Sunday, December 4, 2011

UV Prom: Field of Vision 1-sided 12"

Sometimes it’s nice to just hear some good old-fashioned guitar-based post-punk. A record does not always need a lot of frills (or even a lot of originality) to be top-notch material. This record – the sole release by North Carolina band UV Prom (not to be confused with UV Pop!) is a perfect example of US post-punk done right. I’ve had this for at least 10 years or so and completely forgot about it until I found it stored away in my parents’ closet during a recent visit.

The band liberally grabs elements from UK luminaries like Echo and the Bunnymen, early Killing Joke, The Chameleons, add a bit of punk sensibilities (especially with the chanted "HEY"s in the first song - it almost reminds me of an oi band). They combine these elements on an excellent four-song one-sided 12”. The music is certainly familiar, and the band does not really take any chances or experiment too much – but in this case that works to the record’s advantage, as all four tracks flow together perfectly, and there is not a bad track among them.

It’s a shame the band never released anything else, as their imitation of their musical heroes is quite excellent. I believe this band has yet to be “discovered” by anyone, as copies still regularly float around online for pretty cheap.

UV Prom: Field of Vision 12”

1985, Centograph Records

A1 Mobile Home Murder

A2 Upper Room

A3 Funhouse

A4 Pink Cell

Get it here! - new CLEAN rip courtesy of Frankie Teardrop at Systems of Romance!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Between Two Fires: two 12"s

Between Two Fires was an obscure New Jersey band that released two records that were completely different from each other. Originally a four-piece, the band self-released a 12” in 1987 in very limited quantities. In true DIY fashion, it came in a plain die-cut sleeve with the band’s name stickered on the front. The second 12” came out a few years later and was also self-released, in a plain sleeve with a very well-done silkscreened front and band sleeve (shades of Eleven Pond, perhaps?)

The songs on the band’s debut are midtempo synthpop tracks with female vocals. The songs sound a bit influenced by the poppier aspects of groups like the Human League and Berlin, with layers of synthesizers and female vocals. While the songs sometimes betray their age with the glittering polished sound of a lot of bands from that era (well, at least as polished as a low-budget DIY band can get), it’s quite an enjoyable record."No Reason" is a solid song, with airy synth lines anchored by deep bass playing that echoes the Cure or New Order. The mellow “In Your Arms” is my favorite, with its layers of tribal drumming and percussion, subdued but effective bass and guitars, and vocals that are melancholy and entirely hypnotic.

After the debut was released, the band suffered from internal strife and two of the four members left - the bassist and the vocalist & chief songwriter. Such a change would undo virtually all other bands, but the two remaining members soldiered on, with the lead guitarist assuming the songwriting duties. The duo expanded threefold, and as a sextet they recorded one final record, the confusingly titled Dirk and the Mercenaries (confusing, because that seems more apt as a band name, and the front cover even seems to indicate that).

The band’s second 12” was self-released in 1990 and aside from a similar style of bass playing, it sounds virtually nothing like the first release. Both tracks are six-to-seven minute opuses, and they looked toward Europe - especially France and the UK - for a pretty big stylistic deviation. Along with fellow New Jersey band Screaming for Emily the B-side of this record is some of the best “touching pop” style coldwave released in the USA. It’s as if the band locked themselves in a room for a year with nothing but the Lively Art catalogue to keep them company.

The track “Ghost Dance” starts off with a Native American war dance yell sampled from an obscure 70s Western film before kicking into a midtempo coldwave song that combines the repetitive drum machines and rhythms of Shadow-era Iron Curtain with melodic but noisy guitars almost completely isolated on the right speaker channel and perfectly dark vocals with a slightly British affectation. While this song does go on a bit longer than necessary without deveoping too much, the B-side “Sand” is the band’s true masterpiece and even at seven-plus minutes it feels like it’s over too soon. Everything about this song is absolutely wonderful – from the atmospheric synths to the quick-paced drums and drum machines to the guitar riffs and the perfectly melancholy vocals.

A quick Internet search turns up absolutely nothing about the band’s debut record (aside from the songs posted on youtube by the band’s original bassist - a huge thanks to him for kindly providing the songs for me to post, and the background info about the band). And there are one or two copies of the Dirk and the Mercenaries record for sale, but no other mention anywhere else… This truly seems to be one of those completely lost bands. Hopefully with this post they will belatedly find a little bit of much-deserved recognition.

Between Two Fires:

Selftitled EP, 1987, Chapperal Music

A1 In Your Arms

A2 Tomorrow

B1 No Reason (sagebrush mix)

B2 For Your Love

Dirk and the Mercenaries 12”, 1990, no label

A1 White Eyes (Ghost Dance)

B1 Sand

Click here to listen to both!

Here's a brand new rip of the band's second 12" from a SEALED copy, courtesy of Frankie at System of Romance!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Real Macabre: Emotion 12”

Here is a mysterious record from 1985, from a UK band called Real Macabre. There are absolutely no credits or band members listed. The cover is just a white textured sleeve with a sticker on the front that says “This is Emotion”. The band seemed to go out of their way to NOT attract any attention.

It’s unfortunate, because this could easily have been a big club hit in the 80s Surely this band’s noisy-yet-tuneful brand of dark (but quite poppy) goth rock has widespread appeal. Fans of Look Back in Anger, Asmodi Bizaar, and Siouxsie and the Banshees will certainly enjoy both mixes of Emotion. While the tracks on this 12” may not be terribly original, they are well-written. With slightly sassy vocals and buzzsaw guitars, the extended mix of Emotion is a pretty great "lost" single, and is guaranteed to have you tapping your feet by the time the chorus arrives and the song kicks into overdrive.

Sadly, fate has found this band receiving little or no recognition. I’m sure the record was simply not distributed well enough for it to gain a wide audience. At least the age of mp3s can rectify this. I have no idea if this band ever released anything else (or, as mentioned earler, WHO the band members were). If anyone out there has any information, share it!

Real Macabre: Emotion 12”

1985, Push Records

A1 Emotion (extended)

B1 Emotion

B2 The Dance

Click here to listen!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Friz Be: Hmm… LP

Music blogs serve as a great way to introduce people to new music, but they can also serve as a means to show that a highly coveted record is not always necessarily worth the hundreds of dollars for which it usually sells. This much-requested record may not be a case of the emperor having no clothes, but it’s certainly rather scantily dressed. That’s not to say it’s a bad record – there are definitely some good and interesting songs here – it’s just that many of the songs seem more like unfinished sketches.

Friz Be was essentially a one-man project from Sweden. This was the only record he released, back in 1981. And for a record released at that time, it certainly can be pretty adventurous and experimental. But the record is also a bit overly long – it’s 12 songs, when about 8 would have worked much better. Many will be familiar with the song “I Throw Punches”, which has floated around in mp3 form over the past few years and was recently on the bootleg “Life in the Future” album. With its blasé vocal approach and tinny electronic bursts, it’s a bit rough around the edges but is definitely a gem.

Much of side 1 sounds a bit similar, although that song is certainly the most pop-oriented this record gets. Now Is the Time is a slow, lethargic synthpop track and is probably stylistically the closest to I Throw Punches. This is the New Age is another experimental synthpop song – albeit a very unrefined one. My personal favorite track from the album is Half Brain Naked, a hypnotically monotone song that mixes acoustic guitars and slowly pulsing electronics. The song’s brevity makes one wish that a lesser track on the album were cut in order to further expand upon its mesmerizing drone.

Side 2 is almost a different album entirely, full of formless and ambient electronics that would be great background music for floating in space. While it’s interesting listening, many of the songs sound a bit too similar to one another, and the second side would certainly have benefitted from removing a track or two and further exploring the ideas of some of the stronger songs. Here We Go and Hommage Au Muzak certainly have intriguing elements, and Flying sounds like one second of a symphony trapped in time and extended across two minutes.

This record is certainly worth downloading and listening to. It just behooves the first-time listener to not expect a lost minimal synth classic. Rather, it should be listened to for what it is - an amateur but earnest experimental project that is decidedly lazy-sounding and downtempo (or no tempo at all), as if recorded on a day-long downers bender. Maybe we can call it Quaalude-wave?

Friz Be: Hmmm… LP

1981, Piglet Records

A1: I Throw Punches

A2: This is the New Age

A3: Now is the Time

A4: Brosk Conversation

A5: This is Time

A6: Half Brain Naked

B1: Lufituaeb Eb Ot

B2: Elegant but very Fast

B3: Here We Go

B4: Flower in Your Hair

B5: Flying

B6: Hommage Au Muzak

Click here to listen!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Vono: Dinner Fur 2 LP

This album takes a love-it-or-hate-it approach to synth music. It is basically the essence of "minimal synth". Two Germans - one on vocals and one behind a Jupiter 8 - released this record on the verneable Sky label in 1982. It's certainly one of the oddest releases on a label more known for its progressive and cosmic Krautrock output. The often arhythmic music is as cold as it is sparse. It sometimes sounds like the duo's first time every playing with a synthesizer as they hit different keys wondering "what does THIS do?"
And yet, in Vono's cave of ice, in which everything is synthesized and tuned to the key of bleep, there is often beauty. Short melodies and instrumental refrains often poke up from the austerity, even if the vocals sound like they're about to detach from the songs and fall off the face of the earth. Songs like Mauertanz 1, Tief Im Dschungel, and the all-too-brief Bitte Wenden could almost be described as "pretty".
A few songs fall into actual structures. Lover Werner and the aforementioned Tief Im Dschungel have many wonderful pop elements. Mit Mir Zum Siege sounds very much like a stripped-down Liaisons Dangereuses song. the first comparisons I drew when listening to this album were to NDW bands like Der Plan and Die Todliche Doris. But this record manages to be less goofy and more focused than either of those bands. It still sounds influenced by those (and several other) NDW groups, but is also redolent of early Kraftwerk or the late Klaus Schultz. The record's minimal and cold nature give it an air of sterility, but its amatuerishness and experimentation give it a human element that endears it more than many of the band's contemporaries.

Vono: Dinner Fur 2 LP
1982, Sky Records
A1 Dinner Für 2
A2 Tanzstunde
A3 Im Schein Des Neon
A4 Lottozahlen
A5 Lover Werner
A6 Mit Mir Zum Siege
A7 Mauertanz 1
A8 Bitte Wenden
B1 Tief Im Dschungel
B2 Hirnregister
B3 Der Zauberer
B4 Nimm Alles Mit
B5 Leben In Irland
B6 Mauertanz 2
B7 Hitze

Monday, September 12, 2011

Modern Science: S/T 7”

I vaguely remember hearing a couple of these songs streaming online a while ago, but until now I have never seen it ripped for download. So when I found a cheap copy recently, I decided to remedy that. First of all, despite the cool and slightly creepy cover image, this is not a darkwave or goth record. It is pure, unapologetic synthpop. It uses 100% analog electronics, with simple drum machines and stabs and washes of synths. Before they were Modern Science, the band was known as The Odds, who apparently released a synthpunk single. I’d be interested in hearing that…

This record is definitely catchy as hell. I’m Not in Love is my favorite; it’s a straightforward two-minute synthpop burst. No One’s On the Street Tonight decent, although it has a somewhat ill-advised synth solo that betrays its nearly 30-year vintage.

If there was ever a minimal synth version of cheesy 80s movie montage music, Got to Be 1st would be it. Try listening to it and NOT envisioning a lost John Hughes movie in which a young, wimpy John Cusack runs laps and works out with unrelenting determination in an effort to win the heart of a girl who’s in love with the school track team champion (who’s a complete jackass to Cusack, of course).

Modern Science 7”

1982, S&M Records


I'm Not In Love



No One's On The Street Tonight



Gotta Be 1st

Click here to listen!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Various Artists: Commercial Music Vol. 2

I have not been posting as much as I’d like to, having been busy with work and exploring my new home city, but here is a compilation I have been working on with various odds and ends and rarities. Most of these songs and artists are underappreciated or virtually unknown, and many have never been widely shared. I consciously made this compilation an exercise in “wave around the world”. Included are artists from the US, Brazil, Greece, Turkey, Germany, Belgium, the UK, and more. Most are from the 80s, but a handful are from the 90s and 2000s. Enjoy!

The first track is Verdun by Addie Brik (UK, 1984). It’s a downtempo and slightly synthy Siouxsie-esque song. While it doesn’t develop as much as I would like, it has good atmospheric and is a good intro to the comp.

Proxies (Greece, 1982) released an amazing debut LP that recalled Cold War Night Life era Rational Youth. They followed it with a stylistic change toward a more pop-oriented direction on their second LP. This song, the awkwardly-titled Don't Throw Babies (To The Spartans At Kaiadas),is from that second LP, and while it is quite cheesy (admittedly a characteristic of their debut as well), it’s a pretty good synthpop track.

Soviet (NYC, 2000) were unfairly lumped with all the NY electroclash bands during the brief few months that genre was legitimate, but they really were a pure, earnest synthpop band. If they came out now, they would probably be classified as a minimal synth band. They released a couple CDs; this song is a very minimalistic demo version of their song Marbleyzed.

Nohumaneye (UK, 1981) self released one 7” and have been pretty much completely unknown for the past 30 years or so. I happened to find this in a tiny record store in Istanbul, of all places. This song, The Owners Lose A Package, is good lo-fi and synth-heavy new wave that borders on punk with its slightly off-key and shout-y vocals.

Strafe Fur Rebellion (Germany, 1983) has been shared before, but this song off their debut 7”,Mosche Bildt Njet, is a bit hard to find, and is completely unlike their abstract instrumental NDW that they’re more known for. Instead, this song basically sounds like DAF if they were a four-piece band with no electronics. It’s highly rhythmic, repetitive, with tinny jagged stabs of guitars and almost militaristic chanting.

The next song is a completely unknown track by a band called Dancing Bears (Scotland, 1987). The band was from the UK and self-released this 7”, and that may be their only recorded output. This song, Got to Get Out of Here, is a real gem - especially for those of us who love early 80s Scottish post punk. This is a very Josef K-sounding burst of energy

I shared Pinkie Maclure’s previous LP a while back. This track, Garden Of Delights, is taken from her Favourite LP (1995, UK). It finds her still using loads of electronics, but equips her with a new percussive backbone that recalls Krautrock bands like Can or Neu!. Her vocals are a bit more ethereal on this song, which recalls many of the trip-hop and electronic bands at the time (most notably Portishead and Laika).

Akira S + Charlie C (Brazil, 1989) follow with a song called Tokei, a short, synthy dark pop track. Akira S was huge in the underground Brazilian post punk and synthpop scene, and was behind many of the bands on the excellent Nao Wave and Sexual Life of the Savages compilations from a few years ago.

Scatterbrains (Netherlands, 1983) released an ridiculously sought-after mini-LP and disappeared. I have only heard a few songs on the mLP, and this is probably my favorite. Totally amateur and raw analogue synthpop – if anyone has a rip of their full record I’d love to hear it…

Trans Millenia Consort (San Francisco, 1984) is sometimes cited as the first-ever dark ambient band. While that claim may be disputable, there is no arguing this ominously-titled song’s (Blood Celebrants) absolutely haunting atmosphere that recalls a long foggy drive to a haunted house teetering atop a precarious precipice. Oh yeah, and the SF-based woman behind this band was completely BLIND.

Dequina + Zaba (Brazil, 1991) provide a wonderful downtempo (almost ambient) electronic song called Preposicoes, with nearly indecipherable hushed female vocals and layers of restrained percussion and effects.

48 Chairs (UK, 1982) were one of the many UK DIY bands that have been comped on the Messthetics and Homework series. Relentless is taken from their sole (and exceedingly rare) LP, is full of whirling electronics, tinny metronomic drum machines, blasts of sax, and repetitive vocals.

Navastrau (Chicago, 1980) follow up with a totally art-damaged and dark-as-hell post punk song from their self-released 7”, called Looking from an Airplane. A tinny rhythm box holds the beat for layers of synths, out-of-tune guitars, and almost electronic-sounding saxes. The female vocalist sounds simultaneously blasé and paranoid.

MaGita (Germany, 1984) follow with a burst of visceral German post punk. Originally the vocalist and violinist for Abwarts, she released a 12” from which this song, Jones, is culled. This track is replete with blazing guitars, shouted vocals, and a rhythm section that sounds like it’s in a state of repeated collapse

The Aeffect (Florida, 2002) may have been part of the “hipster synthpop” underground scene of the late 90s and early aughts, but like the best bands and albums of that genre – Antarctica, “Danse Macabre” by The Faint – they actually were legitimately good. This song, Burning in the Bed on Fire, is a fast-paced song with intense but simplistic synthesizer lines that recall early OMD or the “Some Bizarre” version of Depeche Mode’s Photographic.

Bedtime for Bonzo (Belgium, 1984) played jokey post punk and dark electro. Some people may be familiar with this controversial track, but it still remains a bit unknown so I figured I’d share it again. It’s called The Bloody Violation of Mickey Mouse’s Virginity on 59th Street. …and that is LITERALLY what this song is about.

Braizen Boiz (US, 1983) had a pretty dumb name (you’d expect them to sound like a hip hop version of Menudo or something), but they did leave their mark on the synthpop underground with this track, Beware. They only released one 12” which featured 3 mixes of the song (this is my favorite, the Space Version). Most copies were destroyed in a flood (isn’t that always the case?) so it’s hard to come across these days.

Maxx Mann (NYC, 1981) self-released one 12” that was an earnest combination of bathhouse disco and synthpop. This song, Like a Killer (True Love Is Always True) is loaded with tinny electronics and disco basslines, with Maxx Mann’s expressive vocals. Of all the people on this comp, he probably went on to the most fame, becoming a broadway actor of some reknown, as well as the singer of the hugely popular Trans Siberian Orchestra.

Kim Ki O (Istanbul, 2008) could be your new favorite synth band. This Turkish girl duo makes some gorgeous synth music that fits right along such contemporaries as Sixth June and Kindest Lines. They have an EP that was recently released on Enfant Terrible; this song I Don’t Relate, is found on one of their earlier self-released demo cd-rs.

Courage of Lassie (Canada, 1986) released several neofolk albums in the 80s and 90s. I’m not a huge fan of most of their work, but this track, Hiroshima, is full of glistening synths and wistful keyboard lines. It’s almost nostalgic-sounding, and I figure it’s a decent way to round out the comp…

Click here to listen...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Kissed Air: Kariba & Out of the Night 7”s

Here are the two 7”s from Irish post punk band Kissed Air. They also released a 12” but alas, I do not have that record. Originally a punk band called Known Authority, this Belfast group changed their name and adopted a more post-punk style around 1982. Their style grabbed pretty liberally from the playbook of Joy Division and early A Certain Ratio. The singer’s vocals are reminiscent of Ian Curtis, with a slight Irish accent (as if Curtis mated with Bono, perhaps?). A couple songs put heavy basslines at the forefront – Kariba in particular sounds like it a companion piece to ACR’s Do the Du.

The second single finds them in their most Joy Division-ish sound, as the A side, Out of the Night sounds like it could be a single if Ian Curtis lived to record a third proper album with the band. It’s a bit frantic and danceable and aside from the breakdown near the end, retains a somewhat dark sound to it.

The band’s B sides are sort of let-downs compared to the obverse sides. Their eponymous song from the Kariba single is OK, but its mostly plodding pace completely negates the sense of urgency found on the A side. The B side of their second single, Change of Attention is decent, if your definition of “decent” extends to songs that sound like a castoff from a late-period Shriekback album.

Still, the two A sides here are well worth a listen, and these singles don’t tend to fetch too much cash right now, so it may be a good idea to buy them if you like them.

Kissed Air: Kariba 7:

1982, Kabuki Records

A1: Kariba

B1: Kissed Air

Kissed Air: Out of the Night 7”

1982, Kabuki Records

A1: Out of the Night

B1: Change of Attention

Click here to listen!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Printed At Bismarck's Death – Via Lacrimosa LP

I never really realized how gothic the Christian Bible is until I heard this LP, the first full length from German darkwave/goth band Printed At Bismarck’s Death. These guys approached their music without any sense of irony, which is probably why the Bible has never seemed so bleak. They are not actually a Christian band (at least not that I know of), but they base almost every song on a Christian parable or traditional folk song (such as House of the Rising Sun), sing and chant in German and English, and wrap most songs in a thick blanket of electronics and atmosphere, traditional instruments and full orchestral sweeps, guitar effects and tribal drumming.
While not every song is a winner (the aforementioned House of the
Rising Sun does sound a bit silly, especially since most of us are more familiar with the Animals’ version of it; and a couple songs on side B veer into avant-jazz meanderings) most tracks are about as true to the gothic aesthetic as possible – earnest and layered with impenetrable darkness. And don’t be put off by the late release date - songs like the largely orchestra “Drapa”, the symphonic and experimental “Meet Moshe Dayan In A Russian Bunker”, and the simplistic but effective dark dance of “Pseudo Philon” make this an LP to seek out.

Printed At Bismarck's Death – Via Lacrimosa LP
1991, T 42 Records
A1 Prélude Morbide
A2 Premières Communions
A3 Meet Moshe Dayan In A Russian Bunker
A4 House Of The Rising Sun
A5 Le Juif Errant
A6 Pseudo-Philon
B1 Drapa
B2 The Cold Earth
B3 Three Victims Of Bloody March
B4 Jesus Goes Golgotha
B5 Embryo
B6 Tutuguri (Rite Of The Black Sun)

Caesarian Section : Incision 12”

My friend and I were in Athens on the last day of a recent vacation to Turkey and Greece and we decided to visit one last record store. That store turned out to be a goldmine compared to anywhere else we had visited – we each walked out with stacks of records after spending over 100 Euros apiece. My friend found this record and put it on the store’s turntable. The crackly intro fed into crashes of industrial percussion and a noisy mess of guitars and echoing, repetitive vocals.
“Whoa… this sounds like a fucked-up version of Danse Society”, exclaimed my friend.
He was right. It was slightly more industrial sounding, and noisier, as if Danse Society had a marathon listening session of Swans and Einsturzende Neubauten albums before recording.
New Rosary, the leading song on the EP, is a definite strong point. Voodoo Jazz repeats the formula on the previous track, but obscures the vocals, adds shrieks and yelps, and ups the ante on the psychotic percussion.
The B side is a bit less noisy, and slower-paced, but still quite good. Barb Wire Teddy is almost shoegaze in a Jesus and Mary Chain sort of noisy, effected way (but with more emphasis on atmosphere and percussion than on guitars). The final song, Fact Not Fiction, is virtually formless, with tinny percussion pushed to one side and occasional clangs of metal piercing the din of effects and delays and echoing vocals. It’s a great way to end the record, in a cocoon of completely unrefined noise. This is currently dirt cheap on discogs at the moment... I wonder if it will remain that way?

Caesarian Section: Incision 12”
1987, Incision Records
A1: New Rosary
A2: Voodoo Jazz
B1: Barb Wire Teddy
B2: Fact Not Fiction

Monday, July 4, 2011

Baby Buddha + David Javelosa: Everyone is My Age LP

I meant to post this in conjunction with the recent (and absolutely impeccable) Dark Entries BART compilation, but.... well, I didn't get to it. That record featured a selection from the final Los Microwaves 7". But in some ways this LP could actually be considered the last Los Microwaves release. It's ostensibly a collaboration between Baby Buddha (who released another LP on Posh Boy in 1982, which mainly featured synthpop covers a la Silicon Teens) and David Microwave from Los Microwaves. But Baby Buddha did not actually refer to a specific person; it was a Los Microwaves side project featuring Javelosa and guests. So, confusingly, this was David Javelosa’s side project on which he collaborated with… David Javelosa (as well as all members of Los Microwaves). It's possibly the most completely eccentric LP I've heard in a long time- it blends darkwave, psychedelic rock, minimal electronics, ambient, 60s garage rock, and even a little bit of country on the endearing "Selfish Heart". It almost sounds like it could be a compilation of 8 different bands rather than the output of 4 or 5 collaborating individuals. As a result of these disparate ingredients the record can be hit or miss. But it is never boring, and there are some great songs to be found.

This record was actually recorded around 1983-1984, but was finally self-released in 1987. David Javelosa went on to become a music composer and programmer at Sega. I had the good fortune of seeing him perform at a game programmers’ conference afterparty about 6 or 7 years ago. It was held at the now-defunct Drum Machine Museum in the heart of the tenderloin in San Francisco; he was opening for Freezepop. I don't know if he actually played any of these songs (I had not heard the LP yet) but I remember being quite amazed at the ease with which he changed styles from one song to another, like a musical chameleon. His ability and proficiency in so many genres is probably why he was successful as a music programmer, with the ability to create pieces that could suit any moment in a game.

I ripped the first two songs on each side together since they mix seamlessly with each other.

Baby Buddha & David Javelosa: Everyone is My Age LP

1987, Hyperspace Music

A1 Overture

A2 Think It’s You

A3 Big Generation

A4 Do I

A5 Selfish Heart

B1 Everyone is My Age

B2 Clear Eyes

B3 Emotion II

B4 Night

B5 My Age

B6 Chantilly Lace

Click here to listen!

The Drops: Fatal Fall 7”

Well, after a brief hiatus during which I travelled through Turkey and Greece (buying records along the way, of course) I still have a few records to share. I bought this gem in Greece and while I realized after ripping it that it has already been shared, it was only shared on a Greek music blog and deserves as much recognition as possible.
The Drops were from the port town of Piraeus, a little to the south of Athens. They formed in 1990 and released this in 1995. Their style of darkwave was very stripped down and minimal, sounding like In Trance 95 playing Cure songs. The B side, A Beautiful Night, is a particularly amazing midtempo track with an emphasis on a simple but solid drumbeat. I played it at the Weird party in New York a week ago and several people asked who it was – always a great way to gauge if a song is a keeper in one’s DJ arsenal. It’s amazing that a record this earnestly and authentically post-punk sounding came from 1995. Perhaps the 90s are the last vestige of unknown and blogworthy darkwave music?

The Drops: Fatal Fall 7”

1995, Wipe Out! Records

A1 Fatal Fall

B1 A Beautiful Night

Click here to listen to this record

Friday, April 22, 2011

Radio Ghosts: Handfuls of Everything mLP

As I prepare to take a vacation-induced hiaitus, I figured that I would share a couple records since I won't be posting too much for a little while. Here is a gem from that I found recently, by a band called Radio Ghosts. They hailed from the fertile post punk and indie scene in Scotland, and released this 12" mLP on their Grampaphone Records (haha!) label. The album starts off with the most gurgling, ominous, dripping synth sound I've heard in a while before it mixes with wonderful Orange Juice style post punk to perfect effect. While they aren't really a synth band per se, they do incorporate it pretty effectively in several tracks, including the aforementioned title track and the minimalist closing track.
The slow/quiet-loud/fast-slow/quiet style of Run is also quite appealing, although the song is the first place where the sax makes its appearance (mercifully, it's pretty restrained). It's another song that shows a pretty heavy Josef K and Orange Juice influence, betraying its Scottish nature. The first tracks of each side are the absolute highlights. Side 2, track 1 is a full-on rush of post punk that sounds like Artery playing with early A Certain Ratio, and features the densist, heaviest spazz-bass EVER - it's enough to make a quadrapalegic gyrate like James Brown. Even the sax is used in great blaring Blurt-like fashion and adds to the frantic insanity.
I have no idea why this band doesn't have at least SOME appreciation; they seem to be waiting to be rediscovered. Perhaps their lack of widespread pop appeal was in part due to the completely no-frills DIY sound of the album (for example, the sudden volume change about a minute into Reflex Reaction is NOT something I did when ripping it... it's present on the album). I know that some of the members went on to other bands - the singer, Martin Cotter, formed the C86 indiepop band Bachelor Pad a few years after this ablum was released; Paul Quinn, the bassist, later released a few records on (what else?) the Postcard label and released a kinda mundane synthpop single with Vince Clarke before joining bands like Teenage Fanclub and, most notably, The Soup Dragons.
Ultimately, this is an artifact of early-80s post punk that will appeal to fans of all those kinda-pop, kinda-punk, kinda dance bands like Orange Juice and Josef K and Artery and They Must Be Russians (as well as more recent similar bands, most notably debut-LP-era Franz Ferdinand), so click below!

Radio Ghosts: Handfuls of Everything mLP
1982, Grampaphone Records
A1 Handfuls Of Everything
A2 Reflex Reaction
A3 Run
B1 I Won't Tell You Lies
B2 So Cruel
B3 The Big Man Bites The Sidewalk

The Cut: Shadow Talks LP

Here is a record from a pretty obscure Norwegian band called The Cut. Aside from being comped on one of the New Wave Complex cd-rs, and more recently the excellent Maskindans double-CD, this band has remained largely unknown. Perhaps they would have found more mass appeal if they were from the UK or even the US, but instead they were relegated to being "big in Scandinavia" which regrettably did not grant them much reknown, nor does it sound as impressive as being "big in Japan".
Their music, however, will certainly appeal to almost any fan of new wave or synthpop. They combine jerky guitars and some great new wave riffs, washes of synths and electronics and the perfect amount of blasse vocals. They sound like they take their cues from their British counterparts, most notably Gary Numan and Tubeway Army, as well as the eccentricities of the Neue Deutsche Welle scene (one standout song is actually sung in German), with vocals that sometimes recall David Byrne.
This is an album that hits you over and over and over with excellent tracks - from the bouncy "The Crowd" with deceptively macabre lyrics about death, misery, and burning flesh, to the dark new wave synths of the German-sung In Dieser Stadt. It's surprising that such a great album (that was issued twice, on two different labels, and later on CD) STILL has not received much recognition. I can't recommend this one highly enough - if you liked their contribution to the Maskindans CDs, or if a cross between Gary Numan and Surplus Stock appeals to you, then you need to check this record out.

The Cut: Shadow Talks LP
1982, Ultraphone Records
A1 The Crowd
A2 Disguises
A3 I Wish It Was Simple
A4 Atmospheres
A5 From Day To Day
B1 In Dieser Stadt
B2 Television
B3 Supernatural Conspiracy
B4 Break It
B5 This Time

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Great City: Great City LP

On many occasions, I am drawn to buy a record based on the cover alone, and this LP by a band called Great City is a perfect example of that. The cover art immediately drew me in with its ridiculous avant garde design that could ONLY have come from the 80s. The photo of the two band members pushed to the graininess of a pencil drawing; the photo credit on the front cover in case you were wondering who took it (it was "Ava"); the addition of seemingly random cubes and spheres; the inexplicable telephone cord coil in one corner; the band name written twice on the cover for some
strange reason... It was almost too much. The credits did not provide any info about the instruments used so I coudn't really glean what it would sound like, but judging by the cover it had to be some variation of new wave.
In actuality, the record is an odd beast: very simplistic and repetitive drum programs, strong electronic rhythmic backbones, stabs of synthesizers, oddly questionable and funky bass playing, cheesy synth horns a la With
Sympathy-era Minstry, and artfully off-key female vocals. On my favorite songs (the last two tracks of each side) musically sound sort of like the bastard child of SSQ and Ludus, with a little bit of lite gothic flourishes thrown in (and the final song, I Remember, sounds quite similar to the gothic Hi-I LP I uploaded a while back).
The band was from Los Angeles - which I assume is the "Great City" in question, which actually kind of negates any credibility they may have (sorry, LA friends). They released a CD a few years after this but always remained pretty much unknown. Except for a lone discogs entry, there is absolutely no mention of this release anywhere online. It just goes to show that no matter how many 80s gems have been uncovered, there is still a plethora waiting to be unearthed by the patient collector.

Great City: Great City LP
1986, Impressive Records

A1 A Dollar, A Ruble
A2 Impressive
A3 Too Much Thunder
A4 Talk Before
B1 Tell Me I'm Yours
B2 Night Flight To Tangiers
B3 Never Land
B4 I Remember

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Steve Braun's Universe: Out to Play 7"

Before the advent of the analog synthesizer and drum machine, one-man bands tended to almost exclusively be found firmly in folk-rock territory; just a man or a woman and a guitar, vocals, and the occasional harmonica. Synths helped to change that, though, as one person could record an entire album using the vast array of sounds and beats that were programmed on their new devices. Entire albums could be recorded using just a few synthesizers - from the completely raw DIY aesthetic of Transparent Illusion to the tuneful minimalist synthpop of John Foxx.
Steve Braun was one such one-man band. He self-released this 7" on his own Universe Records in 1982 as a demo to send around to labels and record companies, never really distributing more than a few hundred copies. He played virtually everything on this record, which is nearly exclusively electronic (except for a short sax interlude and live drums on side B). Musically, his songs are extremely redolent of early Gary Numan (although his vocals are more similar to Philip Oakley of Human League). If Braun and Numan did not know each other before this 7" was released, this record certainly caught Gary's ear, as the synthpop star and Braun later joined forces to create Numa Records. Braun even released a 12" on that label some years later.
If decidedly lo-fi and minimal one-man synthpop is at all appealing to you, then you'll want to check out this obscurity!

Steve Braun's Universe: Out To Play 7"
1982, Universe Records
A1 Out to Play
B1 Red Light Districts

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Various Artists: Untitled LP

Courtesy of Riegler, the beautiful and discerning San Francisco minimal synth/post punk/darkwave DJ-at-large, comes this virtually unknown compilation that she was kind enough to mail to me to rip and play at a party or two. I've shared a couple of Club de Rome records, and here is a compilation that has an exclusive song from them, during their formative coldwave years.
This compilation was released in 1986 on the tiny Post Tenebras label out of Switzerland. Aside from probably being pressed in a small run of a few hundred copies or so, this record is completely untitled, making searching for it (or even referring to it by name) a futile exercise. The record features eight tracks from four Swiss bands. Club de Rome have two songs here, one of which was the B-side to the Hypnotised 7" I shared a couple weeks ago, the other of which is exclusive. The exclusive song, Murder, finds the band veering close to deathrock territory, with sheets of metallic guitars, a solid bassline backbone, and lyrics at the end that, oddly enough, they would rerecord later ("Why don't you recognize/That my life/is not a dream" would later become the refrain of A L'Est & A L'Ouest Du Crépuscule).
Smirnov, whose EP was shared a while ago on the Capa Nostra Syndicate blog was a coldwave band in the tradition of Norma Loy, Charles de Goal, Asylum Party, and others; both their songs are extremely solid and may be my two favorites on this album.
Smog (not to be confused with the current indie band) was a female-fronted deathrock/dark punk band in the vein of early Christian Death, The Sears, and Blitz. Their song Dream of sand is a particularly excellent track, with aggressive vocals and guitars tuned to attack.
Nova Express are the synth band on this record - both their songs make heavy use of programmed drums, electronics, and cold vocals. Their song on the A side, La Fille Aux Yeux Telescopiques, may be one of the weaker songs on the album, but they more than make up for it on the second side with A 2000 a l'Heure, a definite coldwave gem.
Overall, this comp is quite excellent, and really is more than deserving of a name. Perhaps not giving the record a title helps the record label remain neutral in true Swiss tradition.

Various Artists: Untitled LP
1986, Post Tenebras Records
A1 Club De Rome: Occhio Blu
A2 Smirnov: Cliches
A3 Smog: Dream of Sand
A4 Nova Express: La Fille Aux Yeux Telescopiques
B1 Nova Express: A 2000 a l'Heure
B2 Smog: Better Than I Do
B3 Smirnov: Save
B4 Club De Rome: Murder

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mock: Skyryder EP

With all the recent synth and post punk and new wave records I have been posting as of late, I thought that maybe it would be a nice idea to completely digress musically for a day. The above-mentioned genres are just some of my favorite; but sometimes I just love to put on a shoegaze album and bliss out to a warm blanket of hazy sound. I know there are a lot of others who love post punk and shoegaze with equal fervor - maybe it's because of the atmosphere and mood that the two genres create, maybe it's because both genres are the perfect blend of rebellion against the greater music world and embracing of fringe elements of pop sensibility.
This record - a completely unknown gem from a UK band called Mock - is one of my current favorites. In only four (long) songs, they pack an entire album's worth of reverbed beauty. They take their cues from the best of the shoegaze set - especially Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. In fact, the song Diving sounds so much like it's off of Souvlaki that I sometimes have to take a look at what record I have on just to verify. The song is an epic of sloooow, deliberate percussion, dense washes of guitar noise and bass fuzz and vocals that are reverbed to the point of abstraction. The title track features stabs and plucks of warm guitars on top of a thick wall of sound, with dual vocals that simultaneously sound male, female, and androgenous. The first song, Poppy, and the final song, the wonderfully titled Vertigo Melt, are the real rock songs on the album; Vertigo Melt in particular sounds like it could have come from pre-Loveless MBV.
I cannot recommend this highly enough. If you have a passing interest in shoegaze, you'd do well to take a listen to this. What it may lack in originality, it more than makes up for in ear-piercing euphony.

Mock: Skyryder EP
1994, Bites Back! Records
A1 Poppy
A2 Diving
B1 Skyryder
B2 Vertigo Melt

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Club De Rome: Hypnotised 7"

By now, most of you have probably heard the excellent Club De Rome mini LP I uploaded some time back. The Swiss band's mix of coldwave, synthpop, and industrial was perfect, and gems like The Painting on Her Skin never seem to get old. The band actually had a few releases before that Lively Art Records mini LP, though, including this privatelyreleased 7". Songs from this record were reissued on the Club De Rome CD on Lively Art, but I don't believe they have been widely shared. I recently picked up a copy of the 7" and figured I would rectify that.
There are two songs on the 7". The B side, Occhio Blu, kind of meanders and does not really go anywhere, but the A side, Hypnotised, finds the band in solid coldwave territory, sounding more like their future Lively Art labelmates (Little Nemo, Babel 17, Asylum party, etc) than they themselves would sound when they finally put out their record on the label. With warm synthesizers, tinny guitar riffs hidden beneath pounding drums and melancholy vocals, this song is a must-have for coldwave and post-punk fanatics.

Club De Rome: Hypnotised 7"
1987, CPA Disques
A1 Hypnotised
B1 Occhio Blu

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Real Camouflage: Look Close EP

It's very, very rare that one gets to compare a darkwave album to The Ghostbusters, but I have the opportunity to do just that with this post here, so I will take advantage of it. Those of us who grew up in the 80s will remember that the Ghostbusters cartoon based on the films we all knew and loved was actually called The Real Ghostbusters. This was because there was already a cartoon called Ghost Busters that was around years before the film-to-cartoon was extant. So it was not just a superfluous qualifier in the title; the "Real" indicated that THIS was the Ghostbusters you actually cared about (at least until the show became overly Slimer-centric and started being called Slimer and the Real Ghostbusters).
This ties in to the Kozmonaut LP I posted a while ago. Christian, who provided that LP, also provided this excellent record, as well as the majority of the info for the writeup below. Peter Ziegelmeier, who formed the industrial band Kode IV with Hans Schiller of Kozmonaut, was in a band called Camouflage years before his well-known industrial project existed. Camouflage was a darkwave band with quite a few similarities to the Italian and Greek darkwave bands of the mid-80s - groups like Magic De Spell, South of No North, and Diaframma. The band was formed in 1982 in Switzerland, which is where Peter was originally from. Back then, they recorded 3 songs (the ones on the A-side) before they relocated to Berlin in 1984. That's when they recorded the two songs found on the B-side. They made a video clip for both songs, which one of the band members uploaded two years ago but have received little play, what with all the competition from kitten videos:

(Peter is the one on the right)

Canmouflage was the name they went under for several years, until they finally decided to commit to pressing all five songs on vinyl in 1987. As luck would have it, a new Camouflage band had surfaced and became huge Depeche Mode clones overnight. Peter said that he was in shock when he saw a big banner advertising the other Camouflage's first album. The earlier Camouflage had no money or resources to go after the new Camouflage. Hence, they ended up changing their band name to "The Real Camouflage". Did they knowingly take a cue from the cartoon Ghostbusters naming war? Probably not... The record was pressed up in very small quantities and is virtually unknown to this day. They were completely underground.

The story of The Real Camouflage ends in 1987 when the band split up. One former member is still making music, another started working for a TV station, and Peter was looking for a new band. Peter said that he was really good friends with Carlos Peron , a former band member of Yello. Hans Schiller of Kozmonaut was also friends with Peron. When Hans recorded a Kozmonaut demo cassette called Hyko, he sent a copy of the tape to Carlos. At the time, Hans was trying to form a real band that was more than just a solo project. Hyko was the name of a girl he wanted to have a band with, but for some reason it didn't work out. Carlos played that cassette to Peter. Peter loved the music so much he decided to fly to San Francisco to meet up with Hans, literally just showing up at his front door one day. Just a few months later they had their first record deal as Kode IV. Kode IV was supposed to be named Code 4 but Peter, still traumatized from having one band name stolen from him, decided to mix things up and spell the band name with a 'K' and change the number to Roman numerals.
In one more highly amusing bit of Kozmonaut trivia, it turns out that Hans's identity is completely questionable - first of all, was not German at all. He was from a small province in Canada. He moved to San Francisco due to his sexual orientation, in hopes that he would find acceptance in the tolerant City By the Bay. He was fascinated by German culture, German music (big Kraftwerk fan), and Germany in general. Hence, he made these pseudo German records under the Kozmonaut alias. It also turns out that Hans Schiller was a made up name as well. He admired a musician called "Hans" and was a big fan of Friedrich Schiller, the German poet. So he mixed the two names together to make the pseudonym Hans Schiller. He also used a different name in the gay community - his identities were so different and separate from each other that he had three different phone lines set up at home and called himself different names depending on which phone rang.
He ran his "Vier Productions, Inc." label right out of a house that he rented near Ocean Beach, San Francisco. It has nothing to do with Hamburg, Germany. They recorded all of their Kode IV stuff in that same garage as well. That's where Hans stored all his records and cassettes as well. And, unless there are any more new discoveries, that concludes the story about The Real Camouflage, Kozmonaut and the beginnings of Kode IV all in one nice nutshell.

The Real Camouflage: Look Closely EP
1987, Z Records
A1 Walk With Me
A2 Il Tempio
A3 Get Away
B1 Out of This Time
B2 Victims

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Less Funny Beduins: Im Sommer Im Keller EP

This was the very first record that I purchased after I moved to New York. I had never seen it before and did not even know who the band was. The weird handwritten quasi-Arabic font on the cover was completely indecipherable, and could have said anything from Bass Fuming Berserk to Legs Falling Backwards. And since the cover was the ONLY place where the band name was written, the band's identity remained a complete mystery to me when I bought it. In fact, I did not even find out who this band was until a couple days after I purchased it, after a little bit of internet sleuthing.
The band, as it turns out, is actually called Less Funny Beduins, which I can now kind of see written on the cover, although other times I can also see it saying Lose Fucking Bedbugs, so I suppose it's a Roscharch test of sorts.
The band was from Germany and released this record on Arab Productions, a subdivision of the tiny Independance label, which released records and tapes from sought-after bands like Parchment Prayer and Modern Art.
Boss Tummy Bunnies played a dark, experimental sort of gothic post-punk. The record is full of percussion and chugging guitars similar to post punk bands like Artery or Red Zebra, atmospheric synths and strings and pianos and gloomy vocals similar to Christian Death, and weird time changes and spastic experimentation similar to NDW bands like Sprung Aus den Volken and Leben Und Arbeiten. While Leggy Funky Bearclaws may never become a household name, they definitely deserve some recognition, as this record is quite a gem. And now at least you know who they are (kind of)!

Less Funny Beduins: Im Sommer Im Keller EP
1986, Arab Prod.
A1 Mary Bell
A2 Tout Normal
A3 Arjan/Eifersucht
B1 Es Konnte Viel Bedeunten...
B2 Busho - Busho

Link removed, as the artist has the album available as mp3 downloads - and to listen to - here

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Trax: Home EP

The UK during the late 70s and early 80s may have been the epicenter of the single greatest era of music - if not of all time, then at least of our generation (although I suppose it also depends on the type of music you're interested in). The sheer amount of records released at the time - from the private pressings recorded in ramshackle studios at 3 AM for the price of a case of Top Ramen, to the commercially risky records that even the major labels were putting out - means that there will always be another classic unearthed on pretty much a weekly basis. Consider this the classic of this week!
This band, called Trax, hailed from the town of Dunfermline, Scotland, and released this single on their Lonely Records label in 1979. It's not the greatest-quality recording, remaining a tad murky, especially on the second side on which the band bravely attempts to cram nearly eight minutes of music. It combines the energetic energy and guitars of garage punk with the atmospherics and synths of the post punk and burgeoning goth scene, sounding like a mix of The Stranglers, The Skids, and Joy Division. The closing track, Late Nite call Out, is my favorite, where garage and darkwave elements collide in a glorious lo-fi mess.
The band did not release any other records, although they did write almost 40 different songs and may have recorded a few demo tapes before disbanding in 1980. This record shows quite a bit of potential, and if their budget for this recording was only slightly more than the cost of a single meal of fish and chips, it would probably sound quite excellent.

Trax: Home EP
1979, Lonely Records
A1: Home
B1: Losing Out
B2: Late Nite Call-Out

Friday, February 18, 2011

Immaculate Deception: Corporation Prostitute 12"

It's amusing how so many bands in the new wave era issued records with completely minimal information and credits. Many bands released records with no contact information whatsoever, or with only a single name in the credits. It's almost as if they were consciously striving to be mysterious, their mystique slowly growing each year as the memory of their very existence fades into the aether. This 12" is a perfect example. The record mentions no year (my guess it is was released between 1983-1985, judging from the visual aesthetics and the musical style), a record label name but no label contactl, no credits except for "Khi Patrick", no location, not even an insert sheet. I came across a few copies of this when I lived in San Francisco, which leads me to believe that they may have been based in the SF Bay Area, but that's pure speculation. Each copy I've seen has suffered from the same lack of info, so the record's origins may remain a mystery, unless this "Khi Patrick" can straighten things out.
The music here draws a pretty heavy influence from early-to-mid-80s Cabaret Voltaire. It's a bit industrial, full of electronics and samples and slightly danceable basslines and synth rhythms. The vocals a bit amateur and almost punk-ish, and somoewhat recall Ministry in their cheesy synthpop heyday.
Both songs are pretty good, though. Coporation Prostitute is clearly going for a commercial industrial sound with pulsing basslines, steady drums, and loads of electronics, although the
vocals are clearly not suited for a wider radio audience - they aren't bad, just a bit loud in the mix and unrefined, reflecting the DIY nature of the release. The B side is the more interesting song. It throws a slew of strange electronic sounds and synth lines in a blender and dumps the resulting mixture on top of a repetitive beat and more of those wonderfully amateurish vocals (sung in a strangely frantic sense, as if trying to sing through a speed-fueled rage). Overall, both tracks take the raw ingredients of early industrial and synthpop and arrange them in an interesting - if not completely unique - fashion. Are the songs hits? Download and decide...

Immaculate Deception: Corporation Prostitute 12"
198?, Rubberhead Records
A1 Corporation Prostitute
B1 You Know Who

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Plain Characters: Invisible Yearnings LP

Here is a record that had all the makings of a classic: it was essentially the solo project of Colin Lloyd Tucker (The The, The Gadgets, and solo fame), featuring kinetic and sometimes antagonizing post-punk full of guitar stabs and shrieks and Tucker's over-the-top melodrama, released in 1980 in the UK during the height of post-punk's commercial boom. But somehow the album fell by the wayside and was all but forgotten. Perhaps it was released on too small a label (Abstract Records), or maybe there's such a variety of styles on this record that it borders on unfocused, or maybe it just suffered from simple lack of promotion.
Whatever the case for its relative obscurity, I'm happy to make these songs available and reintroduce them. From garagey post-punk to atmospeheric spoken-word-space-jazz to minimal electronics to full-on dance punk, this record has quite a few gems. The two best (and two of the most different) songs are on the B-side. Menial Tasks is a frantic bass-driven danceable post-punk gem that takes it cues from Metal Box-era Public Image Limited and Entertainment-era Gang of Four, and after that song abruptly ends, its stylistic polar opposite begins: Julia, a largely electronic track, with back-and-forth synths and guitars. There is one thing that binds these two songs together, and helps retain some semblance of cohesion: the vocals. I described Tucker as being full of melodrama above, but the truth is that barely scratches the surface. His vocals range from gutteral growls to yelps to emotive squeals and completely change in speed and pacing and pitch often within the space of a single verse, sounding like David Bowie being exorcised.
This single record is a compelling example of the sheer artistic experimentation and musical genius that abounded in the early 80s, taking a huge array of styles and cramming them all into one nice, neat package with slightly mixed but thoroughly enjoyable results.

Plain Characters: Invisible Yearnings LP
1981, Abstract Records
A1 Affair 19.10.80
A2 Labyrinth
A3 Not for Resale - No. 2
A4 Zero Zero
A5 Fingerprint City
B1 O
B2 Menial Tasks
B3 Julia
B4 Counting Sheep
B5 The Four Lies

Monday, February 7, 2011

Various Artists: Hit the Floor LP

By request, here is the rare US compilation LP called Hit the Floor. This record was released back in 1984 on the Gender Records label, and contains eight tracks by four bands, all very much in the new wave/synthpop genre.
Alpha Bettys is the least synth-based of the bands; both songs combine female vocals with guitars or horns in a fashion that's a bit similar to Essential Logic. Their material is the least interesting to me on this LP, but the songs aren't bad at all, just not outstanding. Minks is a bubbly female-fronted synthetic pop band. Their sound is very minimalist but still unapologetically pop, but their songs (especially Surprised) are incredibly endearing.
Boys Say Go released a highly sought-after DIY 7" and a 12" in addition to their two songs here. Their two songs are well-produced, full-frontal synthpop. Their sound is commercial but still underground (if only because they're pretty much unknown), and the song "Do You Wanna Funk" demands repeated listens despite the obligatory cheesy guitar solo toward the end.
Of course, the real star here is Doppler Effect, who later released a 12" before evolving into the industrial dance band Workforce. There is absolutely no doubt that minimal synth and electro fans will go nuts over both of their songs here. Prisoner is a fast-based analog killer, with the electronics pushed to overdrive - wonderful danceable drum programs, gurgling synth lines and throbbing electronic basslines combine with the back-and-forth vocals to make a true electro-pop classic. By the time the end of the song comes up and all the elements mesh together, you wish the song would keep going for another couple minutes. The second song, Time Is Running Out, is complete synthpunk. It's bouncy and snarling and silly and has some of the greatest spastic punk-ish synth lines this side of a Units song.
So, this LP is completely recommended, in case you didn't catch that from the above description. Do yourself a favor and download this and lose yourself in new wave nostalgia.

V/A Hit the Floor LP
1984, Gender Records
A1 Minks - Dangerous
A2 Alpha Bettys - Symbol Of Love
A3 Doppler Effect - Prisoner
A4 Boys Say Go - Serious Cat
B1 Boys Say Go - Do You Wanna Funk?
B2 Alpha Bettys - Stare In Style
B3 Minks - Surprised
B4 Doppler Effect - Time Is Running Out

Gluons: Gluons EP

The first time I heard this EP several years ago, it was a cheapo record I picked up on a whim the middle of a batch of Amoeba Record finds that included a bunch of gems that I had been looking for for a long time - I listened to about 30 seconds of this, thought "Huh, OK, nice" and filed it away. It was not until I rummaged through my records I wanted to part with before moving to New York that I even gave it a second thought.
I gave it a good listen, and it instantly grew. It starts with the midtempo and spacey I Enter Your Void, which, although very repetitive, contained a mix of characteristics that made me love it. The guitars were dissonant, the drums steady, and the vocals almost in the glam-punk realm. The tempo practically doubles with Miami, which mixes more of the dissonant guitars with plucking basslines and more of the glam punk vocals. But the songs on side B are really the killer tracks. By the time A Room In Your Head started, I realized that the band's strongest point is the difficult ability to take dissonant and effected guitars and slightly snotty/arty but usually perfectly clear and articulated vocals and spin them into perfect dark pop. Your Manikin Hand drove this point home, sounding like a frantic version of Joy Division sans the studio atmospherics. This record is now one of my favorites. The band was from Massachusetts and I believe this was their only release. Perhaps, sadly, the city of New Bedford was not quite ready for their arty brand of dissonant new wave.

Gluons: S/T EP
1983, Self-released
A1 I Enter Your Void
A2 Miami
B1 A Room In Your Head
B2 Your Manikin Hand

London Underground: Train of Thought 7"

Here is one of my current favorite post-punk 7"s, from London Underground. This band later found themselves on Adrian Sherwood's On-U-Sound label assuming a full-on synth-dub sound, but on this record released on the Situation Two label (although it was produced by Sherwood), the band was loud and aggressive, very very VERY similar to early Section 25. The A-side features tinny guitar riffs, pulsing basslines, hard-pounding snare drums, and blasse reverbed sung-spoken vocals and could very easily have appeared on that band's Always Now album. The B side is guitar noise overload, reminding me of Fire Engines at their most raw and visceral. How this band took a complete one-eighty into dub territory, I have no idea. But this 7" is the one record of theirs that post-punk and goth and noise-pop fans absolutely need. It just realized this was recently shared on the excellent Lethal Injections blog, but I had it ripped a few weeks ago and figure I'll still share it as well - people need to hear this one.

London Underground: Train of Thought 7"
1981, Situation Two Records
A: Train of Thought
B: All Too Many

Monday, January 24, 2011

Various Artists: Commercial Music

I've noticed that several blogs - most notably Systems of romance and Crispy Nuggets - have showcased homemade compilations of obscure and random tracks, and I thought "Wow, I should get in on that!". So, consider this post my getting in on it. This compilation features a huge array of songs ripped from records and CDs of mine. Most of them are from singles, compilations, and private releases on which there was one really good song amidst a bunch of less-interesting tracks.
I figure a quick breakdown of the songs is a good idea:
First up is a song called "Tuesday's Eyes" by a band called The Company. This was featured on an obscure UK compilation that I posted a couple years ago, but was taken down with no explanation. The song is a pretty great dancely electro-pop track. The song "Perfect Leader" by the late Gregory Jones (whose other projects I have previously posted) is a great semi-experimental synthpop song from an album of experimental electronic soundscapes). Next is an atmospheric darkwave song by the original "Christian goth band" Idle Lovell, which is fortunately not overly preachy.
The song by Native Alien is from a 7" that was self-released in 1986, and has a well-produced and very catchy new wave sound that sounds a bit inspired by bands like Flock of Seagulls. Maybe it's a tad pompous at times, but it's a good track. From a 7" on the Himalaya Records label is a song by Where is China?. They have a 7" and an LP, but the song "Mean Words" is probably the only song from them that I really like. The next track, by New Johnny Five, is the first song from their sole album - the rest of the album is standard college rock/AOR fare, but "The Reasoning" is a total synthpop hit that's completely different from anything else on the record.
San Francisco is represented by the unknown and unapologetically poppy synth gem "Watch Me Dance Alone" by a band called Shadow Show. It comes from a self-released 12" that also inexplicably contains a synthpop cover of the Gilligans Islandm theme. Taking things even further into the poppy realm is the ultra lo-fi new wave/synthpop pearl by Teai Benet, 2 O'Clock Love. Teai Benet was a scenester in the Houston punk/new wave scene and self-released this truly enjoyable song on a 7" in 1983. It's cutesy without being precious, and the refrain really digs itself into your brain.
Minimal synth fans will like the song "I'd Rather Not" by Mark, James, and Julie. This is from a 7" from 1981. The five-song 7" that this song can be found on has four straightforward and unspectacular piano and lounge songs, but this song is completely different - it's pure electronics and percussion with sung/spoken male and female vocals. Continuing the minimal synth sound is a song off the only record by Your New Friends, a self-released 12" from 1986. This song is chock-full of lo-fi toy drum machines, warm electronics, and reverbed vocals that sound like they were recorded in a coffee tin. It's an odd track with questionable singing and almost emo-ish lyrics, but I find it very enjoyable, and it appears on eBay every few months for those interested.
Next up is a completely obscure song from a band called Velvascurge. Pure electronics, great vocals, with a sound (at least during the verses) that is occasionally similar to Rational Youth. Next is a song from the (apparently) extremely sought-after 12" by Charlie's Brother, called The Wishing Tree (Megatree Mix). Imagine Robert Smith fronting a first-wave Jamaican ska band covering an ABC song. Yep.
The song by Reverse Heck is a great darkwave song with tape loops and synths and cellos that's on a 1985 compilation called Life Out There. That comp primarily features what I could only describe as Tex-Mex-Polka music. The compilation remains unknown because nobody in their right mind would even bother to listen to that very, very, very niche genre. After that is a song by Jim Whiting, a punk rock kid from the east coast who self-released a four-song 7" in 1983. The record had three quite-good lo-fi powerpop/punk songs - and also "I Fall Around", a completely over-the-top killer gem of pure heavy old-school electro, which is the one I included (obviously)
A more recent song by another San Francisco band, Ssleeping Desiress, is next, from a 2010 demo cd-r. The rest of that CD is also excellent, but I wanted to narrow it down to one song to include on this collection. After undergoing a few incarnations as a duo with live drummers, Ssleeping Desiress is now essentially a one-man band with electronics, detached vocals, and an old-school reel-to-reel. I played this song the first time I DJd the "Wierd" party in NYC and the people on the dancefloor loved it. It reminds me of an old French coldwave song. Following that is a song from a 1986 compilation called The Mad Scene that was put together by Butch Vig. The comp mainly has standard guitar-based 80s indie/college rock fare (the kind that Vig was known for producing before the 90s). But the song by The D'a'ns is pure electronics. It has lots of samples and dirty synth basslines and super-ultra-completely cheesy singing and lyrics, and it sounds like The Short Wave Mystery doing a Detroit techno song. But I can not. Stop. Listening. To it.
Next - and going in a COMPLETELY different direction -is a more guitar-based song, "Counter Circular" by SF band IfThenWhy. It's a short song, a dark, almost gothic college-rock track with a bit of a proto-punk influence. After that is a song that mixes UK post punk, middle eastern themes, darkwave, and synth music to surprisingly excellent effect. "Life in Riyadh" by Riyadh is from the same compilation as the Company song that starts out this compilation.
Next up is a hazy gothic shoegaze masterpiece by And Tears Fell, a band who released a CD or two on the Epithet Records label I have a feeling that this song will prompt a lot of people to seek out their material, which is highly recommended. You can download a lot of their songs from their iLike page here.
Closing out the comp is an epic song from a Swedish band called Pojken Med Grodan I Pannan. For the most part their sole EP wasa mix of prog rock and alt-rock, but this song mixes simplistic drum machines, synths, and vocals that border on choral chanting. Despite some questionable bass meandering in the middle of the song (ugh), it's a pretty good track to end with.
But wait! There's more! A super-secret bonus track by a band called Headthrob! A song about being hung over! From a one-song single that was literally packaged in a barf bag! A song with the line "I think I'm th-, I think I'm th-, I think I'm th-throwing up"!
Please don't hate me for including this song. If you burn the comp to a CD, you'll have to delete this song to make it fit. That was all part of the plan...