Home - The Home Box Set I-VIII

The lo-fi pop outfit Home formed in Tampa, Florida in the early '90s around the core of guitarist/vocalist Andrew Deutsch, keyboardist/vocalist Eric Morrison and bassist/vocalist Brad Truax. After gaining a local following, the group began recording a series of eight self-recorded cassettes -- titled I through VIII -- available only at a handful of Tampa-area stores and released on Home's own Screw Music Forever label. Fans of early-Sebadoh and early-GBV will find a lot to like on these tapes as Home shares very similar aesthetic sensibilities. These eight tapes have not had an official release since their initial very limited edition first run until yesterday when Oneida's Brah records gave all 8 albums and official digital release. The entire box set is only $14.99 for 95 songs which is the steal of the century. Find the official site (with plenty of good info and clips) right here: http://www.screwmusicforever.com/homeboxset/

For those who need a preview MP3: Check out "Stay The Same"

Highly recommended.

Pell Mell - Bumper Crop (1990)

Given that two members of Pell Mell were renowned record producers, it's not surprising that the sound on Bumper Crop is polished to a high gloss. Instrumental rock needs pristine sound, and the crisp mix here allows every nuance to shine. The musical interplay is seamless, with every track drawing variously from surf music, indie rock, and pop, with just a dash of punk energy to make things interesting. What makes this instrumental cooperation astonishing is that for most of Pell Mell's existence, the bandmembers all lived in different cities and composed many of these tight, complex melodies by recording cassettes and mailing them to each other. Some of the material here had been recorded as early as 1981, others as late as 1985, but the character is the same throughout. Greg Freeman and Dave Spalding create interlocking guitar melodies that are subtly modified and expanded by Steve Fisk's keyboards and held together by Bob Beerman's quick, agile drumming. It all works well and was very well-received -- critics raved, and despite rock radio's aversion to instrumentals, the cut "Week of Fire" got airplay across America. On Bumper Crop, Pell Mell recorded a nearly perfect album, and while they did some fine work afterward, they never quite hit this level again.

The Olivia Tremor Control - The Opera House (1997)

The highfalutin lo-fi interactivity that Olivia Tremor Control first explored with the ambient bonus disc included on early pressings of Dusk at Cubist Castle reached its apex with the vinyl version of "The Opera House." A quadraphonic odyssey spread across two 7"s, each featuring the titular psych-pop nugget that leads off Cubist Castle backed with differing musique concrète experiments clocking in at just under 15 minutes apiece, the presentation allows for listeners to create unique songs by playing back the records simultaneously in various temporal combinations and RPM speeds. Similar in conception to the Flaming Lips' Zaireeka, "The Opera House" requires three turntables for maximum mindf*ck action, but the extra effort is worth it. Like those old "Choose Your Own Adventure" books on which kids of the '80s grew up, the paths and possibilities "The Opera House" lays out are endlessly labyrinthine and completely immersive.

Nightwalker - In Shop We Build Electric Chairs (1984-1993)

Nightwalker's identity is locked away like state secrets (they are supposedly from Bloomington, Indiana), but if that voice sneering out from beneath the cacophony of "The Fink Swan (Swims Away)" and "Amazed" is not Robert Pollard, I'm not convinced the man exists. In Shop We Build Electric Chairs is like a mock-greatest hits collection or compilation covering a nine-year existence. Whether or not that holds water is anyone's guess, but none of the songs here could be mistaken for commercial "hits." Opening with a minute-long drum solo, the album then squeezes together lo-fi, no-wave, art-rock, acid psyche, raga ("The Fink Swan"), extended free-form ambient collages ("Ceramic Cock Einstein," "Those Little Bastards Will Bite"), and Native American-like augury chant ("Weird Rivers & Sapphire Sun") over the subsequent thirty minutes. This is pop that is distinctly anti-pop, aggressive, deconstructionist music. The music cannot be mistaken for easy listening; it is, instead, disorienting experimental music at its most paranoid and demented that doesn't pretend to be accessible, dada-pop/rock with strains of usually vocal melodies breaking through the shards of noise-drone-y electric guitars, drums keeping awkward, lethargic beats, various electronic bleeps. Nevertheless, certain of the vocal melodies can't help but sneak they're way into your heart, from the sad and pretty "Dogwood Grains" (which also manages to be eerie, with barely audible voices heard in the background) to the dirge-like progressions of "Amazed." The rest is fascinating, if difficult, listening. Perhaps the most befuddling of all aspects about In Shop We Build Electric Chairs is that occasionally another voice that is not Pollard's reaches the surface of the songs. Just when you think you have a grasp on the music, maybe even an insight into the band, the center falls out.

Various Artists - The Flying Nun 25th Anniversary Box Set

Limited edition four CD boxset celebrating the 25th Anniversary of New Zealand's finest (and longest running) independent label. Jam packed with long out-of-print rarities this set will have fans of the iconic label salivating. The four discs are sequenced in a roughly chronological order with the tracks hand-picked by Shepherd himself. The first disc covers the label's early years, with flagship band The Clean aptly getting things started with the epic 'Point That Thing Somewhere Else'. Other obvious names like The Chills, The Verlaines and The Gordons are present but this multi-disc format affords them the luxury of including some obscurities and lost gems from the likes of The Rip and Victor Dimisch Band, not to mention the label's first release - 'Ambivalence' by Pin Group. The second disc covers the mid-to-late 80's, the years many consider the label's heyday, where second generation Nun bands like The Bats and Straitjacket Fits took the label to the world. Again more rare treats are to be had with Stephen, The Weeds, Alpaca Brothers and This Kind Of Punishment. Disc three continues from the late 80s to mid 90s where the music really hit it's stride with great bands like Skeptics, JPSE, 3Ds and the mighty Bailter Space and the final disc takes us from the mid 90s to the present day where we witness some of the label's key original players going solo (David Kilgour, Martin Phillips, Graeme Downes) and a new generation of fresh and exciting talent like HDU, The Subliminals and The Mint Chicks. Fittingly ending with the pre-Nun band many consider to be one of the label's catalysts - Toy Love. 84 tracks.


Olla - Septic Hagfish 7" (1991)

Olla were a very short-lived New Zealand group comprised of several individuals, most notably NZ band-hoppers Chris Heazlewood and Sean O'Rielly. This EP, like much of the other material from these two, was scattered between retro-ish, analog keyboard, drone-heavy pop, and clattering & often improvisational noise.

Chris Heazlewood - 7" Collection

A collection of 3 releases from the king of skronk himself. The 3 releases are: Badge Or Medallion, Surf's Up In Maibu & the They Slaughter Small Children 7"

The music on here is very similar to the Hellmouth 666 cassette on Xpressway but the songs come off as a little more refined rather than incomplete sketches.

Sferic Exerpiment - Eight Miles (1996)

A short-lived experimental noise combo from Dunedin, New Zealand, led by singer/guitarist Gavin Shaw and guitarist Greg Cairns, Sferic Experiment lasted long enough to record one cassette, 1988's Bunny Liver, on the influential local indie label Xpressway. In 1996, the San Francisco-based experimental music label Drunken Fish released Eight Miles, a CD compiling the Bunny Liver cassette with previously unreleased live material and outtakes. A 7" EP, Hi-Fi-Sci-Fi, was also released around the same time. Greg Cairns formed the slightly better-known King Loser, while Gavin Shaw started a solo project called the Children's Television Workshop.

The Rip - Stormed Port EP (1987)

Alastair Galbraith's skills were first showcased in the Rip, which released two EPs in the mid-1980s. The second, Stormed Port, is particularly fine, and features several elements that recur throughout Galbraith's subsequent recordings: a penchant for milking maximum emotional mileage out of a slow chord change; angular, almost modal, violin work (which accents several of the guitar-based songs quite nicely) and doubletracked vocals that give most of his tunes a beautiful ethereal quality.


After weeks of delays I am finally back up and running. Installing Snow Leopard caused a whole slew of problems for my computer including the previously once thought to be Windows-only B.S.O.D. but after wiping my hard drive clean and installing Leopard I am finally in a good place.

Thanks to all of the readers for being patient. Updates will resume tomorrow!

Word of Advice

If you have a Mac, avoid Snow Leopard like the plague. Still sorting out my computer issues. Stay tuned.