Thursday, September 25, 2008

V/A: Things Are Still Coming Ashore LP

This is a 3-band compilation from Canada that has become a very sought-after item since it contains the very first tracks from Canadian indie/post punk band 54-40. Their songs on this comp are among the best that they ever released, dating back from 1981 and full of the dark post punk angst and urgency that so many of the classic records from that period had. The other two bands on the record are also good. Animal Slaves is an arty new wave band that would have fit in well in downtown NYC. Junco Run is a dark, gloomy post punk band with synths and organs as well as somber vocals. They remind me of bands like Danse Society, Joy Division, early Fra Lippo Lippi, and other similar groups. This is definitely a record worth listening to, so definitely check it out.

V/A: Things Are Still Coming Ashhore
1981, Mo-Da-Mu Records
1. Animal Slaves - Treblinka
2. Animal Slaves - Bones Brigade
3. Animal Slaves - Scum
4. Animal Slaves - Jello Boys
5. 54-40 - Contagious
6. 54-40 - One of Us
7. 54-40 - Anxious Moments
8. 54-40 - Long Goodbye
9. Junco Run - His Story
10. Junco Run - Unseen Hands
11. Junco Run - Secrets and Silence
12. Junco Run - It's What You Experience

Click here to download the record

ModMach: Selftitled EP

Here is a EP (and perhaps the only release) from a San Francisco band called Modmach. Sure, you most likely have not heard of them (they seem pretty much hopelessly obscure), but they actually had their roots in the well-known (in underground/indie terms, at least) San Francisco minimal synth band Units. Richard Driskill, Ron Lantz and Alex Rudis of Units split the synth band before the recording of their Digital Stimulation LP to form ModMach in 1980.
There is really no information to be found between the formation of the band and the release of this record a whole five years later in 1985. Did they release anything else in between - a demo tape, a 7", a reel-to-reel? It appears that Ron Lantz left the group before this 12" EP was recorded. This was self-released on the band's Oddernmart label, and came packaged in a foldover plastic sleeve with a cover insert and credit sheet. Thanks to Stephen from Obscure Records for the photos.
The music here is decent synthpop/new wave - it's definitely not as great as the classic Units stuff, but it's good.

ModMach - Selftitled EP
1985, Oddernmart Records
1. Security
2. On Too Long
3. Nothing New
4. Truth

Click here to download the EP

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Capital Punishment: Roadkill LP

What do you get when you cross the child of a famous comedian, the fertile New York no wave scene, and a few hundred dollars to record and release an album? You get Capital Punishment's album "Roadkill". Not to be confused with the hardcore band of the same name, this was a minimal electronic/no wave/retardo band from NYC in 1982. And the drummer/backup singer was none other than Ben Stiller. That's right, Zoolander himself was a wee lad of 13 when this album was recorded. And while the music here is amateurish - VERY amateurish at times - you have to admit that it's pretty damn cool for a high school freshman's band. I mean, what did YOU release when you were 13? I know that awkward point of my life consisted of Star Trek: TNG, Super Mario 3, and my dad's hidden stack of Playboy magazines. I certainly didn't have time to do anything creative.
So listen to this record with a grain of salt. There are some stupid no wave songs, some decent minimal electropop songs, and actually a couple great electronic instrumentals: especially the epic "John's Forgotten Lands I, II, and III", which use every synth noise in the book. It's a curiosity, a strange amateur classic, and often a very enjoyable listen. Unfortunately, the group never recorded anything else, and the short-lived genre of Stillerwave never realized its full potential.

Capital Punishment: Roadkill LP
Self-released, 1982
1. Necronomicon
2. Roadkill
3. Confusion
4. Muzak Anonymous
5. All Just in Passing
6. Delta Time
7. Creatures of the Dark (Night)
8. Cosmos
9. John's Forgotten Land (Parts 1, 2, and 3)
10. Necronomicon (Reprise)

Download the LP here!

Insulin Reaction: What's the Point LP & Witchfinder General 7"

Here are the two releases from the band Insulin Reaction: their debut 7", and their 1988 LP. Both are pretty obscure, and the LP can be found for quite cheap (like, $5 or so) on or ebay occasionally, which is a nice relief. This group is notable for including two ex-members of dark punk band Peace Corpse (Tracy Lee Garcia and Julianna Towns). Unlike Peace Corpse, Insulin Reaction is dark post punk very much in the Cure vein. What I find most interesting about the band is that they use no guitar - they have two bassists, a drummer, and a keyboardist. With two basses, the songs have a dark, ominous quality to them with very few bright, treblous noises appearing. The only problem is that the combination of dual basses and low production costs cause an extremely murky sound on the 7"; thankfully this was corrected for the LP. The LP is quite good; although many of the songs sound a bit similar, there are some classics, especially Darkzone and Secrets. Anyway, enough jabbering, you probably want to download the records. Do so here:

Insulin Reaction: Witchfinder General 7"
1987 Icon Records
1. Witchfinder General
2. Ride to Forever

Insulin Reaction: What's the Point LP
1988 Bobok Records, Ltd.
1. Lonely Lady
2. Reconstruction
3. Want
4. New Way
5. Darkzone
6. Factory
7. Blacksuit Man
8. Difference
9. Machine
10. Crossfure
11. Secrets
12. Cannibals

Download the LP and 7" here!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

First Men on the Sun (aka Abecedarians): Selftitled CD

Have you ever wondered what happened to the Los Angeles band Abecedarians? No? Well, be prepared to find out, regardless. They broke up in the late 80s after some classic post punk albums and singles on Factory Records, Independent Projects, and their own Southwest Audio Reproductions. But in 1995, Abecedarians essentially reunited. Vocalist/guitarist Chris Manecke and bassist John Blake got a new drummer, Jason Toney, and called their band First Men on the Sun. They released only one CD, on their own Southwest Audio Reproductions, the same label that released the first Abecedarians material a dozen years before. Musically, they sound exactly like mid-to-late-80s period Abecedarians, which should be no surprise; it features the same melodic vocals, the same slightly psychedelic instrumentation, the same post punk influences. It's a good album, and it's a shame that it's so obscure and hard to find these days.

First Men on the Sun
Selftitled CD, 1995 Southwest Audio Reproductions
1. Cary Grant's Hallucination
2. Sleeping On the Grill of the King
3. The Way Things Are
4. I Took a Bus
5. I Could Beg
6. Breathe In
7. Crawling Chaos
8. Chiddle

Download the CD here!

Parchment Prayer LP + Miscellaneous tracks

I wish I could give some sort of background or detail about this release, but the truth is there is simply no information to be found. None of the band members are named (not even on the lyrics sheet). I don't know what else this band released, but I have this LP and a cd-r of their demo tape. The band was from Germany, and was part of the darkwave/goth/deathrock scene there. They released their selftitled LP on Independance Records. Musically, it recalls everything from Joy Division to Christian Death to South of No North to anarcho post punk and punk bands like Lack of Knowledge, The Ex, and Crass. It's sometimes aggressive, sometimes melodic, and always quite dark (except on the kinda lame "Children", with its chorus of "Take Care of the Children... Children... Children...". I mean come on, that's only a few steps away from Whitney Houston's "Greatest Love of All". Ugh.) But aside from that misstep, the LP is great, with songs like This Love Lost and Comedy sounding like long lost classics. The demos are even better, in my opinion, except some of them aren't the greatest sound quality. A huge thanks to anonymous (was it sorrow-vomit?) who informed me about the demo songs: they were on a demo tape that the band released in 1985, limited to 100 copies. The image of the cover comes from sorrow-vomit. I didn't name the songs in the .zip file, but have included them here so that you can change them accordingly.

Parchment Prayer LP
1987 Independance Records, Germany
1.Sense of Belonging
2. This Love Lost
3. Change
4. We Could Be Them
5. Wish I Could Be
6. Incommunicado (Detention)
7. Comedy
8. Happy Day
9. Sensuality
10. Anger
11. Children


Parchment Prayer Demos:
1985, slef-released demo cassette, ltd to 100 copies
1. Rituale Romanum
2. Comedy
3. Bath of Flies
4. The Clock
5. Subway
6. Just Like You
7. Movement
8. Black Mess (recorded live)

Download both here.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Crimson Ivy: Spiritual Vision LP & Existence/Here We Are EP & Epithet Records stuff...

Here are both releases from San Francisco Bay Area band The Cure Crimson Ivy. I've been meaning to post these for quite a while. When I saw that Curious Guy posted the Autumn Cathedral LP (on the same label, Epithet Records) a couple days ago, I figured these records would be good companion pieces. The Cu- CRIMSON IVY was a darkwave/post punk band fronted by Russell Ficklin, who (at least on the LP) wanted soooooo much to be Robert Smith. From his voice to his hair, he was L'il Robbie Smith Jr. However, while it is quite derivative, it's also very good, with equal elements of electro and psych. And the EP takes it in a bit of a different, slightly more New Order-ish and synth-oriented direction, with more earth-loving hippie-ish lyrics.

Extra Epithet Records bonus! If you're interested in hearing another great band from this cult label, check out And Tears Fell. All their songs from their first album, Sidhe, are available for free download. They are a bit darkwave, a bit shoegaze, and a bit alt-rock. Definitely recommended if you like the Crimson Ivy and Autumn Cathedral stuff.

Also! If you check out the comments on the Autumn Cathedral post at Phoenix Hairpins, an anonymous poster uploaded some Autumn Cathedral demos, the Count Past Five 7" (a mod/powerpop band), and the Mute Angst Envy Archetype + Trust CD.

Even bonuser! You can now buy the previously out-of-print and aforementioned Archetype + Trust CD from the Kitchenwhore Records website.

I have several Epithet/Americanon Records catalogs that were packed with the 12"s and EPs on the label, and have been trying to obtain the full discography.
Here is the full discography, to the best of my knowledge:
EPOS1: V/A "Anthology 1: An Awakening" (I believe this was a Europe-only comp to try to promote the label to the more like-minded European market. I've never seen a copy of this before.
EPOS1: Red Weather "Gray" (same catalog number as above. This was only released on cassette and CD_
EPIC1: Crimson Ivy "Spiritual Vision" LP (vinyl-only)
EPIC2: Autumn Cathedral "Asleep Within Waves" (CD and vinyl formats... the CD is extremely hard to find)
AMLP1: The Rise "Fortunes Ride" (CD, cassette, and vinyl formats)
AMLP2: Merv Spiegel and the Penguins "Spitting Tree" (vinyl and cassette only - this is decent alt-rock/post punk)
VERSE1: Count Past Five "Bad Boys of Brighton 7"" (this is the only release from this band; they were a straightforward mod/powerpop band; the song "Bad Boys of Brighton" is a catchy track)
AMEP1: The Electra "Isaac, Felia, the Alley, Bricks & Rain" (mini-LP. I've never seen or heard this before)
CANT01: Crimson Ivy "Existence/Here We Are" (vinyl-only EP)
CANT02: Mute Angst Envy "Trust" (vinyl-only EP)
?????: And Tears Fell: Sidhe (CD? Vinyl? Cassette?)
?????: And Tears Fell: Circe (CD? Vinyl? Cassette?)

Also, there are loads of non-music releases on Epithet Records that were given catalog numbers, a la Factory Records. Poems, covers, lyric sheets, tour flyers, photos, t-shirts, and stickers are all listed in the catalogs
Any help in filling in any gaps would be appreciated, especially regarding the And Tears Fell releases, since I've never actually come across physical copies of them...

Anyway, back to the records at hand: The Crimson Ivy LP was released in 1988; the EP came out in 1989.

Spiritual Vision LP:
1. Insomnia
2. A Vision
3. The Moon
4. Giving In
5. The Decisive Effect
6. Forever
7. Kiss of Death
8. You
9. Two Shadows

Existence/Here We Are EP:
1. Existence
2. Awkward
3. Here We Are
4. Serenity

Download both the LP and EP here!

Infant Bonds of Joy - Selftitled LP

As requested by Elektro80s, here is the selftitled LP from San Francisco industrial/synth band Infant Bonds of Joy. This was a trio consisting of Ricki Sara Bennett, James Davis, and D. E. Kohls, who recorded the record with engineer/producer Greg Jones (RIP).
Anyway, this record was released in 1986 on the UK-based Public Records. It comes in a plain sleeve with glued-on artwork. The music is a mix of industrial/EBM, darkwave, and synthpop.

Apparently all the members have now contacted me, so it's great to see that everyone is doing fine! David Kohls filled me in on the history of the band:

"A (not so) brief Bio of IBOJ by David Kohls:

I came to SF from Lansing MI in 1982 drawn by the fantastic music coming out of the City in those days. Especially I liked bands recording on the Ralph Records label, and yes, I do know a member of the Residents, though I would only tell for money or food...

Boe came from Lansing 6 months later. We met up then got together with Billy Mitchell, another Lansing transplant. Billy was the drummer we'd worked with in our Lansing band "i-Tense". I seriously don't think any of us made any phone calls or anything in plans to emigrate to this great land, but here we were... I met Ricki through a Bay Guardian ad and along with a singer/girlfriend, the five of us launched Dinner Noise, a band basically built to perform a multimedia conceptual performance piece thing. We wrote a lot of music for that - a lot of it pretty good stuff.

Next, Boe and I formed the band Wimpy Savage. Very loud, unstructured, male, and in retrospect with a sound based on a Mattel drum machine which was a great sound that I don't think ANYONE else had. Boe and I have very fond memories and demo tapes of that era and our current film production company carries the same name.

Billy (and I, for a short time) did a stint with the Part Time Christians based out of Concord - kind of a bowling punk thing. Singer Dave B. is still in the area. PTC is definitely a band you freaks should clamber over if clambering is indeed what you do.

Unfortunately , Billy fell for that old diabolical call that has felled so many fine musicians. Too soon he was done and it's too bad cuz Billy was the finest drummer, maybe overall musician, I've ever worked with and he left us without a drummer.

Around this time (1985) Boe and I started writing a new set of songs. Ricki became involved and added her own (much different!) sensibilities to our sound and then we met reknown saxophonist Normal Salant who decided we'd be the perfect band for his first stroll in producer shoes. We rushed out a few more songs and made the record at Gregory Hale Jones' (RIP) recording studio. Greg was the engineer on the project and produced "WhyWhyWhy" and "Boo!". I think it's obvious to anyone who has heard the tracks that those 2 cuts sound much different than the bulk of the LP produced by Salant.

Overall the record has a lot of regrets as I suppose all records do. It is interesting though in that it caught an unusual sound in a twisty little musical time and especially it catches - showcases, actually - some of the blips of the technology of the time. Most prominently is the Roland 707 drum machine used throughout the record. There was no swing in this lock step monster and not terribly great samples either. I regret I didn't make better, more creative use of its limitations. Instead I got caught up in trying to make it sound like a drummer.

Also showcased is the wonderful Moog Prodigy synthesizer (not even Midi capable!) still highly valued for it's kick-ass bass capabilities. Most of the other keyboard sounds were produced on the Juno 120(?) a good midi-enabled synth. Did take advantage of some midi stuff, mostly triggers from the 707 and sequencing on Greg's Apple II computer! The recording was done on a 24 track board on 2 inch, mixed down to 1/2 inch and mastered at Fantasy in Berkeley."

Thanks a lot for the thorough background on the band!

Click here to download the album.

Track list:
1. Simple Anwers
2. Glorious Din
3. A Reaction
4. Why Why Why
5. Pointed Sticks
6. I Like Some Fun
7. Just Like Spoons
8. Boo!

(note: I accidentally called track 7 "Just Like Sticks" in the .zip file. Also, I didn't crop the cover images. D'oh!)