Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Fossil - s/t (1995, Sire)

*Sigh*  There will not be a second Clinton administration, but musical remnants from the first are still rampant.  Going for a pop angle in the era of punk-cum-metal sludge was a lot like bringing a knife to a proverbial gun fight.  To their credit, Fossil offered some discernible musculature, yet not only did they fail to make it onto the front page, they weren't so much as mentioned in the police blotter in section "C."  Sounding like a loose melange of Jellyfish, Smashing Pumpkins and Smiths, the Bob O'Gureck helmed quartet led their sole album off with a bittersweet, albeit arresting hook-fest in the guise of "Moon."  Safe to say if this doesn't grab you, nary will any other minute of Fossil, but there's further treasure to be excavated - "Martyr's Wife," "Fall," and "You" to name but a few.   Fossil's consoling and mildly enlightened tenor didn't encroach even the remotest fringes of Hitsville, but I'll be damned if it was for lack of anything except good luck.

01. Moon
02. Tim
03. Martyr's Wife
04. Josephine Baker
05. Ocean
06. untitled
07. Thunder Shower
08. Molly
09. Fall
10. Tethered
11. Fiancee
12. you
13. Rebellion
14. Cargo of High Hopes

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sitting in the park, getting high, watching girls go by...

A splendid rock 'n roll platter from 1990.  From punky to serene, and everything in between.


Friday, November 25, 2016

kiaro • skuro - debut tape (1990, Well Primed)

As I proceed to share another "cold case" recording with you something dawned on me.  There's a very voyeuristic aspect to this "sharity" blogging endeavor of mine.  As has been the case with dozens, if not hundreds of subjects I've featured here, I have no personal overlap with kiaro • skuro.  In short, they don't know me, or me them.  This co-ed foursome (possibly from New Jersey) go by a strictly first-name basis, so any attempt to contact them by the usual means is a non-starter.  And since this was a pre-internet offering, there are nary any vital stats to be had on them.  In summation, this elicits a bit of a moral dilemma on my part.  Then again I haven't received much protest over the years, so maybe I shouldn't fret.  Anyway...

From what I'm able to discern kiaro • skuro was actually a band, not an individual,  The moniker strikes me as a tad ethnic, but the tenor of these songs are anything but, recalling the jangly chord-wrangling prowess of such Anglophiles as Johnny Marr or David Gavurin.  Crooner Sara doesn't add a wealth of mystique to the mix, but nevertheless capably tilts her quartet to the left of the dial.  Damn fine stuff actually.  A CD apparently followed this demo a couple years later.

01. decide
02. can't think what you feel
03. stand still
04. again
05. too proud
06. when she's away

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Water Walk - s/t (1987)

A three piece from Vancouver, BC, The Water Walk were a not oft spoken of combo who mastered a penchant for strummy guitar pop on their debut album.  Signposts point distinctly to the likes of Aztec Camera, and fellow countrymen Grapes of Wrath.  The Walk's seemingly effortless aplomb on goes-down-easy salvos "Anyways" and "Colours in the Day" foreshadowed what the Ocean Blue and Riverside would have in store a couple years later.  A video for the concluding track, "Turn Your Face Away" can be viewed here, and typically it's my least preferable song on an otherwise stimulating record.

01. Anyways
02. Houses in Between
03. Colours in the Day
04. Oh, so a Charmed Life
05. Can't Fly
06. Nothing Ever Came of It
07. Working Title
08. Seven Statues
09. Far Fields
10. Turn Your Face Away

Sunday, November 20, 2016

On the heels of something more...

1984 called...and it desperately wants to hear more albums like this one.


Economy Island - s/t (2016, Twistworthy) & Empty Markets - Stainless Steel (2016, 12XU) - A brief overview.

Given it's reputation as a thriving, uber-hotbed for emerging talent, Austin, TX must be a mofo of a town to be the proverbial squeaky wheel.  Here's hoping that Economy Island and Empty Markets garner the precious drops of oil and TLC they so richly deserve. 

In the case of Economy Island, they aren't so much a deliberate throwback to '90s par excellence indie rock, rather a logical evolution of it, sans the annoying, genre-hopping juxtapositions of so many of their hipster peers.  This quartet has certainly delved into the back catalogs of esteemed forebearers Archers of Loaf, Polvo, and perhaps even Chavez.  Economy Island bask the nine tunes occupying their debut in rich tones, projecting a warm analogue glow while harboring a subtle slacker aptitude.  There's no heavy handed mystique or alienating airs to be had on Economy Island, just a prevailing adherence to a melodic, lived-in aesthetic that works wonders on "Stay Home" and "Flower."  Although these folks swiped their moniker from a Guided By Voices lyric, fandom of said Dayton, OH pioneers is no prerequisite.  Get Economy Island on wax directly from Twistworthy Records or Bandcamp.

Empty Markets raw, punk/hardcore sprawl not only pulverizes with the kind of musculature you’d expect of their ilk, but unfurls an idiosyncratic bent that has made likeminded newbies Metz and Viet Kong such refreshing, visceral forces to be reckoned with.   This (now formally) co-ed  Austin trio has applied a revisionist tact to the artful chord progressions of Unwound, and incendiary angularities of early Hüsker Dü, all steeped in analogue sonic tactics, not to mention serrated reverb for miles.  Empty Markets frontman Drew Schmitz is ostensibly tinkering with dropped, or at minimum alternate guitar tunings, attaching an unsettling edge to Stainless Steel’s inherent pessimistic tenor.  A little subterranean moxie goes a long way in separating this troupe from the herd, and after barely cracking the cellophane on …Steel I’m already stoked to imbibe more.  Physical copies can be obtained from 12XU, and as for digital, Bandcamp and iTunes have you covered.   

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Goleta - demos (200?)

I absolutely love this.  Named after the seaside southern Cali city from which they presumably call home, Goleta registered on my radar thanks to the appearance of "Flat Earth Society," on the Joey Cape curated Happy Meals Vol. 3: Songs to Run Away From compilation in 2002.  And speaking of Mr Cape, Goleta's Thom Flowers performed with him in Bad Astronaut on a series of stunning records in the '00s.  I really became endeared with the powerful but bittersweet "Flat Earth..." but assumed it was a one-off wonder, as I had no evidence that the band released anything further.  Quite by accident and sheer good luck, I recently happened upon four whole tunes by Goleta, and am presenting them here.

Flowers and Co. weren't exactly bent on reinventing the wheel - or even embellishing it.  Not to mention the fact that about 75% percent of these tunes could take over the airways given the right push.  Goleta's tact smacks of Summercamp, Ridel High, Super Deluxe, mid-90s Goo Goo Dolls, and more negligibly the Foo Fighters.  Say what you will about some of those aggregations, but Goleta's riffy power pop boasts depth, not to mention a sweet spot a mile wide. The first three cuts are worth their weight in megabit gold.  Not to be avoided, the concluding "Good Night" is a slower, sobering comedown, and a bit of a curveball by contrast.  Give 'er a listen, and as usual comment as you see fit.

01. Flat Earth Society
02. Satellite
03. Broken Hearted
04. Good Night

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Gone Daddy Finch 7" (1995, Off White)

Yet another in a long line of indie rock cold cases.  My understanding is that this power trio hailed from holy Toledo, Ohio.  Much like Trunk whom I introduced you to a couple days ago, Gone Daddy Finch had a bit of a Replacements jones as well, evidenced by the scalding, guitarsy A-side, "Sunshine Sister," wielding a monstrous hook that grabs you from the word go.  A perfect ten that makes it's point in 180 loud, glorious seconds.  The comparatively chill flip, "Postcard," as the adage goes, a horse of a different color, not that I'm complaining. Their Discogs page reveals GDF had a robust catalog, though much of it was relegated to limited cd-r release.

A. Sunshine Sister
B. Postcard

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Trunk - La-ugh (1990, Waarner Sisters)

This is one of many albums in my collection, but what makes it relatively unique is that I don't know how it arrived there.  You know what else I don't know?  I don't know why Trunk went to the effort of hyphenating their record's one syllable title.  La-ugh?  I suppose they were digging deep for an idiosyncrasy.  The deets on this sloppy San Francisco treat are nil, and their shtick is/was maddeningly inconsistent.  Trunk seemed to plunder a few cues from the SST Records stable (Meat Puppets come to mind, and to a far lesser extent The Minutemen).  This trio are at the top of their game on "Sunbake," which finds them weaving in and out of Twin/Tone-era Replacements mode.  Too bad they couldn't sustain that motif for the song's five and a half minute duration.  There's a couple of keepers on side two as well - "Bump" and "Caroliner Squeegy" loosely clinging to the ramshackle tunefulness that was prevalent among their Homestead Records contemporaries Squirrel Bait and Great Plains.  A second album, Racket, arrived in 1992, and I'd be interested in getting my hands on it.  If anyone in the band sees this do get in touch.

01. Firetruck Surgery
02. Kiss the Wall
03. Sunbake
04. Moss
05. Bump
06. Caroliner Squeegy
07. Aluminum
08. Library Card
09. Uncle Love

Sunday, November 13, 2016

No clue.

A surprisingly satisfying power pop reunion album from 2009.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

V/A - Zongs in zee key of zee - the letter "Z" folder mix.

It's been another long layover since I cobbled together one of my world renown "letter" folder mixes.  Following in the hallowed footsteps of my preceding "E" "D" "H" "O" "P" "B" "T" and "G" folder comps, this garbage plate of seemingly random artists have only one thing in common - the first letter of their names.  In fact, no consideration has been given to genre.  For almost every complete album I have by an artist on my hard drive, I store just as many random one-off songs by artists I don't have a dedicated folder to.  These random one-offs have been corralled into "letter folders" A through Z.  Today. we're featuring the very last letter of the alphabet.  As was the case with the previous entries I'm not going to publish a track list, but I won't let you go without a few spoilers.

You're getting a healthy dose of vintage, twentieth century power pop, courtesy of The Zippers, Zipper and Z-Cars, not to mention punk/post-punk nuggets from the Zero Boys, Zounds, Zeke and Zoinks!  There's also a few of my choicest faves from the likes of Zwan, Z.Z. Hill, and ZuckerbabyZanzibar Scuf put their spin on a Ben Folds Five classic, while Zebrahead take to task Rikk Agnew's "O.C. Life."  And on top of all that, there'z another ten or zo mizcellaneous nuggetz to enhance this bountiful cavalcade of z-licious zeitgeist.  Dig in. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Discount - Love, Billy ep (1998)

Last night.  Uggh.  Time for some protest music.  I'm not sure if I've introduced you to Discount or not - an unassuming but emotive punk-pop co-ed troupe from Vero Beach, FL who released a slew of singles and three albums, the last of which, 2000's Crash Diagnostic was phenomenally sophisticated and devastatingly affecting. Discount's main claim to fame was front-woman Alison Mosshart who in the twenty-first century went onto exponentially greater renown with The Kills and even more prominently The Dead Weather, a collaboration with Jack White.  In case you're wondering I'm not a fan of either.  But anyway...

Love, Billy isn't a proper Discount record.  Instead, it's a collection of five Billy Bragg covers - nothing more or less.  Of course, I had heard Billy Bragg previously in occasional increments on 120 Minutes, college radio, etc - but I never really got the dude until this disk persuaded me.  I didn't realize it at first blush but Alison & Co. took to task some bona fide Bragg classics - "Help Save The Youth Of America" and "Accident Waiting..." I almost immediately set out to expose myself to the original incarnations of these songs - an endeavor that expanded my CD collection by a half-dozen pieces, and somehow gave me an enhanced appreciation for Discount's rapid-fire renderings of them.  In short, this tribute ep got me through the door, and it just might do likewise for you.

From my per-view, Bragg's Thatcher-era output was his most potent, and if you're looking for a place to dive in start with Back to Basics and go from there.

01. Accident Waiting To Happen
02. Waiting For the Great Leap Forward
03. A Pict Song
04. Help Save The Youth Of America
05. North Sea Bubble

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Money spines paper lung...

All the songs you really need to hear from this storied quartet's second phase.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Flys - Flys Own (1979)

Not aggressive enough for the punks, a tad too bratty to be suitably labeled "power pop," and hardly pedestrian enough for the pub circuit, The Flys may well have eluded categorization despite a relatively accessible sound.  Flys Own (perhaps intended to be read as Fly Zone?) was the second and parting LP from these Coventry, UK kids and a big, big improvement over their debut Waikiki Beach Refugees which I posted a couple months ago. 

In addition to Flys Own abundant grit and nervy panache there's some fantastic songs to speak of - "16 Down," "Energy Boy," "When 2 and 5 Make 9," and "Night Creatures"  That last one I might add was covered as a b-side to Superchunk's seminal 1990 "Slack Motherfucker" 7" (and amazingly they seemed to have more fun with it than the Flys)!  There's a lot to love on this classy and often sassy affair, not terribly removed from say, The Rich Kids Ghosts of Princes in Towers from the same era, if that means anything to you.  Maybe it's just me but I'm sensing trace elements of Bowie too.  In all respects this platter is a gem. 

Cuts 1-14 comprise the original Flys Own album, the remainder are from singles and such from the same period.

01. Let's Drive
02. Energy Boy
03. Fascinate Me
04. Talking to the Wall
05. 16 Down
06. Fortunes
07. Night Creatures
08. When 2 And 5 Make 9
09. Undercover Agent Zero
10. Cheap Days
11. Walking the Streets
12. Through the Windscreen
13. Freezing
14. Frenzy is 23
15. We Are the Lucky Ones
16. Living in the Sticks
17. Lois Lane
18. Today Belongs To Me
19. What Will Mother Say
20. Undercover Agent Zero (single version)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


Won't be able to offer you much until the weekend kids.  Please give us a call then.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Still I'm convinced that wondering "what if" is the worst thing there is.

Not only are you getting the 2004 debut platter from this Long Island contingent, but also some of the demos that were recorded in anticipation of it.  How about a few b-sides too?


The Legal Matters - Conrad (2016, Omnivore) - A brief overview

You know that new Teenage Fanclub (Here) you treated yourself to about a month ago?  If it's currently occupying a space in your CD or LP rack, you just might want to clear the slot adjacent to it for the album I'm about to discuss herein.  Ostensibly deriving their moniker from the spunky My Generation-era Who song of the same name, The Legal Matters are a Motown trio composed of local luminaries Chris Richards, Keith Klingensmith, and Andy Reed, all of whom I understand had a toehold in previous power pop endeavors.  And as far as that ubiquitous nomenclature is doled out like so many Snickers fun-sized bars on a Halloween trick or treat run, the power quotient isn't consistently palpable on the Matters' second LP, Conrad.  Luckily this isn't a problem, because much like their maturing counterparts - Posies, Matthew Sweet, and the aforementioned Fannies, volume and riffs aren't as relevant or in demand these days.  Carefully measured and nuanced as these eleven songs may be they often exude time capsule-worthy quality control.

I likely need not mention it, but the Matters hardly reinvent the wheel here, or for that matter add or subtract any spokes.  Conrad hardly possesses a revisionist bone in it's anatomy, and yes, you're likely to have encountered the band's modus operandi before, albeit conveyed on behalf of different and more renown artists.  Thing is, this trio pull it off effectively without getting bogged down in any sort of pedantic ditch.  Their secret weapon?  Harmonies, in spades I might add, that are bound to conjure up the timbres of everyone from CS&Y to the Greenberry Woods.  From the goes-down-easy persuasion of Conrad's milder fare like "Anything" and "Pull My String" to the more robust arrangements of "Minor Key" and "She Called Me to Say" these lads aim for the sweet spot while deftly curtailing any potential saccharine overload.   The Legal Matters make it look all too easy. Truth is these kinda chops (not to mention hooks) take time to hone and marinate...but the main course has just arrived.

You can find Conrad straight from Omnivore Records, Amazon and iTunes.  BTW, the vinyl version of the album is bundled with a download code for a vocal-only mix of the record. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Upbeats - Pop Songs (1986, Laser)

Yet another thoroughly blind purchase, although seeing Peter Buck's name in the credits didn't hurt.  The eclectic Upbeats were from Athens, GA (or thereabouts) with the band's approximate focal point amounting to one Bill Holmes.  Despite being all over the map, Pop Songs has at least two fairly stunning songs going for it, kicking off with "Just Another Pop Song" bearing some Plimsouls-cum-dB's moxie.  Peter and brother Ken Buck have cameos on this one  "The Laser Beam Boys" manages to best the aforementioned by a whisker, sounding like something Matthew Sweet could have conjured in his Buzz of Delight days.  Otherwise, the remainder of Pop Songs traverses a very crooked road, with The Upbeats shuffling lineups from song to song.  We get a faithful run through of the Beatles/Stones chestnut "I Wanna Be Your Man."  "Mary Jane" could pass for a lukewarm Neil Young outtake, "Jello Party Mania" reeks of utterly goofy shtick, and "Roadrunner" isn't the Bo Diddley or Modern Lovers tune, rather a swank, jazzy instrumental that I do believe some folks would term "yacht rock."  Frankly, this unfocused disk reveals itself almost as if were some lost, various artists compilation.  I'm not sure if The Upbeats followed this up with anything.  Pardon the crumpled, water damaged album jacket (not my doing, I swear).

01. Just Another Pop Song
02. I Wanna Be Your Man
03. Mary Jane
04. Jello Party Mania
05. Nothing to Fear
06. The Laser Beam Boys
07. Roadrunner
08. Lady Day
09. Someone Like You

Sunday, October 23, 2016

She loves me once and then she loves me again...

The 1980 debut from the high and mighty king of cool.


Saturday, October 22, 2016

VA - Lost in the Haze Vol. 19 (A Not Lame Records joint)

My share this spring of a previous installment in the Lost in the Haze comp series was met with no small amount of enthusiasm, so I couldn't resist sharing another one (and perhaps more in the offing).  For the unacquainted, Not Lame Records was a venerable power pop label and distro, circa the 1990s-'00s.  The CEO would frequently incentivize purchases by tossing in a handmade and self-curated cd-r compilation of impossibly rare songs that never made their way into the digital era proper.  God knows how many volumes existed in the Lost in the Haze series alone (at least 19, obviously).  Accompanied only by a tray card track list with no other pertinent details about the music presented, these compilations were stuffed into paper cd envelopes, and would tend to accumulate in various piles in my house.  With a veritable absence of artwork they went out of sight and out of mind for years until I was able to wrastle 'em all together in a tidying up effort a few months ago.

The cool thing about these custom curios was the exposure it gave me to artists I had heard of, just not actually heard.  The emphasis of Lost in the Haze was centered on overlooked and arcane also-rans (with the occasional rarity from a superstar) from the '70s to the early '80s.  Vol 19 was where I got my first taste of The Elevators, Sherbs, and Elektrics.  This playlist was also a handy reminder of how terrific two major label casualties, Interview and The Headboys were, both of whom should have been reissued and anthologized a long time ago.  And there's a strikingly curious anomaly for a compilation of this ilk, a collaboration between Shaun Cassidy and Todd Rundgren's Utopia.  It was apparently a hit.  As for Sparks, they were never really my bag.  You can check out the tracklist to your above right.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Indoor Life - st (1983, Relativity)

No doubt marketed as "new wave, Indoor Life's exploratory leanings put this trio well to the left of say, Thompson Twins or Howard Jones.  Synth-driven and likely unabashed about it, these chaps eschewed much of their commercial viability and embraced a relatively minimal, not to mention artful approach.  Heck, even Indoor Life’s most approachable and straight-laced forays ("Blue Grey Green" and “Searching”) wouldn’t inch near Top-40 playlists, but throughout this self titled LP there are poignant glints of melody and warmth.  I'm really trying to reach for a realistic comparison here, but the best I can surmise might be Urban Verbs and virtual unknowns Instructions.  Not for nothing, the concluding "Miuzu" is a bit of a rehash of the opener, "The One I See."

01. The One I See
02. Blye Grey Green
03. Dream Vendor
04. All to Myself
05. Searching
06. Ha Bi Bi
07. Miuzu

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Dumb Angel - Topflite tape (1993, Generator)

Here's my second post in as any days to reference the Beach Boy's coveted Smile album.  This Minnesota trio took their name from the working title of that very album, but their shtick doesn't quite allude to anything particularly Brian Wilson-esque.  Steeped in 4-track, lo-fi sonics Dumb Angel's tape manipulations, samples and messy homegrown whimsy weren't far removed from say, early Ween or Sebadoh.  Incidentally, two of the Angels (Jon Kimbrough and Joey Waronker) also belonged to Walt Mink, while a neutral party, Tim Gartman was the primary microphone fiend.  Recorded in 1990, portions of Topflite are more structured than others, with the tuneful "Sugarbaby" comprising the only track thoroughly winning me over.  Make of this what you will.  BTW, you can delve into some rare Walt Mink material here.

01. Sugarbaby
02. TV Song
03. Jungle Song
04. Me & My Dog
05. Ditty Dum
06. untitled interlude thingy
07. 19th Century School Girls
08. When Grown-ups Sleep in Sunnymede

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Your body goes, your mind implodes…your wife’s left with the bill.

From 2004.  Per a magazine article contemporary to the release of this album, this Hawthorne, CA quartet were on record as stating they regarded the Beach Boys then still unreleased Smile album to be the finest body of musical work ever.  Nonetheless, by the sound of the disk I'm presenting today, you'd hardly guess these guys were fans.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Sour Landslide - Friends of Dracula (1994)

I recently had a request for this one.  I was damn near over the moon about Sour Landslide's second and regrettably final album, They Promised Us Jobs, circa 1997, which found the Toronto based co-ed trio catapulting into their prime with fourteen slices of buzzsaw power pop, akin to a merger of Shoes and Nirvana.  For whatever the reason I gave their first at-bat, Friends of Dracula comparatively short shrift.  Lacking the crunch and immediacy of ...Jobs, Friends bore a more subtle modus operandi that proved to be something of a grower for these ears.  Maybe that's because Sour Landslide were growing and developing themselves.  Unlike that aforementioned swan song, Friends of Dracula conceded more to back-to-basics pop/rock with occasional folky inclinations, putting them more in league with the likes of burgeoning local legends Lowest of the Low.  The long and short of it all is that ...Dracula took a significant amount time to sink in with me.  Hopefully you'll make Friends faster.  By the way "On the Bus isn't the Replacements tune, nor is "William Shatner" a Wedding President cover.

01. Peppermint Patty
02. On the Bus
03. When I Die
04. Here Comes Georgeanne
05. Status in Wonderland
06. All the Signs
07. Hollywood
08. The Cup's Yours
09. William Shatner
10. Purple Heart
11. Friends of Dracula
12. Hall of Fame