Thought I'd post this to tide you over until I have a chance to rip more vinyl. Can't tell you a whole lot about Sex Clark Five, but you can peruse a bio on their Myspace page. Antedium is their third album, and going by the reviews I've read, it's not their best, however their debut, Strum and Drum, is more convincing. Sex Clark Five records/CDs are pretty hard to come by these days.
My radar recently honed-in on a superb old-school Greensboro, NC band referred to as The Othermothers. From the looks of their Myspace page, they have recently played shows, but so far as I can tell, the No Place Like Home ep is their first and last publicly issued recording. Side-A starts off with three upbeat, but ever-so-slightly brooding post-punk jams, anchored by alluringly ringing guitars that are way too powerful for anyone to resist, 'specially the likes of yours truly. At times, I swear this trifecta sounds like the greatest thing I've ever heard in my life.
The flipside is a bit different. "Rodeo...8 Seconds" is a strangely lighthearted hoedown, concerning the tragic Greensboro Massacre between Communist Workers Party members and neo-Nazi thugs in November of 1979. Dark humor to say the very least. This is followed up by "Napalm Beach," a relatively frivolous party song, and finally, the 'Muthas wrap things up with the Devo-informed "Party Topic."
I decided not to post the album sleeve, but it is included in the folder. I wouldn't want to give any of you the wrong impression, because it's pretty safe to say The Othermothers were purely going for shock value. They strike me as too well-versed to be a bunch of good 'ol boys, as I'm sure you'll concur.
My Records was a fantastic and underappreciated indie label that existed from the late '90s til aound 2003. Proprietor, Joey Cape (of Lagwagon, Bad Astronaut, and Me First & the Gimmie Gimmies fame) had an ear for melodic, riff-roaring rock, the variety that was, and has been absent from mainstream radio for eons now.
In addition to releasing single-artist full lengths and eps by Armchair Martian, Nerf Herder, and singer/songwriter Scott Garth, Cape was also the curator of the My Records Happy Meals compilation series. This post concerns the first of three Happy Meals compilations. For me, this album was not only the most magnificent makeshift "mix tape" I've ever laid ears on, it was my introduction to half-a-dozen bands that I eventually became lifetime devotees of. The quality control here is peerless, with even the handful of not-so-desirable selections still managing to be listenable. On Happy Meals, Cape salvaged the dignity of several recently exiled major-label bands of the moment, including Ridel High, Summercamp, and Nerf Herder winning some new fans over in the process. Bracket, Popsicko, and Armchair Martian, all creme de la creme, high-octane punk-pop outfits, were accorded their rightful slots here, not to mention Cape's aforementioned meal ticket, Lagwagon. Two worthy Australian contingents, Frenzal Rhomb and Body Jar represent the land down under, along with Germany's snotty Terrorgruppe. Did I mention that most of the songs are exclusive to this album?
Indeed, beauty is in the eye of the much fabled beholder, but this compilation really did the trick for me, as did it's two sequels. They don't make 'em like these anymore - and that's the truth. Incidentally, Lagwagon have a new ep making the rounds, not to mention Joey Cape's imminent solo debut.
Yet another in a long string of '90s bands who expected their exposure to be widened upon signing with the big boys. Presenting...Bloody Chicletts, the one and only album from the Vancouver, BC-based quartet, was unleashed in Canada via BMG, but never saw international release, including the States. The album did however clock in at #184 in the 200 best power pop albums of all time list in the recently published Shake Some Action power-pop guidebook. I'm racking my noggin thinking of more established bands to liken them to - perhaps Fountains of Wayne by way of another Vancouver, Pluto, whom the Chicletts were contemporaries of. There's a plethora of spunk, but nothing in the way of bona-fide "punk" on Presenting. Whirring keyboards, employed in moderation, whet the taste buds that much more. Shake Some Action endorses the opening "She's a Freak" as the keeper here, but for my money, the mellower "Built In My World" packs the most potent hook. At any rate, you can't go wrong with this criminally ignored jewel of an album.
01. She's a Freak 02. On & On 03. Built In My World 04. Kaos 05. Landslide 06. Suffocate 07. Radioheadache 08. Broken Stem 09. Revel On 10. Room 24
Folks, what you are about to download (at your choosing of course) is the rarest of the rare, the scarcest of the scarce, the holy grail. Ok, maybe nix that lost one, because there was actually only one holy grail, right? The single in question was actually limited to 200, copies, all hand-numbered had numbered copies, mine being "15." Many, if not most fans of The Sugarplastic, L.A.'s long-running answer to XTC and the Monochrome Set, are likely unaware that this insanely limited, one-sided single, with one-of-a-kind sleeves specific to each record even exists, let alone even begin to ponder about where they might obtain a copy.
At the time of it's release, the two songs it contained were thoroughly exclusive - an early version of "Sheep," which would later be rerecorded for their second album, Bang, the Earth is Round, and one of the trio's most archetypal, wry pop nuggets, "Superball." The latter of these two would be included on the Sugarplastic outtakes and rarities collection, Primitive Plastic, which only saw release in Japan on the Air Mail Recordings imprint. Even so, that still makes this single immensely hard to come by, save for Ebay where I found mine a few years ago.
If you have no idea who The Sugarlastic are, you acquaint yourself via the Myspace route, or peruse my previous Sugarplastic posting, concerning a certain cd-single that's almost as scarce as this wax. Better yet, pick up a used copy of the aforementioned Bang... CD (it's the one in the $1 bin), or finally, their most recent album, Will on Tallboy Records.
A reader recently suggested a band that he thought I'd appreciate called The Werefrogs. Crazy thing is, me being Mr Moneybag$ and all, it turns out I had purchased a Werefrogs single about a year or so ago that I had completely forgotten about, or for that matter even played to begin with it.
The Werefrogs had their day in the sun (or perhaps more appropriately, in the pond) during the late '80s/early '90s. Though they hailed from downstate New York, many of the band's records were minted on the British Ultimate Records label. Somewhat fitting, as I'm detecting trace elements of Prefab Sprout and to leaser extent, The Smiths, on this sublime single. In my opinion, the b-side "Tin the World" prevails over the flip, "It's Real." Both tracks feature some tastefully placed saxaphone, but future releases, including their 1993 Swing album, found the combo encroaching into dream-pop territory. Beautiful sleeve on this one as well.
From my understanding, The Werefrogs occasionally play reunion shows around their native Port Chester, NY. Enjoy.
Unbeknownst to even the most scholarly of ear-to-the-ground indie-rock geeks, Seattle's New Sweet Breath set up shop at the twilight of grunge's halcyon era. Immigrating from Lincoln, NE in the early '90s, the Graig Markel-helmed trio, also consisting of bassist Nicholas S. Rock and drummer Daze E. Hazel specialized in fuzzed-to-the-hilt, distorto indie-punk, coupling static-ridden noize with a melodic sensibility unparalleled since Husker Du. The singles this post concerns, as well as their first two albums, Supersound Speedway (1995) and Demolition Theatre (1996) (both on Ringing Ear Records), are unabashedly lo-fi. New Sweet Breath's adoption of such a seemingly meager recording ethic, may have been the product of financial constraints, but in the end, it worked very much to their advantage.
The majority of the selections presetned here hover at or below the two-minute mark, and while the visceral thrill of any given NSB song is all too fleeting, another one is just around the corner. I have organized their three singles and two split singles in rough chronological order, starting with "Blessed" b/w "Black to Blue," on what may have been their own label, Major Appliance Records. Sinkhole, who share the side of NSB's first split 7", were the flagship band for the aforementioned Ringing Ear Records. I have more affection for their second split release, the one with Virgina's short-lived Hefty, who's "Mean" packs a blistering but tuneful wallop that rivals NSB themselves, but doesn't quite beat them at their own game.
Their third album, A Shotgun Down an Avalanche, on Big Top Records helped to expand NSB's visibility, but after one more release, a riveting six-song ep, Acceleration and Distortion, issued on Mag Wheel Records (still available I believe, as well as the single) went on one might call, indefinite hiatus.
Post-NSB, Graig has released several solo albums, including Hard Grammar,Verses on Venus (both on Mag Wheel) and his latest, Via Novella, on his in-house Recovery label. Our man has also been having all kinds of fun with his latest project, The Animals at Night.
New Sweet Breath - singles tracklist
Major Appliance Records 7" (1995)
02. Black to Blue
Ringing Ear Records 7" (1996)
05. News to Me
Mag Wheel Records 7" (1996)
06. Go Aay
07. When It's All Said
split w/ Sinkhole (Ringing Ear) (1997)
08. Supersound Speedway (NSB)
09. Scractehd (NSB) 10. My Life (Sinkhole)
11. Dogs That Spit Bees (Sinkhole)
split w/ Huffy (1996)
12. Nice Lipgloss! (NSB)
13. 9ine Lives (NSB)
14. Armchair President (Hefty)
15. Mean (Hefty)
In addition to the disocgraphy at the New Sweet Breath Myspace page, and alternate version can be found here.
Before the Gigolo Aunts (got the damn Syd Barrett song playing in my head already) were ushered into the power-pantheon of the '90s, due in no small part to their sumptuous 1994 album, Flippin' Out, this Beantown crew were all about the jangle. Their debut album, Everybody Happy, is thoroughly evocative of the the heyday of college radio, and while it may not have been their most representative record, all the building blocks were falling into place for bigger things to come. To my knowledge, Everybody was released exclusively on vinyl, as was the second Gigolo Aunts album Tales From the Vinegar Side, released in 1990, which you can check out here. Both records should be a welcome addition to any pop aficionados collection. To learn more about the Gigolo Aunts sizable catalog, click on the hyperlink above.
01. Summertime Evening 02. Avalanche 03. Slipping Away 04. Marble Statue 05. Outside Inside 06. Her Face Contorted 07. I Can See 08. Coming Clean 09. People Walk Up 10. Not For Me 11. Holy Toledo 12. Is Everybody Happy
I don't know what could have possibly possessed singer Sooyoung Park to christen his influential, late '80s trio "Bitch Magnet." I also don't why their second full length, Ben Hur is ostensibly still in print, while this 18-song CD featuring their debut ep Star Booty and first LP Umber languishes out of print, with huge price tags on Amazon for used copies. Furthermore, I don't know why I was stupid enough to set up my big CD rack on a wall receiving direct sunlight for several hours a day, thus insuring all the spines of my CDs would gradually fade, including this one. What I do know, is that I am fortunate to have discovered the singular genius of Bitch Magnet, and in particular this disk, chock full of noisy feedback-ridden indie-punk.
The band's historical significance is considerable to us indie rock types. Allmusic.com lays it out better than I ever could:
Part of the extended Squirrel Bait family tree, Bitch Magnet was one of two bands that guitarist David Grubbs joined in the wake of his departure. Unlike the other one, Bastro,Grubbs wasn't a charter member of Bitch Magnet, nor was he the leader; that duty fell to bassist/vocalist Sooyoung Park. Much like Bastro, however, Bitch Magnet played a blistering and intellectual brand of post-hardcore punk, which often drew comparisons to Steve Albini's Big Black; they were also grouped with a more direct Squirrel Bait descendant, Slint, albeit more relentless and somewhat less nuanced. Sooyoung Park founded Bitch Magnet in 1986 while a student at Oberlin College in Ohio, joining with guitarist Jon Fine and drummer Orestes Delatorre (aka Orestes Morfin); despite their Oberlin roots, the trio was actually based in Chapel Hill, NC. Bitch Magnet signed with the indie label Communion and debuted in 1988 with the Star Booty 12" EP, which was produced by Steve Albini himself and earned the band some notice on the underground rock scene. For the follow-up, 1989's full-length Umber, they added second guitarist David Galt (a later CD issue appended Star Booty as well). Galt's place was taken by David Grubbs later in 1989, and Grubbs toured with the group in between commitments with Bastro. Grubbs appeared on the EP Valmead and on Bitch Magnet's final album, Ben Hur, both issued in 1990. After Bitch Magnet's breakup late that year, all four members went on to other projects: Park formed the acclaimed Seam; Grubbs returned to Bastro, which evolved into the seminal Gastr del Sol; Fine played with Vineland and DonCaballero; and Orestes Morfin resurfaced in Walt Mink.
Part of Bitch Magnet's appeal to me was the influence they had on other torchbearers, like the wholly unrelated Jawbox. To my ears, the Big Black comparisons aren't as prevalent as the Squirrel Bait ones, but given their lineage, I suppose that makes sense. The performances here bear a "distant" quality to them, almost as if the mics were positioned several feet away from their respective instruments (that or a lukewarm mix). It's hard to tell if this was purposely built-in for effect, or the product of recording constraints. Nevertheless, it doesn't stop the quite literally, revved-up "Motor" (from Umber) and "Sea of Pearls" (Star Booty) from functioning as demi-inide rock anthems. The Star Booty tracks strike me as more melodic than the full-length, and thus appeal to me more, but anyway... Now that I've rambled on this fine tuneage copiously enough, check it out for yourselves. In the folder, amidst scans of the booklet and tray card is a photograph of the sleeve of my vinyl copy of Star Booty. Enjoy
As was the case with my recent Hardship Post entry, The Inbreds were yet another superlative Canadian export who despite national distribution on our side of the boarder missed the mark by a longshot. A duo consisting of Mike O'Neill and Dave Ulrich, The Inbreds were predominantly drum and bass, but in a pop/rock setting. They pulled the feat off with convincing results, even in on stage, outdoing many of their guitar-addled contemporaries. The Imbreds' 1994 album, Kombinator enjoyed distribution via Atlantic Records in the States, but only seemed to impress a small legion of fans that were exposed to their concerts. Two, even more satisfying albums were to be unfurled - It's Sydney or the Bush in 1996, and Winning Hearts in '98. Mike O'Neill went on to pursue a solo career once the Inbreds were put out of commission.
This single's a-side is an early incarnation of the Winning Hearts version. One of their choicest moments for sure. The flip side is a rendering of "Cathy's Clown," which for some strange reason is credited to themselves. The Inbred's entire catalog is available for reasonably paid download here.
Oozing forth from the miasma of San Diego, one of the most tauted post-Seattle hotbed cities in the early-90s, aMINIATURE (presumably taking the reverse capitalization cue from fIREHOSE ) were dwarfed by contemporaries Rocket From the Crypt and Drive Like Jehu. It's a shame, because by the time they released their 1994 sophomore effort, Depth Five, Rate Six they had ascended to the ability of the aforementioned. With a slightly oblique tact, and technical guitar finesse to boot, aMINIATURE dazzled with cerebral, but hooky pop songs. They called it quits after an equally impressive follow-up, 1995's Murk Time Cruiser. This single preceded Depth Five, offering alternate versions of two album tracks.
When Athens, GA’s legendary post-punks Pylon reunited for the first time in 1990 (we’re still in the midst of their second reunion, which kicked off last year) it seemed as if few ears outside of their hometown really perked up – even with a brand new Pylon album in stores. Chain was the album I’m referring to, their third overall, not counting the 1989 Hits retrospective. While it doesn’t quite scale the innovative peaks of their classic debut, the recently reissued Gyrate, Chain is a logical, if not belated, step in Pylon’s post-modern pursuits The rigidity and tension that permeated previous Pylon records was slightly curtailed, but their trademark concise and hyper-rhythmic tendencies remained entirely intact.
While not a through-and-through goldmine, “Look Alive,” “There It Is,” and the downright infectious "Sloganistic,” all earn their rightful place on any Pylon best-of mix tape. Chain’s aura indeed deviates from Gyrate, as well as 1983’s Chomp LP, but you’d swear their seven-year hiatus seemed closer to seven months. And I have to admit, the diminishment of singer Vanessa Briscoe Hay’s often grating shriek is an extremely positive development here.
In addition to the album, I’m including a two-part Pylon interview conducted with Vanessa and drummer Curtis Crowe, taken from a promo CD that was only made available to press and radio at the time of Chain’s release.
They hailed from the hotbed of Halifax, Nova Scotia, released records on Sloan's Murder Records label, and even had a full-length on Sub Pop, yet the Hardship Post played second-fiddle to many of their hometown brethren. The band's catalog has seemingly gone uninvestigated, so I thought I'd give a little exposure to a couple of their strongest releases.
With a penchant for throaty, minor-key melodies, buttressed by a robust and driving rhythm section, The Hardship Post's indigenous brand of fuzz-laden indie rock delivers some stunning moments on the all too brief Hack ep. Last year, I posted Trim Crusts if Desired, a compilation on the now defunct Cinnamon Toast featuring what I consider to be this trio's crowning achievement "Wont You Come Home?" The six songs on the ep are definitely in the same mold. Shortly following up Hack was a two song single on Murder Records, titled Why Don't You and I Smooth Things Over, though neither of the tunes share the record's title. The foil cover doesn't translate well from my scanner. My apologies.
Somebody Spoke, their Sub Pop released album, didn't quite live up to Hack's bountiful promise, but is still worth a listen if you this upload pushes the right buttons. Prior to both of the Murder Records releases the Hardship Post made their debut via a grungy lil' two-song 45 on Mag Wheel Records, which might still be available from the label.
Baltimore, MD's Greenberry Woods barely made a dent nationally, despite recording two of the most perfect, deftly-crafted pop (power and otherwise) albums of the '90s for Sire Records - Rapple Dapple (1994) and Big Money Item (1995). Without over-doing or under-doing anything, the 32 songs the Greenberry Woods laid down between those albums would, and should have been to anyone's fancy, be it the Not Lame set, or for that matter, Joe sixpack. Armed with irresistible hooks and a breezy mid-tempo stride, this quartet's tunes were lost on the mainstream, wholly ironic when they would have made for an ace Top-40 hit machine during any given era.
The Woods brother duo of Matt and Brandt Huseman spilled over into the generally likeminded Splitsville (previously discussed on this blog here and here) by the late '90s, but weren't quite able to replicate the pristine finesse of their former act (not that they tried mind you). Just the two proper Greenberry Woods albums were made public, while the Shorty ep, comprised of Big Money outtakes was only available as a promo release to radio stations. The sterling album track, "Super Geek," leads things off, followed a pair of relatively gritty originals - "Drop Away," and "I Win." The Velvet Underground cover that brings Shorty to a close is a bit too linear for it's own good, but hardly anything to quibble about.
As a bonus, I'm tacking on "Too Good to Be True," a quintessential GW's number that only made it's appearance on the Naked in New York movie soundtrack.
I was pretty surprised to learn that this one slipped out of print. While I probably wouldn't recommend this for neophytes, (for the uninitiated, go for the Teardrops' classiq debut Kilimanjaro, specifically the remastered 2000 reissue) however it's a must for fans, if only for the fact that none of the ten tracks within appear in these particular incarnations anywhere else on CD. The first seven songs, including the popular "Sleeping Gas," "Treason," and "Bouncing Babies" are extracted from early, independent singles. Re-recordings of these would surface on The Teardrops major label releases, but their inclusion on Piano, to a certain extent, serve as demos. All the b-sides are included too. The remaining three numbers are culled from the 1982 To the Shores of Lake Placid compilation on Zoo Records. "Take a Chance," in particular, is swirling, neo-psyche pop bliss for the ages, and it's more demure follow-up on the setlist, "When I Dream" would be reworked for Kilimanjaro.
A second Teardrop Explodes album, Wilder was issued in 1981. After the band's dissolution soon after, leadman Julian Cope proceeded to a fruitful, and often avant solo career. Still waiting on those World Shut Your Mouth and Fried reissues...
So let it be written...behold, the final installment of a rather anal retentive and thorough examination of one Mac McCaughan's nascent career, before going on to helm the mighty Superchunk. Evil I Do Not was a 7" box set compilation featuring five bands who each got their very own 45 - Angels of Epistemology, Black Girls, Egg Egg, Slushpuppies, and Wwax. While only the latter two participants are truly relevant to this post, I thought I'd upload the whole shebang, to give you an expanded perspective of the late '80s Raleigh/Chapel Hill "scene" as it were.
Egg Egg and Angels of Epistemology were bound by a common thread, specifically a chap named Jeb Bishop, who served as mouthpiece for both artsy post-punk cabals. Bishop, perhaps by sheer coincidence, bears a vague resemblance to Jello Biafra, at least when it comes to his pipes, just don't expect any sort of overt political ethos.
Black Girls included in their three-piece lineup, Dana Kletter, who would eventually spearhead a swell early-90s indie combo, Dish, who I dedicated a previous post to. Black Girls (later Blackgirls) themselves scored a deal with local indie Mammoth and released two albums which you can read a little about here. Often referred to as "chamber music," the trio's employment of acoustic guitar, violin and piano lent itself appropriately to their stark, refined songs.
As if my earlier Slushpuppies and Wwax dissertations left you drooling for more, consider their Evil I Do Not entries a scrumptious after-dinner mint. "Lost at Ten" from the Slushpuppies Blacklisted sessions makes a repeat appearance, but the exclusive "Assimilation" will be to the delight of aficionados of Husker Du's Metal Circus.
Like the Wwax material I introduced you to in their separate post, referenced in the paragraph above, Mac didn't serve full-time vocal duties. By my estimates, he performs the lead on "Just Like," but don't hold me to that. "All Begins Again," is a a sound-alike of Black Flag's "TV Party," (at least partially) that ultimately becomes Waxx-ified to ok effect. Not a bad way to round out this intriguing, but hardly essential compilation.
I hope this series was as fun for you as it was me. I might do a follow-up mini-series, that shall potentially be christened "Life During Superchunk," which I bet a bunch of you can already imagine what that holds in store.
I just wanted to acknowledge all the comments and praise you've been leaving. I may not follow-up, or directly respond to them, but they are being read and taken to heart. It means a lot to me. I never thought Wilfully Obscure would make it this far and generate the number of views it has.
Uploads may be on the sporadic side for the remainder of August or so, but loathe as I am to invoke a cliche, the best is yet to come.
The tale of Raleigh, NC's Willard is a short one, given their brief year-and-a-half existence, but when you factor in the era, 1989-91, coupled with their locale, that lends the band to a particularly fervant period in indie-rawk history. No Superchunk or Archers sound-a-likes here, but Willard's aesthetic was faintly similar, not to mention entirely fitting considering their spot on the timeline. Wrap your ears around the mid-fi glory that is "Sunshine Wire," and you'll get my drift in a heartbeat. "Cypher" doesn't fair quite as well, at least not as a 'pop song.' The liner notes in the sleeve fail to disclose if these were their only recordings, so feel free to chime in if you have the goods on Willard.
For many of you, The Wrens need no introduction. As one of the most quietly revered indie bands of the '90s (and for that matter, this decade) the Wrens discography is noticeably sparse. Some like myself would even broach such adjectives as 'under-recorded,' given a grand total of three proper albums (and about as many eps) since their late '80s inception. Yet anyone who regards themselves a fan of this Jersey quartet, is a fan as in "fanatical." When they actually get around to recording, the Wrens no doubt toil and agonize to great ends in order to hem together layers upon layers of hyper-harmonies and squalling, but robust guitar and rhythm components, into the truly awe-inspiring end product. To suggest that the Wrens overdo the multi-tracking bit, would be a spot-on accusation, but were they to deprive themselves of their dense, often overwhelming sonic latticework, there would be little point to their existence, frustratingly intermittent as it may be.
Besides their deliriously fantastic 1995 masterwork, Secaucus, I can't think of a better Wrens primer than this halcyon-era single. The A-side, "Life Stories From the Union" can only be found here, while the even better flip, "Our Brightest New Year," technically made another appearance, on the vinyl-incarnation of their third and most recent album 2003's The Meadowlands.
A reader in Galway, NY recently emailed a request to Wilfully Obscure for, Answers, the follow-up LP to The Squares 2nd album, Enjoy Yourself ...and Others, which was posted here a few weeks ago. Definitely a progression from Enjoy Yourself, but a logical one at that. This self-released, and final Squares album was co-produced by Jeff Murphy of power-pop titans, Shoes. Enjoy.
01. She's a Killer 02. Inspiration 03. Electric Guitar 04. War Machine 05. Gibson Girl 06. Camera is Kind 07. Lucky Again 08. Nothing is Wrong 09. Way Past Gone 10. Souvenir 11. Stolen Fire 12. Farmer Elvis
Submitted for you’re approval: six demonstration recordings by Dave Parasite (aka Nikki Parasite), a Jersey boy who migrated to the Bay Area, only to concoct some of the most affecting pop-core punk the world ever laid ears on, via his much championed trio, The Parasites. Only thing was, the “world” wasn’t exactly listening. For the die-hards, like you and me however, this two-fer 7” ep released some eleven years ago on American Pop Project Records (run by Mel Cheplowitz of Shredder zine/records fame) is definitely a treat.
Anybody that knows anything about the Parasites knows that Dave was the only constant member of what’s rumored to be no less than 50 rotating-door participants. On the four-track-recorded Back to Demo, Dave is all hands on deck – guitarist, bassist, percussionist, the works. The record sleeve and title are a blatant-as-can-be parody of Phil “killer” Spector’s classic album Back to Mono. If you ask me, these demos sound like they were recorded in “mono” to begin with (and they likely were). Although the eventual album versions of “You’re Gonna Be Mine” and “When I’m Here With You” outdo these comparatively roughshod demos any day, the essence is completely there. This set also features an exclusive cover of The Buzzcocks rather played-out ‘What Do I Get.”
01. Letdown 02. Breakage 03. I Don't Wanna Go Out With You 04. You're Gonna Be Mine 05. When I'm Here With You 06. What Do I Get?
Monsterland hailed from my birthplace, Danbury, CT, but that’s hardly why I fell in love with them. Purveyors of noise-addled, indie-guitar rock to die for (at least occasionally), Monsterland were just one of many likeminded early ‘90s conglomerates that married copious feedback with arresting melodic chops. Aside from striking all the right chords (literally), the secret weapon of Western Connecticut’s finest power-trio was bassist Thom Monahan’s vocal style, so singular in fact, it would be fruitless for me to even attempt a written description. The two eps concerning this post bookended a superlative LP, 1993’s Destroy What You Love, one of the most unaffected albums to ever enjoy major label affiliation. Both the album and the follow-up ep, At One With Time, were released on Seed Records, a boutique label under Atlantic. The ep’s title cut was swiped from the album, and featured five rare and unreleased tracks, including “Girlfriend On Drugs," from a Connecticut band compilation Chop, Whip, Grate, Liquify. Featuring an astounding hook, riding a wave of scalding, amped-out feedback, the song’s tongue-in-cheek tale of narcotic abyss penetrated my psyche like few others ever had before or since. Needless to say I can’t recommend it strongly enough. As for the Loser Friendly ep issued on spinART Records in 1992, Trouser Press wraps it up best:
Danbury, Connecticut's Monsterland knew enough about feedback and harmonically alluring indie-pop craft to jumble the pieces together and produce a jangly rush of soft airborne thistles whose impact is entirely pleasurable. The shabbily produced Loser Friendly is a semi-good introduction, all soaring tunes, skittering guitar exuberance, self-conscious lyrics ("Magazine" resorts to the Cynthia Heimel book title, Get Your Tongue Out of My Mouth I'm Kissing You Goodbye) and badge-sporting reference points, most notably a modest punk-pop cover of Blondie's "(I'm Always Touched by Your) Presence Dear." Loser Friendly ep (1992) 01. Magazine 02. Chris's Clone 03. Store 28 04. Sunshine & Piss 05. (I'm Always Touched by Your) Presence Dear 06. 244-250 At One With Time ep (1994) 01. At One With Time 02. Jane Wiedlin Used To Be A Go-Go As Far As We Know 03. Your Touch Is Uncomfortable To Me 04. Chewbacca 05. Blank 06. Girlfriend on Drugs Loser Friendly:http://netkups.com/?d=7553ddd0e5014At One With Time:http://netkups.com/?d=55261d4541a44
Melbourne, Australia's The Zimmermen spanned the great Rickenbaker divide between The Records and the Rain Parade, but sadly failed to register with anyone beyond the land down under. Rivers of Corn, the Zimmermen's debut album was preceded by the "Don't Go to Sydney" single, which Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop author Ian McFarlane opines, "An instant classic, an exceptional slice of harmony-drenched guitar pop." As one of 1986's independent success stories, the song carried over to side-one of Rivers of Corn, kicking things off in superb fashion, almost outdone by the accompanying "Happy Heart." Rivers is a jangly delight I've waited too long to upload. If this album's to your liking, I strongly recommend The Odolites records I've recently posted. Enjoy.
01. Don't Go to Sydney
02. Push and Shove
03. I'm Happy
04. No One Else
05. I Like to Fight
07. Happy Heart
08. Shake Down
09. Get Off the Phone
10. Ordinary Man
11. I Shall Return
Three songs, in three chords, by three working class stiffs from Buffalo, NY with three hearts 'o gold. Although The Razzelsdidn't posses the charm offensive their hometown heroes The Goo Goo Dolls had cultivated by the time this wax came to light, The Goo's early albums certainly rubbed off on them. In fact, preceding this single was the Razzels' self-released CD Booger, which was produced by none other than Robby "Goo" Takac.
The Razzels were even more reminiscent of The Parasites, a band that landed a previous entry on Wilfully Obscure. Lead singer Whitey (formerly of the Spludderduds) informed me they weren't actually familiar with the Parasites, so for better or worse, it just turned out to be a happy coincidence. After two long years, the Razzels proper debut, Suck My First Impression landed in 1999 on the heels of this single, and in 2001 the trio's final album, Throttle, was released to a relatively indifferent public, even on their home turf. Little was heard from them again, but if anyone in the band is reading this, don't be a stranger.
Inspired by equal parts Ramones and Screeching Weasel, The Lillingtons sprouted from the assumedly non-existent punk scene in their native Newcastle, Wyoming (which the last time I checked, boasted a population of 3200 or so) in the mid-90s. In spite of the runaway success of contemporaries Green Day, the Lillingtons opted to play the indie field. Before recording two albums for Lookout Records, Death By Television in 1999, and the absolutely flooring Backchannel Broadcast in 2001, the trio issued a pair of limited edition singles and a split LP with the band Nothing Cool on the far less prolific Clearview Records.
The Lillington High ep featured early versions of four cuts that would be rerecorded for their debut LP, Shit Out of Luck. The songs were nothing short of anthematic, particularly the title track, concerning a daydream of returning to twelfth grade (or maybe eleventh, I dunno) in hopes of claiming the one that got away before she ran off and married some other poor sap. It’s repetitious chant of L-I-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N-S, no doubt inspired by the Ramones world-famous clarion call “Hey ho, let’s go,” made for perhaps the single most infectious refrain in ‘90s pop-punk history. It was enough to make a believer out even the most jaded of listeners, but alas, it was destine to become a virtually instant cult-classic, and by and large, has stayed that way. The flipside features the nearly as catchy “I Don’t Think She Cares.”
The brunt of The Lillingtons pre-Lookout output has been collected on the Clearview Records three-CD box set, Technically Unsound, which can be obtained fairly inexpensively on Ebay. It does not, however contain these particular takes, which are exclusive to this silk-screened covered 7,” limited to a mere 498 copies - not even enough for everyone in lil’ ol' Newcastle, WY.
As with many, if not all of Mac McCaughan's pre-Superchunk endeavors discussed heretofore, I have limited historical data to embellish the music I'm sharing. Bricks are a different kettle of fish, in that the majority of their recorded output had been made available on compact disk for many years. The now *technically* out-of-print disk in question is titled A Microphone and a Box of Dirt, which I'll address more specifically in a few moments.
The three pre-Chunk outfits I've elaborated on in recent weeks, The Slushpuppies, Wwax, and Metal Pitcher, may have all been shoestring budget forays, but those aside, Bricks were tangibly, and furthermore aesthetically, the most lo-fi by far. Accompanied primarily by Max Webster, who would later pursue his music career in Tsunami, many of Bricks' tunes ring cacophonous. Chalk this up to the tinny, droney, heavy-goes-it on the treble assault that dominates Microphone's 18 recordings. Bricks bordered on the shrill (not to mention tone-deaf), but captured a purity unparalleled to anything our man recorded before or since. Sensitive eardrums may find it something of an endurance test to sit through the Bricks catalog in one session, but tackling it song-by-song, Mac's slice-of-life ruminations are rewarding and memorable given the investment - and the hooks are there if you care to excavate them. I always thought it was a damn shame that the cautionary "You Shouldn't Have Smashed Your Guitar" came 25 years or so too late for one Mr. Peter Townsend.
A Microphone compiles songs tracked between 1988-90, which had previously appeared on the Bricks Winterspring cassette, Merge singles, and compilation appearances, although it is unclear if anything was left off, that is except for two songs on a Simple Machines Records 7" release that saw the light of day in 1994. I could not in good conscience upload the CD in it's entirety, as it is available as a paid download from Merge Records. Therefore I have singled out four key songs from it, as well as the two songs from the Simple Machines 45, exclusive to that release as I just mentioned. BTW, additional contributions to the band were also offered by Laura Cantrell and Josh Phillips.
One more module to go, and Life Before Superchunk will be history...as if it isn't already.