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)

The Breeders

Pod Demos

http://www.mediafire.com/?xkeytnkyt0i

At the time, The Pixies were my favorite band in the universe. The Smiths and Cocteau Twins were runners-up. My teenage mind latched onto Frank Black’s primal screams on Surfer Rosa and loved the eclectic smorgasbord of Doolittle. This teenage mind liked Bossanova and told Trompe Le Monde to talk to the hand. I saw them with the Ciure and Love and Rockets and my heart swooned at the possibilities of music. Now I am much older and calloused and I look back and wonder why I thought their first two albums were a door to all that was new. I still view Loveless, Queen is Dead, Heaven or Las Vegas and Viva Hate as impeccable gems, but the Pixies just haven’t aged well with me.

The Breeders’ debut, Pod, is a horse of a different color. It still gets played regularly and it grows more loved with each listen. I like First Splash a lot and find something to love on the other two, but the overall legacy is weak except for Pod. I used the term “supergroup” already today, but here we go on our hackneyed path again. In my mind, the Breeders were much more than Kim Deal. The band included Tanya Donnely of Throwing Muses, Josephine Wiggins of The Perfect Disaster and Britt Walford of Slint, who recorded under the alias of Shannon Doughton to preserve the all-girl flair. When you listen to the demos for Pod, it becomes apparent that they had a lot more to do with its success than you may think.

Pod was produced and engineered by Steve Albini. Known for his work with  Big Black, Rapeman and Shellac as well as production credits on albums by Nirvana, Superchunk Page and Plant and Pj Harvey. It was always obvious that he beefed up the sound of Pod, but one listen to the demos and it points to how Albini and Britt Walford made this album a great one instead of a good one. The demos include all of the Kim Deal tracks and excludes the Beatles cover as well as a few others. The demos are a great insight into the creation of the album and stand on their own as an album, but it lacks the forboding, metallic guitars and creepy atmosphere of the finished product. Yes, this is the case with most demos, but the contrast is schocking.

In the finished product, Walford’s drumming is pushed to the forefront and is recorded higher in the mix than than Deal’s vocals at times. In addition, Deal and Donnely’s guitars sounds more abrasive and harsh while Wiggs’ bass is prominent and drives each track with an air of aggression. The finished product is genius while the demos sounds almost twee. There is no Pod as wel know it without the pounding drums of Walford and Albini’s raw reconstruction of these songs. You may say this is unfair since these are demos. However, the band’s direction after Pod shows that they were always a catchy pop band with rough edges instead of the infinitely more interesting band which recorded Pod.

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.

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.

The 6ths

Wasp’s Nest (London 1995)

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

Stephin Merritt has always utilized the vocal talents of others to realize his artistic vision. His choices were sometimes a bit suspect on 69 Love Songs, but he usually has a great ear for who best coalesces for this tragic songwriting. His best collaborations can be found on Wasp’s Nest, the 6ths debut, but how can you go wrong with a roster of vocalists that includes Barbara Manning, Mary Timony(Helium), Dean Waeham (Galaxie 500), Amelia Fletcher (Heavenly), Rober Scott (The Clean/Bats), Mark Robinson (Unrest), Chris Knox (Tall dwarves), Georgia Hubley (Yo La Tengo) and Max MaCaughan (Superchunk)?

The music doesn’t differ from the baroque electronic indie-pop that marks his work in the Magnetic Fields. The lyrics doesn’t stray from his usual tales of unrequited love and romantic promises, but the roster of vocalists make this his best release. From Barbara Manning’s ode to the joys of the San Diego Zoo to Georgia Hubley’s rejection of a lover who can never compare to her own imagination, every element of each song is on point. The highlight is Dean Wareham’s take on “Falling Out of Love With You” which documents the dissolution of a relationship in a blase sort of way. I always loved the lyrics to this one although they sound better in performance than on your screen.

“In an old silverline
I was yours, you were mine
I was hoarse, you were mean
We designed drum machines

But every day in every way
Im falling out of love with you
Every kiss means less and less
Im falling out of love with you
Every hour kills a flower
Im falling out of love with you
You just bore me more and more
Im falling out of love with you

They made sounds much like drums
I was young you were dumb
Now youre older and im wiser
We design synthesizers

But every day in every way
Im falling out of love with you
Every kiss means less and less
Im falling out of love with you
Every hour kills a flower
Im falling out of love with you
You just bore me more and more
Im falling out of love with you”

It is playful, bitter, sarcastic and a downright mean rejection, but the music is so chirpy and bright that you find yourself humming along with each caustic word. Now that’s a pop song.