Sunday, November 26, 2017

Ladies Night

So I've been putting off going to the practice space and recording the whole weekend. The last time the thing I started wasn't working for me. So I've avoided going back.

Now, I've decided to scrap that shit for now and have a different tack to try. I'm fomenting a plan even now. I have no idea what it will be, but it beats sitting around the house.

Head Cheese (1981)

So this was a band from the city of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, PA. It's a bit arty, but still New Wave from this trio of ladies. Not exactly what you might initially expect from the picture on the back, but then they did also call themselves "Head Cheese" which is a food stuff that only my grandfather could love. (Though, I might be more inclined to give it another chance now. Cheek meat is pretty fucking tasty. It's just the aspic that kind of creeps me out.)

The one claim to fame that this band has is that one member went on to have a couple of minor mid-80's hits with the group Book of Love starting with "I Touch Roses" in 1986. I saw them around then too when they opened for Depeche Mode at the Orpheum Theater in Boston. As I remember the stuck up snooty little fuck I was back then didn't enjoy the show.

P.U.N.K. Girl (1993)

Fifth single on Sarah Records for these popsters aptly called Heavenly. A pair of incredibly catchy and cheerful little numbers about girls by this female fronted quintet. I'm a sucker for this. If only the whole of the Sarah catalogue had more of this I'd be much more inclined to spend more time and money tracking down their releases.

This is the bees knees and quite catchy toe tap worthy so long as you don't pay close attention to the rather sad lyrics to "Hearts and Crosses". They're a bit of a downer.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Monday, November 20, 2017

Today's Adventures in Difficult Listening

A difficult listening post.

Haven't had one of those in a bit now have we.

At least this is pretty damn funny...

Now We Are Six (1986)

This band consists of two fine upstanding gentleman known to the record buying public as Mr. Anus & Mr. Horribly Charred Infant.

We all have regrets. One of mine is that I didn't pull the trigger fast enough to purchase the first Happy Flowers single with "Mom, I gave the Cat Some Acid" because it's still one of the things that make me giggle uncontrollably whenever I listen to it.
Just tickles me pink.

Alas, I was too late for that first gem, but did manage to snag the follow up. This one. It has such lovely little toe tappers as "Mom and Dad Like the Baby More Than Me" and "Daddy Melted" which unfold slowly and painfully over a bed of excruciating noise. Just like spending time with your own family.
Only this is actually funny along with being painful.

At least I did get a very sweet hand written poem with my copy of this gem which I can only assume is a one of a kind piece of art that will not increase in value anywhere in the world

except my heart:

Excuse me a sec. I may cry. Too much  beauty....

Meanwhile let's take a moment to remember that difficult listening comes in many forms

Hardattack (1981)

So here's Hardattack.

It's sometimes billed as a "rare US punk" record.
I'm less convinced.

First off the b-side "Me and You" is some kind of extra shitty wacky white guy reggae concoction that generally causes me to bruise a shin or something scrambling for the "next track" button. 
The band sounds like approaching middle aged guys trying to catch up with the latest sounds of  1981 so they can  regain some kind of relevance. (which I say from a comfortable middle age myself as someone who was never relevant to begin with)

which leads us to the second thing

The better side is the A-side "Sick and Tired of my Friends"

(and presumably why some optimistic and perhaps slightly delusional soul thinks that this single should command a minimum of fifty five US dollars on Discogs. Which is itself an improvement on the whopping hundred previously offered copy. You can ask a million, but there has to be takers....)

It's a relatively fast number with a beat and a certain New Wave bent, a bit of a misanthropic slant lyrically. 
And features the inimitable punk rock guitar stylings of guest artist Jorma Kaukonen who approaches this old person New Wave/Punk thing like he's playing in a Blue Oyster Cult cover band. (which I also say as a fan of B.O.C. "Secret Treaties" gets a fair amount of play around these parts. 
But in this case context matters.)

The whole aging hippie who was in Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna thing kind of kills that "punk rock" vibe for me. But I'm snootier than most. 
Punk rock was invented because of people like this. To spite and despite them. It was my generation's thing. Fuck off, poser. 

Fucking Baby Boomers ruin fucking everything.

That ranted, I mean, it's still probably not the worst record ever made in this vein at the time, but it's far from the top.

At least now you can save your fifty five dollars for something better. 

Like tacos. 
Go buy yourself some tacos.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Round on Both Ends and Hi in the Middle

I  have no time or patience for this right now, but time and progress must march forward...

Two items from the state of Ohio.

I think I've made myself pretty clear on that previously.

Circle A Indicator (1997)

Harriet the Spy.
Emo-ish band from Kent, Ohio.
I don't hold it against them.
They probably need a hug anyway.

That wasn't a haiku.

They are defunct
and haven't even looked at their FB page in a couple of years

I Keep a Close Watch (1978)

Nearly twenty years previous and nearly as emotional Harvey Gold released this tidbit on Clone Records. He's best known for being in Akron legends Tin Huey.

It's a cover of a really lovely John Cale tune that is easily as good as any of a million overly covered tunes you can name.

The other side is a bit stranger.
There's a bridge where the lyrics are:

...Billy get off the toilet
    be a singer (x3)
    just like your father..."

You can take that as a recommendation.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Meanwhile on either side of the pond

 It's 7 inch compilations time

4 Alternatives (1979)

A four song sampler on Heartbeat Records of Bristol, England bands circa 1979. It's the earnest sound of youth. For whatever reason the Joe Public track is the clear winner for me here. I don't have a dog in this fight, but I put their sole other release in my wantlist after picking this up.


Go Go (1979)

Two out of three bands here are from Philadelphia with the third JJ 180 being from Santa Cruz, Ca. Helen Wheels has some stuff coming up in the near future and I know fuck all about King of Siam.

JJ 180 are named after a highly addictive drug in the novel "Now Wait For Last Year" by Philip K Dick. (It's one of the better ones. Read it.) After a lineup change they became the Realtors whose 7" "Buy or Beware" will be gracing this screen some distant future just like a PK Dick novel and maybe just slightly less addictive.

You have been warned.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Proverbial Nail

The cat wants dinner. She's sitting in the window by this desk and staring at me intently. She's using all her tiny feline powers to will me into getting up and putting kibble into her bowl

It's not working.

She's wandered off now to sit beside her bowl and wait for me to get up to pee or something to begin a program of loud pained yowling to alert me to her impending demise of starvation.

She'll just have to wait.

So seemingly out of nowhere this one also happened.

I got it for free when we were shopping around for a place to press up some Cds for one of the bands I was in near the start of this century. This one place had a pile of discs that they'd pressed in the front for the taking so that you could get an idea of what they did and how well they did it. (It worked because they got our tiny business.)

Meanwhile the Hang Ups self titled fourth full length. It's a bit of a return. It's stripped back again with a lot less added production which suits these songs so much more. They can speak quite well for themselves.

It was released on Trampoline Records which according to Discogs seems to be a short-lived label owned by Pete Yorn, Rami Jaffee of the Wallflowers, and Marc Dauer and whose main claim to record fame seems to be several full length compact discs by Minnie Driver whose website does not appear to have been updated since 2015.
All in all, this probably wasn't a fantastic recipe for commercial success.

That being said. It's a pretty fabulous record.

It's one of those that if in another ten years there's suddenly a group of pop loving record geeks who start rediscovering the shiny pop music of the 90's and hunting it down for deluxe reissues will be a very hard to find and expensive original to get.

I'd suggest getting ahead of that curve while you can.
Listen to it and know I'm right and was right all along.
I sometimes am.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

One Adult Beverage Later....

Irish Whiskey is a wonderful thing.

I'm quite fond of Knappogue Castle. I  recommend it. It's a good buy for the money.

I personally have an issue with spending more than fifty bucks for a bottle of liquor. It's more or less that I have a hard time justifying it and would enjoy it less. I don't know. It's how I am. Knappogue is  near the top of my limit, delicious and on sale at my local shop often enough that I seldom have to pay list price.

I'm having a respectable snootful (which google tells me is spelled with a single L.) and reacquainting myself with the third Hang Ups full length which was a bit of a departure for them.

So as the 20th Century ground to a close and Prince was likely able to redo his kitchen or something with the royalties from the song "1999" (which I'm not going to link to because all the links I googled up look kind of sketchy) the Hang Ups revamped and had a bit of a shake up. The bass player became the lead guitarist and the drummer started a slow exit and they became a bit of a different animal than on previous outings.
For this particular recording they worked with Mitch Easter and Don Dixon behind the boards marking the first time those two had collaborated on a recording project since the first couple REM albums. Hopes were, as they say, high.
All of that said, they do a fine enough job but this one kind of lacks the same kind of breath stealing wonder of the previous two. It's a transitional album. They're stretching. They're integrating new people and an expanded sonic palette. They're growing. It's not bad, but they weren't quite as solid in execution of the newer direction.

As it is, I really wasn't even aware that the band still existed by the time this was made. I'd gone through several different musical phases in the intervening years. I think my first exposure to this was some kind of free outdoor show on the West Bank and walking away with kind of mixed feelings.
It's not the one I reach for first. Let's put it that way. I won't reach and turn it off when it comes up, but it doesn't quite hit me in the same way as the previous two. 
Your mileage will vary. Take my assessments as always with a grain or two of sodium chloride. 

Some Irish whiskey probably wouldn't hurt either.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Hi Ho

It's the first hot day of summer 2017 as I type this in the not so distant past while looking forward to the first cold days of autumn whence this post will finally appear. I have the weekend off and three different events I can attend tomorrow provided I can drag my night shift working ass out of bed before 6pm.

I'm not entirely hopeful that I will manage it, but stranger things have happened and such.

So We Go (1996)

The Hang Ups dropped full length #2 in 1996.

There's new songs and some old favorites that hadn't made it to the first one and in general it's a step in the same shiny pop direction. Familiar live songs transformed in the studio into the heightened versions of themselves.

Essentially, if you enjoyed the previous one, there's no reason not to feel the same or more about this one. Shimmery pop songs about girls with harmony vocals right out of the Byrds.

For those not familiar with Minneapolis, the Entry in the  song of that name refers to the 7th St Entry which is the smaller room adjunct to First Avenue which most people are familiar with from the movie "Purple Rain" It's a great room to play in. (except that one time my Traynor amp literally blew on stage with a flash and smoke in the middle of a set...)

That's about all I have for today.

I worked a long hard week and want an adult beverage.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Cold feet

Well, my feet are cold anyway. And by that I mean physically chilled. I should probably go and put on some socks or something. It would only make sense.
Sometimes, when everything else is going to shit around you the only thing you can do is make a grab for what makes sense and put on some damn socks.

He's After Me (1993)

Get my first real line cooking job in a terrible little Italian bistro type place with a short tempered owner and a kitchen where I could touch the wall behind my stove and the other side without stretching. The dishwasher was a super sweet guy with Downs who would wait at the bus stop across the street and sing along loudly with Jerry Lee Lewis or Elvis on his walkman. I made friends with the pantry guy who turns out lived a block or so away from me.

Turns out also that he was friendly with the members of the Hang Ups.
Got to see a very early performance of theirs in his living room for a party. Got to know some of the various romantic intrigues that would find their way into some of the songs second hand. (the title track for instance)
It was a fun time to be alive, for the most part considering. I don't know. I was going through my own shit too.

The Hang-Ups were kind of doomed to localness though. Their auxiliary guitarist, John Crozier, who had played in the 60's style rave up beat legends the Funseekers wasn't really interested in touring. It's a shame. He stuck around with them live for a bit after this before parting ways. At least that's how I remember it. It was so very long ago..

They would have a brief second shot at things in 1997 when Dave Pirner curated the soundtrack of Kevin Smith's movie Chasing Amy and put "Jump Start" on it. I've never seen the movie, myself. The trailer certainly isn't recommending it either.

But the song is fucking great.
So is "Waiting" and "Runway" and...and...

It's as fine a debut full length as you never heard.

Fix that.