V-3-Photograph Burns

November 11, 2008

V-3

Photograph Burns (American/Onion 1996)

http://www.mediafire.com/?bng3hcygd43

Rick Rubin’s American label started an offshoot named Onion Records that was run by record collector extraordinaire and Matador Records alumni, Johan Kugelberg. Kugelberg wasn’t given long to establish the label, but the Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, V-3 and Brad Laner’s Electric Company weren’t exactly the most accessible acts to invest into during your opening salvo. Personally, I loved all three of these releases although the Stiffs Inc. and God Lives Underwater albums left me cold. Anyway you slice it, the label gave all three a wider stage to exploit during the last days of the major label feeding frenzy of indie rock esoterica and its also-rans.

I really found it kind of heartbreaking that V-3 mastermind and Columbuis, OH icon jim Shepard committed suicide in 1998 because Photograph Burns was the one album where he was able to channel all of his misanthropy and alienation into something conflicted and beautiful. It’s an angry and somewhat hateful album that takes aim at love, friendship and a multitude of betrayals, but avoids the psychedelic ugliness and swaths of noise that masked the bruised heart at the center of his work. It doesn’t hurt that his backing band tears through the punk numbers with a ferocity that finally matched the seething emotions rampant in his previous work. The opener “American Face” may be one of my favorite punk songs of the 90s as it busts through the gates like the MC5 as Shepard rails against American egotism while wishing he could remain in a narcotic cocoon. It’s full of loathing of country and self wrapped in a catchy shambles of a tune that I never get sick of listening to these days.

The slower tunes remind of Smog’s mid 90s work on Red Apple Falls and Doctor Came at Dawn if they were influenced by Chrome and the Killed by Death Series. In fact, Photograph Burns reminds me alot of Chrome’s Red Exposure if you subrtracted the beats and added even more bad intentions. When you trace the steps through his discography, Photograph Burns is even more depressing since his battles with narcotics and depression become apparent. I never knew the man, but his albums make me wish he found some sort of peace in his end because his music is a portrait of a tortured soul who never found any semblance of happiness.

Angry Angles-Singles

October 30, 2008

Angry Angles

Singles x 3 (Various labels)

http://www.mediafire.com/?1yvwwzymtm9

Although Jay Reatard’s recent singles for Matador are about as enticing as a pickle injected with mayonnaise, I really loved much of Blood Visions as well as his work with the Reatards and Lost Sounds. At his best, he has a knack for penning punk anthems ala Killed by Death and the Adverts while adding his own oddball touches to the proceedings. His music is catchy, well-played, aggressive and epitomizes all that is wonderful about a three minute burst of anger and alienation. A lesser known offshoot of Mr. Reatard’s creativity is the Angry Angles, but their first three singles are just as addictive as his best work. It doesn’t stray far from the sound of Blood Visions, but its artsy-fartsy view of punk owes more to the Urinals and Screamers than the Adverts. There isn’t a need to pontificate upon its merits because it is just a simple, but enjoyably spastic listen that sticks in your craw. However, their cover of Wire’s “The 15th” is one of the best Wire covers ever recorded as it captures the cold worldview and resignation to cruel fate of the original.


Matt Suggs-Amigo Row

October 3, 2008

Matt Suggs

Amigo Row (Merge 2003)

http://www.mediafire.com/?tmym3nmd9lc

It warms my cockles when readers send word that they truly loved something I posted. However, I was unprepared for the onslaught of three emails asking for the followup to Matt Suggs’ first album. Yes, three requests seems lonely to the likes of you, but I assure that they arrived in a fast and furious fashion that made me sweat a drop or two. I agree with all three of you. Matt Suggs’ solo album suggest what Stephen Malkmus actually wanted to achieve after he broke from Pavement. These are well-written, literate, moody ablums that keep one foot in the ironic 90s while poring through 60s psych in a way that somehow maintains the personal voice of the artist. I did love the odd arc taken by Malkmus on his Pig Lib album, but Suggs appropriations seem so natural and unforced instead of a decision to mine the past while sucking the teat of the profitable legacy.

Anyhow, Amigo Row is a close second if this anonymous lout had to choose between the two. There was a joy to be free of his previous band that lacks here. However, this one meanders in some more progressive directions. It’s a looser album due to the fact that he has used up his punchiest tunes of the debut and now must feel his way around to discover the next plateau. Fir the most part, it is successful. If the debut has suckered you into its humble grasp, then this is a wholly satisfying way to dig deeper into an artist who successfully broke free from his paper-thin shackles.

I’m guessing this was a fundraising item during WFMU’s pledge drive in 2004. Compiled by John Allen, it collects a veritable who’s who of indie rock circa 1989. However, most of this compilation veers towards the punk end of the spectrum. It is great to hear some old favorites and get the chance to listen to some great songs that never made it onto their respective albums. It does an excellent job of summing of the the cream of the crop. It is even more impressive due to the fact that it focuses on a single year and catches many of these bands in their prime. I haven’t heard some of these songs in over a decade it brings back memories of bands that lost me with later efforts, but this comp is forcing me to reevaluate some of my opinions. Extra points for emulating the design and approach of Chuck Warner’s Messthetics comps that have lovingly collected forgotten punk and new wave gems.

Various Artists

Killed by Murder Volume One

http://www.divshare.com/download/5271141-fff

tracklist

16 Tons-Lauren(No Blow)

Action Swingers-Kicked in the head(Noiseville)

Bricks-Girl with the Carrot Skin(merge)

Dead Moon-Black september (Tombstone)

Death of Samantha-Rosenberg Summer (Homestead)

Die Kreuzen-Gone Away (Touch and Go)

Drunks With Guns-Drug Problem (Noiseville)

Dwarves-Drug Store (Sub Pop)

Gibson Brothers-Emusified (Siltbreeze)

Go Team-Ribeye (K)

Halo of Flies-There Aint No Hell (Amrep)

HP Zinker-The Know it All(Matador)

Ickey Joey-Ill Love You There (C/Z)

Jesus Lizard-Chrome (Touch and Go)

Lee Harvey Oswald Band-Ligtning Strikes (Touch and Go)

Lonely Moans-Rockinerd (amrep)

Love Child-Know its Alright (Sympathy)

Melvins-Anal Satan (Sympathy)

Monster Magnet-Lizard Johnny (Circuit)

Mudhoney-Hate the police (Subpop)

Seaweed-Inside (Leopard gecko)

Surgery-Not Going Down(Amrep)

Tar-Same (Amrep)

Treepeople-Important Things(Silence)

Unsane-This Town (Treehouse)

Vomit launch-Every Pretty Girl (teenbeat)

Bailter Space-Robot World

August 4, 2008

Bailter Space

Robot World (Matador 1993)

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

How in the hell did they pull this one out of their hat? A New Zealand band assembled after the breakup of the Gordons, Bailter Space released a couple albums that built upon their loud, hypnotic psych perfected by their previous band. I love the Gordons and Bailter Space’s Thermos and Tanker Lps and their shaggy dog take on Sonic Youth’s Sister and Evol albums. These albums just grooved as the rhythm section peaked alongside each wave of feedback. I was hooked, but unprepared for what came next.

Bailter Space signed to the Matador label. Since Gerard Cosloy was always a big supporter of the Flyinmg Nun label and New Zealand pop in general, it was not much of a surprise. What was urprising was how the band somewhat abandoned their musical blueprint and borrowed a few pages from My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, Wire’s 154 and Chairs Missing and recorded an industrial strength shoegaze album. Now, this album bears little resemblance to the the ethereal muckity-muck of the era, but it does duplicate the amniotic sac of sound of the genre and transforms it into a cold, harsh space.

I always thought that Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation was the perfect soundtrack to the claustrophobia of life in the city. I tend to view things from this perspective since I grew up in the city and always looked for sounds that emulated my surroundings. “Teenage Riot” “Silver Rocket” and especially “Hyperstation” really spoke to my teenage self as I worked as a bicycle messenger in Philly. I’m sure other albums could serve as a substitute, but this encapsulated the dread of life under Reagan and Bush in a way i understood.

I still am dumbfounded that a group from New Zealand almost beat this band at their own game, but they did. Robot World is such a dense, thick slab of music. The bass overtakes most of the vocals and drives each song along to each depressing conclusion. It is almost depressing to a level of Joy Division and sort of reminds me of how modern bands like Jesu have attempted a synthesis of metal and shoegaze. Half of this album fails to live up to these words, but the rest was so far ahead of its time. It still sounds fresh today and would probably garner more respect today than at its release date. I thoroughly love every narcotic, emotionless second of Robot World and hope you will as well.

Cat Power

Clear the Room

http://www.mediafire.com/?novjxkydtx1

I don’t even know where to begin with this ridiculous photo, but I guess that I picked it to point out how far this artist has gone astray. Her last album of originals, The Greatest, features one of the best things she has ever written. The title track is a moving tribute to Muhammad Ali that transforms Chan Marshall into an honest to goodness soul singer. Now, many of her songs have soul, but this one smoothly became a paean to the power of determination in the face of adversity. This one song made me believe that this woman really could be a more ragged Dusty Springfield.

Sadly, the rest of the album was kind of disappointing. The followup to The Covers Album, Jukebox, was a red hot mess. If you take a closer look, all of her albums are a mix of excellence and mediocrity. However, there a few songs on all of her albums that achieve brilliance. She always had a charismatic voice and a knack for examining the more depressing points of our existence, but it never added up to a great album. However, I always loved her husky, knowing vocals and it served her well on The Covers Album which allowed her the opportunity to deconstruct tunes by Michael Hurley, Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. Everything is slowed to crawl and she wrenches every ounce of emotion from this established material. It wasn’t an easy task, but she did it with grace and innovation.

I picked this collection since it echoes the successes of The Covers Album and includes versions of Oasis, Thurston Moore and Lynyrd Skynyrd tunes. Some of these are from Peel sessions and I prefer this bootleg to a few of her actual albums. It is a loosey goosy run through her favorite songs and includes unreleased tracks as well. It’s a bit messy, but her performances are earnest and on point.

3Ds – Hellzapoppin’

June 26, 2008

3Ds

Hellzapoppin’ (Flying Nun/First Warning 1991)

http://www.mediafire.com/?jmxgj0z2umx

One of the benefits of being a youngster in the early to mid 90s was the major label rush to sign anything remotely related to Nirvana and Sonic Youth to a lesser extent. It provided such anomalies as major label deals for Foetus and the Boredoms and provided leeway to indie bands like Sebadoh and Pavement to fly obscurities like Dog Faced Hermans and the 3ds over to be their opening acts on tour. Yes, it also resulted in countless pretenders and imitators out for a buck, but when hasn’t that been the case with a genre’s short-lived popularity.

I haven’t really delved into my undying love for New Zealand’s Flying Nun label and how bands like the Verlaines, Bats, Chills, Magick Heads, Dead C, Snapper and others warped my young mind and altered my view of a pop song. I got to see the 3ds on tour with Pavement around the time of their Venus Trail album that was released on Merge. Hel, I may have hallucinated this, but i remember seeing a video for their “Outer Space” video on MTV’s 120 minutes. Go figure. I picked up the 3Ds’ Hellzapoppin’ album a few years earlier and fell in love with how they took inspiration from Sonic Youth’s noisier attempts at a pop tune and made it their own. Although it was a larger venue, they filled up the theatre with a kaleidoscope of feedback and were much heavier than their records hinted. Consisting of members of Snapper and Look Blue Go Purple, their albums are filled with unpretentious pop songs slathered with lots of noise and sweet sentiments. It’s a really catchy album that gets forgotten when put in context of New Zealand’s “kiwi pop” scene. Although their music was accessible, the band had enough rough edges and personality that their music still sounds fresh today. I guess I can cut to the chase and say that fans of pop songs buried in feedback with a few quiet moments in between will find much to love here.

Moonshake

First ep (Creation records 1991)

http://www.mediafire.com/?5ytg0bnvtym

I picked this up at 3rd St. Jazz and Rock in Philadelphia as a curious high schooler and this ep really blew open my synapses. God, I miss that store. I can’t imagine a better playground for a teenage music junkie as it offered easy access to many of the artists I love today.

Moonshake was formed from a dubious well. Dave Callahan was the most “recognizable” figure inthe band, but his previous project The Wolfhounds, were responsible for a bunch of mediocre C86 era music that was promising, but ultimately disappointing. Salvation came in the form of Margaret Fiedler and John Frenett who pushed the envelope by adding elements of dub while taking the lethargic shoegaze scene to louder territories explored only by My Bloody Valentine and the Telescopes. Their usage of samples and electronic loops made the ep even more trailblazing in comparison with contemporaries hailed by the NME and Melody Maker.

It isn’t surprising that Fiedler and Frenett went on to form Laika as the seeds of their love of oddball dubby electronic pop songs were apparent on some of these tracks. However, I always loved how this ep was recorded because it would suddenly jump from calm to chaos as the guitars would shift into full-on noise on a few occasions. I loved how they jumped from mellow and ethereal to nasty and belligerent in a split-second. Their follow-up, Big Good Angel amplified the dub and electronic musings over the psychedelic road, but it somehow worked better. They left to form Laika, but Moonshake were still pretty good, but missed Fiedler’s vocals.