Monday, January 26, 2015

If you ever miss me, I will always miss you more.

One of my favorites from 1997.  All I’ll say is good luck finding a copy of this one that doesn’t have a promo stamp on the cover.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Playground - Last Stop ep (1995)

Recently, one of our readers was kind enough to share a disk by a group I featured on here circa 2010, Davis, CA's Playground.  At the time, when I posted their Bent, Lost or Broken cd and a pair of stellar 45's I thought those recordings comprised the sum total of their output.  I was pleasantly surprised not more than two weeks ago when said reader provided a download link to a 1995 ep (a 7" I believe) that I was none the wiser of theretofore - and I'm sharing it with you today.

Outside of their renown Cali college town, I think the only exposure the outside world had to Playground was via reviews and/or ads in Maximum Rock n Roll during the mid '90s.  Their utter dearth of visibility was a travesty, because this trio's crunchy, gratifying stripe of riff-pop could have really filled the vacancy left by the likes of Husker Du and the Moving Targets.  Not unlike San Fran contemporaries Overwhelming Colorfast, these guys really filled a certain sweet spot.  Amazingly, the five-cut Last Stop even outdoes some of their aforementioned earlier efforts, if not in terms of aggressiveness surely the melodious smarts they excelled at from the get go.  Really glorious stuff here.  A big round of applause to whomever (I don't recall seeing your name in the comments) put this file together for us. Check out the links above for access to the remainder of the Playground songbook.  I think a proper reissue is in order!

01. Fear
02. Miles Away
03. Can't Tell Me Anything
04. How Long
05. Ten Tons

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Angst - Lite Life (1985, SST)

Though Angst resided on the lower rungs of the SST food-chain, the two albums I posted last year, Mystery Spot and Mending Wall, proved to be remarkably popular with the Wilfully Obscure set.  So when I spotted the predecessor to both of those at a recent record show I took the plunge.  Lite Life was their first full-length (itself preceded by a 1983 ep).  Angst's exceedingly loose and amateurish melange of the Minutemen and Feelies (likely not deliberate on either count) isn't particularly visceral, but the trio's goofball wit amusingly parlays itself into geopolitically themed missives like "This Gun's For You" and "Glad I'm Not in Russia."  Better yet, when these folk-punks put their minds to it, they're genuinely rockin' on "The Poor (Shall Refuse)," and the more angular "It's All a Life."  Below is Trouser Press's take on things.

The articulate lyrics on Lite Life again prove Angst's prowess for turning politically informed ideas into mature and witty tunes. Plain sound and no-frills arrangements underscore the preeminence of function over form. "Glad I'm Not in Russia," delivered as dustbowl country-rock, is a fairly incisive comment on the cultural divisions between the superpowers; the skittish and busy dance-funk of "This Gun's for You" mixes up several topics but stays sharp; personal emotional issues ("Friends," "Turn Away," "Never Going to Apologize") receive the same coldly objective analysis.

BTW, my copy of Life Lite was formally in the clutches of a radio station, so don't be the least bit surprised when you see call letters on the sleeve.

01. Love Dissolves
02. Turn Away
03. Just to Please You
04. Glad I'm Not in Russia
05. The Poor (Shall Refuse)
06. Lite Life
07. This Gun's For You
08. It's All a Life
09. Butler Grace
10. Never Going to Apologize
11. Friends
12. Ignorance in Bliss

Sunday, January 18, 2015

...and everybody feels the pressure...

The 1988 album from a Midwest legend.  Thirteen songs, and it rocks like a mofo.

St. Lenox - Ten Songs About Memory and Hope (2015, Anyway) - A brief overview.

Hearing an album as dazzling and ingenious as St. Lenox's Ten Songs About Memory and Hope, makes me wish I wasn't so damn genre-centric.  Some twenty plus years ago, if a band wasn't donning flannel and/or playing through a Marshall stack with a clutch of effects pedals at their feet I likely wouldn't touch them.  My tastes have broadbanded considerably since, but were you to explain St. Lenox's electronica meets R&B premise on paper, I'd still be nothing short of skeptic.  And I was, until I relented and let the Andy Choi-helmed Brooklyn by way of Ohio outfit reveal an aural craving that I never caught wind of per my own volition.

Let it be known to the uninitiated Mr. Choi possess a powerful, and frankly enviable croon.  I've already an encountered a comparison to Cee Lo Green, but to this pair of ears, I'd more accurately slot his soaring, penetratingly melodic timbre somewhere between Stevie Wonder and Adam Levine.  But upon deeper investigation I've discovered that beyond those likenesses, Choi possesses something all the more indigenous and captivating, a la Jeff Buckley or Rufus Wainwright.  Yep folks, this gent is that utterly compelling.

Vocal intonations aside, Ten Songs... could survive on it's own in the hands of virtually any mouthpiece utilizing Choi's ornate, slice-of-life by way of stream-of-consciousness narratives.  "To Be Young Again," and "I Still Dream of the '90s" tuck wry cultural references into deeper ruminations on the not too-distant past, and a future which may not bear quite as much promise.  Segueing into an even more pensive context, "Map of the World" is a classicist piano ballad, that in a more perfect world would have the Grammy nominating committees beckoning.  Despite it's rich, soulful moxie, there's not much on 10 Songs... that could pass for dance music.  To the contrary, St. Lenox's fidgety array of electronic treatments reside amidst moderately paced beats, occasionally flirting within sublime classical arrangements to boot (check out "Pop Song 2012").  Too complex to be cast off as a mere pop album, I'm awfully hesitant (and sloth) to offer extrapolating song-by-song dissections Instead I'll encourage you to acquaint yourself with this intoxicating creation via a four-song taster available on Bandcamp.   The physical version of the record drops this week on Anyway Records, and it's available digitally from iTunes and Amazon.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Baby Tooth - Rare Book Room (1994, Personal Favorite)

This is a somewhat belated follow-up to a Baby Tooth single I pitched your way in 2011.  At the time I noted my intentions to obtain their ep (which actually runs closer to album length).  At any rate, here it is.  Six longish salvos from a noisy and much defunct New York trio.  "Potentiometer" is a curiosity, alternating between dissonance and a faint pop hook with the former winning out in the end.  Is that guy really tuning his guitar mid-song, or are my ears deceiving me?  Rare Book Room gets all the more interesting when the boys shift into unabashed shoegazer mode, à la lo-fi contemporaries the Swirlies on "Comes and Goes," and "Slide," the latter fastening Michal Sapir's whispery vox to an oscillating wall of tremolo-laced feedback.  Me like.

01. Potentiometer
02. Mantra
03. Small Dreamy
04. Slide
05. Wish Upon an Eyelash
06. Comes and Goes

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New noise: Paper Waves - Give Me the Moonlight and Present Tense - Nothing So Far.

Picking up roughly where his last project, Wire Sparrows left off, former Braves frontman Joe Reina has bestowed not only a new album, but a new endeavor Paper Waves, a quartet who also boast another Braves alum, drummer Jesse Carmona.  That aforementioned Rockford, IL combo that I've doled out so much praise to over the years were responsible for three stellar albums throughout the '00s, including the particularly riveting 2004 sophomore stunner Love & Mercy.  Since then Reina has donned the head honcho hat for three subsequent combos, The Bernadettes, Wire Sparrows and now Paper Waves. 

Though less spontaneous and wrenching than "Los Bravos," this trifecta has evoked an emotional charge that's equally parallel, albeit in a lucid and more measured framework.  Paper Waves debut, Give Me the Moonlight is a heartfelt surge of unpretentious indie rock, that at it's apex manages to balance the contemplative with the cathartic, ably evidenced on the strident "Some New Hand of God" and "The Careless Lifestyles," both equipped with hooks worthy of severing a limb for.  The most discernible moment of tenderness here arrives in the guise of "Waking Up Birds" a wholly sincere tear-jerker, originally composed and performed by Reina's second-to-last project, The Bernadettes.  I would be remiss if I failed to point out that the Paper Waves roster also features one Marcus Spitzmiller, a gentleman who featured prominently in the lineup of bygone local yokels God's Reflex.  Spitzmiller has a knack for jazzy guitar progressions, quite tasty ones at that, spicing up many a nook and cranny on this disk.  In fact, Give Me the Moonlight is pretty delicious in itself, whether consumed in one song snacks or as a full course, thirty-odd minute meal.  You can hear and purchase it yourself over yonder at Bandcamp or iTunes.

That brings us to our next subject, Present Tense, who I'm informed contain alumni from an unheralded New York left-off-the-dial aggregation called Sunday Puncher.  I really enjoyed that band's '90s full-length propositions, For Your Everchanging World and The Livid Eye, not to mention a 45 of theirs I put up several moons ago.  To my recollection SP were going more for the noise/distortion thing, whereas Present Tense seem to skew more towards the avant, and dare I say disquieting.  Nothing So Far their premiere effort, is an unpredictable melange of bendy riffs, undulating rhythms, asymmetrical keyboard maneuvers and often deadpan vocals.  Dissonant post-punk riptides prevail amidst PT's dense, sonic currents with brief forays into coldwave ("Our Largesse") and occasionally into something resembling a pop tune ("It's Visual").  There's a lot to dissect on any given tune in Nothing's... complex, shape-shifting arsenal, but if the likes of Mission of Burma, Rollerskate Skinny, recent Wire, and solo Robert Pollard tend to persuade you look Present Tense up on Bandcamp, and perhaps a record rack near you down the road.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Pawn the diamond ring, no space for you to cling.

From 1996.  A collection of b-sides and such that was mistaken by some fans as being this British group's fourth full length.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Dumptruck - D is for Demos (198?)

Well this is an interesting one.  I received a bunch of cassette bootlegs a few years ago and among them was one that had a side clearly labeled as "D is for Dumptruck demos."  D is for... was the first album for the Boston band in question, which made it's bow in 1983, first on Incas Records, and re-released on Big Time two years later.  At any rate, that label was a bit of misnomer, as the majority of the dozen cuts were actually demos for Dumptruck's second LP, Positively Dumptruck

While I own the first three DT albums (nicely expanded and reissued on Ryko in 2003), it's 1987's For the Country that compelled me the most.  That being said, D is for... and Positively are pretty damn convincing in their own right, especially that warm and mildly rough-around-the-edges debut, which struck me as a scruffier, working-class interpretation of what Game Theory and the dB's had offered up to that point.  Maybe toss in a pinch of the Velvets here and there.  Take that with a grain of salt I suppose.  In addition to the Positively-era tunes, there are two cuts here that actually appeared on D is for... as the tape label originally purported, namely "Repetition" and "The Haunt."  On top of that there were three songs I couldn't identify at all.  The key Dumptruck nuclei of Kirk Swan and Seth Tiven remained intact for the first two albums.  The world renown Kevin Salem more or less filled in for the departed Swan by the time For the Country rolled around, and Tiven carried on under the DT moniker sporadically in the Clinton-era and in the early '00s. 

01. Secrets
02. Walk Into Mirrors
03. Will it Happen Again
04. Ethics
05. Back Where I Belong
06. From Where I Stand
07. The Haunt
08. title unknown
09. Movies
10. title unknown
11. title unknown
12. Repetition

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Marsupials - The Four of Us Are Dying (1986, Cool Green)

The Marsupials were a psyche-garage quartet, presumably from the environs of Los Angeles, who didn't burrow too deep into either realm, and wouldn't you know it, they were are all the better for it.  The Four of Us... was too rollicking and uptempo to qualify these gentlemen for the so called Paisley contingent, though drummer Chris Bruckner would later materialize in Michael Quercio's post-Three O'clock trio, Permanent Green Light.  The Marsupials touch on everyone from the Screaming Trees to the Lime Spiders, yet manage to weave in calmer, jangly guitar salvos on one of the album's earlier selections, "Mumble."  "The One's Who Survive" and "We Need Each Other" are smart, robust rave-ups, while "Glam Revival" fittingly (not to mention blatantly) xeroxes T. Rex's sleezy formula lock stock and barrel to terrific effect.  I'll let you figure what the remainder of this platter is all about on your own, though in full disclosure, I should mention my record has a slight warp, that for the most part effects side a's "One Big Pill."  Should a better copy find it's way into my hands, a re-rip will be in order.

01. One Big Pill
02. Green Tambourine
03. F.D.B.
04. Mumble
05. I Thought it Would Be Easy
06. Tobacco Road
07. She's a Liar
08. Glam Revival
09. We Need Each Other
10. I'm a Sissy
11. The Ones Who Survive
12. (I Don't Live) Inside Your World
13. Reprise (The Lights are Turning Green and Blue)
14. Pasadena Hilton

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Scrape the brain that stains up every wall...

Debut from 1992.  They called Seattle home, but you won't find much grunge buildup here.  Who knows?  You might even encounter a Kinks cover.

Best of the blog mix for 2014.

Following up my 2014 "Top-40" list (of sorts) from a couple nights ago, here's my annual highlights mix tape of music I've shared in the past year.  It's my attempt to distill a years worth of features and posts into something a little more digestible and less exhaustive.  As per this site itself, the emphasis in this compendium is on unheralded indie rock from the previous millennium (ok, the '80s).   I'm not going to dedicate any space here to critiquing and such, as I already abundantly have in the original postings, all of which are linked via selecting the hyperlinked artist names below.  This mix is designed to be both a recap for those of you who frequent Wilfully Obscure, and a springboard for anyone who's just plain overwhelmed by the quantity of material I share on a weekly, if not daily basis.  In a nutshell, if you count yourself among the uninitiated and don't know where to start, start here (and of course, work your way backwards).  As for those of you who have been studiously checking things out on this page on a regular basis, I'm tacking on four extra songs that I haven't shared heretofore, and they've been denoted with an asterisk.

01. Fan Club - Just Another Kiss
02. Penguin Fury - And You Will Shine
03. Yazoo Beach - Waiting for Woods
04. Squares - Blue Note*
05. Town Cryers - Like a Telegraph
06. Breathers - Stay the Boy
07. Fun With Atoms - Last Cigarette
08. The Movement - I've Got Eyes
09. U Thant - Little Chlorine
10. Crocodile Shop - April Reigns
11. The Wolves - Good News
12. Grapes Of Wrath - A Very Special Day*
13. Z-Rocks - The Way She Looks at Me
14. Blue Movie - Trouble in the Yard
15. The Hairs - The Ghost Train
16. The Clergy - Pieces*
17. Acid Drops - Deep Sea Dream
18. The Graphic - The Hour Has Come
19. Square Root of Now - Compile Your Love
20. Ten Bright Spikes - Spleen
21. Miracle Legion - Stephen, Are You There
22. Edsel Auctioneer - Stickleback
23. Rocking Shapes - Cracked Marbles
24. Toy Love - Don't Ask Me*

Friday, January 2, 2015

My most listened to albums of 2014 (but not necessarily from 2014).

You would think that compiling an end of year best-of list would be simple enough.  For most of us, that's the easy and logical way out.  Truth be told, that model is becoming more and more flawed for me, as I invariably discover my favorite release of any given year the year after, and in some cases years later, thereby nullifying the supposedly "static" ranking I routinely prepare at the end of December.   To give you a more honest representation of my annual soundtrack, my sequence for 2014 is based roughly on how often I listened to a piece of music.  Albums from the year passed feature prominently (nineteen by my count), but older titles that I either recently learned of and/or didn't give a concerted listen to when I initially purchased them also made the cut, based largely on the frequency they occupied my stereo, earbuds, etc.  Too idiosyncratic for my own good, I know.  If I've already confused/alienated you I wouldn't be surprised.  Maybe I'll just skip the list thing in the future altogether, but I digress.

2014 turned out to be the year of Philly for some reason.  I would say that a recent trip there prompted me to dedicate four slots to bands from the city of brotherly love, but truthfully, my awareness of Marietta and The A's predated my journey, and the Wonder Years and Beach Slang didn't make it onto my radar until months after returning home.  My number one pic is a prime example of me discovering my "album of the year" posthumously.   Marietta's debut, Summer Death is everything a legitimate emo record should be - sincere, skittish, cathartic, and even a tad tone deaf albeit oddly melodic.  A sophomore record is sure to follow, but I question their ability to top this one.  The Wonder Years are a guilty pleasure fit for the Warped Tour circuit.  Nonetheless their second album, The Upsides (which I found at a thrift shop for a mere $1) is one of the most invigorating examples of post-adolescent angst to ever grace my jaded, aging ears.  As for Beach Slang, I think we'll be hearing plenty more from them in the coming months.  Check out the link. 

Were it not for having my mind blown via Passion Pit's Manners in 2009, electronic-based music would have been as irrelevant to me in 2014 as it was in say, 1994.  Thankfully I wised up.  Porter Robinson's Worlds was pretty much at the pinnacle of the laptop-cum-snyth heap this year, wielding a dizzying array of glitched-out grooves and Auto-Tuned trix.  The devastatingly infectious Great Good Fine Ok, had a more saccharine take on the whole techno-pop bag, while slightly bygone digital delights from Desire, Postiljonen, and Breathe Carolina also rolled into the same wheelhouse. 

As for the new(ish) crop, Cheatahs, Lees of Memory (that's Johnathan Davis of Superdrag's newgazer outfit), Eagulls, and The Hobbes Fanclub all dazzled with winsome indie-guitar rock albums that delivered on the strength of 2013 singles and eps.  Bravo to Literature for their unsuspecting sophomore disk Chorus, and to Dinosaur Pile-Up for one of the most visceral power-chord motorcades this side of the Foo Fighter's Wasting Light.  Brooklyn's pedal-hopping Regal Degal dazzled me when they opened for DIVV this summer, and I quickly absorbed their back catalog.  What Moon Things issued a devastating declaration of revivalist post-punk, and Imaginary Cities crafty pop persuasion could simply not go unmentioned.
Don't call them a comeback: The Manic's Futurology went a long way in rectifying 2013's limp and underwhelming Rewind the Film.  Elsewhere, Interpol's latest humdinger, Elpintor, was the most impressive thing they've put their stamp on since Antics, Floor's concussive, bludgeoning Oblation shoved me off the fence and into their demi-stoner camp, while Lagwagon ended a nine-year LP drought with the blistering, metallic k.o. of Hang.  

It was also a year for some exceedingly belated discoveries, key among them New Model Army (in their early prime I might add).  Speaking of Britain, I also uncovered a thoughtful reissue of an arcane but superlative female-fronted post punk set who went by the moniker of Indian Dream, and then there was Seattle's Queen Annes, whose Something Quick collection revealed a bevy of fantastic and multifaceted tunes far outdoing the single I shared by them years ago.  The New Dylans' twenty year ol' Warren Piece was my retro pure-pop platter of choice for '14, and wouldn't you know it, they're just getting around to assembling their third LP due in the new year.  Finally, Italy's Victrola, whose 1983 Maritime Tatami 12" single was revived thirty years after-the-fact, dominated my coldwave playlist for the past twelve months. 

In the "I had it lying around for some time now, but just got around to it" file, I shed overdue light on scintillating records from Lowest of the Low, Heatmiser, Moss Icon, Death Cab, and Philadelphia's long defunct power pop-purveyors The A's

After the list, you'll find a link to a mix of songs from exactly half of the roster outlined below.  It skews more towards the newbies, but that's the only clue I'll concede.  There's no track list, and the songs aren't presented in any particular order, so cherry pick to your heart's content.  This was my 2014 soundtrack in a nutshell - a haphazard, top-40 countdown that only a wilfully obscure nutjob like myself could conceive.  Enjoy (or not). 

01. Marietta - Summer Death (2013)
02. The Wonder Years - The Upsides (2010)
03. Porter Robinson - Worlds (2014)
04. Postiljonen - Skyer (2013)
05. The New Dylans - Warren Piece (1994)
06. New Model Army - Vengeance - The Whole Story 1980-84
07. Merchandise - After the End (2014)
08. Trevor Keith - Melancholics Anonymous (2010)
09. Lees of Memory - Sisyphus Says (2014)
10. Great Good Fine Ok - Body Diamond ep (2014)
11. Beach Slang - Cheap Thrills on a Dead End Street ep & Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken ep (2014)
12. Lowest of the Low - Hallucigenia (1994)
13. Imaginary Cities - Fall of Romance (2013)
14. Orange Roughies - Detroit (2012)
15. Floor - Oblation (2014)
16. Victrola - Maritime Tatami 12" (orig. 1983, reissued 2013)
17. San Angelus - Soon We’ll All Be Ghosts (2014)
18. Moss Icon - Complete Discography (2012)
19. Breathe Carolina - Hello Fascination (2009)
20. The Bon MotsBest Revenge (2014)
21. The A's - The A's/A Woman's Got the Power CD (1979/1981)
22. Cheatahs - s/t (2014)
23. Eagulls - s/t (2014)
24. Desire - Desire II (2009)
25. The Square Root of Now - Bent Around Corners (1987)
26. The Queen Annes - Something Quick 1980-85 (2014)
27. The Wake - s/t ep (1985)
28. Death Cab For Cutie - The Photo Album (2001)
29. Manic Street Preachers - Futurology (2014)
30. Lagwagon - Hang (2014)
31. What Moon Things - s/t (2014)
32. Hobbes Fanclub - Up at Lagrange (2014)
33. Interpol - Elpintor (2014)
34. Dinosaur Pile-up - Nature Nurture (2014)
35. Heatmiser - Mic City Sons (1996)
36. Literature - Chorus (2014)
37. Indian Dream - Orca (1989)
38. Regal Degal - Pyramid Bricks ep (2013)/Veritable Who's Who (2012)
39. Graig Markel and the 88th St. Band - s/t (2014)
40. Popstrangers - Fortuna (2014)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Sugarplastic - Radio Jejune (1995, Sugar Fix)

Thought I'd fulfill a request to cap off the year.  At one point this was available on iTunes and such, but not anymore apparently.  Over the years I have dispensed copious text regarding this L.A. area pop conglomerate.  Ladies and gentlemen, may I reintroduce you to The Sugarplastic.  Platinum records, sold-out arena tours, sordid tabloid headlines, and love songs that were known to be the impetus of many an unplanned pregnancy - all telltale Sugarplastic earmarks.  Ok, in fairness, maybe I'm a tad off base, but in a more perfect world...  If it's back-story details you're looking for, you can check out some of my previous 'plastic entries to get caught up.   In a nutshell for the newbies in the audience, this trio opted to mix a twee-spoon of sugar into their XTeaC-indebted salvos, and poured in some mercurial idiosyncrasies of their own for intriguing measure.  Radio Jejune, their debut album, is probably the most inventive and adventurous album in their catalog, featuring off-kilter treasures like "Salmolina" and "Sir Sheever."  A classic. 

01. Radio Jejune
02. Ways to Save Face
03. Salmolina
04. Sun Goes Cold
05. Skinny Hotrod
06. Please Mr. B
07. Arizona
08. Sir Sheever
09. Officer G
10. Howl a Little

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Fallin' in love is like fallin' down steps...

This weeks it's an essential two-fer reissue CD containing the 1979 and 1981 albums from a dear departed Philly quartet who specialized in slightly sardonic, turn-of-the-decade power pop.  A heroes work is never done...

Re-ups for the end of December.

Here's the latest and greatest batch of expired files I'm reactivating before the new year.  If you haven't done so already, check out The Killjoys, who were one of Toronto's hottest exports in the '90s.  Thanks for your requests. 

The Killjoys - Starry, Gimme Five, Melos Modos, One Night and a Morning After
Mad Turks (from Istanbul) - Toast   
Facecrime (pre-TPOH) - Sex and Revolution ep
Modern Minds (pre-TPOH) - Theresa's World cd collection
Teenage Fanclub/Viva Saturn - split flexi
The Fans - Cars and Explosions 7"
Queen Annes - I Though of You 7"
The Sugarplastic - Primitive Plastic and demo
Odolites - Persistence of Memory & Chimes 7"
Porcelain Boys - early singles/comp tracks, Away Awhile demos, Away Awhile
Jettison - Search for the Gun Girl
Enemies in the Grass - Blind Crossing ep & Day After Day 7"
Nubs - Job 7"
Six Going on Seven - 7"
Jolt - singles & Proof of Total Collapse demo
Kilkenny Cats - Hands Down & 7"
Centro-matic - early singles
Primitons - demo tape
Not Shakespeare - ep
V/A - Pyloric Waves
Icons - Art in the Dark
Barely Pink - Starduster ep
Marshal Fields - s/t 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas.

                      Track list here.   MP3 (320 kbps) or  FLAC

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

8th night of Chanukah: Wire - Pink Flag & Chairs Missing demos (AKA, Graham's Practice Tape)

Practice makes perfect (pun partially intended).   I started Chanukah on a post-punk note, so I thought I'd conclude on one as well.  A good many of you got a charge out of the Wire 154-era rehearsals I put up in 2013.  Shortly thereafter I found this set floating around, which doesn't appear to have an official title, though it's been referred to as "Graham's tape" or "Graham's practice tape" - the Graham of course being bassist/mouthpiece Lewis Graham.  Wire made it onto my sonar around the time they were opening for Depeche Mode back in 1988.  A Bell is a Cup... was my first album by them, not Pink Flag.  Needless to say I studied their back catalog in short order and found it to be a near-mind blowing revelation.  Wire may have been part of the so-called "Class of '77," but they would have no part in staying tethered to the three-chord, socio/political ethos of that era which ironically became revered for it's all too stifling petulance.  To the contrary, Wire were coming from a place of genuine nonconformity.  If you're already a convert I'm merely parroting back what you already know, so I'll cut the line here. 

Amazingly, there's little material here that overlaps with Wire's officially released demos compendium, Behind the Curtain (which covers exactly the same era), and ditto for the popular Not About to Die bootleg.  Perhaps why these tracks haven't been officially released is that most of them sound negligibly different from the finished versions.  In fact, in certain portions the only apparent difference is Colin Newman's vocal takes.  Nonetheless, us Wire aficionados are pretty damn anal, and even the slightest deviations can cork our heads a good ninety degrees.  I credit these as Pink Flag and Chairs Missing demos, but 154's "40 Versions" appears in this collection, and the three concluding cuts are full fledged outtakes - just don't get your hopes too high for those.  All in all, it's quite a feast.  Enjoy.

01. Reuters
02. Field Day for the Sundays
03. Three Girl Rhumba
04. Ex-Lion Tamer
05. Strange
06. Brazil
07. It's So Obvious
08. Mannequin
09. Surgeon's Girl
10. Pink Flag
11. The Commercial
12. Straight Line
13. 106 Beats That
14.  Mr. Suit
15. Lowdown
16. Feeling Called Love
17. Different toMe
18. Champs
19. Fragile
20. Underwater Experiences
21. Sand in My Joints
22. Used To
23. Another the Letter
24. Outdoor Miner
25. Practice Makes Perfect
26. Heartbeat
27. Marooned
28. In the Nursery
29. Being Sucked in Again
30. I Feel Mysterious Today
31. Mercy
32. 40 Versions
33. Eeals Sang Lino
34. Untitled (Indirect Table Leg)
35. Second Length

Monday, December 22, 2014

7th night of Chanukah: V/A - Metrojets Vols. 1 & 2 (Red Rubber Ball)

I suppose I couldn't get away without sharing something that's squarely in the power pop vein for one of my Chanukah posts, now could I?  With a combined 37 tracks, these beauties more than fit the bill. The two Metrojets compilations slipped in and out of circulation rather quickly when they dropped in the mid-00s (no copyright date provided) via the Spanish Red Rubber Ball labelWith an emphasis on virtual unknowns in the DIY realm spanning the years 1977-82, Metrojets was an instant draw for me, even if I had little to no acquaintance with the music enshrined within.  I have a huge affinity with music from this era for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that music was still being tracked on analog equipment, imbuing recordings with a warmer tone.  Secondly, the "genre" was still relatively fresh and tuneage of this sort wouldn't hit the overkill phase until later in the eighties.  With Metrojets, I’m tempted to draw parallels between Bomp Records style power pop acts, and those featured in the Teenline series, however the emphasis here is on British practitioners, with only about a third of the roster being culled from the Yankee camp. 

Since I don’t have time to offer track-by-track critiques, the liner notes, albeit brief, do some of the heavy lifting for me, which is why I scanned them in  At the very least I can make a few quick recommendations – Bo & The Generals, The Subterraneans, Straight Eight, The Spys, New Toys, Urgent Crunch Band, and Paul Warren & The Explorers.  Incidentally I have featured only two of Metrojets participants before this posting – The Fans (Atlanta) and The Queen Annes, the latter of which saw the release of an excellent retrospective this year, Something Quick on Green Monkey Records.  The Annes offered a classy “Me” generation update on par excellence British Invasion rock, and are well worth further investigation.  Enjoy. 

Volume 1
01. The FansTrue
02. The Realists - I've Got A Heart
03. Stumblebunny - When You Walk Away
04. Straight Eight - I'm Sorry
05. Speedometors - Tonight Tonight
06. Bo & The Generals - Rich Girl
07. The Boys - (Baby) It's You
08. Sponsors - In & Out Of Love
09. Da Biz - On The Beach
10. Brian Copsey & The Commotions - Boys In Love
11. The Blades - Hot For You
12. Advertising - Stolen Love
13. The Vye - Five Hours Till Tonight
14. The Subterraneans - My Flamingo
Volume 2
01. T-Boys - One Way Street
02. Tennis Shoes - (Do The) Medium Wave
03. Queen Annes - This Is That
04. Furys - Moving Target
05. Jo Allen & The Shapes - Cryin' Over You
06. Dee & The Monitors - Play With Fire
07. New Toys - Say It
08. RealistsWonderland
09. DazzlersPhonies
10. Spys - Heavy Scene
11. White Heat - The City Beat
12. Shades - Are You My Angel
13. Urgent Crunch Band - Listen To Silence
14. Expressos - Hey Girl
15. Sweet Tommy Band - She Don't Respond
16. Bozos - Weekend Girl
17. Paul Warren & The Explorers - Mr. A&R Man
18. Ric Tubbax & The Taxis - Breakin' Up
19. Monos! - Mad Lover
20. Fingerprintz - Dancing With Myself
21. Nick Gilder - Metro Jets (unlisted track)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

6th night of Chanukah: The Porcelain Boys - Fetish for Female tape (1989) & Live at the 7th St. Entry 11/5/89

Since 2009 I've been dedicating ones and zeroes to a band called the Porcelain Boys, one of Minnesota's finest exports, whose brief but powerful catalog rivals that of "the big three" from Minneapolis (surely you know who I'm referring to).  Before I delve too far into the details of this much sought after tape, I'm going to provide you with a little backgrounder on the band that I've spliced together from previous writings.

The Delwood, MN trio known as the Porcelain Boys released two demo tapes and two singles in their first incarnation, which from my estimation spanned the mid-80s to about 1990 or '91. Many of their non-local fans became acquainted with them via their cut "Sidetrack" appearing on the Lookout Records compilation, Can of Pork. The lineup for these early releases was: Erik Kaiser (lead vocals, percussion), Tom Spence (guitar) and Scott Cook (bass). Yes, the P/B's possessed a singing drummer in their lineup, just like Genesis and Husker Du.  The Boys gnarly take on the whole "popcore" thing, as it turned out, proved to be just as gratifying and substantive as the smartest work of their influential antecedents, The Descendants/All and Doughboys. Truly endearing, hook-savvy, romantically-frustrated punk-pop at it's finest.

In just about all of my PB entries thus far I've expressed my desire to own an original copy of their second cassette album Fetish For Female.  Since the mid-90s, I had been getting by with a decent sounding dub-of-a-dub, but was looking for the genuine article.  Early this year, one of my readers heeded my call and gave me the second "pressing" (if you can even describe a tape as such) of his tape.   I was extremely grateful.  A few months ago however I befriended another big Porcelain Boys fan, and he offered to lend me his "first run" copy of the tape to digitize, the assumption being that it was the lowest generation of the cassette available.  It's been a long time coming, but after all these years I'm sharing files of that elusive but oh so splendid reel, Fetish For Female.

So what's all the hubbub about?  In a nutshell, I'm just enamored with the songs, and it's probably my favorite album that's never made it to CD or vinyl.  Adept playing, swift arrangements, homegrown production, saucy one-liners, and a myriad of underdog motifs are the key ingredients that have me running back to Fetish... time and again.  More PB songs were recorded shortly after this tape (including the aforementioned "Sidetrack") but most have yet to see the light of day.  The band reunited for an album and a tour in the mid-90s.  You can read about that chapter in their career here.

Along with FFF, you can also check out a live performance in Minneapolis circa late 1989, which was touted to be their last (it wasn't),  They run through a mess o' tunes from the tape in question as well as the stellar If You Were Real ep, not to mention halfway-there Doughboys and Fugazi covers.  Links (incl WAV versions for you lossless types) and full tracklists are below.  Knock yourself out.  Big thanks to James and John for fixing me up with everything.

Fetish For Female tape (1989)
01. Just Another Stupid Girl Song
02. Everytime
03. Red
04. Bedtime
05. Mirror
06. Just Then
07. G.B.F.
08. Gone
09. Freeway Hate Song
10. Week to Week

Live @ the 7th Street Entry, Minneapolis 11/5/89
01. Everytime
02. G.B.F.
03. Someday
04 & 05 - titles unknown
06. Just Another Stupid Girl Song
07. Just Then/Home Again
08. instrumental
09. Freeway Hate Song
10. title unknown
11. Fortune Favors the Bold
12. If You Were Real
13. Problem no. 1
14. Bikeage
15. Knowledge/Waiting Room
16. Bedtime/outro

Fetish for FemaleMP3  or  WAV
live 1989, MinneapolisMP3  or  WAV

Saturday, December 20, 2014

5th night of Chanukah: The Buck Pets - Rares (and unreleased) (2010) & Mercurotones/To the Quick demos

And we roll into night numero cinq.  Glad you're still paying attention.  There's kind of a lot to unpack here - roughly two albums worth of tunes, and a real treasure trove if you're of The Buck Pets persuasion.  One of my all time most rewarding music finds occurred way before the advent of Ebay or even the web as we know it today.   In fact, I've been sharing it on Wilfully Obscure since forever, specifically the Pets nine-song, 1987 demo tape (aka the "blue tape" per the color of the sleeve) which presumably helped them ink a deal with Island Records.  I spotted it in the cassette rack at Up Your Alley Records in Jay Street in Schenectady sometime in 1991 or thereabouts.  In fact, by the time I unexpectedly unearthed that precious demo, their follow-up, Mercurotones may have already been released.  It was a thrilling discovery, featuring early versions of five Buck Pets songs, a preview of "Some Hesitation" from the aforementioned sophomore album, and the remainder entirely unreleased. 

Of course, I was already sold big time on the Dallas quartet by way of their self-titled debut which dropped in 1989.  The visceral, introductory salvo "Iron Cock" (take that title with a grain of salt folks) was a clock-cleaning surge of grunge and punk, just as life affirming as anything bearing an SST of Sub Pop logo.  A little bit further into that disk, the Pets revealed themselves as dutiful acolytes of the Replacements and Soul Asylum, swiping the fervor and wit of that pair respectively.  The sophomore Mercurotones, and their 1993 parting shot, To the Quick were even more sophisticated and nearly as gratifying.  A fifteen year hiatus followed.  It took a one-off 2010 reunion show (in Dallas, naturally) for Chris Savage and Co. to unlatch the BP vault to reveal a bevy of unreleased tunes on the limited edition CD I'm sharing here.

My first and overriding complaint with Rares right off the bat - a complete and total lack of liner notes, with the only provided text being a basic track list on the back cover.  No details on when any of the seventeen songs were recorded, no credits, nothing.  Zilch.  A pretty shoddy move, but at least the price was right ($10).  Given the mildly hissy and occasionally shrill audio quality, I'm presuming most of this stuff was tracked in their formative years - in fact I know for certain "No More From You," "Your Fault Not Mine," and "A Longer Look" predate the "blue tape."  They comprise some of the more recommendable cuts here, but Rares gets even better.  "Disappointed" packs a similar buzzsaw crunch a la the To the Quick era, "Forgiveness" is an above par bittersweet rocker that sounds like the product of the Pets later days, and the incarnation of "Sometimes" appearing here bests the one on that amazing demo tape I keep referring to.  Conversely, some of the other selections didn't make it onto albums for a reason, but I'll let you sort out which tunes I'm alluding to on your own.  As a bonus, I also tacked on a pre-Blue tape demo, "Maybe It's Just Me," that failed to materialize on Rares.

I'm making available separately a dozen demos from the Mercurotones and To the Quick era, that were purloined from the Pets Myspace site and elsewhere.  These are at various and lower bitrates, but fully listenable.  Not much to say about them, other than they don't differ that greatly from the finished product.  There's even a Big Star cover that I don't believe has surfaced anywhere.  Since the BP, Chris Savage has fronted subsequent projects including Mic the Tiger, Atlas Throat, Pelicans, and has even cut some DIY solo tracks.  Perhaps these endeavors will be the subject of a future entry.  As for all you Buck Pets fans craving something beyond the band's three albums, there were indeed some leftover scraps on the cutting room floor, and I'm passing them along to you.

Rares (and unreleased)
01. Grooved Pavement/No More From You
02. Other People
03. Twists and Jerks
04. Sick and Stoned
05. Live Until I Die (home demo)
06. Off+On (home demo)
07. Your Fault Not Mine
08. Sometimes
09. Separation
10. Sick and Stoned (alt vers)
11. A Longer Look
12. Angel on My Shoulder (home demo)
13. Disappointed
14. Forgiveness
15. Sometimes (home demo)
16. Live Until I Die (reprise)
17. Funny That Way
plus: Maybe It's Just Me (from first demo)

Mercurotones/To the Quick demos
Ave. F Blues/C'mon Baby/Crutch/Five o'clock or Thursday/Living is the Biggest Thing/Moon Goddess/Pearls/Smiler with a Knife/To the Quick/Walk it to the Payphone/Worldwide Smile/You Can't Have Me

Rares (and unreleased):