Saturday, May 28, 2016

Erectus Monontone/Polvo - El Sid 7" (Merge, 1992)

Thought this would be a suitable follow-up to my Raymond Brake post from the other night.  I first became conscious of the fact that I was a record collector somewhere in the mid-90s, and this split single was one of the first "rare" records I couldn't track down.  Thing was, it never was particularly rare, just a bit hard to find.  Eventually I just forgot about it until I ran into a copy of it at a recent record show.  So here you have it, two of the most left-of-center bands to ever bear the Merge Records trademark.  I've yammered on about Polvo before, a band whose crooked, Sebadoh meets Sonic Youth pastiche was mildly addictive back in the day, especially on their earlier releases.  "In The Hand, In The Sieve" appears here in a lengthier iteration than the version that landed on their debut, Cor Crane SecretErectus Monotone had more of a scuzzy art punk thing going for them, boasting a co-ed lineup to boot.  Never investigated them to deeply.  "Fragment (Pam)" appears to be exclusive to this record.  Both bands crossbreed on the the altogether avant and warped b-side "Anything's Fine."  Consider yourselves warned.  

A1. Erectus Monotone - Fragment (Pam)
A2. Polvo - In the Hand, in the Sieve
B. Erectus Polvotone - Anything's Fine

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Raymond Brake - Piles of Dirty Winters (1995, Simple Machines)

Nineties indie rock in North Carolina.  On one hand you had the "kingpins" like Superchunk, Archers of Loaf, and technically (though they stuck out like a sore thumb) Ben Folds Five.  On the other were a bevy of striving hopefuls including, but not limited to Polvo, Spatula, Minerva Strain and The Raymond Brake.  I was pretty wowed with Piles of Dirty Winters when it dropped some twenty-one years ago.  More recently, my adherence to this one has wavered.  Back then I picked up on RB's pop overtones which were somehow more evident at the time, but in retrospect it's obvious this Greensboro quartet took Polvo's fractured ball o' dissonance and ran with it big time.  That being said, Raymond Brake had a heightened awareness of melody embedded within the noisy. tone-bending confines of "New Wave Dream," "Dolley Madison" and "Philistine" - I just wish that same magic had reared it's head on a more consistent basis.  Midway trough Piles... we're offered a bit of a respite from RB's copious feedback-laden angularities via the lo-fi acoustic "The Long Sleep."  There were singles surrounding the album as well as a subsequent ep, Never Work Ever.  In addition to Polvo, if Edsel and Half Hour to Go did the trick for you, check this out.

01. Philistine
02. Filthy Lucre
03. Shooting in the Dark
04. New Wave Dream
05. Funeral Bride
06. Laying Down
07. The Long Sleep
08. Dolley Madison
09. Slink Moss
10. Never Felt Better
11. Whistler
12. Visit to Bdlam

Sunday, May 22, 2016

That’s how it goes when you hate your friends…

From 1994. Might this band include an ex-Lemonhead in their lineup?  They might indeed.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

VA - Lost in the Haze Vol. 14 - Super Duper Uber Obscure Late '70s Power Pop

As if ordering hard to find CD titles from the now sadly departed Not Lame Records wasn't enough of a treat back in the '90s and  '00s, the kind proprietor of that power pop label and distro would incentivize those who made an online purchase by tossing in a handmade and self-curated cd-r compilation of impossibly rare songs that never made their way into the digital era proper.  God knows how many volumes  existed in the Lost in the Haze series alone (at least 14, obviously).  Accompanied only by a tray card track list with no other pertinent details about the music presented, these compilations were stuffed into paper cd envelopes, and would tend to accumulate in various piles in my house.  With a veritable absence of artwork they went out of sight and out of mind for years, until a few months ago when I organized the roughly twenty Not Lame freebies I had gradually piled up.  I'm presenting one of these to you today.

The Lost in the Haze series was focused on the arcanest of the arcane independent and privately pressed records in the lofty collection of the Not Lame archivist and music obsessive that for now shall go unnamed.  Volume 14 features eleven songs by uber-obscure acts, none of whom to my knowledge I've shared on Wilfully Obscure.  All I can tell you is that the songs originate from the late '70s with many of the participants skewing towards the Nick Lowe, Paul Collins Beat end of the power pop spectrum.  There are some phenomenal moments here by the Features, Treble Boys, Fans and a host of others, but I don't have a lick of info to impart on them, not even so much as the label and years they originate fun.  The point with these comps was to get the music out there in no frills fashion, and with that in mind that's how they're presented here.  Enjoy, set your browser to, and get ready to plunder your savings account if you wish to own the original wax these songs were derived from.

01. The Features - Don't Let Them Know 
02. The Shout - I Wanna Be There
03. Treble Boys - Julie-Ann
04. The Fans - You Don't Live Here
05. Modest Proposal - Nobody Says No
06. The RPM's - Don't Wanna Be Young
07. News - It Doesn't Matter
08. Loose Lips - Kyle
09. Kids - You're My Baby
10. The Frenchmen - No Surprise
11. Orbits - You Make the Rules

Friday, May 20, 2016

Another rash of re-ups.

I usually wait until the end of the month to get to these, but given the volume of requests, and neglected files I thought of myself, I opted not to procrastinate.  Over fifty items can be had in this cavalcade.  Have at it.

The Pursuit of Happiness  - I'm an Adult Now ep and demos 
Facecrime - Sex and Revolution ep 
Big Drill Car/Chemical People - split 7" (Kiss, Cheap Trick covers!)
Ultra Cindy - Mermaid's Parade and Whirlwind 7"
3 1/2 Minutes - Bled Me Dry ep and Peep ep
V/A - Wyatt's Torch
V/A - Diamonds and Porcupines
V/A - Discordia Concors
V/A - Peppermint Stick Parade
V/A - Bad Timing - a Perth Pop Retrospective
V/A - Endangered Species 6 x 7" box
Stiffs, Inc - Nix Naught Nothing 
Close Lobsters - Nature Thing CDS
Shepherds of Hot Pavement - s/t
Gladstones - Jeremy
That Hope - Eight Dollar Hat
Two Small Bodies - North 421 ep 
The Gas - Emotional Warfare
Rubber Bush - s/t
The Othermothers - No Place Like Home
Marshal Fields - s/t ep
Times Beach - Love and Politics tape
Tirez Tirez - Social Responsibility  
Sycamores - 7"
Badgers - Picnic ep
Black Eyed Susans - s/t LP
Dharma Bums - Givin' In 7"
Manifesto - Burn 7"
One Million Pieces - 7"
Dryhouse - Hayride 7" ep
Third Rail - End It
Anastasia Screamed - Laughing Down the Limehouse
Thermals - Insound Tour Support ep
Male Bonding - Ruff demos and Bratwell Shed sessions
Lilys - Services for the Soon to be Departed
Get Smart - Words Move 7" ep
Jon Auer - 1994 demos
Phones - Dial Direct
Godrays - Songs for TV Stars ep
Godrays/Rodeo Boy - split single
Four Point Star - 7"
Waterdog - s/t
Crocodile Shop -Head
What Now - Small Record with Four Songs ep
Beauty Constant - Like the Enemy & demos
aMINIATURE - Foreign Room 7"
Piper Cub - 7"
Latter Day Saints - Plaster City 7"
Wire Train - I'll Do You 7"
Alter Boys - Soul Desire
Dewey Defeats Truman - Road to Nowhere Maps ep
Ground Round - Memories Better Left Behind
The Blases - s/t LP
Bangtails - Hypnotic Downpour ep
Numbers - Add Up
Pop Art - s/t ep and Long Walk to Nowhere
Dark Globe - Life is Research

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Press - Fodder for the Critics (1979, Laser)

Recently had a request for this, although I don't own a physical copy myself.  It's apparently impossible to locate from what little nosing around I've been able to do.  The Press were four Sydney, Australia based lads who had the benefit of absorbing the gamut of punk and pub rock in the handful of years preceding their lone LP, Fodder for the Critics.  Their Anglophile bent was unmistakable, albeit eschewing the rebellious tenor of the Sex Pistols, Clash, etc, while retaining the driving power chords.  Sonically, the Press had more in common with Pistols spinoffs the Rich Kids and Professionals than the antecedent band itself, not to mention the Stranglers, and perhaps a smidge of Eddie and the Hotrods to boot.  Fodder... was a damn intelligent and spirited record that clearly deserved a better fate.  Considerably more info (with band commentary tucked in the comments) can be found at Wallaby Beat.

01. Someone New Somewhere
02. I Think I'm Gonna Go Right Out
03. Night
04. Out of View
05. Rock Capital
06. She Wants it All
07. Walking in the Heat
08. Trapped in the Wreckage
09. Alcoholic

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Posies - Amazing Disgrace (1996) bonus disc (only)

Not exactly the biggest revelation I've pitched in your direction, but a nice follow-up to my Posies review last night.  Submitted for your approval, the four song bonus disc which accompanied the Australian tour edition of the band's fourth album Amazing Disgrace.  It kicks off with the fairly common b-side, "Going, Going, Gone" and continues with covers of Zombies, Hollies and the Bee Gees tunes in that order.  A nice, concise roundup of non-LP goodies from the era, and would have certainly incentive-ied me to buy the album.  Some of these songs have cropped up elsewhere, so this may be a limited engagement.  Enjoy while you can. 

01. Going, Going, Gone
02. Leave Me Be
03. King Midas In Reverse
04. Every Christian Lionhearted Man Will Show You

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Posies - Solid States (2016) - A brief overview

Ok, suppose your favorite band zigs when you expected them to zag.  And suppose that grouped penned a significant chapter for the genre they had left a sizable footprint on.  True, Solid States is technically a post-reunion album (their third, following up on 2005's Every Kind of Light and '10s Blood Candy), and as such, expectations aren't quite as lofty for a new Posies record to begin with.  Then again, this is after all the work of Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow, and given their collective resumes and reputations, there's bound to be sizable scrutiny.  To cut to the chase, Solid States is palpably distinct from any other Posies release in that it (gulp) tamps down on the guitars, of all things - dramatically in some cases.

If you've encountered any hype surrounding this record, it no doubt concerns the reconvened band's embrace of electronic textures and other implements and innovations once foreign to their palette.  States has it's share of synthesized tangents and diversions to be sure, specifically on the syncopated "M Doll," and "The Definition," not to mention the commanding opener "We R Power."  It hardly sounds like a typical day at the Posies office, but if that strikes you as too much of a quantum leap consider how advanced Frosting on the Beater was held up to the witty acousti-folk of their debut, Failure.  And speaking of wit, the Posies old school charm isn't exactly in abundance here, an aspect that to one extent or another has plagued the so called "reunion" records.  In fairness, Solid States does occasionally concede to the Posies aesthetic of yore, indulging in telltale Auer/Stringfellow harmonies on "March Climes" and the quite excellent "Scattered," while the shuffling "Titanic" strikes a middle ground.  And it may be something of a guilty pleasure, but I'm getting a charge out of "Rollercoaster Zen's" cosmopolitan stride.

In the net-net of things, it's hard to sum up this disk with any overarching generalities.  Is it a transitional record of merely a detour?  It's not their Kid A, New Adventures in Hi-Fi, Smiley Smile or even their Turbo (God forbid).  Not quite amazing, but light years from a disgrace, Solid States is where the Posies stand today, idiosyncratic as that stance may be.  For the life of me, I still can't tell Ken's and Jon's voices apart, so maybe not as much has changed as I thought.  Solid States is available from all the usual suspects, including Amazon, iTunes, and hopefully a shop near you.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Your little problems, they're not yours they're mine.

Four eps from four unrelated artists.  Something for everyone, and that's not an exaggeration.  For true.


Friday, May 13, 2016

The Wishniaks - Nauseous and Cranky ep (1988, Bloodmoney)

This ep is a scant fourteen minutes, but hard as it may be to believe Philly's Wishniaks don't waste a nanosecond.  The quartet's winsome power pop formula was partially derived from the Stones rough-hewn nonchalance (albeit presented in a much more modest context here) and lusciously paired with deftly crafted jangle-tones, populating so many left-of-the-dial outlets of the day.  Aesthetically, this may not scream "cutting edge" but the Wishniaks arrangements are forward thinking and the band exude chemistry for miles, foreshadowing the like-minded pastiche that would eventually be thrown down by the Figgs and Sloan.  Nauseous and Cranky my ass, more like visceral and inspired.  Expect more Wishniaks to come on these pages.  

01. Point of No Return
02. Distraction
03. Double Takin'
04. 6 AM
05. Marianne Faithful

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Wonderul World of the Pursuit of Happiness (1996, Iron Music)

Back in the twentieth century it was all too easy and convenient to ignore import releases.  Even fans that flocked to TPOH's 1988 magnum opus Love Junk had either long moved on, or were entirely unaware of ...Wonderful World when it landed in the band's Canadian home turf circa '96/'97.  Indeed, by the time this fifth LP quickly came and went, Moe Berg & Co's. prominence had waned, but living so close to the border of Ontario didn't give me as much of an excuse perhaps.  At any rate, TPOH fans who passed on this one did so to their own detriment, as Wonderful World follows a close third to Love Junk and One Sided Story (1990) in terms of out-and-out quality and gratification.  Their third salvo, Downward Road was no slouch, nor was the less spoken of independently released follow-up Where's The Bone in '95, but in virtually all respects TWW of TPOH is the clear cut winner in the band's post-Rundgren era, as it were.

Though I can't confirm it's a concept piece, TWW sure operates like one, both thematically and in continuity.  There are multiple references to a love interest dubbed Tara, and the songs generally pertain to lovesick reveries, countered with some occasional flashing yellow lights on Moe's otherwise utopian love train.  The album's brief manic moments of tension arise in two rock 'em, sock 'em surges.  "She's the Devil" is a riff-roaring punk-cum-Aerosmith romp that rocks harder and more fervently than anything TPOH ever committed to tape.  That snarling as-all-get-out blast is paralleled in "Hate Engine" where again, Berg channels his inner Tyler/Perry more effectively than the graying, real McCoy were capable of at the time.  But surrounding these thunderous slammers were a bevy of thoughtful ballads illustrating the intoxicating spell of romance that the man of hour (Moe Berg) was evidently under.  It's within this strata that Pursuit really shine, especially on harmony-enhanced numbers "What You Did to My Girl," and "I'm Just Happy to Be Here," proving those years under the wing of Todd Rundgren paid off.  I'd be remiss if I neglected to mention a few of the exemplary songs that fall between the two extremes namely "I Like You" and "Carmalina." 

Just one note of caution you'll no doubt notice the song-to-song transitions were hastily edited, so jarringly notable at times they frustratingly divert your attention from the music at hand.  These segues aren't as distracting when listening to the CD uninterrupted, but of course you'll likely be partaking of this on your phone or iPod.  Fair warning, but the material itself is by and large excellent.  I've also updated the links to the previously posted TPOH demos and the I'm an Adult Now ep, as well as Moe's early '80s endeavors facecrime and Modern Minds

01. The Wonderful World Of
02. Tara
03. I Like You
04. Carmalina
05. Metaphor
06. She's the Devil
07. She Kiss Away
08. I'm Just Happy to be Here
09. Tara's Theme
10. What You Did to my Girl
11. Let's Not Play
12. Hate Engine
13. Back of my Mind
14. The Truth

Sunday, May 8, 2016

We were holders of hands, we were make-believers...

Debut album action from 2003.  Should have been huge.


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Spring feel.

Annual vacation time again.  This means no Mystery Monday next, nor will I be able to accommodate re-up requests or respond to much email until I'm back.  Sorry I've been so tardy in responding to some of you correspondence btw.  In the meantime, there are tons of re-ups to keep you amused, and make sure to check out some of my favorite blogs to the right of the page.  Cheers, and thanks for tuning in.

Friday, April 29, 2016

VA - Teen Line No. 5 (covering letters V to Z, 1977-89)

We're up to Vol. 5 in the Teen Line series, one of the finest and most consistent attempts to archive the most arcane and obscuro power-pop curious from the golden age of the genre.  Teen Line was a formally in-progress and now sadly incomplete and abandoned project that was in the hands of the Hyped to Death curators who were also responsible for the Messthetics and Homework series, loosely modeled after the considerably more renown Killed By Death DIY punk comp empire.

Painstakingly assembled from original vinyl records, and in some cases demo tapes, Teen Line numero 5 bears a couple of names that will be familiar to the Wilfully Obscure scrum, specifically Wild Giraffes and deep south legends the Windbreakers, but the bulk of this subterranean roster is a cast of virtual unknowns.  Thing is, H2D's quality control is so above par you'll actually make a point of acquainting yourself with some really appealing unknown quantities like Zoom, X Davis, Ways, not to mention comparatively household names Wednesday Week, Wishniaks, and Gary Valentine.  Really, how much more do I need to tell you, considering these comps basically sell themselves?  Get the lowdown on the full track list to your right.  Enjoy.

Re-ups for April.

In case you haven't figured it out, my old file hoster, Netkups has been taken down by the feds. There are still potentially hundreds of dead Netkups links throughout the W/O archives, so if you would like to see something revived give us a shout out.  Thanks for your requests.  I may be adding a few more later tonight, so watch this space for some add-ons.

Let's Active - Every Dog Has It's Day demos & live in Chicago 1984
The Posies - Broadcasts vols, 4, 5, 6 & 7 (1-3 are also active)
Swell Maps - Whatever Happens Next
The Saints - Monkey Puzzle
The Dice - s/t ep
Catherine - Sparkle 7"
Sideshow - Rust 7"
Helen Keller Plaid - Din 
Viola Peacock - The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter & This Way to the Alley... 
Drowners - World Record Player
Pitchblende/Swirlies - split 7" & Swirlies demo
The Sugarplastic - Ottawa Bonesaw 7" box, Polly Brown ep, Primitive Plastic, Sheep 7"
The Jigsaw Seen - Shortcut Through Clown Alley
Wild Giraffes - Right Now 
Pluto - singles collection
Bum - I Am Superwoman, Make It or Break It, singles
Monsterland - At One With Time ep & Loser Friendly ep
Senator Flux - The Criminal Special, Storyknife & Bake the Candle... ep
Remember Maine - The Last Place You Look
V/A - Trim Crusts If Desired - Cinnamon Toast Records comp
V/A - Fast Product-Mutant Pop
V/A - Epic Presents Unsigned 2
V/A - So Punk, Barely Visible to the Naked Eye
V/A - The Best of the Radio Tokyo Tapes
V/A - More of Our Stupid Noise
(Will) Owsley - live 2/21/99
Semantics - Powerbill demos
Helmet Boy- s/t LP
Bags - Rock Starve
Psi Com -Gila Monster Jamboree, CA 1-5-85
Finger - s/t
Ridel High - Mouthful  of You 7"
further - griptape
milf - everybody should stop doing everything
Desperate Hours - ep
Reaction Formation - Galesburg Bound 7"
I-Rails - live 1990
The Wake - ep
Divine Weeks - Through and Through
The Chant - Two Car Mirage & Three Sheets to the Wind
Delusions of Grandeur - Picture Perfect Martyr ep
Loomis - You're No Tiger... & 7"
Shortfall - Hooray for Everything
Drip Tank - Slake
aMINATURE/Drip Tank - split singles
Waves of Grain - The West Was Fun 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Jeff Runnings, Deardarkhead and High Violets - new noise from Saint Marie Records

Shortly into Primitive Smalls opening salvo, "Maze" Jeff Runnings' intones "If all you want is a joyride, by all means you can tag along."  Nonetheless you'll probably be met with the rather immediate impression that this is no breezy top-down ride jaunt into the sunset.  This is after all the work of the man who brought us eight albums via a sporadic but long-running meal ticket, For Against over the course of the three preceding decades.  FA's reputation was often overwhelmingly downcast, but judged purely from a sonic standpoint thoroughly engaging, bearing a cutting, post-punk angle entailing washes of chiming guitars, poignant melody, and telltale undercurrents of goth and dream-pop that kept critics and fans agog in spite of some notably lengthy layovers between records.  Even with Running's founding compatriot Harry Dingman III absent in the '90s incarnation of For Against, the band stayed on point, never wandering far from the compelling and evocative alchemy evidenced on early milestones like Echelons and December.

Primitive Smalls, Runnings premiere solo effort, occupies an "echelon" of it's own, with the comparative nuances to For Against arise in form, not so much function.  Guitars are often preempted by keyboards here, but on a less tangible level the motifs will ring plenty familiar to FA connoisseurs. Runnings is equal parts cynicism and empathy, operating characteristically wry in both arenas.  Melancholia and contemplation are watchwords on Primitives which isn't saying much given the track record of the man in question, but there's something more at play here.  The aforementioned "Maze" is particularly revealing in it's adoption of synths - and a chilling schmear of them at that.  "Premium" and "Outside Oslo" mine a similar tangent albeit a tad more subdued, and for what it's worth are what latter era New Order might have conjured had they not lost what was so great about them in the early '80s.  There are more pearls to be plundered on Primitives, however as the album creeps to a close Runnings' lyrical muse does tend to dissipate. In the net-net of things, Primitive Smalls isn't a quantum leap from what he's attempted in the past, nor is it merely a lateral move.  Despite his inherent pessimism, Jeff is a realist at heart, and on that note I like to think he's achieved a happy medium here.

I don't often listen to instrumental rock, but when I do. I listen to Deardarkhead.  Unlike most contingents in the Saint Marie stable, this trio isn't exactly oven fresh, as its first iteration had their antecedents back to the Bush-era (and I'm not referring to "W").  Minted in Atlantic City in 1988 Deaddarkhead originally had a microphone fiend in their lineup, one Michael Amper, who commandeered the band through a series of demos and short-form releases before taking a break in the mid '90s, and resurfacing with their first full length in 1998.  Another hiatus ensued, but when DDH resumed in 2009, Amper opted to excuse himself.  In a nutshell, they carried on sans vocalist and emerged with a new EP this year, Strange Weather.  Guitar slinger Kevin Harrington sounds like he's lived in the distortion pedals of Marty Wilson Piper, Billy Duffy (The Cult) and John Ashton (Psych Furs) as he doles out spindles of echoing lines that arpeggio and recoil into heady, robust swirls that always manage to make a smooth descent back to Earth.  "Juxta Mare" works the most magic for me, and though I'd be open for more variety on a DDH follow-up, Strange Weather's allure is downright invigorating.  

For all my praise and hype about the virtues of rough-hewn and noise addled indie-rawk, occasionally it's nice to partake in something that sounds, shall I say, carefully considered and measured.  Portlandia's High Violets fit that profile, and though they've been relegated to dream-pop/gazer enclave almost back to their late '90s inception, I have they're not going to be conveniently typecast any more.  Within the throes of Heroes and Haloes ten gracefully gliding pieces Kaitlyn ni Donovon exudes shades of Harriet Wheeler, Kate Bush and Ritzy Brian (Joy Formidable) sounding every bit the front-woman as the elite company I just rattled off.  Perhaps, the hazy title track and "Comfort in Light" do concede to shoegaze-y atmospherics, but more often than not Heroes tacks towards lucid, chanteuse-enabled pop structures, agilely exemplified on "How I Love (Everything About You)" and "Long Last Night."  No complaints here.

All three of these albums are available NOW direct from Saint Marie in gorgeous shades of splattered vinyl, CD and digital, and if you'd like to get an earful before you buy, head over to Bandcamp for a nibble. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Reaction Formation - Mark David Chapman ep (1990, Never So Few)

I can't begin to rationalize why anyone would name a record after someone so hideous.  That aside, the six songs enshrined within compensate tremendously, with the first half residing in the realm of latter-period Mats, Material Issue and even Minneapolis' unheralded Magnolias.  "Teenage Jesus" has all the makings of a scruffy classic.  The remainder of MDC is less fiery, but nearly as appealing with "Share" and "Jeff" wielding a janglier aptitude that must have slotted in well on left-of-the-dial playlists, de rigueur in Reaction Fromation's day.  A smattering of singles were cut by these guys as well, one of which, "Galesburg Bound" you can try on for size here

01. Teenage Jesus
02. Bob's Lament
03. Dead People
04. God I Don't Know
05. Share
06. Jeff 

Monday, April 25, 2016

The loss is all you had.

A grand Swedish export from 2007, and surprise, it's not the least bit power pop.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Dump - That Skinny Motherfucker With the High Voice? (1998/01, Shrimper)

Well, this wasn't how I was expecting to cap off a week chock full of emo releases, but sometimes life and current events throw a wrench into your itinerary.  If you're a hardcore Yo La Tengo fan you may have familiarity with Dump, the lo-fi side project of longtime bassist James McNew.  I've barely followed YLT over the years, and for better or worse I've paid considerably less attention to Dump.  By the time I learned of the premise involving That Skinny Motherfucker... I'm sure the album had long been out of print, and since I wasn't an acolyte of McNew or the artist the album was dedicated to, I saw no harm in downloading it gratis a few year ago when the opportunity arose.  It won't faze any of you to learn that I wasn't a mondo Prince devotee, owning a nicely packed best-of collection of the purple one and little else.  I'll get to some personal observations in the next paragraph.   As for Skinny "Mofo," it's a covers/tribute album and an ironic one at that, boiling down twelve Prince tunes to their core, essentially leaving nothing but the lyrics and melody intact.  McNew's approach is sonically diametric to the original compositions, yet wholly respectful to the Artist himself.  In short, there isn't a semblance of ridicule or mockery within earshot here, but accoutrements ranging from omnipresent drum machines to Casio organ and even acoustic guitars make for a startling makeover when applied to staples like "1999" and 'Raspberry Beret."  Beyond that, "Pop Life" and 'An Honest Man" are transformed into affecting, insular soliloquies, and "A Love Bizarre" is given such a loopy, avant upgrade it borders on alienating.  Skinny... is a profoundly a-traditional homage, yet heartfelt in it's skewed reverence.  

I started listening to rock and roll in earnest around 1983.  Local Top 40 outlets provided my gateway, and at the time Prince was ubiquitous.  A minimum of one album a year, and seemingly a new single every month.  The mid-80s was the last era that commercial radio was genuinely rewarding, even though it's returns would diminish exponentially in the years and decades to come.  Prince was there for that cutoff point, and his presence was so saturating that I simply took him for granted, until I stopped paying attention altogether by the time I hit college.  In more recent years I admired and envied the sheer carte blanche he was accorded via his own Paisley Park studios, and a record that label that grudgingly came around after many years of hemming and hawing, eventually catering to his whims.  He led a challenging but unbelievably charmed life, the likes of which we can only fantasize about.  His passing this week was equally shocking and smarting, and even casual fans like myself will be ruminating on the "why" indefinitely.  RIP ol' three eyes.

01. 1999
02. raspberry Beret
03. Erotic City
04. The Beautiful One
05. When You Were Mine
06. How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore?
07. Pop Life
08. A Love Bizarre
09. Girls & Boys
10. Dirty Mind
11. An Honest Man
12. Another Lonely Christmas

Friday, April 22, 2016

Sideshow - s/t (1990, Caulfield)

Flying well below the radar, Sideshow's Lip Read Confusion LP, circa 1995, managed to log some serious hours in the various CD listening implements of yours truly, but the Lincoln, NE band was never to be heard from again.  While I was aware of the full length that materialized before it, Eggplants and Sunspots, I had no idea there was an album that preceded both, namely the self-titled disk I'm presenting today. Emo before it was "hip" to be such a thing, Sideshow's post-hardcore aplomb vaguely resembled a lo-fi schematic of say, Quicksand, fortifying their angsty crunch with some discernible melody.  Coincidentally or not, their east coast contemporaries Garden Variety were plugged into the same aesthetic.  If you're looking for a couple of highlights "Veil of Happiness" and is profoundly indebted to the emocore blueprint spread out by the originators of the form Rites of Spring, and interestingly enough, "Kick in the Teeth" is propelled by an conspicuous ska syncopation.  In addition to Sideshow, check out a 1993 7" I shared by the trio here.

01. Halspar
02. Down
03. Veil of Happiness
04. Groove
05. Kick in the Teeth
06. These Words
07. Right
08. M

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

After Words - s/t (1989, Sammich)

I was happy to make my acquaintance with this Atlanta, GA bunch, even if it was a quarter-century belated.  I found this amidst a mammoth day of browsing last year in various Pittsburgh vinyl stalls.  I instantly equated After Words' label, Sammich, with higher profile acts on the same DC imprint, namely Shudder to Think, Swiz, and Soul Side.  Sammich was affiliated with Dischord Records, and after partaking in one cursory listen to After Word's lone album it was evident why these youngins' ostensibly wanted to be part and parcel of that renown Washington corridor.  If this come across as a dis, I apologize preemptively...but AW were the spitting image of unwitting emo pioneers Rites of Spring, the lauded D.C. post-hardcore quartet that served as a launching pad of sorts for Guy Picciotto and Brendan Canty who would make a name for themselves in Fugazi by the early '90s.  So striking is the resemblance between the two bands, separated all but by three or four years, it would be almost forgivable to cast off After Words as prodigious imitators (just as much so as D.C.-based Rites clones Rain, but I digress).  Nonetheless I can find plenty of merit among these eight swerving grooves, bristling with the fervor and forward-thinking penchant that made Rites of Spring (not to mention Ian MacKaye's short lived Embrace) such crucial touchstones in the '80s.

01. Looking Back
02. Helpless
03. Tell Me
04. Ghost Dance
05. Blame
06. As I See It
07. Welcome Again
08. Third Party

Sunday, April 17, 2016

As slow as Rapid City...

Here's the oft overlooked sophomore LP as well as an even more impressive live album from some of the finest purveyors of emo in the '90s.  If you're new to these chaps I'd recommend starting with the 2000 live set.  Enjoy (or not).


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Replacements - Let it Be outtakes (1984)

I would assume this one isn't going to require much explanation. Here's nine items that were strewn on the cutting room floor for the Mats' breakthrough classic third album.  A handful of these were added as bonus cuts to the 2008 reissue of Let it Be, but in particular one really memorable number, "Who's Gonna Take Us Alive" was frustratingly left off.  There's also two versions of the non-LP "Sweet Girl," albeit less than a classic, I have to admit. Demos of "Gary..." and "Seen Your Video" don't sound drastically different than the finished product, but for us completists the slightest deviations warrant forensic examination.  And in case you're wondering the fidelity is impeccable, in spite of the relatively low bitrate.  Enjoy.

01. Sweet Girl #1
02. Sixteen Blue
03. Who's Gonna Take Us Alivc
04. Temptation Eyes
05. Sweet Girl #2
06. Perfectly Lethal
07. Seen Your Video
08. Walkin a Little Closer
09. Gary;s Got a Boner

Friday, April 15, 2016

Dag Nasty - Field Day (1988 Giant)

Oh boy.  Field Day might not be thedeal jumping off point for an introduction to Dag Nasty, but it was in fact mine.  You'd be well advised to start chronologically with 1986's primo hardcore standby, Can I Say, featuring the classic DN lineup of Dave Smalley on the mic, Colin Seers on skins, Brian Baker on gits, and Doug Carrion carryin' on with the bass. Something of a blueprint for melodic hardcore in the Ronnie Raygun-era, Can I Say boasted ten incendiary blasts that were oft imitated, and rarely (if ever) duplicated.   Smalley's exodus before the band's follow up venture, Wig Out at Denko's entailed the entry of new mouthpiece Peter Cortner. Wig Out's notable mid-tempo nuances couldn't prepare DN's fanbase for the radical departure of the quartets "difficult third" LP, Field Day.  You see, in '88 the then-established Nasties double-dog dag dared their minions with a patchwork of eighteen meandering, stylistically curious songs that by my estimation upended their reputation to the extent that the only thing sensible to do was to splinter shortly afterwards.  Which they did.

Often exuding the tenor of a bewildering music salad than a logically flowing record, even the best results here are undercut by processed production treatments and gloss that sound unnatural in the Dag Nasty realm, especially on the heels of the two albums of fiery, unadulterated punk.  Nonetheless Field Day houses many respites like the Descendents-y "Here's to You" and title track.  A run though of the Ruts (UK) signature tune "Staring at the Rude Boys" is taut and convincing, and so is the gripping "Dear Mrs. Touma," a piece concerning the loss of young man due to a senseless act of violence.  Then there's a retake of Can I Say's "Under Your Influence," which is arguably turned into a neutered mockery here.  There's also plethora of quasi-ballads and introspective pieces juxtaposing with the relatively aforementioned old-school numbers.  It isn't that a "soft" Dag Nasty is a "bad" Dag Nasty, but jarring nonetheless.  A key example is "The Ambulance Song" which finds Baker dipping into blues-lite guitar fills of all things.  There are even more inconsequential forays clogging up Field Day, but I'll spare these guys any more scathing.  Things do end on a high note at least with the inclusion of "All Ages Show," a thrashy, melodicore punk-pop gem that brings the band's potential well into the foreground.  "All Ages..." appeared on a previous single of the same name along with "You're Mine," which is also appended.  As for DN's Americanized spin on Wire's "12XU," I'll let you be the judge of that.

Field Day is certainly not the band's finest hour, but it is their most intriguing.  Not long after, Brian Baker made his way into the lineup of Junkyard, a slavishly sleezy metal outfit in the mold of Guns 'N Roses.  Colin Seers parlayed his talents to one of my personal '90s faves, The Marshes.  The '90s also saw a Dag Nasty reunion album, Four on the Floorwith Smalley back in the drivers seat.

01. Trouble Is
02. Field Day
03. Things That Make No Sense
04. The Ambulance Song
05. Staring at the Rude Boys
06. 13 Seconds Under Water
07. La Penita
08. Dear Mr.s Touma
09. Matt
10. I've Heard
11. Under Your Influence
12. Typical
13. Here's to You
14. (16 Count)
15. Never Green Lane
16. You're Mine
17. All Ages Show
18. 12XU

Monday, April 11, 2016

Find a rose with all the weeds, tell it it is beautiful.

Since the passing of this band's singer two months ago, I have been utterly besotted with their 1994 and '96 albums.  Now you can too.  Enjoy.