Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Radio Berlin - The Selection Drone (2001, Your Best Guess)

I was a bit dismayed to see this one was no longer available for public consumption, even at the digital level.  I regarded Radio Berlin's The Selection Drone to be a mini-masterpiece upon my initial encounter with it in the early '00s, and that opinion carries over to this day.  With it's noir pastiche of chilly synth lines, abrupt rhythmic juxtapositions, doomy percussion (a la early-Siouxsie) and stark but melodic hues, this album possesses everything I could hope for in the post-punk wheelhouse, with nary a scintilla of contrived, revivalist bullshit.  And speaking of "revivalist," Radio Berlin could have cleaned Interpol's clock, not to mention local Vancouver boys done good Hot Hot Heat.  Below is a slight adaptation of my critique for the Selection Drone for Big Takeover magazine.

Like the Strokes, Vancouver’s Radio Berlin absorb a myriad of old-school influences and expel them into songs that sound unmistakably familiar, but ingeniously renovated and visceral.   While the Strokes lean heavily toward American proto-punkers like the Velvets and Television, Radio Berlin’s palate is decidedly more Anglophile.  Drenched in jarring synths, spare doom-imbued percussion, and jagged, echoing guitar lines, The Selection Drone recaptures the essence of early-‘80s archetypical post-punkers, including but not limited to The Cure (Seventeen Seconds era), Wire (think 154), and to a lesser extent Gang of Four, Joy Division, Killing Joke, and Siouxsie and the Banshees.  Not ones to resort to a mere rehash, Radio Berlin skillfully massage the eerie, melancholic strains of a bygone era into something a little more challenging for the twenty-first century

01. untitled
02. Change Your Mind
03. Eyes Like Lenses
04. Electric Halls
05. Glass Horizon
06. Green Teeth
07. Kill the Moment
08. The Sequence is Over
09. Twelve Fingers
10. The Selection Drone

Monday, August 18, 2014

...Narrow at the bottom to make sure that it all fits.

Before there was Built to Spill, there were these guys.  Just as crucial if you ask me.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Tame & Talking ep (1985, Surn)

I thought this would follow up nicely to the Eastern Bloc entry from a couple days ago.  More rock o' the '80s, in this case, ostensibly from the environs of Toronto.  Tame & Talking do the jangle/synth thing quite adeptly wherever the needle lands on this privately issued EP.  The trio's creative acumen made lent them an edge that was slightly beyond the grasp of the Top 40 crowd, but sonically,  T&T could have easily cashed-in given the opportunity.  So far as I can tell the world didn't see hide nor hair of these guys again after this record dropped. Enjoy (or not).

01. Fallen Angel (Broken Wings)
02. The Hole
03. Darkened Dream
04. Conditioned Manaid
05. Fashion Fit

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Eastern Bloc - s/t (1987, Paradox)

I had a request for this many moons ago when I didn't even own it...but I do now.  I don't have much time for a write up today.  Luckily, Trouser Press have us covered, and you can see what they have to say after the jump.  BTW, there's a really dandy Patti Smith cover on here.  Percussionist Frankie LaRocka has passed on, but you can read a very thorough and thoughtful piece on his life and times courtesy of New York Rocker online.

These three New York scene veterans — bassist Ivan Kral, guitarist Mark Sidgwick and drummer Frankie LaRocka — have individually backed the likes of Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, David Johansen, Holly Vincent, Tim Scott and John Waite. Their own band's album, while not exactly a groundbreaker, is a thoroughly respectable melodic rock collection that reflects the years they've spent in the trenches. Sidgwick has a pleasant if limited voice and his guitar playing is both fiery and flexible; the rhythm section is dexterous and inventive. A Pink Floyd-speed version of Kral's estimable 1979 Smith collaboration, "Dancing Barefoot," is odd enough to work; the Sidgwick/Kral originals could use smarter lyrics, but don't want for hooks or commercial craft.

01. So Long
02. Restless Heart
03. Woman Be Strange
04. Miracle Mile
05. Dancing Barefoot
06. You Got Love
07. Wait Too Long
08. untitled
09. Hearbreak
10. Don't Call Me
11. Time Will Tell

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Blacklisted - Something Different 7'' (1990, Rusty Cow)

God knows how many groups have dubbed themselves The Blacklisted over the years, but this one hailed from Indianapolis way back in the twentieth century.  On the three cut Something Different ep the Blacklisted purloined bits and pieces from an indie rock goldmine that was abundant in rough hewn nuggets from the Wipers to early Eleventh Dream Day.  The melancholic "Fly Away" is pensive post-punk with reverb-laden textures yielding a slow-burning sonic delight.  'Runaway Renegade" ratchets up the tension and tempo considerably, benefiting from the same organic panache as the aforementioned.  A more than satisfying listen.  I'm not sure if the same can be said for everything the Blacklisted delivered before and after this disk, but you can check out nine more tracks for yourself via the Indiana Musical Family Tree archive. 

A1. Fly Away
A2. Something Different
B. Runaway Renegade

Monday, August 11, 2014

We drove to the shoreline with the check engine light on...

Even for Mystery Monday, I rarely share current titles, but since this 2013 LP has been a daily love affair for me over the past few months I've seen it fit to indulge you, if only for 24 hours.  With it's brutally honest prose (channeling the ethos and angst of say, Holden Caulfield), tone deaf harmonies, and strenuous, homegrown hooks, this one has really settled into the fabric of my everyday life.  It's emo big time, the kind championed by labels such as Polyvinyl and Jade Tree Records. 

Physical copies are almost impossible to come by at this point, but I've provided a list of links to multiple digital vendors (all the usual suspects).  If you like what you hear, please show these guys some love.

Note: I'm going to be leaving this one up strictly for 24 hours.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Seething Grey - Big Table demo (1992)

I obtained this lil' guy in a big 'ol lot of demo tapes a couple years back.  Until then I was wholly unacquainted with this Highland Park, NJ trio, but nearly a quarter century after the fact Seething Grey have one more believer in their corner.  Right off the bat, mouthpiece Peter Horvath reminds me of a less raspy Peter Searcy, and furthermore, Big Table's initial three tunes suggest a punchier REM or Gin Blossoms.  The going gets more aggressive  on "Make It Go" which wouldn't sound a bit out of place on Dinosaur Jr's splendid Green Mind.  Capping things off, "All in Your Mind" is a gratifying blast of full fledged punk pop.  It turns out Seething Grey have a couple of CDs to their credit, which are available on CD Baby, iTunes and the like.  

01. Cold
02. Stop to Start
03. Bench
04. Make it Go
05. Desist
06. All in Your Mind

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bamff - Come Outside (1987, Mo Da Mu)

In reference to the album title, I'm not sure how many people accepted Bamff's invitation, but those who did were ensured an intriguing earful.  This synth-dominant Vancouver bunch, fronted by Danice MacLeod, present us with an avant-laden pastiche of stop/start fluctuations, '80s vocal effects and even some fretless basslines, all amidst a reliably plush new wave backdrop.  A surreal sonic dichotomy to say the least, and MacLeod's Elizabeth Fraser-like operatic tact only added to Bamff's artful unorthodoxy.  If you're looking for some immediate insight into the group's modus operandi, check out the video for "Crevice Tool," below, perhaps the first (and only) song to concern a vacuuming implement. 

01. 50 Miles
02. Come Outside
03. Crevice Tool
04. Bat an Eye
05. Little Bush
06. Feeders
07. Pony Hips
08. Endless Discretion

Monday, August 4, 2014

Yeah well it's my thing, my very own thing...

The 1993 debut from a posse of underrated Portland scenesters.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

New music - Great Mutations, plus Lannie Flowers live.

I don't know what it is about 2014, but this year I only feel compelled to absorb music in the briefest of increments - ten, fifteen mins tops usually.  Piercing this threshold of self-diagnosed Adult ADHD comes Cheap Stuff, the debut from an upstart Albany, NY-area trio, who I found myself partaking in virtually in it's entirety more than once this week.  Great Mutations have somehow manged to capture and hold my attention, bereft of resorting to anything flashy, superficial or the least bit ostentatious on their part.  Cheap Stuff is akin to an Americana-laced Pavement sans the esoteric curveballs, or perhaps a better comparison can be drawn to indie aggregations like Grandaddy, and less obviously Rogue Wave.  G/M are lackadaisical without getting too slack, not to mention sweet and strummy, graciously sparing us any genteel malaise that's so ubiquitous these days.  Just three capable fellows with real songs you might say.  And you can hear those songs for yourself via Bandcamp, where Cheap Stuff can be had at a fittingly affordable price. 

Entirely unrelated, but just as worthy comes a brand new live album from Arlington, TX power pop troubadour Lannie Flowers.  For the past couple years I've been serving up reviews and samples of his most recent solo albums (and his unheralded '80s group, The Pengwins) on Wilfully Obscure, but for those of you who've yet delve in, Live in NYC is a sublime jumping off point.  The setting for the concert was Brooklyn's Trash Bar, where Lannie and his four compatriots served up a "Lannie's dozen" of fourteen numbers to a small but attentive audience.  Included are ace renditions from his New Songs Old Stories and Circles albums, as well as a special cover of Big Star's incendiary classic, "Back of a Car."  Live in NYC affirms his strengths with should-have-been chart toppers, "Turn Up Your Radio" and "Come on Girl," among nearly a dozen more cuts.  You can get a taste of Lannie's bite out of the Big Apple from CD Baby or iTunes at your leisure.  

Friday, August 1, 2014

Apples in Stereo - New Magnetic Wonder bonus ep (2007)

In what's turned out to to be a busier than expected summer, I have very little prepped to share this week, but I hope this tides you over.  This promo ep was offered as an incentive for buying the Apples New Magnetic Wonder album a few years ago.  Personally, I always felt Rob Schneider and Co. peaked in the late '90s, but NMW definitely put me back in the groove.  Five cuts are listed below, though only three of them are bona-fide songs.

Will try to get to some more requests and maybe a couple of reviews later this weekend.  Cheers.

01. 1234
02. Skyway (alt vers)
03. Helium
04. Mirror
05. Nectar Of The Golden Life Of Health And Vitality

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Z-Rocks - mLP (1981, Z)

My power pop kick is very much your gain this week.  With that, here's a gem from that genre's classic, turn-of-the-decade ('70s-'80s) era.  Z-Rocks made a splash in their native Houston with a penchant for captivating hooks, crackling guitar lines, and a pinch of punky thrust, drawing from such noteworthy contemps as The Cars and Joe Jackson.  For that matter, the trio color successfully outside the lines on the Merseybeat immersed "Was it a Dream."  Only eight numbers here (seven if you discount the backwards tape experiment "Autoworld), but much more Z-Rocks material has recently been made available online, namely from CD Baby and iTunes (I'll give you a hint - one source is much cheaper than the other).  Finally, you can inquire more about the band here, and find out what a couple of the Z'sters are up to these days.  This rip is taken from my own vinyl copy, and I would encourage you to support Z-Rocks by patronizing the links above.

01. You Know My Name
02. The Teacher's a Punk
03. Don't Ever Tell Me
04. Was it a Dream
05. The Way She Looks at Me
06. Autorock
07. Real World
08. Autoworld

Monday, July 28, 2014

Little things like attitude, the way that we both hate seafood...

Way back in April '08 I shared a trio of eps from this southern Cali band.  Today I'm presenting their stupendous 2004 full length.  Make sure to check out the bonus folder, which contains among other items a Lemonheads cover.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Re-ups, etc.

Here's the latest based on your requests, including all the old milf links that have long expired.  Might have a few goodies to add to this list tomorrow.

Frontier Theory - Atlantic, No Waltz
Small 23 - Cakes ep and singles
Baby Lemonade - Live at the Aftershock 1996
Eric Menck and Paul Chastain - Firetrucks and Periwinkles 
Balancing Act - New Campfire Songs ep
Tommy Tutone - National Emotion
Vanilla Chainsaws - s/t LP plus bonus 7"
The Suburbans - The Pop Life
Flies - ep
Lillingtons - Lillington High 7"
V/A - Misfit Heartbeat 2x7"
Buford - 7" ep
milf - (click link to be taken to all postings)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Town Cryers - All's Well ep (1987, Flat and Black)

It seems this Ottawa four-piece had a thing for Tommy Keene, or at the very least his ringing guitar tones.  Call it jangly, call it chiming, or just call it flat-out bliss, cos' The Town Cryers luckily had that resplendent formula down pat.  And jolly good on them for it, as it yields some damn-near mesmerizing salvos in the shape of "Like a Telegraph," "You Told Me," and "Annie Says."  Admittedly All's Well is chockablock with familiar chords and themes that have been belabored by rock and roll hopefuls past and present, but my door is always open when it's delivered with the acumen the Town Cryers bring to the table.

I didn't realize until post-purchase that side two, track one ("Cry at Night") had some serious gouges embedded in it.  So many in fact that I spent a good half-hour editing them out, only later to learn that lead Cryer, John Allaire (who's still active btw) had made the entirety of this EP available for download on his site, alongside subsequent T/C releases.  Nonetheless, the remainder of my rip was fairly pristine and I'm offering it at a higher bitrate.

01. Like a Telegraph
02. Annie Says
03. Not Until
04. Cry at Night
05. You Told Me
06. Here We Go Again

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Javany - Brighter Than Color (1985, Tribal)

Well, I'm probably going to lose some serious punk points with this one.  In fact there's barely a power chord punctuating this rather genteel slab of wax.  Javany (still trying to decipher if that's what this trio were known as collectively, or if this is actually a solo LP credited to the eponymously referenced front man on the back sleeve) register on the weaker end of the power pop spectrum, occasionally demonstrating some folky proclivities on Brighter Than Color's quieter pieces, watering down the oomph factor even more.  That being said, I like to think I'm sniffing faint traces of the Raspberries and Dwight Twilley - or perhaps Brighter... is really just a soft AOR record with a handful of rough edges and I'm merely deluding myself.  Plenty of ballads, a few clunkers, and a couple of genuine keepers like, "I Lied" and "What You Want," are what's in store for those brave enough to indulge in this long departed trio that once roamed the Inland Empire.

01. Eleana
02. What You Want
03. Screaming Eyes
04. I Believe in Somebody
05. La Unica
06. The Mine
07. Here For You
08. I Lied
09. Kaboom
10. Brighter Than Color

Monday, July 21, 2014

The oxygen is plenty, don't touch that dial.

Just in time for summer, a mildly surreal power-pop classic from the mid '90s.  A lot of you may have this already, but I've tacked on a vinyl-only b-side that's sure to reel you in.  Cheers.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Crash - Everything Under the Sun (1992, Justine; rec 1985-87)

I haven't really brought them up on here, but I'm a big Ultra Vivid Scene acolyte, or more specifically prime-mover Kurt Ralske.  When I friend introduced me to Crash in the early '90s, he made a point of informing me that it was Kurt's pre-UVS band.  Upon hearing Everything Under the Sun (a consolidation of Crash's EPs and I Feel Fine LP) I failed to draw any obvious parallels to Kurt Ralske, most notably because he wasn't singing.  Instead, Crash featured a Morrissey-esque but otherwise undistinctive mouthpiece in the guise of Mark Dumais, who was passable as a vocalist, but a tad short on charisma.  As an entity, Crash dined on the work of a considerable number of their UK indie contemporaries, but had a propensity to spit out much of the charm in the process.  At the very least Ralske's guitar-work compensates, and occasionally Crash really get the ball rolling, namely on the chiming "Almost," and the rousing, Velvets-indebted "In My Head."  As a final saving grace, Everything Under... improves considerably as it's latter half progresses.

01. I Feel Fine
02. What I Found
03. Don't Look Now (acoustic)
04. I Go Round
05. All I Get
06. International Velvet
07. Cindy Jewel (demo)
08. John Stood Bye
09. Don't Look Now
10. Almost
11. Bright Colored Lights
12. In My Head
13. Rings, Chains and Groups
14. Superfly
15. Everything Under the Sun

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

milf - ha ha bus! (1994, Big Deal)

Back in 2009 when I went milf crazy (as in the band folks) and posted the bulk of their discography, I left out two important pieces of the puzzle with the intention of featuring them at a later date.  That "later date" turned out to be today in fact, as my priorities inadvertently shifted in the five year layover.  For those of you with a question mark over your noggin in regards to the aforementioned, let me catch you up to speed with my synopsis on the band from my March 2009 entry for their split single with Tugboat Annie:

Got milf? Buffalo sure did, at least throughout a good swath of the early-to-mid '90s (before most of us actually knew what the now infamous acronym meant). One record scribe likened the trio music to a Husker Du 45 played at 33. Though not the most spot-on description of their sound, milf dispelled a sinewy, distorto guitar sprawl with jawdroppingly tuneful sensibilities bands from the Queen City have experienced before or since. Numerous short form recordings (tapes and 7"s) came and went, but their flooring debut album ha ha bus! on Big Deal Records found them at their creative apex, with the commendable antidope to folllow shortly thereafter. 

Five years on, I wouldn't rephrase a smidgen of that summation, but if these guys are fresh to your eyes/ears milf's proper debut is a good place to start your journey.  ha ha bus! isn't wall to wall fireworks, though it's most stunning offerings (check out this trifecta of perfect tens: "hate me," "model t," and "and there's me") are as visceral and gloriously amped-out as music of this ilk gets.  Dense, gauzy guitars soaked in a dream-pop haze, a noisome delivery system, and Justin Chapmans loud/soft vocal aplomb were milf's killer cocktail, one that was employed to it's fullest extent on ha ha bus!, which unfortunately wasn't quite duplicated on their follow-up, antidope.  Will get to that one soon, and hopefully fix the broken links in my previous ovations to the group.  Enjoy.

01. punch
02. model t
03. bad idea
04. angst and daisies
05. me
06. and there's me
07. hate me
08. hair bitch
09. certain people shouldn't lie
10. primate me

Monday, July 14, 2014

Day dreams on the ceiling, ridges in my memory…

The '91 sophomore LP from Bay Area, popcore mainstays whose career has spanned four decades.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

BOB - What a Performance ep (1987, Sombrero)

In reference to the title, quite.  Perhaps choosing such a ubiquitous moniker hampered BOB's efforts to make a name for themselves (pun somewhat intended) in the fertile UK indie heyday of the late '80s.  After all, they were a band, not an individual.  Alas, BOB were a year late with What a Performance for placement on the coveted, genre-inducing C86 cassette compilation, yet they exhibited a similar fey, bouncy lilt that scenesters the Bodines and June Brides had made their calling card.  The title track and the tweaked reprise of it, "Worra Performance" is a fantastic slice of homegrown, post-Marrissey indie-pop, fleshed out with some unobtrusive horns about halfway in.  BOB hit the perfect balance wherever the needle falls here, and it's little wonder why they were so championed by John Peel. 

Incidentally their 1991 LP, Leave the Straight Life Behind has been reissued and greatly expanded.  Details here or at Amazon

01. What a Performance
02. Piggery
03. Deary Me
04. Memory of a Free Lunch
05. Worra Performance

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Nixon's Head - Traps, Buckshot & Pelt (1987, Groove Disques)

Before doing my homework, I was prepared to reference Nixon's Head exclusively in the past tense, but not only do they have an online presence, they're still roaming the earth apparently, or at least their corner of Philadelphia.  Just when I thought that all the City of Brotherly Love had to offer was cheese steak sandwiches and the Dead Milkmen, the wise bard at the often noted Little Hits blog tipped me off to this marvelous indie rock contingent, who sadly released but a handful of records during their initial '80s lifespan, this one being the lengthiest of the bunch.  For Traps, Buckshot & Pelt, Nixon's Head were a five-piece setup, and a fairly no frills one at that.  No gaudy Reagan-era schlock here pal, just straightforward guitar rock with faint resemblances to Twin-Tone epoch Soul Asylum (albeit quieter), Mercyland and Agitpop.  "I Like You" and "She Should Know Better" get my juices flowing the most, though I'd be misleading you if I passed this disk off as being anything less than totally consistent.  This rip was taken straight from my own crackly copy, but it appears the band has made this and a previous ep available on Soundcloud.  If that weren't enough, original vinyl copies might still be obtainable from the Groove Disques store, where you can also investigate their "reunion" releases at very modest prices.

01. Four Corners
02. The Same Thing
03. I Like You
04. She Should Know Better
05. My Best Friend
06. Let it Go
07. Instant Woody

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Waking Hours 7" (1992, Brilliant)

It's singles like this that make all the dollar bin rummaging I do worth the dusty task it so often is.  Per the back sleeve, Richmond's Waking Hours bear a certain mod appearance, when in fact they inch more towards the Merseybeat side of things.  I have a name for music of this esteemed caliber - "Ricken-pop," though I don't have an iota of proof that anyone in this trio actually strapped on a Rickenbacker guitar for these two sublime performances.  If you're an aficionado of the Smithereens, Something Fierce, Grip Weeds, or even the Nashville Ramblers, this 45 is worth it's weight in jangly gold.  Check out their Myspace page for more equally divine tunes.

A. What You Don't Know
B. I'm Falling Down