Vermonster

Instinctively Inhuman (Twisted Village 1991)

http://www.mediafire.com/?9vnd9m15fza

I am posting this because of multiple requests for more of Wayne Rogers’ playing after they listened to his work with Crystallized Movements’ Revelations From Pandemonium. The Crystallized Movements posted earlier was unhinged, but rooted to a song which grounded their efforts. Be forewarned, his work with kate Biggar in Vermonster in unhinged without a single root to grasp.

Instinctively Inhuman consist of two epic tracks. “Black Sally” which is a cover of Human Instinct who were covering a song by Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys. I haven’t heard either version, so I am walking around blindfolded here. However, Vermonster’s take on the songs is rolled in flour and fried to oblivion. There are two meandering riffs going on at once while another guitar is overdubbed to provide the requisite feedback. The song itself is an afterthought, the guitar playing is the attraction and it delivers.

“Stoned Guitar” is an example of truth in advertising. It is a bit too indulgent for my taste. It kicks into a muddled groove of some sort about halfway through the song, but it doesn’t really rise above the din. Bah Humbug on this one.

Various Artists

Working Holiday (Simple Machines 1994)

http://www.divshare.com/download/4815543-061

If the Dischord label was the role model for indie labels in the 90s, Simple Machines was the smaller, but equally idealistic sister to its more established role model. Established by Tsunami members Jenny Toomey and Kristin Thompson in 1990, Simple Machines were a welcome addition to the DIY ethos that propelled indie-rock until the Nirvana induced hangover and resultant major label feeding frenzy that neutered it. However, they helped the careers of such bands as Grenadine, Scrawl, Monorchid, Franklin Bruno, Ida and others along the way. They walked the walk and talked the talk as they even puiblished a handbook for aspiring label owners to guide them along the way.

The Working Holiday comp is the result of a series of split 7-inches that were released each month in 1993. The roster of contributors provides a snapshot of the musical scenes as it compiled tracks from Scrawl, Versus, Lungfish, Codeine, The Coctails, Eggs, My Dad is Dead, veronica Lake, Nothing painted Blue, Lois, Small Factory, Jawbox, Crackerbash, Grifters, Crain, Pitchblende, Superchunk and a few others. It was the crowning achievement for the label which slowly shrunk due to sales and the eventual dissolution of Tsunami.

Even if all of these band names sound like gobbledygook to you, you should check this out for the opening track by Scrawl entitled “11:59 It’s january” which sums up all that is depressing about New Year’s Eve, regret and misguided love in a single song. This may be indulgent, but I love the lyrics to this that I’m posting them here.

january came too soon/some alcoholic holdays without you/if you are you/you are anyone I wish I knew/and tonighti wish i knew everyone of you/tonight first champagne means old acquaintances are far apart/Tonight auld lang syne means leave before the kissing starts/Last year went down the drain/they all do really so why complain/drink a cup of kindness yet/drink a cup to our regrets/Ooh, it’s Januaryx3

11:59/87654321 midnight/was it a good year/do i really know because it is behind me forever/it was a good year because year because it was a bad year/this year could only be better/repeat chorus of It’s January/Who are you or anyone I wish I knew/Tonight i wish I knew every single one of you/Tonight I wish I knew/ chorus of It’s January, then tasteful guitar solo.

Sorry for my jumbled effort at transcribing the lyrics from the cd, but it is one of the most heartbreaking songs I had heard at the time. It delves deeply into one of those moments where a perfect storm of location, time and hard luck coalesce into a second where you reevaluate your life and hope for the best. Your moment may not have been on New Year’s Eve, but we’ve all had them. This is why Scrawl hold a dear place in my heart.

I’m off on a tangent again, but 70% of this holds up 15 years later and it embodies an ethos that is as worthwhile today as it was then.

Throwing Muses

Live on MSN 1997

http://www.mediafire.com/?zoyyfccetca

I used to be a music director at a certain Western PA college radio station and many oddities would cross my desk. Some were horrific like a late 90s Jesse Colin Young album with a nude portrait of the artist, but others were kind of wonderful. One of these lovely occurrences was the day that MSN decided to jump on the alt-rock bandwagon and commission a series of live sets to be played on our station. Some sucked, but others ranged from amazing to interesting. The only one I still have in my possession is this one by  Throwing Muses in 1997 to support the underwhelming Limbo album.

Personally, I feel that the band ran out of steam after The Real Ramona in 1991, but Red Heaven and University had their moments. However, the band responsible for one of the best debuts in the 80s can slack all they want. Admittedly, much of this live set draws from the mid 90s, but there is a great version of “Two Step” from The Real Ramona” so all is well in my world. It is professionally recorded and sounds like an official live album, but you do have to deal with the occasional voiceover from a MSN tool.

Jerry Jackson

Shrimp Boats A-Comin’, There’s Dancin’ Tonight (Bear Family 1990)

http://www.divshare.com/download/4814985-cdb

There was something so refined, soulful and stately about the 60s r&b/soul recordings from singers with their roots in gospel. James Carr, Solomon Burke, Sam Cooke, Al Green and Ben E. King were strongly influenced by their experiences as preachers and choir members. Excluding Al Green, whose music always treated religion and raw sexuality as the same thing, their music possessed a spiritual quality that even laced their romantic appeals and sad serenades.

A lesser known, but worthy contemporary of these gentlemen is Jerry Jackson. Jackson got his start as a Brill Building songwriter whose songs were recorded by Perry Como of all people.He had some minor hits and was more popular in the England’s Northern Soul scene and Jamaica. The Kapp label signed him and tried to mold him in the image of The Drifters and Ben E. King and it was a good fit for his optimistic crooning. His cover of Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” is yet another in a long line of lame 60s covers of his work, but the rest compare favorably to Sam Cooke’s ballads of the early 60s, but cannot hold a candle to his more rambunctious tunes. Overall, he’s got a really smooth, elegant voice and his selection of songs really should interest anyone in love with the giants of the era.

Wynonie Harris

Good Rocking Tonight

http://www.divshare.com/download/4814503-419

Let’s take a break from the bearded prog, psych and wussified indie pop for a moment and pay tribute to one of the unsung forefathers of rock and roll. Wynonie Harris got his start during wartime with some guest spots with Lucky Millinder’s jazz and big band outfit and performed at the Apollo. They had a falling out and Wynonie headed for the West Coast where he embarked on a solo career that resulted in fifteen top ten hits between 1946 and 1952. His version of “Good Rocking Tonight” was especially popular and it easily bests Elvis Presley’s version by a country mile.

I first encountered Mr. Harris’ music on an afternoon in Savannah, GA where it was so oppressively humid it could rouse fungus from your knickers. I was quite hungover and involved in a shameful drive home from some long-forgotten peccadillo. While listening to the local oldies station, a happy-go-lucky, raunchy number called “Bloodshot Eyes” blared from my meager minivan and it spoke to me in an embarrassing way. It deals with his frustration with a drunken lover who has used up the last ounce of Wynonie’s patience. I especially loved the imagery of the chorus.

I used to spend my money, to make you look real sweet
I wanted to be proud of you when we walked down the street
Now dont ask me to dress you up, in satin and in silk
Your eyes look like two cherries in a glass of bottled milk

Wynonie’s bluesy, gruff hollering goes perfectly with the raunchy tunes he covers here. It’s not hard to predict what you are in for with titles like “Keep On Churnin’ Til’ the Butter Comes”, “I Like My Baby’s Pudding” and “I Want My Fanny Brown.” Predictable as it me be with its steady stream of double entendres, Good Rocking Tonight is a damn fine listen with a glass of whiskey and a scenic porch on which to sit.

Disco Inferno

D.I. Go Pop (1994 Rough Trade)

http://www.divshare.com/download/4814230-e35

If I had to compile a list of my favorite albums of the 90s, D.I. Go Pop would be near the top. Their earlier eps and the Open Doors, Closed Windows lp were full of bleak, gothic post-punk that owed much to Joy Division, New Order’s Movement and the 4ad roster. It was derivative to be sure, but they experimented and expanded upon the work of their influences to create something entirely their own. However, none of this prepared me for the fucked up, sad and brilliant direction they took on D.I Go Pop.

D.I. Go Pop was released a year after Seefeel’s Quique and both share some parallels. Where Seefeel used My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless and shoegaze as a launching pad for their love of electronics and dub, Disco Inferno’s discovery of the MIDI sampler enabled them to create a wholly unique and groundbreaking sound. Quique was a throbbing, sexual drone that is warm and inviting while D.I. Go Pop is a dark, alienating album that approximates the depression and loneliness of Ian Curtis’ suicidal worldview. The difference between the two bands is that Disco Inferno blew apart their love of Factory and 4ad into a million pieces and reassembled them in a way that still sounds new today.

Their usage of the MIDI sampler pervades the record and guitarist/vocalist Ian Crause even hooked up each individual string to its own sampler. This triggers a kaleidoscope of effects that are downright disorienting at times, but they complement Crause’s bitter songs of estrangement and loss. If you removed these electronic effects, D.I. Go Pop is just like the rest of their output. The fan in me wants to know what music, person or life event influenced them to incorporate electronics into their music because it made the difference between a good album and a classic. Anyway you slice it, D.I. Go Pop still sounds as alien as it did fourteen years ago.

Sugar Plant

After After Hours (World Domination 1997)

http://www.mediafire.com/?xmh0hxz1znl

Probably the only worthwhile band to record for the otherwise mediocre World Domination label run by Gang of Four bassist Dave Allen. The label suffered the same fate as many other 90s indie rock labels as it put out such forgettable schlock as Low Pop Suicide, Loop Guru, Sky Cries Mary and Perfume Tree. The label is now defunct, so its releases can only be found via ebay or a local used bin. However, Sugar Plant, a Japanese duo of Shinichi Ogawa and Chinatsi Shoyama, didn’t deserve this obscure fate.

If psychedelia could be my nightly lullaby, I would choose After After Hours to be in daily rotation as it may be one of the most soothing albums in my collection. It’s not soothing in the way I usually desire–a long, undulating drone that beats my consciousness into submission, but a gently jangling tune with two honeyed voices singing me off to la-la land. There is nothing here that hasn’t been explored on the Velvet Underground’s third album, Galaxie 500’s On Fire or countless cutesy-poo indie-pop ballads, but Sugar Plant’s take on the genre is slow, sensual and high as a kite. There is even a song which revolves around the idea that a pale. blue light is their friend as they seem to come down from whatever high they’ve pursued. Shoyama’s guitar work is highly underrated in the 90s indie-rock canon and I wonder why more folks never gave them the time of day. They are still around and reforming for a new album and tour this year, so let’s address their tragic anonymity and make them feel a bit more welcome this time around.

Lagger Blues Machine

Tanit (1972)

http://www.mediafire.com/?cjmdb0utta4

Only studio album from this Belgian band that was a few years ahead of their time. I’ve seen this classified as a Zeuhl album but I’m not so sure. Some influence from Magma, as well as some Soft Machine, King Crimson and fusion components. Quite psychedelic in parts. Elements of the darkness that would dominate so much Belgian prog throughout the next two decades are also there. The vocals on this album are weird and sometimes distract from the music in my opinion, but they’re sparse. Overall, it’s a pleasant mix of psychedelic prog, fusion and sinister tendencies that was probably more influential than they’re given credit for.