Friday, December 31, 2010

Dinosaur Jr. - Just Like Heaven

The end of 2010. I'm kind of sad to see it go. It was a good year. Everyone was healthy, at least until the last few weeks. Got back out there and started running again, getting some decent mileage in, especially in September. Work was engaging and finally seemed to have a future. Started this whole blog thing up. I really expanded my collection of MP3s, both from way back when, and I finally started listening to new stuff again.
Anyway, it certainly beat 2009, which pretty much sucked ass except for May 1. By comparison, 2010 was divine. Just like heaven? OK, maybe it's a stretch, but it seemed to fit, and I want to end the year on a high note.

Great cover of the Cure song. It ends abruptly as they ran out of tape on one of the tracks and just stopped it there. The B-sides are good too.

Happy New Year to everyone!

A: Just Like Heaven
B: Throw Down, Chunks

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Big Black - Il Duce

The back cover reads:
"This record is dedicated to the memory of the Bambino, Il Duce Benito Mussolini, whose life has been an inspiration to us all."
The B-side is "Big Money", a song about corrupt cops that appeared on the fantastic LP Atomizer.

This is a 1992 re-release of material from 1985. This single apparently caused Big Black to ditch Homestead records, as they released it in 1985 without their consent, and this was re-released by Touch and Go (with permission). Great little 7".

A: Il Duce
B: Big Money

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Caustic Soda - Subtle Change

Oh boy. I knew this day was coming. Some of the Riot Grrrl stuff that was shipped back to me was awful. I'm a lousy critic in that I hesitate to call something terrible, because I appreciate that it takes some guts to get out on stage and do something like this. But, as I've said before, there are some that just aren't good at doing it themselves. Some aren't even mediocre. And this is one of those bands, and this is one of their singles.

One of my big gripes about the Riot Grrrl scene was that a lot of these bands had feeble rhythm sections, and even on their recorded stuff, these bands seems to drift over the place, which seems inexcusable. This band falls squarely into that camp, though I would add that I don't like the vocals, or the not-so-subtle lyrical content. "We are strychnine to the earth"? I get it. Please.

That said, download anyway, just to check it out. With the New Year coming up, I'm picking a couple out to end 2010 and to start 2011, so I'll make it up to everyone with some good stuff.

A: Subtle Change, Smoking Mirrors
B: Strychnine To The Earth

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Monomen - Skin & Bones

This is the Sept. 1992 Singles Club release.

Monomen was a Seattle-based garage rock band. Perfect for Sub Pop and all that they were doing. It seems like every once in a while, after some Japanese pop, or something else completely different, Sub Pop'd go back to their roots in the Singles Club and throw us all some red meat rock. A few chords with a lot of distortion to placate the masses, which consisted of 2500  subscribers around this time. I suppose the motor-oiled cartoon chick is a reference to their garage rock thing, which has a slight retro-sound to it. Fun stuff.

A: Skin & Bones
B: Comanche

Monday, December 27, 2010

Slughog - Swine

Digging out today. Should be fun to get out the sleds and roll around in this stuff with the kids.

As for this single, OK, they were local, the name was unique, it was cheap, so I figured why not? They seem to be going after some Cows-meets-Melvins noise + heaviness thing, which sounds like it should = awesome, but it's too noisy for me, and that's saying something. Recorded chaos, with lots of screaming, screechy vocals. I think it's the vocals that I have the hardest time with.

A: Swine
B: 100 Gloves, Gut

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mudhoney/Sonic Youth - Split Single

OK, confession time. I did not buy this back in the day. This was always a single that I really wanted, as I was really into both of these bands, and I joined the Sub Pop thing far too late to get my hands on this. So, I managed to track down a copy on eBay recently. Merry Christmas to me.

I'd never heard the SY version of "Touch Me I'm Sick" before. Mudhoney did release their "Halloween" on a singles compilation, and I have that. I guess SY's song was released on a deluxe edition of Daydream Nation, but I already own the original version, and never bought it again. I have to say, Sonic Youth were far more diverse in what they did (and still do) and are more technically proficient musicians and all, but Mudhoney wins in this little battle of cover songs. It's all in the vocals. Kim doesn't sound comfortable trying to emulate Mark Arm. I'm sure a lot of people will disagree with me on that one. Oh well.

This was apparently dreamed up before Mudhoney had even released anything, as the guys at Sub Pop sent Sonic Youth a tape, and they liked them so much, they agreed to do a single with them

A: Sonic Youth - Touch Me I'm Sick
B: Mudhoney - Halloween

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Jon Spencer - Big Yule Log Boogie

CHRISTMASSS! This was the December 1992 Sub Pop Singles Club release.

Jon Spencer right before Blues Explosion.You can tell he had the Blues Explosion thing all figured out, complete with Judah Bauer on guitar and those overly exuberant shouts. It's a bit, well, ridiculous and loud, and it sounds like he's making it up as he goes along. The B-side, "My Christmas Wish" is almost a straight up country-blues song, and is far more subdued.

Have a great holiday everyone!
A: Big Yule Log Boogie
B: My Christmas Wish

Friday, December 24, 2010

Butthole Surfers - Good King Wenceslaus

Oh God. I mean...Jesus.

There's a straight up version of the traditional Christmas carol going on in the background on this track. It's the story of the Bohemian King Wenceslaus, who went out of his way through the heavy snow to give a peasant food and wood during the feast of Stephen (December 26). While out in the snow, his page was miraculously able to stay warm by walking in the king's footsteps in the snow. Anyway, that's what's in the background. As for the foreground...well, it seems that it's all about the Surfers inviting a homeless drunk to record this lovely Christmas song with them. I can't do it justice with words. You'll just have to listen.

The B-side is also quite sacrilegious. "The Lord Is a Monkey" says it all. It's also about as close to straight up, normal song as these guys played, though with drugs and castration featured prominently in the lyrics.

The pricetag is still on this. Seems I got it at Mystery Train in Amherst for $6.50. Pricey for a 7" back in those days, but the art (those pictures are scans of the actual vinyl)  was way too cool not to do it. Plus, maybe I figured it would get me into the Christmas spirit, though if that was my motivation, this would have failed miserably.

A: Good King Wenceslaus
B: The Lord Is a Monkey

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Shellac - Uranus

Steve Albini, post Big Black and Rapeman, with one of Boston's own Volcano Suns (and fellow recording studio guru) Bob Weston on bass.

After revolutionizing noise-rock, Albini was apparently inspired by Slint to create some sparse math-rock stuff, and that's sort of what this is. He kept the heavy distorted bass sound from Big black, but the guitar is a lot more minimal in Shellac, and the drums pound out some odd rhythms.

All of the Shellac records were impeccably packaged. This is a nice, heavy vellum envelope, with "Shellac" printed on it to look almost like a watermark.

Albini never put his lyrics in with any of his earlier records, just leaving a few cryptic notes of what the song is about in the liner notes, and this is no exception. A sheet inside the envelope reads:
"Wingwalker, Doris
It may look like choreography, but it is in fact aerobatics. Formation flying, you understand."
Befitting a recording geek of legendary stature, (and another slightly less legendary studio guy in Weston)  the remainder of the sheet lists every piece of equipment and even specific settings used in making this record, including the brand of magnetic master tape. It sounds great, as you would expect.

Got some Christmas music on the way...

A: Doris
B: Wingwalker

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bikini Kill - New Radio

It's been a while since on of the ex-GF's old singles surfaced. Bikini Kill was one of the harder-rockin' and better Riot Grrrl acts, and they have the one and only Joan Jett backing them up on this 7".

Kathleen Hanna wails about sex with both genders on the first two tracks, no surprise from a woman who wrote "I Like Fucking". Demirep (which means a woman with a poor reputation, I've found) is your usual unusual B-Side. This track is different in that Kathleen Hanna plays the Miss Mary Mack clapping game with Joan Jett, which is, you know, a little different.

A: New Radio, Rebel Girl
B: Demirep

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tsunami/Velocity Girl - Split

This is the January 1992 Singles Club release. Sub Pop was going for a theme here, these were two bands with women vocalists from the Arlington, VA area.

Tsunami created the DIY Simple Machines label (some good stuff there) in the early 90's, and their drummer was a UMass guy. My girlfriend was very much into them, and I somehow wound up with her copy of Deep End. They were a solid indie-rock band, and you could draw a few parallels between them and Throwing Muses.

Velocity Girl was very shoe-gazey, you'll hear that right away. The women added a lot of dreamy sounding vocals in the background. Warm/Crawl is really two songs smushed together into a medley of sorts.

Solid single, very different from what Sub Pop was doing. Between this and the AmRep one, you get the sense that the Singles Club was attempting to catalog some different local scenes or labels, which is pretty cool. The vinyl on this is a rosey translucent pink. It's also a bitch to get it to sound good. Lots of big pops despite a through wipe down.

A: Tsunami: Left Behind
B: Velocity Girl: Warm/Crawl

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holy Rollers - Origami Sessions

Another post-hardcore DC Dischord band. These guys (and gal - Maria Jones on drums) were on the melodic end of the spectrum.  They incorporated vocal harmonies, taking advantage of Jones' voice, which really set them apart from their peers in DC. Her drumming style is also quite distinctive. It sounds like she's belting an empty can a lot of the time (and even a cowbell at one point), but it works. Her drumming seems to be a centerpiece of this band's sound, as the bass isn't featured prominently, and the guitars sound like typical DC sound stuff.

The second half (or at least I think it is, the sleeve shows the opposite, but inscription in the vinyl says it's so...) of this EP really picks up steam after a bit of an uneven start with "Dahlia" and "Machine" "Eleventy" starts slow, but builds, and the energy and pace carries straight into "Freedom Asking". These were all re-recorded for their first LP, As Is, and they pared down the first tracks, and lengthened the last two.

This was an early purchase, straight from Dischord, entirely on a whim. I'd never heard them or even of them before. I liked it enough to pick up As Is, and the CD of  Fabuley which contains all of the As Is material on it, so I won't be ripping that. I haven't listened to this stuff in ages, I'll have to check those out again.

A: Dahlia, Machine
B: Eleventy, Freedom Asking

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hüsker Dü - Eight Miles High/Makes No Sense At All

Another Sunday, another 10" record. Later than usual today, being out of commission for a few days has me behind schedule here. Anyway, these odd-sized records just looks strange on the turntable, sort of a weird bastard child of the 12" and the 7".

SST was in steep decline when they put this out in 1990, combining Hüsker Dü's most successful 7" releases on one 10", even though these were released 5 and 6 years earlier. Two of these four tracks were unavailable any other way, and they had received a lot of buzz over the years, so SST had a lot to gain by re-releasing them. They had also run out of quality artists at this point. Hüsker Dü was long gone, having moved on to Warner Bros. in 1986, before dissolving in a haze of drugs and suicide (their manager killed himself) in 1988. SST's latest crop of big-time acts, Sonic Youth & Dinosaur Jr. had recently fled, and Greg Ginn was putting out more and more modern jazz recordings, which the label's fans never bought. They had to dig into the back catalog for new releases that could make them some money, it seems. In an effort to keep up with the times and Sub Pop, the vinyl is bright green.

A lot has already been written about these singles. Hüsker Dü's cover of "Eight Miles High" is seen as some sort of landmark, where mid 80's College Radio, Alternative Rock or whatever you want to call it, took a 60's classic and completely and utterly changed it, throwing in all kinds of angst, anger and pure volume that was never present in the original in the process. It's an intense and great recording. "Masochism World" was a favorite of mine on the Zen Arcade album, and a live version was the original B-side for this. Which is too bad, really. They could have really gone for the full psychedelic 60's redux and thrown a version of "Hare Krishna" on there instead. That would have kicked ass.

"Makes No Sense At All" is still a great song, but this single was better known for its B-side, as the Huskers did the theme from the Mary Tyler Moore show. Their little homage to hometown Minneapolis. Another great and unexpected cover.

No clue where or when I picked this up. Hüsker Dü was my favorite band in high school, and while they had been replaced by Mudhoney and Sonic Youth by 1990, this was something I would have eagerly snapped up, especially since my only copies of "Eight Miles High" and "Love Is All Around" were copies of copies on battered cassettes. A CD was released of this, but today I'm glad I went for the vinyl.

A: Eight Miles High, Masochism World (Live)
B:  Makes No Sense At All, Love Is All Around

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Melvins - With Yo' Heart, Not Yo' Hands

The Sub Pop Single that never was. Apparently, they had a deal with Sub Pop, but after they recorded this, Sub Pop wouldn't pay them the agreed upon amount. They took the recordings to Sympathy For The Record Industry instead.

The title track is a cover, originally performed by obscure Seattle band Malfunkshun.I'm not sure what the original sounds like, but it sounds all Melvins here to me. The Melvins were already pretty well established as the Pacific Northwest's answer to Black Sabbath by the early 90's, and you can hear it on this single. "Four Letter Woman" continues the slow but driving Sabbath-esque sound. The last track, "Anal Satan" is out there. I've found that any time there's more than one track on the B-side, the last one will pretty strange. The Melvins take on dance music? This was recorded later, and they managed to throw the names of some Sub Pop folks into here, calling them pricks.

No clue where I got this. Apparently this is some rare version with no songs listed on the label, just the SFTRI stylized S. 

A: With Yo' Heart, Not Yo' Hands
B: Four Letter Woman, Anal Satan

Friday, December 17, 2010

Zeke Fiddler - Half Baked/Half Inflated

Sick as a dog today.Went home form work at noon and slept all day. Now I'm all messed up.

More local stuff from Northampton. Seems like Zeke Fiddler played at the Baystate Hotel a lot, but for some reason, I never did see him. (Favorite Hotel regulars: Rock Gods From Chicopee. How could they not be great?) This is the other 7" that my old housemate Steve played drums on.

Fairly standard sounding early 90's alt rock. Half Baked is a decent song, though it sounds like someone put Buffalo Tom, Dinosaur Jr and a few other bands from the era into a blender and poured this out, actually you could say that about the other songs here too. Half Inflated's mid-tempo mellowness starts to drag after a while. The whole thing ends with a short, fuzz-drenched instrumental.

A: Half Baked
B: Half Inflated, Brave Doorman

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cows - Slap Back

As mentioned earlier, one of the more polarizing bands, that people are into or they just aren't. Not a lot of gray area. Someone mentioned to me that the vocals might have been part of that. That's quite possible. Everything comes out sounding kind of forced out, and he's a bit high pitched. They were also experimental to the point of being near unlistenable, at least early on.

This single isn't quite that far out there. The A-side is straight up and straighforward noise rock, a mess of distorted bass, trebly guitars and a heavy echo effect (a slapback) on the barely comprehensible vocals. Classic AmRep noise rock.

One O'Clock High is a wordy number with a fast-paced 1-2-fuck-you beat about a guy picking up his hot stripper girlfriend at work. A little weak on the vocals. The rest is fun and noisy.

A: Slap Back
B: One O'Clock High

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

William S. Burroughs & Gus Van Sant - Millions of Images

This one seemed just too interesting to pass up. Naked Lunch meets Drugstore Cowboy on vinyl. Sure, why not? Burroughs reads bits of his own work in his dry death-crackle over Van Sant's artsy background music and looping effects.

Burroughs' readings are great, as you would hope they would be. There's a Talking Heads feel to parts of the first track. It's not quite as dynamic or as funky as they could be, but I think that's because the intention was for Burroughs to have center stage. The B-side uses a lot of loops, maybe a few too many, really. But again, it's a great reading, and sure enough, Burroughs supplies some good images of what a Hipster Be-bop Junkie is.

These tracks originally appeared on a 1985 12", long before Van Sant was famous for his films, entitled "The Elvis Of Letters". Seems that someone had the idea of re-releasing some of this material once Van Sant made a name for himself. Apparently, these two tracks make up the B-side. Produced by Tim Kerr, (not of the Monkeywrench, but the Portland label). I got this at a Newbury Comics as well. $3.99. A steal.

A: Millions Of Images
B: The Hipster Be-bop Junkie

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

TAD - Jack Pepsi

One of my first Sub Pop singles, though not a part of the Singles Club. These guys were already known as the band that was "too ugly for MTV" and the Peter Bagge artwork on the back cover certainly helped sway me to shell out $4.99 at Newbury Comics for this one. I love it when the sticker is still on it.

Anyway, TAD was a Sub Pop staple, going back to the first days of the label. They're pretty much the first grunge act, or close to it. They were on the heavy side of grunge, and I'm not just talking about their sound. Their front man/guitarist Tad Doyle must have weighed around 350 pounds. They also had this image of being a bunch of hicks from the backwoods of eastern WA, complete with the flannel and boots. Unlike, say, the image UO created for themselves, this was at least grounded in some reality, as these guys really were from the sticks and worked as butchers and the like. I'm not sure if their clothing choices helped create the grunge fashion sense or not, but they seem to have been contributors.

In keeping with their redneck backwoods image, "Jack Pepsi" is about drinking Jack Daniels and Pepsi while driving on barely frozen lakes. Ice Road Truckers meets alcohol, I guess. The B-side isn't quite so heavy. It's a snappy, bass-driven thing. Sounds like it's an homage to serial killer Ed Gein.

One thing about Tad, in addition to their MTV problem (which just gave them more credibility, really) they had some issues with their cover art. I got the revised artwork version of this single, as the original version featured Pepsi's logo, only with the word "TAD" in it. They were sued immediately, and put this version out instead. They were also sued for the cover art that appeared on their 8-Way Santa album, (Great album, and the original cover is fantastic) where this song originally appeared, and I passed up a chance to buy that once. Oh well.

A: Jack Pepsi
B: Eddie Hook

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hair Volume

Another Northampton band with housemate connections. One of the guys from this band, Joel, would come over and hang out with housemate Bernie quite a bit. Joel was a nice guy, but man, was he strange. The guy just exuded weirdness in just about every possible way. So when I heard that his band had cut a 7" EP, I ran out and got it, because I just had to know what this was going to sound like. It could be great, could be crap, or somewhere in between, but I knew that underneath it all, it would be weird.

And it did not disappoint. That's Joel doing the ranting on "Clock Song" and the spoken word/shouting bit on "Grandma", a song that features a repeating chorus of
Hey Grandma,
We're underground
In the sewer...
And as soon as this song is done, they go into a very jazzy sounding jam-band-like instrumental. It's kind of a scattershot mess, but they aren't exactly bad. Just weird.

A: Clock Song, He Likes Me
B: Grandma, Hadley #

Sunday, December 12, 2010


No time for LP Sunday, so I'm compromising, doing one of those weird 10" records instead.

This showed up in stores long after Slint was dead, as these tracks, recorded before the amazing Spiderland, were left unreleased by their previous label when they signed to Touch & Go. T&G got their hands on these and shipped this out in 1994, some three years after they had all gone their separate ways. I'm pretty sure I spotted this at Main St. and bought it immediately.

Slint's landmark Spiderland album is moody and sparse, and it takes you on a winding journey. Each song itself has a series of highs and lows. The ending is well worth the trip. It's perfect to listen to at 3:00 AM. If you've never heard it, go find it. As for this recording, the band is in transition from being the Big Black wannabe band they were on their debut album Tweez, to finding some kind of collective brilliance that created Spiderland (their second and final album, at least until this showed up), and you can tell. These are both 6 minute long instrumentals. "Glenn" has Spiderland's dark, empty, spacious quality to it. "Rhoda" has their sound from Tweez, but with some of the complex song structure you'll find on Spiderland.

Octopus side: Glenn
Triangle side: Rhoda

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dinosaur Jr. - Freak Scene

Feeling a bit rushed lately. I've found that I like to be a day ahead. That gives me some time to tinker with the recording, listen to it a few more times, dig up some information on what the band has been up to since then, maybe even edit my random stream of crap writing style, and so on.

Unfortunately, I've been spending my nights at MGH with my super-fantastic aunt these days, and she'll be there for a while, it seems. The prognosis is good overall, but she's stuck there for a while waiting for surgery, which totally sucks. So I visit after work and get home late. These are going to be a bit more hasty than usual in the meantime, and may stop for a few days, though stopping messes up my plans to be done with this endeavor before baseball season really kicks in, which looks to be more interesting all the time.

Anyway, I came back from my latest visit and found that my somewhat loosely organized piles of 7" (the yet to do living and already done dead had been segregated) on the office floor had all been picked up and put back into a vacant spot in the bookshelf. My weak attempt at organization has been thwarted! Undaunted, I reached into the newly unified pile and pulled this out. I picked a winner. Wow, listening to this brings back a lot of memories. Amazing how music can capture all of these moments in time, store them away, and retrieve them all the moment you hear that song again. It had been a while. I've listened to Dinosaur Jr many times since then, but by default, I turn to their You're Living All Over Me album because the opening punch of "Little Fury Things", "Kracked" and "Sludgefeast" just calls out to me, and I blow right past Bug, which features "Freak Scene" and holds all of these long-lost memories.

These guys were flat-out great, and completely unique for the time. Blue Cheer loud, with excellent guitar and wah pedal work by idiot-savant J Mascis that countered his whiny, kinda stoned sounding vocals. Together, it all worked beautifully. I picked up Bug right after it came out based on some reviews and recommendations and was immediately hooked. 

When I started buying vinyl in 1990 or so, this single seemed like a great thing to grab, and the B-side was something I'd never heard before (the ending is a fun noisy mess). I bought a lot of SST from the mid 80s up until I bought some Dinosaur singles, so this marks the end of the label for me. SST seemed to fall apart after Dinosaur went on to sign with a major. Black Flag, Husker Du, and the Minutemen weren't walking through that door anytime soon, and SST seemed to have some managerial issues, too. Sub Pop took over as the indie label of choice soon afterward. Unfortunately, most of those old SST purchases were on cassette (there are a few exceptions...). I've replaced most of the old tapes with CDs, at least.

A: Freak Scene
B: Keep The Glove

Friday, December 10, 2010

Antiseen - We Got This Far (Without You)

Whoa. Now this is a change of pace. This is the November 1992 Sub Pop Singles Club selection. I guess "Destructo Rock", as Antiseen likes to call their sound, is just not my thing. The heavily distorted guitar just drowns out everything, and just sounds monotonous after a minute or so. The singer is pretty weak, too. Motorhead did this kind of thing a lot better.

Antiseen is better known, to me anyway, as GG Allin's backing band on his final album "Murder Junkies". If you know anything about GG, that's all you need to know about these guys. Speaking of Allin, he seems to have made a comeback recently. I've seen 3 different high school age kids sporting shiny new GG Allin T-shirts in the last 6 weeks or so. What's that all about? I suppose he might serve as some Anti-Jim Morrison icon or something, but man, if he's the new role model for our youth, we are all seriously fucked.

A: We Got This Far (Without You)
B: (We Will Not) Remember You

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Urge Overkill - Now That's The Barclords

UO had some talent, but somehow managed to do everything wrong. These guys went out of their way to present themselves as martini-sipping guys in velvet smoking jackets. As proof, I offer you the actual sleeve for this 7" over there on the left. That might work these days. In 1991? No. It was all about beer and flannel then. No one knew what the hell these guys were doing dressing up like a bunch of douchebags.

They also came across as desperate for big-time success, and they changed their sound a lot chasing it. Cementing that reputation was their Pulp Fiction soundtrack appearance, which featured their cover of Neil Diamond’s “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” exposing them to legions of new fans who wouldn't buy any of their other material, all while alienating whatever fans they had previously earned. They've apparently reunited recently. Hopefully they’re a bit more secure in their own velvet this time around.

This was the May 1991 Sub Pop Singles Club release, issued shortly after I had joined. The vinyl is translucent and the color of yellow highlighter, which is pretty damn cool to look at. I wasn't quite sure what to make of these guys when this showed up on the doorstep. I wanted to like them, because I'd signed up for this thing just a few months earlier and wanted everything to be great. But the velvet suited trio pictured above arrived with Shonen Knife's single, leaving me terribly confused and wondering what the hell I had spent my money on. The music was solid, even if I was left wondering what a Barclord was. This is somewhere between their earlier noise-rock days and their later descent into Neil Diamond covers, and you can hear it in the music. Straight up bombastic arena-rock but with trebly noise-rock guitars. If they'd stuck to that, they might have had something. I did like the B-side quite a bit, and after a few listens, still do. Ironically enough, it's about the demise of vinyl. People have been bitching about it for 20 years now! Vinyl has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence in the last couple of years, but here I am, converting this to MP3. What's this generation coming to, indeed.

A: Now That's The Barclords
B: What's This Generation Coming To?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sentridoh - Losercore

25 down. Many  more to go. My ears are starting to mold to my headphones, and my fingertips are raw from handling all of this vinyl...still, I soldier on.

Solo Lou Barlow with nothing but a 4-track goes way back to his earlier Dinosaur Jr. days, with the song  "Poledo". After J kicked him out, and before Sebadoh took off, he'd sell these homemade cassettes labeled "Sentridoh" at Main St. Records in Northampton. There'd be some 20 tracks full of Lou's insecure rambling wordplay accompanied by scratchy acoustic guitars and distorted sounds. These were great little songs if you could get past the presentation.

Apparently he decided to release a couple of these on a 7". Losercore pretty much sums up a lot of what he was doing at the time, and really, it's a clever name for his brand of lo-fi music. The B-side is stranger, with some odd sounds and rumbling distortion over everything. There's no extra track listed anywhere on the record or sleeve, but after "Really Insane" ends, there's this lo-fi instrumental that's either beautiful yet haunting, or haunting yet beautiful. I'm not sure which one it is. Not knowing what to call it, I just left these two songs on the same track instead of splitting them. I apparently picked this up at a Newbury Comics, as the sticker is still on it.

A: Losercore
B: Really Insane

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sugar - Changes

I idolized Bob Mould back in the day. Sugar was a return to some seriously loud rock after Mould's mellow Workbook album. As loud as it was, it wasn't quite a return to Husker Du. Sugar had a lot more of a power pop feel to it.

I saw them at Pearl St. right when this came out. I was right up front and center, so the PA system at the edges of the stage was blasting away at everyone behind me. I turned around near the end of the show to find that just about everyone had left the room and was standing in the stairway or downstairs to protect what was left of their shredded ears. A bit excessive, I suppose. Bob's next show, a couple of years later at Amherst college, was solo and acoustic. I figured it was part of that "Unplugged" craze that MTV had recently created, but no. He explained that he was ditching the band and the amp because his ears were shot.

A: Changes
B: Helpless

Monday, December 6, 2010

Rollins Band - I Know You

Ah, Hank. What to say about him? There's something I really like about this guy, and how could you not? Being huge, tattooed, outspoken and the vocalist on Black Flag's Damaged gives you some pretty good punk rock street cred. At the same time, he could write some pretty insipid crap at times. He was always smart enough to have an interesting band behind him though, both in the later era punk rock meets jazz fusion Black Flag, and then the slow and heavy steamrolling, ass-kicking machine that was the Rollins Band.

There's this ongoing debate on this music website about the merits of  Black Flag's "My War" LP, and one post in particular sums up my take on Rollins.
"This is a totally ridiculous album. Rollins' screaming baby thing (as aptly described by BER) is utterly over the top... The vinyl might be one of the worst sounding lp pressings ever. The second side is turgid, overblown and slow. The lyrics are juvenile. The production is terrible. I love this record. Love it."
This was a Sub Pop Singles Club release from July 1990. That's before I joined, though I scooped it up at a Newbury Comics. I managed to find a fair amount of the 1990 stuff in the bins at the time. It's on very cool bubblegum pink vinyl. The A-side is a spoken word piece, where Hank tells us that he knows we're all a bunch of losers and misfits, because he's one of us. Uh, OK. We all know that people drawn to this stuff back in the day were a little different. It's not exactly a stretch. But the B-side! The glorious B-side! The Rollins Band takes on Cheech and Chong's 1974 hit "Earache My Eye", part of a comedy sketch that made fun of glam rock. It was also later used in the film "Up In Smoke", in the battle of the bands scene*. This version is slow, heavy, and fantastic.One of my favorite things in this entire collection, and one I really wanted to get into a digital format.

A: I Know You
B: Earache My Eye

* Recurring theme alert: The Germs auditioned to appear in this scene, but were thrown off the set for starting a food fight.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Lungfish - Necklace Of Heads LP

More LP Sunday. The band that ruined my left ear at the Hampshire College Red Barn as part of that triple-bill. There's no stage at the Red Barn, and I was maybe 30-40' from the guitarist. He turned to change a setting on his amp in between songs, and this blast of feedback punched me right in the left ear. There was a rumbling noise, and then nothing. I lost all hearing in that ear for days. I couldn't drive with the window open as the sound of rushing air hurt like hell. Funny thing, no one else reacted to the feedback at all. I think I just happened to have one ear in the exact spot where all of these stray sound waves just converged.

As for the show, these guys were great. Daniel Higgs is all sweaty manic intensity behind a massive beard.  The band behind him was rock-solid and played with a lot of energy despite standing completely still for the whole show. I grabbed this right afterward, hearing loss be damned. Stylistically, they're hard to categorize. Sure, they're a DC area post-hardcore act, but they're not like the rest of them. They're definitely more inventive than the rest, and you can tell they're still experimenting with their sound quite a bit on this little 8 song LP. They bounce back and forth between clean sounding guitar and distortion, throw in an anthemy sort of song in "Nothing Is Easy". There's even a little reggae inspired break in the song Fambly. They eventually settled on this repetitive rhythmic hypnotic sound with their later stuff, and you can hear the beginnings of that in "Not Only Long..." and the beginning of "Fambly".

Yet another band I lost track of, and I'm pretty sure I missed out. They've released nine more albums over the last 20 years. I've just started to pick through this huge back catalog of their work while ripping this.These songs were lumped in with their second album's CD as bonus tracks. As a standalone album, it was only released on vinyl, and it's long out of print. The Simple Machines label seems to have died some time ago.

1. Come Clean
2. Put Your Halo On
3. Ain't No Colr
4. Not Only Long Ride Too High
5. Parthenogenesis
6. Devilhead
7. Nothing Is Easy
8. Fambly


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Frances Gumm - Subtraction

The old housemate's band. Saw them as part of that weird triple bill with Mecca Normal and Lungfish. Steve was in a grad school program at UMass for poetry/creative writing. He was also a really good drummer. Anyway, Steve and Bernie kicked me out after 7 or 8 months or so, leaving me a month to find a new place. I found one, but it sucked, and I wound up with some less than desirable new housemates out of desperation. I got a lot out of living with Steve, he turned me on to a whole lot of new music, including Slint, which was cool. Despite the shittiness of his throwing me out of the house, I still bought a couple of 7" that he appeared on at Main St. Records. This is one of them.

The music? Fairly standard, slightly arty indie rock from the early 90's. 
A: Out On The Prairie, Subtraction
B: I Know What I Know

Friday, December 3, 2010

Belly - Now They'll Sleep

Another band I saw live. They played the Iron Horse in Northampton, and I happened to be living across the street. That's about as easy as it gets. It was a good enough show, though the setting was...odd. Playing in what is normally a jazz club while people sit and eat must be strange. It's strange enough being at one of the tables trying to see a show while people munch on nachos.

Somehow, my high school's resident metalhead turned me on to Throwing Muses way back in high school. "Yeah, they're like, local, and they're pretty good. No one's playing anything like this.You'll like it. Here." With that, he handed me a tape of the first Throwing Muses album. He was right of course, they were unique, and I did like the tape. I picked that album up on vinyl later on. No clue how he got into them, I'm still baffled by that one. I'm pretty sure Guns N' Roses was blaring when he gave me the cassette. Anyway, I managed to see them a couple of times in Amherst/Northampton.

I'm not sure if Belly was a side-project or post Throwing Muses at this point. They were kind of winding down, and Tanya Donelly was having some success with The Breeders around then, too. Either way, living across the street, liking her previous stuff, it was kind of a no-brainer to go. Being a friend of a friend of J Mascis was somehow good enough to get me and my girlfriend "backstage" (standards are low in W. MA, I guess), which was really just a hallway and a tiny room. I admit to being a bit starstruck meeting her and at a loss for any words worth saying or remembering. She's very doll-like in person. Tiny.

This is a single from their last album. They were done right after this, might even be why I picked it up. It's less jangly than their early stuff.

A: Now They'll Sleep
B: Thief

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mecca Normal - Orange

I saw Mecca Normal at the Hampshire Red Barn some time around 1992. I may have even picked this up there. I would buy something from the merch table if I had the cash, trying to support the whole DIY thing. Part of the strangest triple-bill I've seen. My housemate's band, (Frances Gumm), Lungfish, and these guys.

They're...odd. Just one guitar and some strange sounding vocals. "Horse Heaven Hills" is a bit more rockin'. "How Many Now" is a bit slower and more melancholy. Damned if I know what she's singing most of the time. There's a lot of echo on her voice. And Jean Smith, the singer, was kinda spooky in person. I completely ruined my left ear at that show, but it wasn't Mecca Normal to blame.

A: How Many Now?
B: Horse Heaven Hills

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Halo Of Flies - Big Mod Hate Trip

The guy with the gun there? That's the guy behind AmRep, and this is his band. I bought this based on that alone, experimenting with something non-Sub Pop or Dischord. I'm pretty sure I picked this up at a Newbury Comics, based on the remnants of a huge price sticker on the plastic sleeve.

It's got the noise-rock staples; incredible amounts of treble in the vocals and guitars. But they do add some interesting elements to these songs that you don't always find in noise rock. The creative and just plain weird use of a wah pedal in the intro to "Wasted Time" along with the poppy background vocals softens it a bit, keeping it from becoming total noise. Tired & Cold features some Who-like rhythm section work. There's the "mod" for you, I guess. Solid single, on both sides. I liked this one when I bought it, and it holds up pretty well.

Halo of Flies were pretty much a singles band. I've got one or two more here somewhere, but that's it. They stopped recording shortly after this release, making it hard to find their stuff in stores. Their singles were compiled on one LP, "Music For Insect Minds". Might have to hunt that down. Should have bought more of their stuff when I had the chance. They made a comeback as "H-O-F" a few years ago (apparently the Melvins were involved in this somehow) and just released an album this year.

A: Tired & Cold
B: Wasted Time