long run out of shelf space for vinyl LPs, and instead have been placing rows of records vertically against book shelves and even furniture.  For several months at the front of one of these rows is the album I'm presenting now.  I've taken many a lengthy gaze at the album jacket to Blank Schatz's The Grand Prize, and while I'm often wont to dismiss that big ol' amorphous black blob as a nondescript mess, more and more it looks like a QR code on steroids.  Guess I shouldn't give this Findlay, OH trio too much credit for being prescient, but I digress.  The riff-laden, wet-behind-the-ears spunk of Grand Prize strikes me as more of a really tight practice session than a cohesive album/ep.  Roughly half of the eight tunes are instrumentals, and when (fill in the blank) approaches the mic, he slips into a mode akin to Black Flag-era Henry Rollins.  Kind of fitting when you consider these guys as an entity are tantamount to one of Greg Ginn's numerous half-baked offshoots.  Nonetheless, if power chords and grooves a la skate punks JFA are your bag, you'll have some fun here. 

01. Ted's Devil Car
02. Devil's Hole Road
03. Rob's New One
04. This Town
05. Just Men
06. Balderdash
07. Plight Song
08. untitled

http://www104.zippyshare.com/v/16A8oDw0/file.html

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Shotwell Coho 7" ep (Broken, 1995)

Despite having two Berkeley, CA punk luminaries in their lineup (Aaron Cometbus and Paul Curran) Shotwell Coho's writing and fronting responsibilities fell to the relatively less renown Jimmy Broustis, who himself hand a stint Strawman.  Besides being a prolific zine scribe in the '80s and '90s, Cometbus' drumming lineage is spread across myriad East Bay sub-rosa rockers including Crimpshrine, Sweet Baby, Pinhead Gunpowder, and stretching as far back to the early Reagan era, S.A.G.  Prior to this endeavor Curran formally made inroads with Crimpshrine as well, not to mention Monsula and Go Sailor.  In short, Shotwell Coho (later truncated to just Shotwell in light of personnel alterations) was your proverbial super-group, albeit with a less than proverbial profile.  Broustis has that classic Easy Bay punk rasp, but nothing overbearing, and his trio's economical, no-effects penchant aesthetically fits the mold of many of these aforementioned combos like a glove. Easily the most immediate and effective article in the Shotwell (Coho) canon, this self-titled ep entails a faithful reading of Bob Marley and the Wailer's "Redemption Song," and a noble tribute to Johnny Thunders, "J.T.R.I.P."  The band followed this release up with their first full length as Shotwell, dubbed Celery, Beef and Iron.

01. APHM
02. Redemption Song
03. Christobol Colon
04. J.T.R.I.P.
05. Through You

http://www29.zippyshare.com/v/D3fAdqHO/file.html

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Out of the rust and into the slime, everybody thinks that he's out of his mind.

Dedicated to a long-running Southern Cali punk institution who just concluded a rather interesting week. 

Here

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Magnatone - s/t (1997, No Alternative)

My apologies for not being able to get much in the way of new music this week.  Hope this will suffice.  Swiping their moniker from an amplifier manufacturer, Magnatone were presumably a Twin Cities export.  Their riff-laden power pop recalls Bash and Pop, The Figgs, and amazingly The Muffs, albeit not always as consistently inspired as those '90s powerhouses.  Lead Tone Tom Rosenthal occasionally slips into a microphone mode not too-dissimilar from Elvis Costello (check out "Make Up Your Mind") with my spidey senses telling me that's more coincidence than shtick.  Best of all, Magnatone isn't one of those front-loaded platters that sequence all the good songs at the beginning, instead gradually gaining steam, or at the very least not losing momentum. 

01. Merry-go-Round
02. Walk Away
03. Johnny Bravo
04. Up in Flames
05. Magnatone
06. Cry Baby
07. Drag City
08. Short Sweet & Simple
09. Make Up Your Mind
10. Listen/Tell Me

http://www34.zippyshare.com/v/w7YdBGv0/file.html

Thursday, June 29, 2017

I Can Crawl - Desert (1986, Hybrid)

Here's another one that I don't physically own, but I think I'm going to have to remedy that.  Not much is known about UK denizens I Can Crawl.  To their credit a Facebook page has been established offering at least a few details, mostly surrounding a reunion album they released in 2012-13 of thereabouts.  ICC's brand of post-punk bears a serrated edge and a bit of a chill, just not anything particularly morose or mopey.   Desert occupies a similar plateau to their former contemporaries Cactus World News and Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie, and I think it will be apparent to a good many you that I Can Crawl's frontman recalls one Peter Murphy.  It's all more splendid then I'm letting on, but don't take my word for it...

01. Abandon
02. That Final Day
03. Elephant's Life
04. Instead of Walls
05. Night Of The Long Knives
06. Walk on the Water
07. White Party
08. If Only
09. And it Rains
10. The Great Escape

http://www42.zippyshare.com/v/A4oPpRmS/file.html

Monday, June 26, 2017

Willie Niles - Positively Bob - Willie Nile Sings Bob Dylan (2017, River House) - A brief overview

Willie’s in the basement mixing up the medicine…but is this ten-song fix as crucial as it seems?  Was talking to a friend the other who's a keen aficionado of both Bob Dylan and Willie Nile.  After playing him a few cuts from Positively Bob, I cornered him with a pretty straightforward inquiry.  Going into this particular album, would it be more beneficial to have a greater appreciation of Bob or Willie?  Without hesitation he replied, Mr. Nile.

Before we get to the "why," let's take into account a couple of parallels between these renown singers/songwriters.  True, both sport an amazing tussle of hair, but less superficially these gentleman have spent nearly the entirety of their adulthood carving out a coveted niche for themselves, both as literary songsmiths and arresting performers.   I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that one has a tad more feathers in his respective cap, but I'd like to think you can discern which for yourselves.

My absorption of Willie Nile is/was relatively minimal, however the "Dylan quotient" in albums like his self-titled 1980 effort is abundantly evident.  In fact, he's probably been slapped with the "New Dylan" tag at numerous junctures in his four decade career.  Niles' delivery and meter may differ from Robert Zimmerman's yet there's a none-too dissimilar weathered tone to his timbre, not to mention an earthy wit and wisdom, making a Dylan tribute album if not inevitable at the very least entirely appropriate.   

Will Nile Sings Bob Dylan is what it's title suggests - no more, no less. The first half (and the some) focuses in on readings of Bob's most renown titles.  An unfussed with "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" is conveyed with the type of reverence you might expect.  To the contrary, Nile's iterations of  "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and "Rainy Day Women #12 & #35" are given a Basement Tapes-y treatment, even more rollicking and jovial than the originals.  "...Blowin' in the Wind" is present as well, and a decidedly uptempo version at that, threatening to eschew that classic's contemplative tenor almost entirely.  As things wind to a close, Nile turns his attention to deeper Dylan cuts - "Every Grain of Sand" and "Abandoned Love" among them, tossing a well played bone to more discriminating ears. 

Going back to my original premise, for the utmost appreciation of Positively Bob, who does it pay to have a greater investment in, The Bard or Willie?  Maybe my friend was on the right wavelength of settling on the latter, but if you regard yourself a serious fan of either you'll walk away a winner here.
Positively Bob is available as we speak straight from Niles' online store, Amazon and iTunes.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Condition's red, disposition's blue.

A (somewhat) storied set of alternate mixes for this Boston band's second album.   Word is they had a lot on their heads. 

Here

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Kinetics - Nobody Knows tape (1983)

This one had me a little frustrated.  Way back in 2010 & '11 I shared a really solid single and full length by a solid tone-and-wave outfit going by the name of The Kinetics.  More recently I happened upon this cassette which I assumed was by the same band.  Turns out, the Kinetics I'm presenting today were in fact not one and the same, rather a New Jersey entity all to themselves, with a lineup featuring Dave Schramm and Fred Brockman.  Their bag was no-frills, rootsy pop, hearkening as far back as the fifties.  Sonically, these fellows weren't entirely removed from say, Buddy Holly, though the Kinetics man on the mic doesn't hold a candle to that bespeckled demigod.  "His Eyes" makes the biggest jangle among Nobody Knows half-dozen tracks. 

01. Now She's Knocking at My Door
02. His Eyes
03. Nobody Knows
04. Yellow Hair
05. Taken All My Toys Away
06. The Last Man

http://www14.zippyshare.com/v/0Z4P834M/file.html

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Bible! "Graceland" 7" (1986, Backs)

This one's three decades old, but nonetheless I failed to investigate The Bible! until far more recently.  From what I've been able to glean the exclamation mark on their moniker was only applied on early releases.  This Cambridge, UK combo actually had two full lengths that were apparently well circulated - Walking the Ghost Back Home (1986) and Eureka, on a major label no less, a couple years later.  Behold their first single (depicted to your left).  "Graceland" is an exemplary slice of Anglophile pop, rife with lilting folky textures a la Aztec Camera and Justin Hayward's post-Haircut One Hundred solo forays.  The single would be released several times over in multiple formats in the years to follow.  The flip, "Sweetness" is considerably more chilled-out, gravitating toward the AOR realm.

A. Graceland
B. Sweetness

http://www66.zippyshare.com/v/AkLlZOTh/file.html

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ten Inch Men - Hours n Pain ep (1986)

Ten Inch Men?  Either they're extremely short or immensely well endowed...but let's not ponder that, eh?  For reals though, this was a Long Beach, CA quartet whom I only know of through this 12."  My impression of TIM is at minimum somewhat favorable.  Some very synth-y goings-on here, but too muscular for the new romantic set.  Sometimes it's difficult to discern if the Men were striving for the coliseum or the cellar.  Their scope is ambitious, a la contemporaries Then Jerico, but at moments on Hours n Pain they could've made a dash for considerably more interesting environs.  More Ten Inch Men records were to follow, though I've yet to encounter them.

01. Flower Power
02. Bars of Time
03. Brick Wall
04. New Eyes

http://www104.zippyshare.com/v/itCnoGqZ/file.html

Sunday, June 18, 2017

We'll throw glass in your face, call it new propaganda...

A compact best-of spanning 1978-82 from an artist yet to be featured on this site. 

Here

Saturday, June 17, 2017

It's a one time thing, it just happens a lot...

Thirty years ago if you had predicted that at some point in my life I'd be actively hunting down Suzanne Vega bootlegs I would have laughed you out of the room.  Needless to a say a lot can happen in three whole decades, and indeed a lot did, including some much belated appreciation for the songstress in question.  Back in '87 it didn't take long for my cynical ears to get burned out on "Luka," and ditto for her acapella chestnut, "Tom's Diner."  So what prompted me to pick up a pre-owned cassette of her first album (self titled, 1985) somewhere in the late '00s?  Curiosity, and a sincere hope that pre-breakthrough Vega might hold a little something for me.

I wasn't scared off by the "folk" tag that was so ubiquitously doled out by the music press, and even if it were apropos I didn't take issue with it.  Turns out she was no heir to Joan Baez or the like, rather a humble singer-songwriter with integrity for miles and a solid grasp on human emotion.  Vega's delivery may have exuded surface-level quiet, but thematically, people and events in her realm were ostensibly disquieting.  Again, the tangible conveyance of her songs were subtle to a fault, yet under the surface a geyser lay in waiting.  I recall her commenting in an interview once that she was a fan of minor chords in songs.  That's relatively easy to concur with her early recordings, though I haven't heard enough about Vega's melody factor, which makes itself evident on "Cracking" and "Marlene on the Wall."  And her nimble guitar finagling?  Merely the icing on the cake.  In a nutshell, it only took twenty and some-odd years, but, I became a pretty big aficionado of that first Suzanne Vega record.

Presented here are five demos that were gently spruced up for Suzanne Vega.  They hold more charm to me than the album versions, even if the differences aren't particularly stark.  I've got a fantastic FM radio broadcast for you as well of her performance at the Speakeasy in New York, circa the spring of 1985.  She pulls off the "storyteller" thing quite well, no?  Whether you're new to Suzanne Vega or an an established customer comment as you see fit.

1984 demo
01. Straight Wells
02. Small Blue Thing
03. Marlene on the Wall
04. Cracking
05. Undertow

MP3  or  FLAC

4/17/85 @ The Speakeasy, NYC
01 intro
02 Tom's Diner
03 Small Blue Thing
04 Some Journey
05 Cracking
06 The Queen And The Soldier
07 song intro
08 Knight Moves
09 Freeze Tag
10 song intro
11 Marlene On The Wall
12 Undertow
13 Straight Lines
14 song intro
15 Neighborhood Girls
16 Gypsy (Encore)

MP3  or  FLAC

Friday, June 16, 2017

Folk Devils - Goodnight Irony (1987, Situation Two)

I think someone mentioned that they were looking for this a few years ago.  Didn't have it then, but for better or worse, voila.  The Folk Devils were a cantankerous lot, part ornery cowpunk, part dissonant and unwieldy distorto-rawk.  Mouthpiece Ian Lowery commandeers his quartet's collective mess coming off as a loose approximation of Stan Ridgeway and John Lydon, albeit at times not sounding like either in the least. To his credit, he pulls off the spoke/sung card adeptly, so long as the song is worth a damn.  That quotient is about half and half on Goodnight Irony, not so much a proper LP, rather a comp of the Devil's entire repertoire up to 1987... adorned with a pretty spiffy album jacket I might add.  Your best bets here are the tense, driving bookends, "Hank Turns Blue" and "Chewing the Flesh."  "Art Ghetto," and the spaghetti western sway of "Where the Buffalo Roam" are kinda of a hoot as well.  Furthermore, if you dug those first couple of Didjits albums, ...Irony is sure to pack plenty of appeal.

01. Hank Turns Blue
02. English Disease
03. Where the Buffalo Roam
04. Beautiful Monster
05. Wail
06. Nice People
07. Albino
08. Brian Jones' Bastard Son
09. It Drags On
10. Evil Eye
11. Art Ghetto
12. Chewing the Flesh

It looks like this one has been revamped and reissued.  Check it out here.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Side Effects - s/t ep (1981, DB)

You might be inclined to deduce from the album jacket that The Side Effects were of garage/psych rock stock, but low and behold you'd be mistaken.  In fact, this long defunct Athens, GA trip had something more alluring and challenging to offer.  Post-punk was more their bag, albeit not of the brooding variety.  The commencing "Raining" massages a Gang of Four riff, retooled by
leadman Kit Swartz's chiming staccato aplomb.  "French Forest" is doubly more enticing sounding like a spot-on merger of Pylon and Mission of Burma, and "Through With You" delightfully finagles a descending arpeggio you can take to the bank.  Bassist Jimmy Ellison passed away from a brain tumor not long after this record hit the market.  This ep, so far as I can, tell was the only release to the band's credit, save for an appearance on the Squares Blot Out the Sun compilation.

01. Raining
02. French Forest
03. Pyramids
04. Through With You

http://www1.zippyshare.com/v/IZeljvr1/file.html

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Barely Pink - Numberonefan (1997, Big Deal)

I wonder boy what the Wondermints are doing today?

Recently had a request for this one.  Numberonefan was the debut album from Barely Pink, and combo who were part and parcel of the '90s power pop resurgence.  In fact, they graciously tip their collective hat to several of their left-coast contemporaries in "City of Sound." Quite frankly, this whole album is a peach, boasting equal parts melody, kick and earnestness.  Here's a few words from Goldmine magazine plucked from the hype sticker on the jewel case. 

A Florida foursome that takes the best bits from classic forebearers such as early Cheap Trick, T. ReX and Big Star - especially Big Star - and churns out pop that's fat and sassy. - Goldmine magazine.

01. City of Stars
02. Dot to Dot Elvis
03. New Sweet Infection
04. I'm So Electric
05. Face Down
06. It's Okay
07. Baby A.M.
08. Big Mistake
09. Too Much Coffee
10. I Do What My TV Tells Me
11. What Goes Around
12. Let Me Drink in Peace

http://www119.zippyshare.com/v/4jFceoIa/file.html

Friday, June 9, 2017

Game Theory - 2 Steps From the Middle Ages (1988/2017, Omnivore) - A brief overview

What is it about a long-running band's final record?  Sure, Led Zeppelin's In Through the Out Door was undoubtedly heaved upon thousands of shipping pallets in 1979, but posthumously it was hardly revered.  The Replacements swan song, All Shook Down is a phenomenal collection of thoughtful, inspired songs, yet even some die-hard Mats aficionados regard it merely as Paul Westerberg's first solo LP.  And Guided By Voices intended "last" album, 2004's Half Smiles of the Decomposed was the least talked about LP in their elephantine canon.  Believe it or not, this brings us to Game Theory's parting shot, 1988's 2 Steps From the Middle AgesIt was the the late Scott Miller helmed collective's fifth record. and is being commemorated with a bonus-ized reissue nearly three decades after the fact.  By no stretch did it meet a quiet reception upon it's arrival that year, enjoying myriad critical plaudits, success on gobs of left-of-the dial frequencies, and even some startlingly unlikely appreciation from C.C. DeVille of GT's Enigma label-mates Poison.  But in the grand scheme of things 2 Steps is just about the least discussed and seemingly least remembered item in the band's impressive arsenal - and for no conspicuous reason I might add. 

Granted, this album fell on the heels of the sprawling, ambitious and occasionally obtuse Lolita Nation.  That double platter set was often mistook for a concept piece, but misconceptions aside Game Theory had poured virtually every bit of creative juice into that project - maybe so much so that anything else they would dispense in the future would be regarded as an afterthought.  But 2 Steps, while considerably more conventional (particularly in it's presentation) bore songs that were every bit as rich and affecting as those residing on Lolita and The Big Shot Chronicles.  Scott Miller and Co's trajectory began with 1982's slyly esoteric Blaze of Glory, a collegiate level pastiche of power pop-cum-art rock, and with every successive Game Theory release the band inched towards a more streamlined modus operandi while managing to refrain from encroaching into the soon to be constipated bowels of pandering alt-rock.  In essence, 2 Steps not only strikes me as advanced for it's era, but sounds fresh and bold even when gauged by a twenty-first century measuring stick.  Miller's cocktail of verbose text and brisk, melodic song structures ascends to a new apex on "Rolling With the City Girls," "You Drive" and "Throwing the Election."  Even when mining a less euphoric vein ("Leilani" and 'Wyoming") Game Theory bring A-grade material to the table, leaving me all the more bewildered as to why this record is so rarely mentioned in the same breath as Lolita... and Real Nighttime.

As with previous installments in Omnivore Records Game Theory reissue campaign, 2 Steps is nicely padded with a trove of supplemental material.  Rather than taking the typical approach of drawing from one contiguous concert or demo reel, the eleven bonus cuts here are culled from a multitude of sources.  One of the most revealing curios is a radio session take of Let's Active's "Bad Machinery."  Not a terribly coincidental pick, considering Game Theory's association with Let's Active's Mitch Easter.  Early stabs at "Wyoming" and "Room for One More, Honey" are a treat, as are live versions of GT staples "The Waist and the Knees" and "Sleeping Through Heaven."  You can find the expanded reissue of 2 Steps From the Middle Ages at Omnivore.com or Amazon and iTunes.

PS: I'd be remiss if I neglected to mention the passing of Game Theory drummer Gil Ray earlier this year.