This bygone Berkeley, CA unit bears no shortage of affinity for the Minutemen and Gang of Four's brand of skittish, post-punk. I'd like to say Ten Tall Men (truthfully, a much more scaled down trio of questionable height) bear an innovative streak a mile wide, but sadly, that would be a stretch. At the very least, Nickelbrain offers six, two and a half minute bursts of angular persuasion with challenging syncopation, and occasionally even a sprinkling of catchiness to boot.
01. Nowhere but Down
03. Hit the Road
04. What Are Friends For?
05. Your Time Will Come
06. We All Want Just What We Can't Have
You might say I'm sharing this partly for superficial reasons. I have some rather lofty stacks of cassettes on my dresser, and this one has been sitting in the midst of one of those piles for several years, having gone largely unlistened to. Well, I finally got tired of staring at it every day and decided to digitize it, file it away in a shoebox...and of course, offer it to you. I believe I bought this one in a lot of demo tapes, and in fact had no familiarity with this band prior. Trikona Frame were a female-fronted quintet who ostensibly called Akron, OH home. No pertinent info is available on them in the digital realm, and they strike me as a classic "cold case." both their moniker and cassette sleeve fascinate me to no end. The music enshrined within, not so much, but still considerably unique. These Buckeye co-eds have a roots rock fervor to them, flirting with rockabilly on occasion. The singer (whose full name isn't disclosed) exudes a quasi-performance art tact. Think the Waitresses' with less charm and halfway-there hooks. "Waterfall" is the closest they delve into conventional 'wave,' and frankly, I could have gone for more of this particular mode, but what we get is what we get. Make of Trikona Frame what you will.
01. White Fish
03. Turn 13
04. Nice Weather
07. Pretty Feet
These cheeky lil doggies function more along the lines of a Dalmatian than say, a German Shepard. This, their apparently lone 12" is more ironic than rambunctious, not unlike a cozier spin on what DEVO were peddling around the same era. Sonically, the Pups were patently a product of their era, but less than gratuitous about propagating it. Fun is Right's highlight is the nifty "Public Buildings" a synthy mid-tempo piece vaguely smacking of Gary Numan. Unfortunately, it immediately leads into the ridiculous "Cat Food." Side two wins the consistency contest, despite "Worst In Me" winding things down on a lukewarm note. In short, half stimulating, with the latter at least warranting a cursory listen. Enjoy (or not).
Just about every year (or two) a rather unique musical package comes down that pike that few people in the world are aware of. Luckily a decent chunk us are Pengwins fans, and we're fully down with the program. As a means of archiving (and now disseminating) the recordings of his locally vaunted power pop act, Lannie Flowers has done something unique with his Pengwins catalog, by reissuing one vintage song from their original late '70s incarnation and placing it on a 7" disk, pairing it with a considerably more recent recording. But merely releasing a "single" won't suffice...so how about decking that 45 out in a full color box containing photos, a CD of the single with extra audio goodies, a download card, liner notes, and some appropriately associated paraphernalia? They've done it again with Volume 4 of this incredibly rewarding series, and if the swag isn't enticing alone how 'bout the tunes? The a-side, the 2007 recorded the Danny Wilkerson penned "Go Away" is as fine as anything they've committed to tape, sounding like something Cheap Trick would have been proud to put their stamp on back in their '70s/early '80s heyday. And speaking of the '70s, the ballad-esque "oldie" on the flip, "Just a Dream" circulates back to 1977. The CD also tacks on an alternate mix of "Go Away" and "Ladybug," an early iteration of "Just a Dream." The whole enchilada is available from Spyderpop Records. For more details on the Pengwins reissues series, check out one of our earlier entries here.
It’s not the core TripWire lineup of Marty Schneider and
Bill Hunt that garnered my attention
, so much as the new buck that’s been welcomed into the fold, none other than Jeff Shelton of Well Wishers and Spinning
Jennies renown.To my understanding, the San Fran-based Trip
Wire had already carved out a power pop reputation for themselves, and with
Shelton on deck that proposition has been further cemented on the band’s
sophomore long-player, Cold Gas Giants.In fact,
the selections here the man in question belly’s up to the mic for, “I’m Not the
Enemy” and “Growing Old” bear a discernibly crunchy, riff-rock penchant.To a certain extent, Shelton’s contributions
stand in contrast to much of the remainder of CGG, an album that finds this combo finagling with various accoutrements
from horns to a string section.Schneider is the one who predominantly wields
the Trip Wire songwriting quill, and he’s wont to operate in a traditional
singer/songwriter context.The band gets by capably, and even exudes some
diversity, but I have to wonder how much more of a treat Cold Gas Giants would have amounted to if they opted to color outside the
lines every now and then.You can hear
and purchase it for yourself through Bandcamp, Kool Kat Music, and Amazon.
My apologies for another unconscionably long music drought. Will try to get to some re-ups later this weekend, and potentially a review or two. For now I can offer you this. The Modes were DIY pop-meisters from Boston who straddled that utterly fine line between new wave and power pop, in warm, often slightly cheeky fashion. By the mid-80s they secured a major label contract...which ultimately fell through. A breakup ensued, but not before The Modes cut a dozen or so tracks as demos which were resuscitated from aging master tapes for this collection. There's a couple of clunkers amidst otherwise promising material in this enticing fifteen song set. Original copies of may still be available here.
01-I Just Wanna Hear From You
02-What to Do What to Feel
05-I Only Want to be Wanted
07-Fight Me Off
08-Live Like You're Gonna Die Tomorrow
10-How Can We Say Goodbye
11-Please Make Me Wanna Care
12-How'd We Ever Get so Girl Crazy?
13-You're in Trouble
14-Try My Best
15-A New Marionette
A new Flamin' Groovies album doesn't come along every year. Or even every decade. That being said, will once in a century work for you? Improbable as it may seem, 2017 brings a brand new Groovies album, Fantastic Plastic, reuniting the band's key songsmiths/players Cyril Jordan and Chris Wilson. In fact, it's been almost four entire decades since that duo operated in tandem (even the 1991 Groovies disk, Rock Juice only entailed Cyril).
For those of you in the audience who may not quite be enlightened to whom these gents are, the Flamin' Groovies christened their collective ship in the mid '60s in San Francisco, but they bore little to nothing in common with the Haight-Ashbury contingents of the day. Bypassing psychedelia and flower-power in favor of back to basics roots rock, the Groovies eventually settled on a garage-cum-proto power pop penchant releasing six albums up until the late '70s, culminating in their rightfully lauded and visceral signature piece, "Shake Some Action."
Longtime aficionados of this combo would be well within their right minds if they concluded that Fantastic Plastic barely emanates the tenor of the Groovies original incarnation. After all, Jimmy Carter was in the White House when these guys were still at it full time. Instead, what you can purloin on Fantastic are occasional shades and colorings of their former selves if only infrequently. "Cryin Shame" and "I Want You Bad" (the latter an NRBQ cover) reacquaint us with the Groovies resonant jangle of yore. You might say these songs in particular hearken back to "First Plane Home," a breezy, mid-tempo endeavor from the band's halcyon era. Otherwise Cyril and Co. are starting off with a veritable clean slate. The opening "What the Hell's Going On" is a sweet, Stonesy jaunt that plays out more convincingly than anything Mick and Keef have doled out in the last thirty years, and sprite "Crazy Macy" is the closest they come to replicating their ragin' vintage aplomb.
Fantastic will surely reaffirm a good quotient of the Groovies old school faithful - and that's exactly who this record is tailored to. Millennials be damned. You can hook yourself up with a copy over at Severn Records, Amazon, and iTunes.
I've previously featured the Liquor Giants second album, the splendid Here on these pages before, but have been hesitant to post anything from their later catalog, as it was still available digitally. For whatever the reason that's no longer the case with their two Matador Records LPs, Liquor Giants (1996) and the record that followed two years later, which is what you're looking at/hearing now. LG golden throat and prime-mover Ward Dotson was an alum of the Gun Club, a critically acclaimed Los Angeles outfit who's pastiche was significantly derived from the blues and rockabilly. Their debut, Fire of Love comes recommended from yours truly, but I'm digressing here. Ward's proverbial Liquor cabinet wasn'tstocked with boozy roots rock, so much as straight-up guitar pop that often fell somewhere between Tom Petty (yep, that guy again) and Wilco. The self titled third album never sank in with me, but the Liquor Giants found themselves right back in their melodic groove on Every Other Day..., featuring many a prizewinner like "Dearest Darling," "Caroline," and "Kentucky Lounge." If not an out-an-out classic this one's a sheer pleaser, and the closest they would venture to achieving their utmost potential. Though several minutes long, track fifteen was an entirely blank placeholder, and thus I omitted it. The remainder consists of a sharp reading of the Move's "Fire Brigade," while the unidentifiable concluding track strikes me as being another cover, though I'm stumped at what it's title is. Feel free to chime in.
01. It's Raining Butterflies
02. Beautiful Flo
03. What's the new Mofo?
04. Dearest Darling
05. Kentucky Darling
06. I'll Never Mind
07. Medicine Ball Games
08. Multicoloured Hipsnake
10. It Only Hurts When I Smile
11. Riverdale High 12. Caroline
13. I Know I'm Wrong
14. Summer School
16. Fire Brigade
17. title unknown
I think you'd be hard pressed to find rock and roll aficionados who came up in the seventies and/or eighties that didn't have some sort of inclination for Tom Petty (with or without the Heartbreakers). I was never a super-fan of his, but that's fine because he had accorded plenty already. In fact, I didn't start exploring TP&H albums in their entirety until quite recently. Like Springsteen or Dylan, it didn't take a complete absorption of his entire body of work to have sincere admiration towards Petty's strenuous integrity and consoling presence. I didn't have much of an affinity for his later records, or even for much of what he churned out in the waning years of the twentieth century. I hardly feel guilty about that, because there were still enough songs I had a connection to. Plaintive songwriters who reach mass audiences make that connection with fans millions of times over, and as such, more discriminating ears like my own take those artists for granted and opt to explore less traveled paths and environs. Nonetheless, news of his death cut deep. After all, this was someone who'd been creating music for the entirety of my existence, and had been in my consciousness for a good 75% of that time.
He left us with a lot - the vast majority of which I'm not at liberty to share, but at any rate I can give you this. Tracked at the Record Plant in Sausalito, CA (one of three recording studios by the same name owned by Gary Kellgren and Chris Stone) this set was recorded live in studio with a very modest and intimate crowd in attendance, later to be broadcast on KSAN radio out of 'frisco. Cut between the first TP&H album and You're Gonna Get It, the seven songs presented here may not be the complete set, but this is the incarnation floating around. It features a preview of YGGI's "I Need to Know," and the semi-precious stone "Surrender," one of the band's high water marks. R.I.P. Mr. Integrity.
02. band intros - American Girl
03. Fooled Again (I Don't Like It)
04. I Need to Know
05. Strangered in the Night
06. Dog on the Run
07. Route 66
I'm afraid I will not be able to offer you Mystery Monday this week, as my computer is currently out of commission. I hope to return later this week. I also want to apologize for the minimal amount of weekly content I've been offering as well. Will try to remedy that soon. Thanks for your patience.
It's been a long time between posts everyone, my apologies. I hope this makes up for it. What we have here is a hypothetical GBV album, one that would have probably slotted in between Devil Between My Toes and Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia. The fourteen songs presented here eventually found their way onto Self-Inflicted, and much later on rarities and outtakes collections including the Suitcase series. After the jump is an explanation (provided by gbvdb.com) penned by Robert Griffin of Scat Records, the label Learning to Hunt was slated to be issued on. If you are unfamiliar with anything Robert Pollard and his varying guild of compatriots were up to prior to such seminal favorites as Propeller and Bee Thousand, this is actually a handy and often satisfying way to acquaint yourself with early Guided By Voices. This album (that never quite was) contains some of the burgeoning band's most affecting songs, included but not limited to "Paper Girl," "We've got Airplanes" and "Liar's Tale."
From Robert Griffin (Scat Records): "Of course there may have been a few
different sequences, but Learning to Hunt goes like this (according to a
cassette Bob gave me when we were putting together the first Box). I
don't know where the side break would go. A few of the songs wound up on
Self Inflicted..." Also, this: "Below are the sequenced track lists for
Back to Saturn X and Learning to Hunt, direct from the cassettes that
Bob gave me when we were putting together the King Shit... LP. I'm not
sure where the side breaks would have been, Bob didn't indicate that on
the j-cards. Both of these records were totally ready to be put into
production - edited master tapes, completed artwork, but in each case
Bob decided at the last minute that were fatally flawed and 'shitcanned'
them." (Note: see the separate Back To Saturn X for that aborted LP's
01. Taco, Buffalo, Birddog and Jesus
02. Blue Gil
03. Slopes of Big Ugly
04. Paper Girl
05. Turbo Boy
06. Soul Flyers
07. Let's Go Vike
08. Dust Devil
09. Uncle Dave
10. Settlement Down
11. The Qualifying Remainder
12. Liar's Tale
13. We've Got Airplanes
14. Short on Posters
Recently had a request for this one. It was originally hosted on another blog, but my understanding is that the link is long dead. At any rate, this isn't the first Pop Art product I've shared before. I'm still hosting the records that sandwich this one, namely a self-titled ep and their second full length, Long Walk to Nowhere. A Perfect Metal Picture might be their best, filled with wall to wall Anglophile pop homage - only Pop Art hailed from L.A....and had fake Brit accents. This will be pleasant surprise for those of you who are craving the second coming of Aztec Camera, or Postcard Records type bands. Enjoy (or not)
02. The Party
03. The Meeting
04. October Wind
05. Wanted Man
07. Walrus of Love
08. Trapped in a Fire
10. Four Long Days
11. Sunshine Club
12. Anxious Call
13. The Porch
14. In Between
So much has been written and anthologized about Chris Bell that I'm bound to sound redundant regardless of what length I limit myself to, so maybe I'll keep this on the brief side. For the uninitiated Bell was a Memphis songwriter/musician who made his mark in the local scene in the late '60s via little known collaborations Icewater and Rock City. By 1971 he hooked up with ex-Box Top Alex Chilton who along with Andy Hummel and Jody Stephens formed the heralded proto-power pop quartet Big Star. Bell factored in prominently on Big Star's debut, #1 Record, with a co-songwriting roll alongside Chilton, significantly contributing to the overarching tenor of the album, featuring the aching but strenuous "Feel" and the feel-good "In the Street." Departing the band acrimoniously in 1972, Bell spent the next six years of his life making a name for himself in his own right with little to show for it, - that is while he was still alive. He passed away in late 1978 in a car accident, leaving an unreleased album's worth of material on the reel. Big Star's legend posthumously grew in stature in the 1980s and beyond, and with it a series of reissues saw the light of day in 1992, among them Chris Bell's solo recordings, compiled under the title I Am the Cosmos. This month Omnivore Records have issued an expanded version of the album, along with a vinyl box set featuring his entire solo recorded output and pre-Big Star endeavors.
If Bell's contributions to the first Big Star album gave us a peephole view into his soul, I Am the Cosmos offers a vast window into the human condition. The title track (released as a single during his lifetime) is a forlorn and wrenching romantic lament revealing the extent of his conflicted psyche. The opposite side of that 45, "You and Your Sister" cuts the tension, but exudes no shortage of Bell laying it all out on the line for a woman who has misgivings about him. "Fight at the Table" is a fun piano driven rocker that shows his capabilities in less angstier realms, while the born-again "Better Save Yourself" makes it's point without getting preachy. And would you believe I've only touched on one third of the album? There's no doubt that Bell struggle with depression and his inability to further his career in his lifetime factored into the overarching themes on Cosmos, themes that would in fact be adopted by generations of jaded listeners.
You'd be forgiven if you have "reissue fatigue" in regards to I Am the Cosmos. After all, this double disk reissue follows up yet another two CD reassessment of the album, specifically the Rhino Records edition from less than ten years ago. Omnivore's expansion actually cleaves off a handful of Icewater and Rock City tracks, which in fairness were recently moved over to the Chris Bell pre-Big Star collection, Looking Forward. So what are we getting in exchange? Essentially more of what we love, in the form of copious alternate takes, mixes and backing tracks of the precious few original songs Bell left us. All of the extras might be getting too far in the weeds for more casual fans, but then again, are there really any "casual" Chris Bell fans? See for yourself, straight from Omnivore or Amazon.
Just for the record, in the post-Replacements sweepstakes let it be known that Tommy Stinson'sBash & Pop debut Friday Night is Killing Me beat Paul Westerberg's premiere solo juncture 14 Songs to the clock by a good half a year in 1993. I suppose if you want to get really technical, Paul had his two songs on the Singles soundtrack a year prior, and of course their was original Mats drummer Chris Mars who released his first solo disk, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades in 1992, but I digress. All competitiveness aside, The newly reissued and vastly expanded Friday Night.. floored virtually anyone who encountered it. Thing is, this record had a lot going against it at the time - veritably overshadowed in an era of high-stakes grunge, metal and the emerging Brit-pop movement. Secondly, despite his reputation as founding member of the Replacements, he was after all the bassist and a minimally contributing songwriter.
In essence, the prospect of a Tommy Stinson spinoff project didn't quite garner or match the anticipation of Westerberg's 14 Songs. Luckily, Tommy had connections to ex-Mats fill-in drummer Steve Foley and Wire Train's Jeff Trott who not only helped flesh out the ranks, but infused Friday Night with a ferociousness that could rival the latter-era Mats' live setup. Comparisons to his former meal ticket are inevitable (and I'll even broach one of my own in a minute), but to my ears it sounds like Tommy had profoundly studied Keith Richards 1988 solo outing Talk is Cheap. In terms of further inspiration antecedents, Stephen Thomas Erlewine's All Musiccritique of Bash & Pop entails multiple references to the Faces. A more than valid argument, but much akin to Richards/Stones and the Faces, B&P plays their hand rambunctiously as-all-get-out yet never quite careens off the rails. It takes a certain acumen to balance rough hewn with roughshod, and Stinson and Co. possess just the right skill set to put this kind of magic off. Friday Night is chockablock with rollicking, seemingly tossed-off wonders like "Hang Ups" and "Fast and Hard," the latter with Paul Westerberg on backing vox. Elsewhere, "One More Time" might have slotted in on the Mat's Pleased to Meet Me, and the boysstrike a more consoling tone on the tamer "Nothing" and "First Steps."
Between Tommy's next endeavor, Perfect, a decade-plus stint with a reconstituted Guns N' Roses, and even a Replacements reunion, it would be another 24 years for Bash & Pop to belly up to the bar with a follow-up (check out this year's Anything Could Happen). Regardless of the prolonged layover, Friday Night stood as a testament to Stinson's capabilities as a frontman and song scribe, and remarkably stands up over twenty years later. Omnivore Record's reissue of the album in question is duly remastered, but the gravy is an 18-song bonus disc that commences with a quartet of solo home demos. These lead into a handful of studio outtakes, some only appearing on hard to find promotional 45s. The majority of the remaining tracks are a bevy of alternate takes, many none-too-discernible from the album versions, though an extra-strummy spin of "Tiny Pieces" stands out. You can buy the whole enchalada straight from Omnivore, Amazon, and hopefully a local brick and mortar record dive near you.
It's amazing that a relatively "minor" piece of music recorded almost three decades ago made the kind of effect on me this tape did a couple of days ago when I went to play it for the first time. I think I received Our American Cousins demo a few years back in a bundle of cassettes I purchased on Ebay. I went into this with little to no expectations. To my surprise I was treated to a quartet of dazzling mid-fidelity pop tunes from a New Jersey coed troupe who by the sounds of things had their collective gaze fixed upon the Brit indie pop scene of the late '80s. You know - early Primal Scream, maybe some June Brides, a whiff or two of those early Ride eps. Dabblings into shoegazer and even punk-pop make themselves faintly evident as well. Top it all off with a hint of grainy sonic mystique, and by Jove, we may have picked a winner. Per their Discogs tally, OAC released a bundle of singles, but alas, no full length. The opening cut, "One Wish Too Many" has a pesky audio dropout at around the one minute mark, but it looks like the tune materialized on one of their 45s. As of 2014 it looks like the group reunited.
More Massachusetts tuneage for you, only these lads weren't from Boston, rather a little further west in Northampton. What few references that exist online regarding The Elevators invariably attach the new wave tag to this quintet, but power pop is more applicable. Adopting the more gimmicky attributes of The Cars and Cheap Trick, it's pretty clear a few songs into Frontline that the Elevators are not cut from austere cloth. There's something cheeky afoot on this record, but a more ironic angle would have made this one stick out a little more. Lines like "Love is like wearing a rayon shirt/making me itch and making me sweat" are about as deep as these folks get. Frontline doesn't offer much in the way of knockouts, but fortunately it's a record that will capably stimulate fans of Tommy Tutone, The A's and the Clocks.
02. Girlfriend's Girlfriend
03. Stop the World
04. Stickball Kids
05. Lie Detector
06. Don't Let me Die
07. Tropical Fish
11. On the Wire
Thursday morning I learned that Grant Hart, drummer and co-vocalist of my all time favorite band, Husker Du, had passed away from cancer, a diagnosis I was ignorant to up until the announcement. That plain-clothed power-trio from Minneapolis set me on the most exciting and visceral musical trajectory of my life. They opened many a door for me. I never witnessed Husker Du live, but had the opportunity to spend some time with Grant Hart, and am grateful for having the privilege of doing so.
The truth is, I had a closer affinity to Bob Mould's post-Husker endeavors than Grant's. Still, every record he put his stamp on was at the very least worth investigating. The self-titled second album from Grant's next band, Nova Mob, was well above average and worthy of the kind of copious praise heaped upon Sugar and Bob's early solo records. It's also the most guitar-oriented album Grant was involved with outside of Husker Du. Some outright great songs present - "Old Empire," "Little Miss Information" and "Shoot Your Way to Freedom." Many Hart related releases preceded and followed Nova Mob, but it's the closest he would come to perfection in his own right. It's quite sobering to know that the voice behind these songs, and so many classics like "Green Eyes," "Sorry Somehow" and "Turn on the News" has been silenced. Rest in peace, Admiral of the Sea
01. Old Empire
02. Shoot Your Way To Freedom
05. See and Feel and Know
06. Little Miss Information
07. I Won't Be There Anymore
08. Please Don't Ask
09. The Sins of Their Sons
10. Beyond A Reasonable Doubt
11. If I Was Afraid
12. Not Talking About
13. Evergreen Memorial Drive
Info on this Iowa City trio is pretty scant, but a brief primer can be found here. I believe Brad Jones (ostensibly the Boys frontman, though I can't confirm) eventually went on to record a solo disk for Big Deal Records a decade after Big House hit the racks. As for Boys With Toys proper, they struck a pretty reasonable compromise between power pop and rootsy rockabilly. Their "pop" angle loosely resembled the Romantics and Plimsouls...but I wouldn't get too excited. "Every Young Boys Heart" and "Ain't No Picture Show" twirl my knob the most. Enjoy (or not).
01. Every Young Boys Heart
02. Cold Grey Morning
03. I Been Dreamin' too
04. Ain't No Picture Show
05. Holdin' On
06. Two by Two
07. In The Mood for Me
08. Oh Oh, No No
09. Rockin' and Rollin'
10. Don't Put Your Perfume on Tonight
My apologies if it seems like I've been phoning it in lately. Hopefully in the near future I'll be able to provide you with a "normal" amount of content again. Until then I have this. Workbook was Bob Mould's first album after dissolving Husker Du in the tail end of 1987 (or was it early 1988). That band veritably changed my life and musical trajectory. It surprised a lot of people when Bob returned to music with an unabashedly acoustic endeavor. By coincidence, Workbook was very much in the same league as Richard Thompson, another acoustic-y singer/songwriter. At any rate, here are eight drum machine-driven sketches for the album in question (some of which btw never gestated past the demo stage). Dare I say an audio workbook for a Workbook?
01. Brasilia Crossed With Trenton
02. If You're True
04. Wishing Well
05. Walls in Time
06. Heartbreak a Stranger
07. Dreaming I Am
Hard to believe an indie band of any stripe would become more inspired upon making the jump to a major label. Nevertheless, Urge Overkill, Surgery, and what's that other one...oh yeah, Nirvana, all seemed to gain a stronger sonic/lyrical foothold when the big boys rang the dinner bell. This phenomenon could be pure coincidence, but I'd lump Walt Mink into that elitefold, with their lone Atlantic Records release, El Producto. Their third proper album, Producto yielded little in the way of hits (thanks in part to a nil-promotional push), but in terms of proficiency and hook saviness it's probably the most convincing album of their tenure. From the buzzy power pop of "Betty," the dexterous guitar splay of the uncanny "Overgrown," to the bowl-em-over thrash pop scorcher "Little Sister," you'd be hard pressed to claim this lil' rekid doesn't persuade in one way or another. Gotta love those arpeggiated guitar fills too. Make sure to check out our previous Walt Mink entry surrounding a pair of early demo albums here.
01. Stood Up
02. Everything Worthwhile
06. Me & My Dog
07. Little Sister
08. Up & Out
10. Listen Up
11. Sunshine M
12. Love in the Dakota
In 2009, I offered you no small amount of music/insight regarding Richmond, VA's Fudge, whose weirded-out spin on dream pop was nothing less than sublime on a spate of early singles and an often phenomenal debut, The Ferocious Rhythm of Precise Laziness. By the time of that particular album (1993) the whole shoegazer shtick was getting a little predictable, but I'll be damned if this crew didn't incorporate something a little indigenous into the recipe - something I was never quite able to put my finger on. What a difference a year made. By the time of their '94 follow-up, Southside Speedway, the band had eschewed a lot of that crazy cool haze and tremolo - a development that was a bit of a bummer at first blush. I have to wonder how many Fudge-istas threw in the towel after checking out SS for the first time. I know I was almost tempted to, but I persisted and grew into it in almost no time. On an album that turned out to be their swan song, Southside tilted heavily in the vicinity of American indie rock, with signposts pointing to Superchunk and Monsterland. There are a few instances of dissonant dross on this bad boy, but thankfully there's plenty of equally primo material that any combo of their ilk would be more than proud of. But don't take my word for it. Check out "Patty Hearst Machine Gun," "Superstar Junky," and "Our Francis III," just a handful of excellent songs that transcend any genre-fication Fudge were saddled with (for better or worse). BTW, the links to most of my previous Fudge entries have been fixed.
01. Tree Fort Stash
02. Dart GT
03. It's Morning, Already
04. Patty Hearst Machine Gun
05. Our Francis III
06. Southside Speedway
07. Feather Splitter
08. Lucky's Tightest T-Shirt
09. Car Stereo Blast Off
10. Superstar Junky
11. Shirts & Skins
For better or worse (most likely the latter) we're right smack dab in the middle of the week where I have little or nothing on the burner ready to fire. Hopefully I'll have my act together in a few days, but until then, here's another selection from my dwindling folder of Guided by Voices rarities and curios. This is the band's installment in the Kit Kat Acoustic Break series. These live, in-studio sessions originated from the mid-90s and were pressed up on CD and sent to college radio stations for weekly airplay. You'll no doubt recognize host, Pat Dinizio from Smithereens renown. His approach was anti-climactic at best, but he was at least hip to GBV. I don't have an original copy of the disk, but I was able to find a digitized version of the set, presumably taped from an FM radio broadcast. It's the Mag Earwig lineup of GBV (Doug Gillard, etc), nipping on the heels of the "classic" lineup (Tobin Sprout, Mitch Mitchell, etc). And yes, Pollard and Co. managed to maintain their sobriety for the entirety of the set. Am not quite sure if that's a plus or a minus, but anyway.
Seven songs: Quicksilver, Not Behind the Fighter Jet, Bulldog Skin, Choking Tara, My Impression Now, Now to War and Teenage FBI.
Here's yet another slab of vintage wax that I honestly can't recall acquiring - not that I'm complaining. I do have some modest complaints with the music enshrined within however, 99% of which I can attribute to Intra Muros' primary mouthpiece, Julie Willing, whose attempted Siouxsie Sioux impersonation frequently escalates to those pesky operatic trills that really grate on my nerves. Thankfully she functions at a more modest keel on a decent portion of Parmesan, alongside her three male compatriots. The Muros were through-and-through post punk, Anglo-indebted as all-get-out, with signposts pointing squarely not only to Siouxsie but early Cure. Furthermore, I'll be darned if guitarist John Broderick and bass plucker Mark Romero didn't purloin a morsel or two from New Order focal points Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook. In spite of Parmesan's, not so cheesy goth-y aplomb, a few anomalies like "President Jim" and "The Future" sidestep this motif revealing that this Huntington Beach, CA crew had some insight into what was transpiring on their own side of the pond. Cool.
01. 33 RPM
02. Manifest Destiny
03. 269 Birds
05. Within the Walls
07. President Jim
08. Too Much Sun
09. The Future
I usually don't gravitate anywhere near a record with an "olides" or "swing" bent regardless of how conservatively those m.o.'s might be employed, but I suppose I'll make an exception for this one. Incognito Rockers were a lively co-ed six-piece, presumably from southern Cali, who dish out a couple beauts on here that are precisely in said vein. "Kiss It" is a risque throwback that's one milkshake short of a sock hop. "Just As Much Charm" is another malt shop slammer, doubly as catchy as the aforementioned. Elsewhere, "Cat and Mouse"is a Blondie-ish snyth rocker that would have also fit nicely on one of X's mid-80s platters. Some intermittent saxophone is fittingly wielded on this record, adding that much more to the fun quotient. This one's damn near a blast.
01. Kiss It
02. Cat and Mouse
04. Just As Much Charm
It was touted as a reunion that was likely to never happen, but occasionally hell apparently does indeed freeze over every now and then. November 26, 2004, The House of Blues in Cleveland, OH. That was the date and locale for the reunion of one of the foremost prototypical power pop conglomerations ever to grace a stage. The Raspberries. I'm not sure what accounted for the avoidance of a Raspberries pre-20004 was all about. Perhaps it was rooted in inter-band conflicts, disinterest in the four gentleman involved, or merely the passage of three decades, and the gradual eroding of relevance an epoch like that can levy. Thing is, to fans of the Raspberries the band in question never became irrelevant. Despite the indifference of radio (save for two or three signature songs), the intermittent availability of the quartet's complete catalog (even on their own home turf) or the gradually diminishing profiles of it's alumni, the Raspberries were one of the go-to bands that turn-of-the-millenium adopters of power pop gravitated to after having their minds blown from their posthumous discovery of the first two Big Star albums. Not that the 'berries were the obvious intersecting link between Big Star, and say, The Posies, but you get the idea. By the way, if you're going to plunder inspiration from a trifecta of outfits whose monikers start with a "B" (Beatles, Bafinger, and the Beach Boys) you better make them count. Crica 1970-75, The Raspberries certainly did.
So low and behold. it happened. A Black Friday evening in the so-called Mistake on the Lake saw Eric Carmen, Wally Bryson, David Smalley and Jim Bonfanti gracing the big HOB stage to deliver a two-hour, early Christmas gift to a sold out and anxious audience. On that night, even if the Raspberries decided to pull the plug after ten or eleven songs the crowd would have gotten their money's worth. Or let's say, the four men in question were a bit rusty and worse for the wear. I bet that would've been A-ok for most attendees. And for a final hypothetical, imagine if the group merely ran through their setlist with nary an anecdote or thoughtful gesture to impart on the audience. I'm 99.99% certain their constituency that night would've gladly let it fly.
But imagine if none of those pessimistic scenarios came to pass. As miraculous as it sounds that's exactly the way things went down, and a double CD live document of the gig is captured marvelously on Pop Art Live. Imagine if you will a dream setlist featuring not only every key Raspberries tune (including but not limited to "Overnight Sensation," "I Wanna Be With You," 'Play On," and "Let's Go all the Way") but a teaming slew of deeper cuts from all four albums. There's no less than half a dozen "fits-right-in" covers on top of that, including the fab four's "Baby's in Black," "Ticket to Ride" "No Reply," The Who's reliable "I Can't Explain" and two songs from The Choir, a Raspberries precursor outfit who penned the oft-covered "Cold Outside."
Performance-wise you couldn't hope to encounter a band that was tighter and more on-point than this one, with all four guys sounding more aligned and at the peak of their game than perhaps even the Raspberries heyday. And dig the harmonies, from gentleman who were doing this in their fifties at time of this recording! An inexplicable phenomenon, but if you want the proof it was all captured on tape. Finally, there's a bit of a Storytellers thing evidencing itself on more than a few songs, with Eric and Wally sharing the lion's share of the observations.
Technically, the Cleveland House of Blues show wasn't exactly a one-time event (select shows in other mondo American markets followed) but it was so thorough and definitive, laced with such impeccable, par excellence quality control it would have made for one of the greatest one-off reunion performances ever. That being said, if you missed it, you missed it - but luckily all 28 magic moments that transpired on that stage are now available to experience in a more petite medium, literally at the press of a button. Pop Art Live can be had straight from Omnivore Records, Amazon, iTunes, and hopefully a local music vendor near you.
Three weeks ago I enlightened you with an entry regarding lo-fi outlier Dean Wells, or more specifically his musical alter-ego the Capstan Shafts. You took quite a shine to the 2007 album I shared, Environ Maiden, and voila, here's the followup. In that earlier piece I emphasized Wells affection for Guided By Voices/Robert Pollard's penchant for "leave 'em wanting more" ethos. Brevity is still a watchword on Fixation Protocols, but the overarching effect is less derivative of the Fading Captain. Sometimes that yields songs that are less than immediate, yet wholly rewarding on subsequent go-arounds. In short, expect the artful, just not necessarily the grandiose.
02-Shaky days, bring honey
03-Eyeliner skywriting etc
04-Middles of June
07-What used to become you (now befalls you)
08-Communists in 19th century America
09-A heart that never flies
11-Brightest page in the history of man
12-Her novel 'canal zone poetry'
13-Little world saver
14-Boy to take you nowhere
15-Behemoth to a Flame
16-The Hell With the Days Again
17-The Stunted Kid
19-Squeals of Resignation
20-Song for monometallists
21-The framers blameless enterprise