The Spinanes

The Imp Years (Merge 2000)

If only I had my crystal ball to predict which 90s indie-pop bands will be most fondly remembered by futuristic hipsters who may be able to telekinetically download albums in the shake of an ass cheek. Oh shit, I found it and believe that Portland, Oregon’s Spinanes will be hailed as one of the most beloved voices in this crowded room.

I believe my love for this band is firmly rooted in the fact that they echo many of the moody, introspective and catchy qualities of the Verlaines, Bats, Chills and other hallmarks of New Zealand’s Flying Nun Label. In fact, the chorus on “Hawaiian Baby” consists of a soothing chant of “Verlaines, Verlaines, Verlaines…” Well, you get the idea. Yes, they are somehow indebted to and part of the K records ethos of twee, but their lyrics and music were so much more mature and melancholy that that.

Their debut Manos was full of piss and vinegar. Lots of loud, amplified pop song played at a frenetic pace, but The Imp Years predicts the direction of their later albums more than the debut which followed these classic singles. Rebecca Gates carries much of the action as there is just something about her vocals that make you empathize with the heartaches and wariness that permeate these songs. Check out their second album Strand if this collection of singles speaks to your troubled heart.


Starethrough Ep

It isn;t hard to find someone who believes that My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless was one of the most forward-thinking, seminal releases of the 90s. However, I believe Seefeel belongs in that same conversation because they sort of took it to the next level that Keven Shields always promised, but hid away behind a supply of Twinkies. Seefeel spliced dub, shoegaze, psych, dub and idm into a hypnotic swirl that no one has really nailed since. Yes, Quique is a perfect album and the one most fans point to as the pinnacle of their short lifespan, but the Starethrough ep may be their most focused statement. It represents a way station between their focus of treated guitars and a shoegazing exterior to the altogether different, but inferior idm/dub excursions that marred Succour, their finale on Rephlex.

They keep in relative simple here. Sarah Peacock’s cooing is sampled and used as a mind-numbing mantra that oozes a cold sexuality as the simple loops of chiming keys, strings and beats echo over and over again. It delivers on the ethereal promises that 4ad failed to deliver during these years and pointed a finger towards the endless musical possibilities that rock could offer when merged with newfangled technology.

It still sounds fresh today and will blow your boo-boo loose under the right circumstances.

Jesse Colin Young

Live at Sausalito Record Plant 7/25/1975

I first encountered this lovely slice of stoned country-folk on a warm June evening where a friend roasted some fish and we imbibed to our heart’s content. It was a lively night where we all bid farewell to a close friend and we listened to mellow sounds and shot the shit. Discussion shifted to the Youngbloods and the genius of the first few Jesse Colin Young records. He replied that he had to play this bootleg of his mid 70s work that included a ten minute opus about the joys of living on a ridgetop. It was creatively entitled “Ridgetop.”

“Ridgetop” deserved in own genre or a place in the pantheon of rock epics as it begins with a sultry slice of saxophone while another tickles the keys like there is some serious foreplay happening before everyone gets down to some boogie rock business. It reminds me of Tony Joe White making sweet love Michael McDonald. It is so smooth, yet fried as he shares his desire to escape humanity and live near a squirrel sanctuary and embrace the simple life. It is so overblown for such a humble sentiment. The rest of the bootleg is just as good. If your old lady or man loves some twang, pop this one on and make pretend it is Barry White.

Robert Charlebois

Avec Louise Forestier

This man ran for president of Canada on the platform that he would do nothing. He may be the only French-Canadian psychedelic folk singer on the planet, except he isn’t French, but just sings in French.

Paradoxes abound, but it doesn’t detract from the music which dwells on cabaret-psych with Charlebois crooning holding it all together. That sounds trite, but this fucker can really croon and engage the chanteuses baking him up on his vocal adventures. There is a song on here called “Dolores” where he even attempts some French bluegrass freakout that deserves points for the mere attempt at this strange new genre. Overall, his voice and semi-sleaze carries it all onto the finish line. A spotty, but extremely entertaining album.

Joe Frank-Cave Dreamer

June 8, 2008

Joe Frank

Cave Dreamer

One of America’s unsung storytellers, Joe Frank is a criminally underrated soul. My first experience with Joe Frank was during bouts of insomnia that plagued my youth. For some misbegotten reason, I could fall asleep at the drop of a hat except Sunday–the day before I had to return to an all boys Catholic high school. I dealt with this by watching late-night PBS and Jack Horkenheimer, but the best solution was found on WXPN when they played the latest Joe Frank story.

I’ve always had a love of AM and late-night radio since it approximates public access cable at its rare best. I loved everything from the apocalyptic preachers of Ohio to the boorish banter of sports talk radio to the intelligent oasis of WWDB’s political conversations.

None of these prepared me for Joe Frank. My seventeen year old mind was blown by his monologues of subterranean dwellers, suicidal noir anti-heroes and absurd situations. His deep, bellowing voice called out to me and edited my own view of a story. Joe Frank described another world that I bought into wholeheartedly.

This isn’t my favorite show if his, but it is still damn great. It is a throwback to the radio epics of the 40s and 50s, but with a sick twist. Please send me any other recordings at

Actually, all requests should be made to

Michael Hurley


I told you all about him this evening, but here is a bootleg of his show the next night. I also meant to include an embarrassing story about myself that is directly liked to Mr. Hurley’s wiles and charms. I knew that I needed to remain clean as a whistle before a physical to confirm my employment. I don’t smoke the magical fruit much at all, but I occasionally partake in a few nibbles. I remained loyal and faithful for months and had arranged an appointment at the doctor’s office where my mother worked as a secretary.

However, friends alerted me to the fact that Michael Hurley was playing in town. I insisted on resisting the urge beforehand and declined all requests for illicit activity. Hurley was absolutely amazing that star-crossed evening as he belted out “Tea Song” among other all-tinme favorites. It was one of the few times where an artists literally could have asked me to serve as an indentured servant and I sould have wholeheartedly followed along with the farce.

The ugly part came when I was a few malts to the wind and a friend somehow talked me into peeing into a tupperware container and smoking while my personal items lay on my sink. A good time was had by all. The next morning was a different story as I realized that I must hide a tupperware container of cold urine in my pants, pour it into a vial and hope no one notices its lukewarm qualities. Thankfully, it all went swimmingly and I am still gainfully employed until the very day.

Mia Doi Todd

The Ewe and the I

Many men and women have picked up their collective guitars and strummed into the ether. However, few possess the elegance, charm and way with words that Mia Doi Todd possessed on her debut. Yes, she slowly devolved into something less than where she began, but The Ewe and the Eye gripped me and hasn’t let go since. Eleven years have passed since this cd passed through my grubby hands and I still put in on during those autumn hours where life seems unsteady and I long for a tender listen to put me back on track. It is a soothing album that touches upon the inertia we all feel on those depressing days where nothing quite seems to fit in the proverbial round hole.

If this album had been released today, she would be hailed as a part of the ridiculous “New Weird America”, but she remains a mere echo that deserves your response. It’s a heartbreaker. It makes you love life just a tad more. If you aren’t as sentimental as I, then it is a purty listen at the bare minimum. Lend a hand and enjoy.

Michael Hurley

June 8, 2008

Michael Hurley


I discovered the genius of this man in the most unlikely of places–a Spin Magazine Guide to Alternative Music. I was bored as hell in Western Pa one humid afternoon and rallied my friends to visit the newfangled borders that had just opened near Greensburg. I didn’t plan on purchasing the Holy Modal Rounders’ Have Moicy described in the book, but once I saw the cover packed with insolent wolves, thrown beer bottles and a lonely leopard sipping a beer in a disheveled corner, I knew I had to heed the recommendations of the godawful rag.

Have Moicy isn’t a Michael Hurley album, but he painted the artwork of rowdy animals and sang many opf my favorite tracks on what quickly became one of my favorite records of all time. I’ll post this one later, but this is a bootleg of Michael Hurley during the Have Moicy! days.

How do I describe one of America’s unsung creative gems? Although he recorded for Smithsonian Folkways before the eve of psychedelia and the hippie way of life, Hurley was down with the cause before it even had a name. Songs about werewolves, marijuana, fellatio and disappearing hamburgers populate his fantastic world of characters and far-flung locales. In addition, he possesses one of the most individual voices in the past 30 years. There is something about Snock that makes you appreciate the bittersweet occurrences and oddball excursions we all become a part of during our fleeting time on this planet.

Slapp Happy

Acnalbasac Moon


Originally, I ordered this through the beloved and long-forgotten Ajax mail order catalogue and closely awaited its arrival. Since I was a college student engaged in the hedonistic activities associated with this focus group, I missed its arrival. I received a call from a UPS station that I believed to be 5 or 6 blocks away, so I trudged off in pursuit of my teutonic booty.

Little did my urban soul realize how far a 100 block to a 500 block can be in a rural setting. I walked and walked up a hill which then terraformed into a mountain. These five blocks were more like fifty, but my tired limbs prevailed and I triumphantly grasped my box and began the incline. I felt my right ankle become inflamed and then explode into an inferno, but I had a big ass box of records, so all was beautiful in my world, huh?

I open up my box and scrutinize my bounty. The Slapp Happy record seems like an hieroglyphic wonder. I play it and it sounds like some alien torch song collection. My roommates and I trudge through, but decide that it may be a grower. Time passes and with each successive play, Acnalbasac Moon grows brighter and brighter as one of the most upbeat and perverse albums we have heard. At the time, we bought it for the Faust connection, but we all kept buying more and more once we realized the beauty of Ms. Dagmar Krause’s voice.

How can I describe it? Well, imagine a cabaret dosed with LSD and the finest krautrock band nobly supporting one of the 70s most distinctive vocalists. My wife listens to nothing but Doris Day, June Christy and 50s and 60s pop, but adores this album. It is out there, but thoroughly accessible to all who hear it. My only fault was being too elitist to realize that beauty lies in all forms of music.

Hello world!

June 8, 2008

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