Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Ceedee's - Hit the Ditch (1980, Carrot)

Hmmm.  Bought this one based on the oddball album jacket, the band's potential power pop pedigree.  Truthfully, I was anticipating something a little more avant-garde than that, say in the post-punk realm.  No go as far as that notion was concerned.  The Ceedee's were a southern Ontario enterprise (possibly hailing from Peterborough) who's take on pop music was relatively conventional, yet smarter and wryer than your typical pedestrian flunkies.  I appreciate their homegrown allure, even if they are a tad unfocused from song-to-song.  The first few tunes on Hit the Ditch are the most effective, vaguely reminiscent of the Tarney Spencer Band and even Todd Rundgren.  Bear in mind, the keyword in that sentence is vaguely.  The title track and the Canada-centric "Patriotic Song" are must listens, the latter bearing a pretty colossal chorus hook. "Let Me Share (in the Ordinaire)" is a bit of a goof, with some Devo-esque vocal tricks, and "Mama Raised a Misfit" inches ever so slightly in the vicinity of punky hard rock.  An ep followed Hit the Ditch in 1986.  You can access an interview with the Ceedees via the link above. 

01. Hit the Ditch
02. The Patriotic Song
03. Television City
04. Explain the Man
05. Let Me Share (in the Ordinaire)
06. Mama Raised a Misfit
07. Lemontown
08. He Plays Guitar
09. City Lights Hobo
10. Yarsole Yarsole

http://www117.zippyshare.com/v/Ex6gNaww/file.html

Sunday, March 26, 2017

I'm always in the toilet pissing out the noise.

It's another batch of four EPs.  Among these are forays into minimalist punk, singer/songwriter alt-pop, southern rock, and an exceedingly guilty pleasure I'm not likely to live down anytime soon.

Here

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Dils - Live! (1987, rec 1977 + 80, XXX)

I have a feeling recording time at studios in/around L.A. in the late seventies must have been a king's ransom.  How else you can you explain why punk legends The Dils only recorded about ten two-minute (if that) songs in a their three/four year life span.  Perhaps that might explain why Dils live records were fairly ubiquitous at one point.  The trio was helmed by brothers Tony and Chip Kinman, operating guitar and bass respectively, with both sharing the mic - and rumored to have communist ideologies among other eccentricities.  Rounded out by a cast of rotating drummers, the band released three singles between 1977-80, bequeathing such cult punk, h/c standards as "Class War," "Mr. Big" and "I Hate the Rich."  Think the first Redd Kross ep to give you a general idea where they were coming from.  The Dils sparse body of work was surprisingly incisive given the brevity of their songs, not to mention a performance aptitude that was often just a notch or two above rudimentary.  As for the album I'm featuring, all I know is someone had a tape deck running at two separate Dils concerts.  The gig from 1980 is the lengthier and the more rewarding of the two, featuring a bevy of Dils "classics," including some of the aforementioned and some surprises like a cover of Buddy Holly's "Modern Don Juan."  The 1977 set that rounds this thing out (tracks 11-14) is potentially incomplete and largely devoid of sophistication (e.g. "Baby You're My Whore").  As an aside, my incarnation of The Dils Live! is a cassette, though LP was also an option.

01. Tell Her You Love Her
02. Tell Me What I Want to Hear
03. It's Not Worth It
04. You're Not Blank
05. Red Rockers Rule
06. Mr. Big
07. Sound of the Rain
08. Gimme a Break
09. Modern Don Juan
10. Class War
11. You Can't Shake It
12. Baby You're My Whore
13. The Expert
14. It's Not Worth It

(1-10 from 1980, 11-14 from 1977)

http://www115.zippyshare.com/v/yL3hOR3x/file.html

The Creation - Action Painting (2017, Numero) - A critique.

For some, what if the British Invasion wasn't an invasion, so much as a breach or even a de minimus sideswipe?   We can't attribute such a notion to omnipresent heavyweights like The Beatles, Stones, Kinks and The Who, but what about acts that registered on a lower tier in their native UK...and perhaps not at all on the Yankee side of the pond?  Chestnut, Hertfordshire, England was ground zero for The Creation, a band whose stature was minimal in proportion to their aforementioned contemporaries, but their cumulative value and influence seemingly grew exponentially in the decades following their 1968 dissolution. 

In their initial 1966-68 lifespan, The Creation failed to release a proper full length on their own home turf, but dispensed a volley of singles according them with not one, not two, but four career defining signature songs - "Painter Man," "Biff, Bang, Pow," "Making Time" and "How Does it Feel to Feel."  Sonically, they were a loose amalgam of The Who, Small Faces, and to a lesser extent, the Monkees.  They weren’t as unkempt as the Troggs, or as dizzying as Floyd, and they certainly didn’t pack the harmonies of the fab four...yet there was something incendiary to The Creation, albeit even if they didn't set either side of the Atlantic alight.   Numero Records has recently and thoughtfully endowed us with, Action Painting, comprising the entirety of their original sixties recordings, spread across two fully loaded CDs, packaged in a sturdy hard-shell case.

The first half of Action predominantly concerns the Creation's commercially available studio recordings, that have been sliced and diced over the ensuing decades in myriad compilations and reissues.  The first of those collections, We Are the Paintermen came to light in '67 while the quartet was still active, but I should mention it was only available in Germany.  Furthermore, the Creation only earned one Top-40 in the UK, "Painter Man," which barely scraped the charts in October 1966, eking in at a modest 36 at best.  From my per-view, as someone who hadn't been conceived until the seventies, these fellows didn't sound or even look particularly different than what was coming off the Brit-prop production line.  But the fact that (relatively) current artists like Ride and Teenage Fanclub have taken Creation classics to task speaks volumes of the enduring effectiveness of the band's original material.

Whether they charted or not, the Creation really did have songs.  Some would argue they benefited from having two different front-men (though not simultaneously).  Original singer Kenny Pickett was ousted from the band in 1967 by former bassist Bob Garner.  Pickett didn't part without writing some of The Creation's most well known pieces, namely "Try and Stop Me," "Biff, Bang, Pow," and the less spoken of but melodically winsome "Nightmares."  The mod-stomping kick of "Making Time" might as well be worth the price of admission alone.  Garner's ascension to vocalist and prime mover also came with increased song-penning duties, and he brought the fan-favorite, "How Does it Feel to Feel" to the table.  "...Feel" was a mildly woozy, slow motion romp, predating the kind of modus opernadi that Marc Bolan would perfect in a few years via T. Rex. Again, it's one of The Creation's signature pieces, but five different versions populating almost a full tenth of Action Painting spells overkill to me.  Pickett would rejoin his former cohorts in 1968, but by then it was largely over. 

The second disk commences with four songs from the precursor to The Creation, The Mark Four, a competent, if not terribly innovative beat band, who like the Beatles cut their teeth gigging in West Germany.  The meat and potatoes of the second half of Action Painting emphasizes a raft of fresh stereo mixes of virtually every key Creation composition and then some, and also delves into some ace rarities, not the least of which is a stirring reading of Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone."

As mentioned a little north of this paragraph, following their 1968 dismantlement affection for the Creation blossomed not only in Britain, but the US and points beyond.  By popular demand, the band sporadically reunited in the eighties all the way into the '00s.  Both Pickett and Garner have since passed away.  Action Painting is a more than thorough document of The Creations halcyon era, and makes a compelling argument that the sixties didn't belong solely to the Beatles, Stoines and Who.  Sample and purchase direct from Numero, Amazon and iTunes.  

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Think As Incas - Palestine One Mile ep (1988, dOINK)

I'm not sure how prominent Think as Incas were in their hometown of Memphis, but the quartet saw frontman David Shouse migrate to the ranks of future Sub Pop-all stars The Grifters.  There are virtually no other commonalities between the two groups, which is all good and well with me since I wasn't terribly compelled by the Grifters.  The Incas were of college-rock stock themselves I suppose, opting to pursue a more traditional tact a la The Connells, adopting a dab of the Georgia Satellites tartness   without conveying themselves as blatantly derivative of either.  Couple o' saucy rockers here, appearing in the guise of the title cut and "Wishing Again," while the acoustic finale, "I'm the Boy" could pass for a sobering Uncle Tupelo ballad in a heartbeat.

01. Wishing Again
02. The Great Kiss Off
03. A Man Needs a Gun
04. Palestine One Mile
05. Tommy's Tiny Brain
06. I'm the Boy

http://www87.zippyshare.com/v/0Ye7l1qB/file.html

Sunday, March 19, 2017

I’m a little cut up and I feel frustrated.

A 1997 compilation from one of Australia's greatest, if not so latest. 

Here

Friday, March 17, 2017

Boys Life ep (1982, Seco)

Punk/wave/indie bands that prominently feature saxophones tend not to exude the sweetest of vibes, but Boston's Boys Life were at least something of an exception.  You can probably chalk that up to Neal Sugarmen, whose reeds don't overpower so much as augment.  The trio was definitely on the left-of-the-dial level, frequently bearing a pop acumen.  Sonically, Boys Life impress me as being a bit advanced for their time, and in all honesty, I would have pegged this record as a product of 1987-88 rather than five years prior.  And is it just me or does frontman John Surette remind you of Gray Matter/3/Senator Flux singer Geoff Turner?  Pure coincidence of course.

01. It Came From Here
02. Water
03. From A to Z
04. Happy People
05. True Believers
06. Person I Want to Be

http://www119.zippyshare.com/v/LZO92nZV/file.html

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Muffs - Happy Birthday to Me (1997/2007, WB/Omnivore) - A brief overview.

On the surface, there may not be much to differentiate one Muffs album from another, but the subtleties are there.  After a spate of singles released on tastemaking indie labels like Sympathy for the Record Industry, Kim Shattuck & Co. took their bratty gumption to the next level in 1993, signing to Warner Bros., unleashing a near monumental debut LP, The Muffs.  That record's punky ethos and yearnful, heart-on-sleeve reveries should have extended the then quartet's cult appeal to a national audience, but that would have to wait.  The next Muffs salvo, Blonder and Blonder saw the light of day in 1995, boasting a slight curtailment of their debut's more primal elements, playing up Kim's vague girl-group flirtations without meddling with the Muff's proven recipe.  And for a third act? 

Happy Birthday to Me marked the Muffs last realistic stab at grasping the fabled "brass ring," and it came with a six-figure budget to aid and abet the trio of Shattuck, Ronnie Barnett and Roy McDonald (yes, of Red Kross renown) to crank their turbo pop machine over the top.  Yet the band's third album (and first self-produced) wasn't an out-an-out departure from previous attempts, nor did it extend any palpable commercial overtures.  The Muffs had the accessibility thing down from the get go, but now more than ever they had the songsThe Muffs may have showcased the band at their most iconic and identifiable, however Birthday demonstrated the band's growth, shedding some of the angsty, rough and tumble roar while keeping things plenty sassy.  And yes, there are a lot of love songs on this one (what, you thought there weren't gonna be any?) yet Kim's pen is dipped in irony and even resignation, not so much spite and devastation.  "Is it All Okay," "Where Only I Could Go," and yes, even the pointedly titled "I'm a Dick" all deserve a slot on any Muffs mix tape.

In the grand scheme of things, Happy Birthday didn't exactly shift the needle for the band's fortunes.  I'm not even sure if it outsold the previous records.  The Muffs stint with the WB was over after the album cycle, but more records and tours would follow.  That's consolation in itself I suppose, but the real icing on the dessert?  Twenty years after the fact, the partially feasted on chocolate cake in the inside back page of the booklet looks as scrumptious today as it did then.  Omnivore's 2017 reissue features six album demos to sweeten the deal.  Buy it direct, or move that cursor on over to iTunes or Amazon.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Big Wheel - East End (1989, Giant)

After Louisville, KY punk wunderkinds Squirrel Bait split in the late '80s, throaty vocal sorcerer Peter Searcy invested his efforts into the demonstrably more lucid Big Wheel.  The quartet subscribed to a comparatively standard rock n rule schematic, occasionally spiked with the slightly frenetic tincture of S/B...just don’t get your hopes up if you're pining for another Skag Heaven.  Frankly, Big Wheel were innocuous riff-brokers, but if you’re taken with Searcy’s singular timbre, the band infuse just enough groove into the proceedings to keep things afloat.  I'm not sure what's up with them titling a song "Metallica" that has absolutely no relevance to the band (though I have to admit, it shreds harder than anything else on here).  Bit of a head scratcher I suppose.  East End was followed up by two more Big Wheel volumes, Holiday Manor and Slowtown.

01. Bang, Bang, Bang
02. Model Home
03. Times You Need to Think
04. Big legged Woman
05. Erect Song
06. Time of Your Life
07. Sound so Familiar
08. Body and Soul
09. Billboard Song
10. Half of Everything
11. Spanish Salsa
12. Metallica

http://www74.zippyshare.com/v/u7yMtQ4E/file.html

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Maybe your tin cans could just cut right through this sand.

Primo Brit-pop too impeccable to be uttered in the same breath as Oasis and Blur.  This was issued in 2004, but contains material dating back to 1995.

Here

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Arctic Circles - Time ep (1986, Mr. Spaceman)

The title of this record involves something I'm well short of these days, but I digress.  I have no relevant info to offer on the Arctic Circles, a bygone Aussie psych/garage band.  Nothing here particularly shakes me up, but superficially, you'll encounter ample Hammond organ.  At times, these guys strike me as a more serious variation on say, Inspiral Carpets.  Make of the Arctic Circles what you will.

01. Time
02. W.A.S.P.
03. My Window
04. Celina
05. Taste

http://www62.zippyshare.com/v/iA2CMh8U/file.html

Thursday, March 9, 2017

86 - Provocation (1987, Twilight)

I made my acquaintance with Atlanta's 86 a good ten years after they disbanded, via an ep titled Minutes in a Day.  Not an overwhelmingly awe-striking record, but the band's Yankee spin on tuneful Brit post-punk put their foot in my door, so to speak.  After said revelation, it would be eons before I excavated any further 86 ventures, but low and behold the follow-up to Minutes, 1987's Provocation eventually found it's way into my hands.  What a difference a year can make between records.  Provocation still bore a decent chunk of 86's collective worship of clangy, Anglo crown jewels C.S. Angels and the like, but the album was equally informed by a more dissonant quotient of American indie-rawk:  The Wipers, Nice Strong Arm and an assortment of lesser names that would crop up on imprints such as Homestead Records.  This recipe tempts delightfully on paper, but in practice...  It's still a recommendable album, but you might be better off sticking to side two (tracks 6-11).  You can peruse much more detailed text on 86 here and Beyond Failure blog, who are hosting the bulk, if not all of their discography.

01. New Pair of Eyes
02. The City
03. Shade of Black
04. Seven Weeks and One Day
05. Kings Mountain
06. Eyeless
07. Sonambo
08. Wondering
09. Getaway
10. Inside
11. Wheel of Confusion

http://www73.zippyshare.com/v/tT94IVDn/file.html

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The only thing worse than bad memories is no memories at all.

From 1999.  One of the coolest and most creative albums to close out the twentieth century.  This one's a bit of an acquired taste.

Here

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Greg Kihn Band - Next of Kihn (1978, Beserkley)

For what it's worth, it's long perturbed me that aside from two sizable hit singles that are still in classic rock rotation ("The Breakup Song" and "Jeopardy") there seems to be a complete media blackout on the Greg Kihn Band.  I don't get it.  The dude had far more hits than the aforementioned, not to mention a keen kihn commercial accessibility that played effectively to both the AOR masses, and us power pop types.  Most artists of his stature have enjoyed exhaustive album reissues/expansions, but save for a best-of or two Kihn's catalog has languished out of print.  In fact, the GKB's debut Next of Kihn made it into the digital era for what seemed like two minutes.  I don't get this.  Really don't get this.  Why do they want to deprive this man of a legacy and kill off the memory of his band?

Truth be told, Next of Kihn is a mixed bag, with some lengthier pieces that may have seemed ok when the record was tracked in '78, but don't quite translate forty years after the fact.  It's the more concise cuts that do the trick for me - "Sorry," as well as the absolutely pumping "Cold Hard Cash" and "Museum."  Maybe not the textbook definition of power pop, but they truly don't write 'em like this anymore.

Incidentally, a new Kihn album is slated for later this year.

01. Cold Hard Cash
02. Museum
03. Remember
04. China Town
05. Sorry
06. Everybody Else
07. Understander
08. Secret Meetings

http://www49.zippyshare.com/v/iYtp1B2I/file.html

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Glass Penguins - Raspberry (1987, Green Monkey)

This cassette album from a good three decades ago will be of interest a got lot of you.  Not due so much to the renown of Glass Penguins prime mover Michael Cox, but some of his collaborators, including Kurt Bloch (Fastbacks), Scott McCaughey & Chuck Carroll (Young Fresh Fellows) and last but not least Jon Auer of The Posies who co-engineered Raspberry.  By and large this is Michael's baby, with the aforementioned primarily playing background roles.  No true blue revelations here, but all and all a pretty good tape that sonically pursues DIY, bedroom/power pop avenues. The opening "Girl I've Never Met" and later, "Out of the Rain" might mesh appropriately on an early Game Theory record, "I'm Sure" is brisk, assured acousti-pop, and "Out of the Rain" packs plenty of kickin' propulsive panache.  Michael does ample justice to the Knack's "Number and Your Name" and Neil Diamond's "Look Out (Here Come's Tomorrow)."

01. Girl I've Never Met
02. Shadow of a Fish
03. Your Time
04. Out of the Rain
05. Fine to Me
06. I'm Sure
07. Number or Your Name
08. She Moves Me
09. Look Out (Here Come's Tomorrow)
10. Pull Yourself Together
11. It's Never Too Late

http://www58.zippyshare.com/v/ftyKxsn3/file.html

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The family that plays together...

Just over a month ago I expelled a little verbiage on the latest album from singer/songwriter mainstay Jeremy Morris, who's been pumping out a bevy of pop-centric records since the '80s.   These days, collaborations are more his thing, as was the case with 2016's Hit You With a Flower, credited to The Jeremy Band.  Increasingly, Jeremy doesn't have to stretch out very far for willing collaborators, as a flock of them live under his own roof and share his surname.  Some of his offspring have even spun-off with their own tune savvy pursuits.

The Lemon Clocks, for better or worse, are not models for what I've spelled out above above, as the lineup entails Jeremy and couple of unrelated chaps, Todd Borsch and Stefan Johansson.  This retro-fitted trio are unabashed purveyors of '60s psychedelic and Brit Invasion rock, tossing in just about every trippy indulgence of that era into the fray, save for a theremin.  Tones of the Byrds, the Hollies and Syd-era Pink Floyd all waft their way into the Clocks intoxicating elixir, uncannily sounding like the genuine article.  The band's second album,Time to Fly dropped in 2015 and is a doozy.

Jeremy's son Peter doesn't put on any throwback airs, instead embracing a more contemporary motif via his trio Cardboard Highway.  Their full length debut, Reach, commences with "Washboard," a downcast, but melodic post-punk stunner that allures with a tingly guitar bit and gets exponentially better by the second.  Death Cab For Cutie wishes they still had the chops to produce something this visceral.   The remainder of the oft atmospheric Reach ebbs and flows, albeit not as consistently persuasive as the aforementioned "Washboard."  Nonetheless Cardboard Highway have all the corrugated components in place for a sturdier second act. 

The Glowfriends charmingly twee moniker belies a considerably more pensive and sophisticated modus operandi.  Those acquainted with this Kalamazoo, MI collective will no doubt speak of their dreampop tendencies, but on their fourth disk, Gather Us Together, the distortion factor is dialed back, instead eliciting a similar tact to the Spinanes and '90s Yo La Tengo.  Helmed by Jeremy's daughter April Zimont (alongside brother Mark) The Glowfriends resonant indie-pop ranges from placid to playful, eschewing any of their chosen genre's tricky pretensions and hangups, resulting in their most rewarding and accomplished foray to date.  Highly recommended.

...And we come full circle with the man that literally helped make all of this music a reality.  The Jeremy Band's All Over the World, is a re-visitation of Mr. Morris' back pages, the bulk of which were tracked live in San Diego, 2013.  Alongside his erstwhile chums Dave Dietrich and Todd Borsch, World is a family affair with the touring version of The Jeremy Band expanded by next-of-kin Peter, Mark and April.  Touching on back catalog favorites like "Pop Rules" "I Want to be With You" and "Chain Reaction," with a couple new ones sprinkled in, the record makes a solid case for Jeremy's near-lifelong tenure and functions as an ideal place for neophytes to grab an earful.

All of these titles and more are available straight from the source at Jam Records, where you can sample all the album's herein discussed.  Have at it!