Ego Summit - The Room Isn't Big Enough

The concept of an “underground supergroup” is a slight contradiction in terms, yet the phrase has been used to describe Ego Summit. Perhaps it’s more appropriate to simply describe the group as some old buddies jamming in the barn. Nonetheless, the histories of the members are unavoidable, as they are collectively leaving behind an inspired discography that dates back to the Ford administration. The ‘Summit was a gathering of a handful of old-time Columbus, OH indie pioneers -- old friends -- who had been show-going and collaborating in an incestuous scene for decades, but might not have all stepped into the same room at the same time to make music. And so, Mike Rep, Ron House, Jim Shepard, Tommy Jay, and Don Howland got together in Jay’s studio/barn to play some music. As Rep’s liners note, “it was generally agreed that some documentation to that fellowship should be recorded on tape before the participants doddered off into ‘old age.’”

That session, recorded by Jay and Rep with some help from Jerry Wick, became the thirteen song album The Room Isn’t Big Enough, the first vinyl release on Rep’s Old Age/No Age imprint, previously a cassette only label. Though a short-lived project, the album is cohesive and profound, a modern day DIY masterpiece that pulled sounds and influences from a half-century’s worth of interesting music. Ego Summit manages to seamlessly reference punk, folk, psych, and blues, and is perfectly presented by the band’s rough-around-the-edges 4-track aesthetic. Dave Hyde,

Guided By Voices - Fast Japanese Spin Cycle 7"

Although this Guided by Voices EP only clocks in at ten-and-a-half minutes, one would be hard pressed to argue against its quality. Among Fast Japanese Spin Cycle's eight tracks are a guitar-heavy version of "Marchers in Orange" that is far superior to the Vampire on Titus version, and "Kisses to the Crying Cooks," an acoustic variation of Propeller's opener, "Over the Neptune." Elsewhere, "Indian Fables" is a sublime little tune that makes the most of its one minute running time, and on "Volcano Divers," Robert Pollard crafts a memorable tune around a single guitar line and an echoing drum. The standout track, though, is the concert favorite, "My Impression Now," which somehow has eluded placement on a full-length album. Possessing all the necessary elements of classic Guided by Voices, this track itself is worth the price of admission.

Strapping Fieldhands - Discus

This Philadelphia group came out of the post-punk lo-fi scene of the early '90s and produced a string of indie recordings that draw on British folk and psychedelia, Pere Ubu, and Red Crayola-style quirkiness. This album is a low-tech affair which experiments with some unorthodox instrumentation and has at its heart a delicate and crafty song sensibility that brings to mind Tall Dwarves and Television Personalities.

Happy Holidays

Happy holidays everyone! I will be traveling for Christmas so I will return to posting on the 27th. During the next week you can expect these uploads:

V-3 - Russian Roulette (Chinese Style) 7"
V-3 - Photograph Burns
The Shadow Ring - City Lights
The Strapping Fieldhands - Discuss
The Great Plains - Length of Growth
Guided By Voices - Fast Japanese Spin Cycle

PLUS the first edition of Decrepit Tapes radio.

The Shadow Ring - Put The Music In It's Coffin

Led by Graham Lambkin, avant-rock minimalists the Shadow Ring constructed a strange, lo-fi sound built on folk, experimental noise (from both guitar and electronics), tape loops, and spoken-word poetry. Formed in Cheriton, Kent, England, the Shadow Ring initially consisted of guitarist Lambkin and percussionist Daren Harris, with occasional supporting personnel. Forming their own Dry Leaf label, the group made its LP debut with 1993's City Lights, and scored U.S. distribution with the Siltbreeze label for the 1994 follow-up, Put the Music in Its Coffin. It was followed by a 1995 American tour with several Siltbreeze labelmates, including Harry Pussy.

V-3 - Unbroken Silence

The very first release by Jim Shepard's group V-3. Only ever released on cassette on the small Iron Press label. A few of these songs have been released on other V-3 releases and compilations... you may remember "Inside Outpost" from Tar'd & Further'd.

I unfortunately have not been able to track down a cover for this release. The one above is just one I made. If you have it or any other info on this release, please send it along!

Vertical Slit - Under A Blood Red Lava Lamp

Jim Shepard inaugurated his insular experimentation back in the late '70s with Vertical Slit, a free-ranging, amorphously constructed band that laid out its lattices of scree around the leader's extraordinary guitar constructions. You can hear bits of MC5er Fred "Sonic" Smith, Sonny Sharrock and Can's Michael Karoli in Shepard's alternately piercing and massaging use of feedback, while his lyrics coat everything in sight with overlapping bile and black humor. An array of cassette releases and micro-pressed records — in editions ranging from 100 (Slit and Pre-Slit) to a whopping 300 (The Live EP).

Under A Blood Red Lava Lamp is a live album that captures Vertical Slit in their early period in a show from 1980. While the recording quality is not the best, you can definitely get a sense of the intensity and the quality of material from this band.

Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments - Negative Guest List 7"

A single released prior to Bait & Switch that contains two tracks from that album plus what is probably the finest TJSA song (and an all out lo-fi classic) "Baboon's Liver".

Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments - Bait & Switch

After a bevy of cherished singles, Columbus, Ohio's favorite inebriated sons turned out this spit-caked debut full-length. How it managed to find its way out on a major label is anyone's guess, but it nevertheless confirmed Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments' stature as one of the most excellent rock band's ever to drink and spew its way out of Cowtown's sloppy bars and subterranean clubs. Bait and Switch is punk rock at its snotty, anarchist best, music to both revere (the band was championed by none other than Thurston Moore) and revile (Ron House's cat-screech voice is an acquired taste, to say the least). Depending on where you're standing in the crowd, the album is either fingers on the blackboard or a perfect, thrilling sort of mess. Skanky, violent venues were built precisely for songs like "Is She Shy," "Quarrel With the World," "Negative Guest List," and "You Can't Kill Stupid," all of which hold their own next to the thrilling cover of "Cyclotron" from Cleveland punk legends the Eels. The music is every bit as polarizing and polemical as, say, Rage Against the Machine, but far more satisfyingly resonant and authoritative because its jibes are nondenominational and self-effacing. House mines his traditional obsessions (getting drunk, dissatisfaction, sex, getting drunk) with typically witty and curmudgeonly spite. But scrape off the first layer or two of vitriol, delve beneath all the bluster and sarcasm, and he is surprisingly candid about grave subjects like cancer and death. And if ever there was a deserved guitar hero (just listen to the metal-splintered stylings on "Down to High Street") it is the criminally unheralded Bob Petric. Aside from a "love" tune and the attempted atmospherics of "Contract Dispute" (let's be honest, the Doors TJSA is not), though, Bait and Switch finds the band pissing into the fire, and its fans would have it no other way.


was a cassette that was obtained through the British magazine New Musical Express in 1981 (hence (C)assette 81) and released in conjunction with the record label Rough Trade. Intended to mark the first 5 years of the independent label movement in the UK record industry and Rough Trade itself, it was the first in a series of many cassette releases from the paper, including the C86 compilation of 1986. Publishing a tape was also an acknowledgment of the flourishing self published cassette culture of the time that the NME had been supporting in its short lived Garageland column.

C81 was compiled by NME journalist Roy Carr, and Christopher Rose, who worked in public relations for Rough Trade. To get a copy, NME readers had to collect two coupons from the newspaper and send off £1.50. The 15,000 orders were sold out within a month.[1]

The tape contained a set of 25 diverse tracks ranging from jazz (James Blood Ulmer), poetry (John Cooper Clarke), ska (The Beat), and the folksy 'Canterbury Scene' (Robert Wyatt).[2] British music writer Simon Reynolds called it "post punk's swan song", noting the appearance of three acts from Scottish independent label Postcard Records, and the emerging new pop tendency of bands such as Linx and Scritti Politti.

Pell Mell - It Was A Live Cassette

The "instrumental" stigma has dogged Pell Mell since 1980, when the band was first formed in Portland, Oregon, by drummer Bob Beerman, guitarist Bill Owen, and Arni May, the other original guitarist who worked in a record store in Portland and brought in Jon-Lars Sorenson to play bass. It's not that any of these seemingly well-educated gentlemen were too dimwitted to consider sprucing up their drabby music with a provocative frontman; they auditioned singers in the beginning, and didn't like what they heard. And who can blame them? Singers, with their gaudy necklaces and their unzipped pants and their idiotic gestures, are egomaniacal distractions from the main event - the music. More than drummers, even.

Whether Jimi Hendrix was correct in regarding surf music as a plague upon humanity, Pell Mell were nevertheless perplexed to be continually categorized as such. Truth be told - a novel idea, isn't it? - the band's "vision" was nothing more complicated than the creation of music as cool as all the records coming out at the time by great surf bands such as PiL, Josef K, the Fire Engines, the Feelies, A Certain Ratio, Pere Ubu, the Contortions and others.

Following the recording of the quartet's Rhyming Guitars EP in January 1981, Arni departed, leaving the band to continue as a trio. Bob, Bill and Jon-Lars released the live cassette primarily as promotional and tour-booking tool, but also to distance themselves from the dual-guitar EP, with its newly unplayable songs (except for "Par Avion"). Along with gratifying a shared Duane Eddy fetish, they were trying to fit in with the strong Portland punk scene, and were conscious of what it took to earn an audience's undivided attention. Intentionally designed to keep listeners on their toes, the tracks on (1982) It Was a Live Cassette were written to be played live and are much more aggressive, raw, and abrupt than anything else done by the band since. The more well known, silky smooth quartet (with Greg Freeman on bass, Steve Fisk on keyboards and samples, and Dave Spalding on guitar) was still down the road a piece by a distance of about two years. It was a live cassette and it was all about proving things: that Pell Mell didn't need or want a singer, that they were punk, and, most importantly, that they were not a goddamn surf band.

Tommy Jay - Tall Tales of Trauma

The Long awaited re-issue of the nineteen eighty six Old Age/No Age cassette, Tom's Tall Tales of Trauma. Songs from ten years (out of thirty) of DIY barn and basement classics from Tommy Jay, member/songwriter and co producer of Ego Summit, Mike Rep & the Quotas, and the (Ohio) True Believers.

Tom's Tall Tales is musical dark matter, an unseen cosmic force connecting Ohio punk/folk 4-track 70's experiments to the Cowtown lo-fi explosion of the early 90's and on to today's New Generation of Ohio DIY 4-trackin' freaks.

"He's been my secret weapon all these years-Tommy Jay is he Pavarotti of Punk and so much more."
-Mike "Rep" Hummel

Alastair Galbraith - Mirrorwork

While Alastair Galbraith's particular solo style had long been established by the time Mirrorwork appeared, it was still an approach all his own, often providing wonderful, mysterious results. Certainly the lead track, "For Free," a collaboration with Shayne Carter on "backwards lead guitar," finds his brew of edgy lyrics, delivery, and atypical, hard to grasp melodies as potent as ever, and a good sign for Mirrorwork as a whole. Again, many songs barely touch the two-minute mark, with 24 total tracks in under three quarters of an hour. His home recording style is a collage of electric guitar, violin, and other instruments and overall aesthetic -- again, nothing too surprising to anyone who's heard it before. There's psychotic buzzing on "Rivulets," with keyboards sounding like insane, annoyed bees, and the high-pitched squeals, just a hair away from being annoying, while on "Frostfish" there are two instances of Galbraith seeing how far he can go. Where the joy of Mirrorwork comes in is how he works that combination to his own ends, coming up with some new, intriguing results. The combination of soft and clattering has been done before, for instance, but "Ludd," with prominent acoustic guitar in one speaker and various feedback growls and random noises in the other, is one of Galbraith's best balances between the two extremes. Other standouts include the reversed guitar snippets and loops of "Song to the Third," softly fading away into the distance, and the burbling organ/muttering vocal blend of "Vinyl Curtain," one of his dreamiest yet disturbed numbers. The album's other collaboration, "This Hard," with regular Galbraith partner David Mitchell, finds them both taking the acoustic route, resulting in a quietly enjoyable gem. This occasional tendency to play things completely straight results in such listenable worthies as "Blue Room," played on what sounds like 12-string acoustic, and the semi-blues lope and growl of "Stealthy."

Tobin Sprout - Moonflower Plastic

Shortly after the release of his solo debut, Carnival Boy, Tobin Sprout officially left Guided by Voices to concentrate on his solo career. The cryptically titled Moonflower Plastic (Welcome to My Wigwam) was the first album he released after leaving the band, and unlike its predecessor, it established Sprout as an entity separate from Guided by Voices. Where Carnival Boy was essentially a GBV album in miniature, Moonflower Plastic works from that band's signature lo-fi art-pop foundation and opens up the formula. The songs here are richer and more fully realized. They take time to make their point, and are supported by more detailed arrangements; several tracks even feature piano, and Sprout's voice is richer than before. Similarly, his songwriting is prettier and more affecting. He hasn't abandoned the lo-fi aesthetic -- there are still layers of hiss, and the recording is charmingly amateurish -- but he has invested it with an emotional sincerity that rivals Lou Barlow. Moonflower Plastic still has some slow spots, but the best moments find Sprout coming into his own as a songwriter and musician.

The Clean - Compilation LP Re-Issue!

I have no idea how this re-issue flew under the radar, but I went record shopping yesterday and there it was... a newly re-issued LP of The Clean's Compilation! I nearly fainted when I saw it! It's being put out by Little Axe Records and also in a very small run (I've heard as little as 300!) I just wanted to let you all know because it looks like these babies are going to move fast!

Mike Rep & The Quotas - A Tree Stump Named Desire

More archival recordings from Mike Rep & the gang including a cover of "Cowboy Diddley" and the flip-side to the original 1975 "Rocket to Nowhere" single "Quasar" among many other gems.

Mike Rep & The Quotas - Mama Was a Schitzo, Daddy Was a Vegetable Man b/w Rocket Music On 7''

From the man himself, Mike Rep:
"Mama was a Schitzo" was recorded in 1975 around the same time as my first single "Rocket To Nowhere" on a Sony Reel-to-Reel two track recorder that had a "Sound On Sound" function that we could dump tracks on top of each other so that we could create multi-track recordings. We balanced tracks as we went along, keeping in mind future tracks to come.

Various Artists - The Harrisburg Players Volume One 7"

While working with Tommy Jay & Mike Rep on re-issues of "Tall Tales of Trauma" & the new Mike Rep release, Columbus Discount Records also uncovered recordings by long time collaborators such as T.A. Lafferty & The General. This was issued in a limited edition (now sold out) edition of 250 exclusively to the Columbus Discount Records Club members. If you dig REp & The Quotas, you will find a lot to love in these recordings!

Check out other releases at!

Royal Trux - S/T

Royal Trux's eponymous debut album is a collage of primitive guitar chords, clattering production, howled vocals and sheer white noise. Occasionally, the music showed signs of actual song structure, as well as shards of Stonesy blues, but it generally sounded like an abrasive, deconstruction of classic rock and a mighty good one at that!

The Dead C - Harsh 70's Reality (Bonus Tracks)

One of the most important lo-fi / noise albums and quite simply a masterpiece. No album more perfectly captures the spirit of the Dead C than this album. Starting with (in my opinion) their best recording the 22-minute "Driver UFO" that has absolutely no structure but explores so many interesting sounds and textures that you won't believe how quickly it goes by. The album then kicks in to full gear with "Sky", one of the band's most straight forward "rock" songs that is just a totally relentless sonic attack on the senses. The album never lets up from there and there isn't a single wasted second.

This is a special version of the album because two of the tracks from this album were not included on the CD release: "Shark" & "T Is Never Over Parts I & II" both ripped from the vinyl version. All of the other tracks are from their original digital sources. The version that was originally posted to Kiwi Tapes did not include these tracks.

Great news for all of you Dead C fans: their current label Ba Da Bing! has teamed up with Jagjaguwar to bring two new deluxe edition vinyl reissues of the Dead C's first two releases: DR503 & Eusa Kills. DR503 has the original album's running order on the first LP (not DR503b or c) and the second LP includes the entirety of the Sun Stabbed EP and outtakes from those sessions (some of which were on DR503b). The Eusa Kills re-issue is equally devistating, with the epic Helen Said This/Bury Siltbreeze single on the second LP at 45 RPM (the original was 33). I own both of these and I would high reccomend seeking them out, excellent packaging and pressing all around. They are both available at the Jagjaguwar Mail Order Store

Coming Soon

Decrepit Radio: Before the end of the month I will be posting my very first podcast to the site. The intent is to make one episode per month. I'm going to try to find ways to make it different than your usual "just talk & play music" radio show, with the possibility of also incorporating live music.

A Wider Range of Musical Styles:
I'm trying to avoid falling into the same trap as Kiwi Tapes where I limit myself too much and end up getting bored. I want to extend outside of the "lo-fi" category a bit (while still also keeping with it) The recent Sam Cooke & Harmonia posts should tell you where I am coming from in that regard. Hopefully by now I have gained enough trust that you guys will like what I will post.

Comments have now been enabled for everyone and you no longer have to register with Blogger in order to leave comments. Hopefully this will promote more of a discussion. I reserve the right to delete any comment at any time for any reason.

Your feedback would be much appreciated.

Psycho & The Birds - All That Is Holy

One of the many, many Robert Pollard side projects that have popped up in recent years. This is an album you'll either love or hate right from the start. So the obvious question is, what makes this project different than any of Pollards other projects?

For this album he went back to his lo-fi roots and recorded all of these songs in a single sitting with his acoustic guitar on his old sears boombox. It appears that many of the songs were made up on the spot due to their rather loose structures and primitive vocals. The tapes were then sent to Todd Tobias (Pollard's long time collaborator) who added drums, lead guitar, synth and anything else he could find to these songs. The finished product is a rather interesting juxtaposition between spontenaity and a very well considered studio recording. The music stylistically sounds quite different than the usual Pollard affair: much more countified, much twangier and overall less emphasis on the vocals and melody and more about creating an interesting mood.

Interesting trivia: The first track "The Killers" ended up being re-recorded for Pollard's 2007 album Standard Gargoyle Decisions, and "Hello Forever" & "Frozen Fegtible Fiction" ended up being combined into one tune called "Cats Love A Parade" for Pollard's 2007 EP Silverfish Trivia.

Un - Transmissions 7"

This was Un's 2nd & final release. Ostensibly offered as a tour only 7", this was 1st made available by the band on their west coast jaunt w/Harry Pussy the summer of 1996. Stylistically the band seemed to orbit around planet Royal Trux & both the tracks sound like they could maybe be outtakes from 'Twin Infinitives'. It's also interesting listening to 'Hangin Judge' again after all these yrs & hearing the seeds of the New Weird America.

This limited release is on sale on the Siltblog!:

The Doledrums

I've recently been pointed in the direction of this blog:

It looks like she is picking up right where I left off with Kiwi Tapes (and doing a much better job than I did, I might add). So if you are still in need of your kiwi fix, please go there...

Harmonia - Musik Von Harmonia

Musik Von Harmonia is the debut album from the highly influential Krautrock/Kosmische Musik group Harmonia. Harmonia, was formed by the addition of Neu! guitarist Michael Rother to Cluster, the duo of Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius.

It was Musik Von Harmonia that reportedly had Brian Eno proclaiming that Harmonia was "the world's most important rock band" at the time. Daniel Dumych, who cites that quote, writes in his article for "Perhaps Eno's reason for praising Harmonia so highly was that their music fit the requirements of ambient rock. Its music was equally suitable for active or passive listening. The careful listener found his/her attentions rewarded by the musical activities and sounds, but Harmonia's music was also capable of setting a sonic environment."

Musician, writer, and rock historian Julian Cope includes Musik Von Harmonia in his Top 50 Krautrock albums. As of September 4, 2007 ranks Musik Von Harmonia #78 among Krautrock albums in sales.

If you dig this album, you must pick up the Lilith pressing of it. It costs a pretty penny, but it is well worth it. One of the best vinyl pressings I've come across in recent years!

Sam Cooke - One Night Stand: Live At The Harlem Square Club 1963

For anyone who thought they knew Sam Cooke's music based on the hit singles, this disc will be a revelation. This is the real Sam Cooke, doing a sweaty, raspy soulful set at the Harlem Square Club in North Miami, FL, on Jan. 12, 1963, backed by King Curtis and his band, a handful of local musicians, and Cooke's resident sidemen, guitarist Clifford White and drummer Albert "June" Gardner. To put it simply, it's one of the greatest soul records ever cut by anybody, outshining James Brown's first live album from the Apollo Theater and easily outclassing Jackie Wilson's live record from the Copa. Cooke's pop style is far removed from the proceedings here, which have the feel of being virtually a secular sermon. The record opens with the frantic, desperate chant-like "Feel It," followed by a version of "Chain Gang" that has all of the gentling influences of the single's string accompaniment stripped from it -- Cooke's slightly hoarse voice only adds to the startling change in the song, transformed from a piece of pop-soul into an in-your-face ode to freedom and release. "Cupid," perhaps the most sweetly textured song that Cooke cut during the 1960s, gets the full soul treatment, with horns and Curtis' sax up front and Cooke imparting an urgency here that's only implied in the studio rendition. "Twistin' the Night Away" gets two hot King Curtis sax solos, the highlights of a pounding, rippling performance with a beautifully vamped extended ending (with the drums, bass, and White's guitar wrapping themselves ever tighter around the central riff) that never would have made it to the floor of the Copa. "Somebody Have Mercy" leads into a long vamp by Cooke, a brief, soaring quotation from "You Send Me" that could easily have been a high point in sheer intensity -- and then Cooke and the band crank the tension and the spirits several notches higher with the greatest version of "Bring It on Home to Me" ever done by anybody. It all ends with a version of "Having a Party" that manages to be both soothing and wrenching at the same time, Cooke luxuriating in every nuance as the crowd joins in singing, reaching a higher pitch to the gently swinging tune, the drums kicking in harder, the rhythm guitar rising up, and Curtis' sax and the horns rising up slowly while Cooke goes on with his singing, which is more like preaching and the group sounds like it could play the riff all night. It's one of the cruel ironies of the recording business that this unique and extraordinary concert recording went unreleased for almost 22 years, in favor of the more polished (but also more antiseptic and duller) Sam Cooke at the Copa.

The Shadow Ring - Hold On To ID

The Shadow Ring's excursions into rock's most primitive territories have created something of their own musical language, and Hold Onto I.D. follows up excellently in this vein -- the band's abrasive minimalism is in fine, eerie form, but also sports a post-punk angularity that keeps the album as much in line with This Heat or the Fall as it is with gritty New Zealand projects like This Kind of Punishment. There is, of course, the fact that many music lovers might find this work completely unlistenable, but the select niche of listeners who have loved the Shadow Ring's earlier work will undoubtedly find Hold Onto I.D. a thrilling advancement of their musical aims.

Mayo Thompson - Corky's Debt To His Father

Although this, to put it mildly, is not a record for mainstream tastes, it nevertheless may be more palatable to pop ears than any of Thompson's numerous Red Krayola records. With a folkier bent than his group projects, Thompson projects himself as a lovable oddball of sorts, stringing together free-associative, non-sequitur lyrics against chord progressions and time signatures that, as is his wont, refuse to adhere to accepted norms. Much of it's rather catchy (if not hummable), though, with a whimsical sense of fun that makes it impossible to dismiss as pretentious artsiness.

Key Tracks: Oyster Thins, Horses, Venus In The Morning

Cluster - Cluster '71

Cluster 71 is Cluster's debut album -- after Conrad Schnitzler left the trio known as Kluster to go solo -- and it's a strange and mercurial wonder. Issued by Philips, it is a Krautrock record with no rock. There is precious little to hold onto here. Using a pair of organs with a boatload of effects pedals, audio-generators (the kind used by electricians), an electronically treated cello, a Hawaiian guitar, and some other sundry items, Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius (along with producer Conny Planck, who functioned, in essence, as a third member) created a dislocating, disorienting meld of random space music, industrial noise, proto-ambient atmospherics, feedback, and soundwash that walked some crooked line between musique concrete, improvisation, and raw unmusical terrorism. There is no regular beat, though there is, at times, a very pronounced rhythm. The terrifying ending in the final third of "15:33" is one of many examples; so too, with the quiet yet creepy commencement of "7:38," with its hushed approximation of a heartbeat that escalates into a wall of clash and clang rather quickly, with the pulse of an organ emanating deliriously from the background before it slows to the point of silence -- not fadeout, but collapse. The final work here, "21:17," also oozes an irregular rhythmic pulse at the beginning, courtesy of a lone guitar chord played with a wah wah pedal and looped on a tape recorder. But it is displaced by random whirrs and whizzes from the generators in tandem. So many of the sounds here cannot be readily identified, and that lends this recording its sense of timelessness. Of all the pieces here, this last one, with its varying dynamics and textures -- all of them rather sparse but multi-dimensional nonetheless -- is at once utterly magical and nearly completely forbidding. Cluster 71 is a masterwork, not because it set out to be, but in spite of itself. It's one of those moments in music history where all bets were off and everyone involved -- except perhaps the record label -- found it liberating.

Chrome - Alien Soundtracks

On Chrome's second album, Helios Creed was recruited to replace original member Mike Low (though allegedly Edge initially turned Creed down after the latter appeared wearing a pirate outfit or something similar), Chrome started kicking into high gear at last. While Spain and Lambdin weren't out of the picture yet, cowriting half the songs with Edge, Creed's mind-melting guitar swiftly took prominence, turning a wiggy band into a total headtrip. Rather than just aiming at acid-rock styling, Creed stuffed his fretbending into an evil, compressed aggro-sound, at once psychedelic and totally in-your-face. Edge equals the activity by stepping into the vocal role himself, sounding like Iggy on a live wire with occasional attempts at weird, wailed crooning, while his electronics and drumming starts sounding a lot more vicious and totally scuzzed as well. It's not the short sharp shock of punk rock per se -- it just sounds like the title puts it, alien, sounds and TV samples firing out of nowhere and throwing the listener off balance. That many numbers are constructed out of short fragments adds to the weird overlay. Even the quieter numbers like "All Data Lost" play around with echo and drone to create disturbing results. The songs themselves allegedly were recorded as the soundtrack to a live sex show, which probably goes a long way towards explaining the sex and sci-fi combination of much of the lyrics. Not to mention the titles -- to quote some at random: "Nova Feedback," "Magnetic Dwarf Reptile," and the truly hilarious "Pigmies in Zee Dark" (there's some creepy crooning on this one) and "Slip It to the Android." The artwork adds to the weird effect -- a hand-colored late fifties 'cool' living room and busty babe setup with the band's and album name hand-scrawled in usual Chrome fashion over it, plus huge disembodied eyes and lips that make everything really disturbing. Overall, the combination of screwy sound and art on a budget placed Chrome as something like West Coast cousins of early Pere Ubu and Destroy All Monsters -- not a bad place to be.

Guided By Voices - Vampire On Titus

The home-crafted appeal of Guided by Voices finally reached the general public when Vampire on Titus was released in 1993. The band was on a roll at the time, pumping out creative gems like a band possessed. With one of their very best lineups, they explore the many aspects of their limited production skills without any pretension. Bandleader Robert Pollard found his voice around this time, going from a tuneful yelp to a dark croon effortlessly. And the marvelous Tobin Sprout was still with the band at the time, contributing several memorable songs that mixed up things nicely. Songs float in and out with a tight efficiency that is not typical of many likeminded artists. But without one extra second wasted on a melody, the album's strengths are only made more evident. Pollard's voice had never sounded as dark and anxious as it does on "#2 in the Model Home Series," yet on most tracks he shows an endless optimism that brings to mind Warehouse-era Bob Mould. The beautiful "Marchers in Orange" is where his voice gets its best showcase, wailing away despite the weak production. The band really does display a tremendous amount of power and creativity on this effort, and fans of indie rock should try and find this as soon as possible. Like the Replacements' Hootenanny or Pavement's Slanted & Enchanted, this kicked off a several-album streak of brilliance that went unnoticed by the mainstream but collected quite a following in the underground.

Bitrate: 224 kbps
Key Tracks: Expecting Brainchild, Jar of Cardinals, Gleemer, Dusted, Wondering Boy Poet.

Mike Rep & The Quotas - Stupor Hiatus Vol. 2

A collection of recordings from one of the pioneers of the lo-fi genre. Still kicking ass after all these years. Some of these recordings date all the way back to the 70's. Siltbreeze will be releasing another retrospective of his recordings sometime in 2009. This album was only released on vinyl, so this of course is a vinyl rip. Unfortunately it's at 192, but what can you do?

Misfits - Static Age

If it's Halloween, it must be time for the Misfits!

This is their first (and best) album that was canned due to lack of money and label interest. Bootlegged for many years and officially released on the coffin box set. You'll be hard pressed to find other music that is this fun for this time of year.

Format: MP3
Bitrate: 320 kbps
Encoded with: LAME 3.91

Key Tracks:
Some Kind of Hate, Hybrid Moments, Bullet, We Are 138

Wire - Document & Eyewitness

One of the most insane things ever put to tape. This is a collection of 2 live shows. The first show is Wire's stint at the Notre Dame Hall following the release of 154. In typical Wire fashion, most of the songs were (and still are) unrecorded in the studio and offers you a glimpse into what may have come if the band stayed together for a follow up.

The second disc is Wire's performance (or what could be better described as a confrontation) at the Janette Cochrane Theatre. Here Wire taunts the audience (who grows progressively more restless) with new material that is among some of their most challenging. From the chaos that is "Underwater Experiences" to the free jazz of "Zegk Hoqp" this show is not an easy listen. Even worse (or better) the 8-track tape machine used to record this show was set up improperly so it was only recorded to two tracks.

Do not download this if this is your first exposure to Wire, but if you are familiar with their 70's period... Put this on and get ready for a crazy ass ride!

Format: MP3
Bitrate: VBR
Encoded with: LAME 3.91

Key Tracks: Ally In Exile, Witness To The Fact, Underwater Experiences, 12XU, We Meet Under Tables

Sun Araw - Boat Trip EP

Boat Trip might be some hidden soundtrack to Donkey Kong warp-whistling straight into Ayahuasca Country. In about twenty minutes Sun Araw manages to navigate a psychedelic jungle cruise through canopy din & spooked drone, then he noses the boat out of the water and lifts into uncharted dub-spheres. The back half of this entranced tour is like being (fortunately) trapped inside an old Upsetters jam played at half-speed with twice the shaman-chant and reverb drenched percussion. Normally we wouldn't trust taking this kind of trip with just anybody, but with wheel and rudder alike in the hands of Magic Lantern co-captain Cameron Stallones, we can sip our yage-of-choice in peace and share the Sun Araw vision as one. Originally issued on Stunned Records as a limited CDR, here it gets the deluxe vinyl treatment. Limited to 500 on black vinyl.

Format: MP3
Bitrate: VBR
Encoded with: ITunes V

Smog - Strayed EP

This release's target market (besides Smog completists) might be budding ethnomusicologists, because it provides a concise study of Bill Callahan's development as a songwriter over the course of a decade or so, a "then and now" comparison. Callahan begins by offering a snapshot from his 2000 release, Dongs of Sevotion. The excellent "Strayed," a Leonard Cohen-like crooning confessional, showcases a style Callahan has been slowly perfecting since 1993's Julius Caesar. Then gears shift completely, and Callahan gives the listener a glimpse at some of his "baby pictures," a reissue of the eight-song instrumental Cow EP, originally released on Callahan's own Disaster label in 1989. The juxtaposition is interesting, the subtle and retrained title track paired with the raucous and clanging Cow tracks, but hardcore Smog fans will already be familiar with the contrast and not need the lesson.

Format: MP3
Bitrate: 320 KBPS
Encoded with: Unknown

The Fall - Slates / A Part of America Therein

An absolutely genius compilation of Fall's best release "Slates" and the most essential live document in their catalog "A Part of America Therein", which captures the Fall on multiple dates on their 1981 US tour.

The material in Slates is astounding. Every song being an out-of-the-park home run. The fact that Slates is only a 6 song mini-album makes it even stronger because it leaves you wanting more. From the instantly memorable opener "Middle Mass", to "An Older Lover Etc." which has some of MES's funniest lyrics to the barely contained chaos of "Prole Art. Threat", you just can't beat any of the material on here. Essential.

Format: MP3
Bitrate: VBR
Encoded with: LAME 3.97

Hall of Fame - First Came Love, Then Came The Tree

First Came Love, Then Came the Tree finds Hall of Fame further refining their lo-fi, avant-drone aesthetic, adding more warmth, melody, and accessibility to their vocal and instrumental pieces. This doesn't make their music any less intriguing, however -- like their 1996 self-titled album, First Came Love ... covers 11 songs in 34 minutes, yet each of the pieces is more complex and expansive than its length would suggest. The six-minute anti-epic "Little Horsey Rider" ambles along on gentle drones and an almost pastoral violin. Though it builds slightly in volume and atonality as it goes, its gentle drift reaffirms that Hall of Fame's music is more about the trip than the destination. Other delicately hypnotic yet uneasy songs, such as the album closer "Angelski" and "Come on Baby, Light My Fire," hang like a fog, immersing the listener in the group's sensuous melodies and lo-fi production values. Indeed, the simmering, Krautrock-influenced "Vermillion," which mixes murky bass and guitar with tinny, crackling percussion, is a perfect example of how Hall of Fame uses lo-fi as an artistic choice, not necessarily because they weren't able to make the album sound cleaner because they lacked the funds or ability. The deliberately grainy sound leads to other interesting textures, such as the strangely watery percussion and insistent thumb piano on "The Hubris of the Dream Input-Applique," which sounds like an avant-garde gamelan; likewise, the rattling, asymmetrical percussion on tracks like "Rival" and "VF" give them a slightly exotic tinge. First Came Love, Then Came the Tree's more experimental moments are balanced by the group's relatively poppy vocal-based songs, which range from Samara Labriski's dreamy, hushed "Fatter Leaner" and "Paper Thin" to the near-traditional ballad "Lucifer." While the album isn't a big departure from Hall of Fame's other work, First Came Love, Then Came the Tree is just that much more inviting, making it a good introduction to their fascinating sound.

Format: MP3
Bitrate: VBR
Encoded with: LAME 3.96


Hi everyone, sorry for the lack of updates recently... I hope to get back into full swing soon and start updating at the same rate that I used to back in the Kiwi Tapes days.

It's been brought to my attention that people are unhappy with my use of Send Space. I am definitely open to suggestions and I will use anything else except for DivShare.

Please leave a comment letting me know your preference... thanks!

The Shallows - Suzanne Said

This was originally posted on Kiwi Tapes as a vinyl rip, and now I have found a much better copy. This is sadly the only release cut by Roy Montgomery's post-Pin Group band The Shallows. These two tracks continue the progression of that idea, and rank just as highly in my mind as the best of that group's output.

Kiwi Tapes

Over the past week, I have actually toyed with the idea of bringing back my old blog Kiwi Tapes to post additional new New Zealand material that I have. By posting Gate's amazing "Wisher Table" yesterday you can see that I have instead opted to just keep everything on this blog as kiwi rock and lo-fi are very similar in aesthetic. You can expect a more Kiwi posts in the future, along with stuff that is along the lines of what I have already been posting. If you have any kiwi albums you'd like to contribute please email me at: decrepittapes -at-

I will not take any requests of any kind nor will I will be doing any re-uploading, no matter how much you beg for it so save yourself the trouble and don't even ask.

Link Wray - The Swan Singles Collection

A collection of all of the singles that Link Wray recorded from 1963-1967, which is arguably his most productive and influential period. Link Wray may never get into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but his contribution to the language of rockin' guitar would still be a major one, even if he had never walked into another studio after cutting "Rumble." Quite simply, Link Wray invented the power chord, the major modus operandi of modern rock guitarists. Listen to any of the tracks he recorded between that landmark instrumental in 1958 through his Swan recordings in the early '60s and you'll hear the blueprints for heavy metal, thrash, you name it. To put it blunty: Link Wray rocked harder than anyone else from his era.

Emeralds - Allegory of Allergies (c120)

Using guitars, synths, tapes and who knows what else, the Emeralds drench the listener in languid waves of liquid drone. The sounds ebb and roll like audio mercury filling up your ear canals. Forget ambient, this is audio Nyquil and a fist full of Xanax. And that's not to say you'll be put to sleep, just completely hammered by the tones. Every track's a winner and no filler in sight.

One of the few underground bands that truly live up to the buzz around them. If you dig old Nurse With Wound, definitely check it out.

Vinyl version to be released very soon on Weird Forest:

Gate - The Wisher Table

This release from New Zealand noise rock guitarist Michael Morley completes a trilogy for the Table of the Elements label that began with the drone masterpiece The Dew Line and was followed the equally impressive, if a little off kilter, Monolake. The third installment is a continuation the desolate themes of isolation that made the previous records discomforting explorations of lucid guitar texture's and rambled vocal desperation. The vague song forms reflect the music of his other project, Dead C, in some manner, yet, at the same, that is probably the only other comparison to this unique brand of noise shaping, feedback-drenched minor-key strum underlined by droning loops and the noise of corroding speakers. Like fellow New Zealand noise groups Rain and Flies Inside the Sun, Gate's charm lies in the apparent homemade isolation that gives them a tone unlike anything else. Such outlandish experimentation could not occur in the calculation of a studio environment, like a feedback-drenched minor-key strum underlined by droning loops and the noise of corroding speakers. Somehow this is a little hard to hold the attention, yet, as whole, this record is fine and bold statement, and is certainly a vital album in the spectrum of '90s post-rock and noise music. That Gate has worked with guitarist Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth may give an indication of the six string-havoc on offer here.

Strapping Fieldhands - Gobs On The Midway: Singles 1991-1995

Imagine that Syd Barrett and the Bonzo Dog Band had been born in Stinking Creek, KY, and joined forces to create bizarre, darkly humorous backwoods psychedelia in a variety of styles. Or that the Holy Modal Rounders decided to go electric and sing with fake British accents. Or that there was a time in the early '90s when groups as dissimilar as Guided By Voices, Tall Dwarfs, and Freakwater could be somehow lumped together. The latter is, of course, the real-life environment into which the Strapping Fieldhands sprang with a series of cracked singles on the Siltbreeze label, something of an American version of New Zealand's Xpressway. Gobs on the Midway compiles 17 songs from these singles, from the nearly straightforward rocker "October Kentucky" to "Ol' Jimmy Cole," which sounds like a manipulated country blues field recording. "Mysterious Girl" and "Eggs in the Reservoir" suggest a hillbilly incarnation of XTC bashing away in a machine shed, and are among the more conventional tracks on the collection. This is unusual and interesting stuff far removed from the tame alt-country suggested by its rustic trappings.

Jandek - Ready For The House

There were plenty of significant events in 1978, (“You’re The One That I Want” by John Travolta & Olivia Newton John was quite a popular track, for example), and one of the most low-key yet significant events was the debut LP release on the Corwood Industries label out of Houston, TX. Mysteriously enough it came out under the name “The Units”, but it was obviously a singular vision and not a band. That individual would come to be more commonly known as Jandek, and a total of 28 albums have been issued on Corwood to date. In 1978 however, there was no telling what was to come. Ready For The House was a mostly acoustic guitar/vocal record, of ethereal, shambling post-blues form. It set the stage for one the most individualistic and fascinating bodies of work in contemporary music. The original LP was casually issued in a beautiful color sleeve, featuring a mundane but striking image of a living room chair & table (replicated with almost pop-art brilliance on this CD). No other information was ever offered. As it remains today. Ready For The House sounded like no other record, and it’s doubtful that more than a handful of copies were sold at the time (promotional copies sent to out radio stations and reviewers were more voluminous). A second Jandek album wouldn’t come out till 1981. By the mid-80s a wealth of documentation had occurred and the early Corwood albums became notoriously unavailable just as people were finally getting up the gumption to consider buying them. This record has been “in demand” for over a decade now and Corwood has finally caved in and reissued it proper. Find out what you've been missing for the last 30 years!

Skip James - 1931 Sessions

The good people at Mississippi Records have taken their shot at reissuing twelve of James’ earliest recordings and released them in the form of 1931 Sessions. Known for their exquisitely designed and packaged obscure blues, folk, world, and R&B compilations, Mississippi doesn’t disappoint with this compilation. Tonevendor boasts this comp has “better sound quality than any reissue they’ve heard…it is Skip James though, so expect pops and crackles.” A rarely seen photo of James’ is hand glued to each album cover. Highly recommended.

Note: For all of you Ghost World fans out there, you may recall the Skip James song "Devil Got My Woman" playing a prominent role in that movie.

Guided By Voices - Alien Lanes

I must admit that mentioning Bee Thousand in another Guided By Voices album review can get frustrating. But Bee Thousand is a crucial album in the history of Guided By Voices. It was made in a period of very consistently great recordings. Bee Thousand, thanks to many early supporters of GBV (Chavez, The Breeders, et al), created a huge buzz around the indie world. Finally Guided By Voices had moved out of the Ohio area, and into major distribution.

Alien Lanes is the follow up to Bee Thousand, and although it is similar to that album, it is far better. It has essentially the same pop/experimental ratio as Bee Thousand but the pop and experimantal on Alien Lanes is simply of higher quality. Alien Lanes is more focused, better performed, and is nicely produced (compared to anything that preceeded it). The quality of songwriting is incredible. "Game of Pricks," "Motor Away," "Watch Me Jumpstart," "A Salty Salute," "Closer You Are," "My Valuble Hunting Knife," "Striped White Jets," and "My Son Cool" are just the great Bob Pollard songs. "Little Whirl," "A Good Flying Bird," and "Straw Dogs" are three of Tobin Sprout's best songs.

The experimental songs on Alien Lanes are also very good as they are used to keep the album surprising the listener. Clocking in at 16 seconds is the great pop fragment "Cigarette Tricks," but sadly it leads into the horrible "Pimple Zoo." I apologize to anybody who likes this song, but it is really horrible (perhaps they should have released it on the Nightwalker album). But the good news is that it only lasts 40 seconds, and the rest of the album (all 27 songs) is remarkable. Although Bee Thousand made me a fan, Alien Lanes is the album that made me fall in love with them (and happily buy some of the crap they would reissue and realease).

(credit: stylus magazine)

Format: MP3
Bitrate: 256 kbps
Encoded with: Unknown

Sic Alps - A Long Way Around To A Shortcut

After the recording of their debut album, Pleasures and Treasures in 2005, Sic Alps stripped it down to become the duo of Matthew Hartman and Mike Donovan. Their hazy, vintage psych/garage rock sound along with heavy touring of both the U.S. and Europe won them fans around the globe. They recorded a handful of singles & EPs during 2006 and 2007 which are now pretty much impossible to find, or fetching absurd prices on eBay. All of these singles (along with a rare compilation track, and one previously unreleased track) are included here in this convenient, remastered 26-track compilation.

Format: MP3
Bitrate: VBR (V0)
Encoded with: LAME 3.97

The Fall - Room To Live

Room to Live originally appeared in 1982 and remains as essential to the Fall's discography as the previous year's Slates EP. Room to Live was similarly one of the great Fall collections of this era that was too short to be called an album and too long to be an EP or single. Its seven tracks epitomize the "Undilutable Slang Truth!" -- the phrase scrawled across the cover -- which in Mark E. Smith dialect translates as possibly the most archly political and scathing collection of diatribes the Manchester legend spewed forth onto record during what is arguably the group's creative peak. Room to Live marks one of the most inspired periods of the group, the era that produced the masterful Hex Enduction Hour and was in part fueled in by the political upheaval in England circa 1982 during the Falklands War (the subject became a bone of contention with many artists, yet few railed so spitefully as the Fall). Mark E. Smith is at his very best lyrically when getting riled up against the middle class, such as on "Hard Life in Country" and the hilarious "Solicitor in Studio." The latter track gathers a chugging momentum until peaking in uncontrollable feedback, and contains some of the most experimental and risky instrumental behavior his supporting cast ever brought to the studio. Room to Live may be a short, sharp stab of chaos, yet it remains undeniably one of the greatest pieces of post-punk genius the group ever recorded.

Blues Control - Puff

Blues Control is so easy to like. A relief, even. It’s tempting to think rock music is dead, but it’s here, in the guise of a band that calls itself blues that people say is noise. The duo, Lea Cho and Russ Waterhouse, do mantra melodies and heartbeats that make their jams pleasant and impossible to get a handle on. They record their records from live shows, but they process themselves live to sound like a recording. So Puff is a CD reissue of an out-of-print LP of a live show that sounded like a tape. Kapish?

The songs lack tangibility and float on streams of hiss. Cho plays keyboards and Waterhouse samples and all that stuff, but in silico they’re indistinguishable, like they’ve merged into a single body. In making psych glittery and new age, they turn dropping out inside-out. These aesthetics are without political reference, the loveliness no longer a relief from or counterpoint to dissent.

Sonic Youth - Sonic Death

An early cassette release on SY's own imprint that features a collage of live performances from 1981-1983. Most of the recognizable tracks are from SY's first EP and their first full-length Confusion is Sex, making this one of the noisiest and most chaotic releases in their entire catalog.
All of the tracks bleed into one another, so the release is simply divided into "Side One" & "Side Two".

The 2005 vinyl re-issue of the first SY EP features full length versions of some of these tracks and is definitely worth picking up if you enjoy this release.

Eric's Trip - Love Tara

Eric's Trip's full-length debut, Love Tara, introduced this lo-fi pop band to the world with beautiful and noisy tracks like "Smother." This record was also one of the first to mark Sub Pop's journey from the Seattle grunge scene to a lighter, more melodic form of music.

Beat Happening - 1983-1985

Beat Happening can't be given credit for creating the indie pop genre, but they certainly gave it life in America. This, their first album, is indie pop in its purest form: fuzzy bedroom recordings of simplistic, cutesy songs, with intentionally innocent and juvenile lyrics, which Calvin Johnson belts out with one of the most endearingly bad voices in music history. Their later albums sport better songwriting and are more listenable from a production standpoint, but Beat Happening is as twee and charming as this type of music can get.

Gibson Bros. - Big Pine Boogie

The Gibson Bros. is a unique band, nothing comes close. A genre on its own. Monsieur Jeffrey Evans and Don Howland are just amazing together. This is their second album, on Homestead Records. An album full of scary shit, fantastic rootsy stuff, rockandroll, hillbilly singalongs, garagepunk, everything melted to a sound never heard before. Monsieur Jeffrey Evans is at his best in this band, he is the man behind '68 Comeback, plays in South Filthy and produced/recorded some great bands like Mr. Airplane Man, Porch Gouls, even he did an album with the Oblivians, but with the Gibson Bros. he's God! Don Howland, first in this great band, later formed his own band the Bassholes and released some fucking great shit. Try "When My Blue Moon Turns Red Again" on In the Red Records!
Back to this album. It was (re)released in 1988 and it's an essential album to those who are interested in country, garage, folk, rockandroll, americana or whatever you wanna call it. It's all about passion for music and this album is loaded with passion. Passion for sound, songs, instruments, lines, traditions. Just a perfect album.

Apples In Stereo - Fun Trick Noisemaker

One of the defining albums of the mid-'90s indie scene, the Apples in Stereo's full-length debut is one of those records that marks a sea change in musical attitudes, akin to Mudhoney's "Touch Me I'm Sick" or Pavement's early singles. Besides being the breakthrough release of the Elephant 6 collective, which alone is responsible for many of the better albums of the decade, Fun Trick Noisemaker is the album that defines the post-grunge indie pop shift from sullen negativity into a kind of cockeyed, giddy optimism, and is also among the handful of albums that turned Brian Wilson, Arthur Lee, and Burt Bacharach into cool names to drop at the record store. The album opens with a plundered bit of sonic ephemera from an old stereo-effects demonstration record that plunges directly into the manic throb of "Tidal Wave," where Hilarie Sidney's thudding drums sound like "I Want Candy" on speed and Robert Schneider's goofy mixed-metaphor lyrics and boyish vocals blend with sci-fi vintage synth whooshes and a killer fuzz-guitar riff out of the Fillmore West's heyday. From that breathless start, the album skips blithely from high point to high point, like the sugar-sweet bubblegum melody and "la la la" harmonies of "Glowworm" and the hyperspeed rush of the Buzzcocks-meet-the Banana Splits "Dots 1-2-3." Childlike songs like Sidney's lone vocal showcase, "Winter Must Be Cold," add a charmingly naïve sensibility to what could otherwise be a collection of ideas plundered from impossibly hip record collections. Several years' worth of albums covering the same territory might have dulled the album's freshness just a touch, and the group's technical competence would grow with each successive album, but Fun Trick Noisemaker is a minor masterpiece.

(This rip is from the 2008 re-issue, which has improved sound from past CD issues)

Format: MP3
Bitrate: VBR (V0)
Encoded with: LAME 3.96