Pavement's most famous bootleg that is considered by many to be just as essential as their official releases. Featuring live tracks from their 2 night December stand at the Brixton Academy in 1992 as well as select tracks from their Reading Festival appearance that same year. This bootleg features two tracks that never made it on to an album or deluxe re-issue (Teenage Piss Party & Black Walls) as well as some tracks that were rarely played live. An essential document of Pavement's best era.
This is classic Mountain Goats: songs about broken (or soon to be broken) relationships, food, and flora rendered in vivid detail and recorded straight to boom box. Atop characteristically ragged and percussive guitar playing, John Darnielle works wonders of condensation, creating lively, complex characters in less than three minutes. Despite the flag on the cover and hilarious liner notes about the "Swede conspiracy," this isn't a concept album about the homeland of Ace of Base and ABBA, nor are there any covers of those two Darnielle favorites. There is, however, perhaps the best cover of Steely Dan's "FM" imaginable. No Alpha songs here either, but two more in the "Going to" series -- "Going to Queens" and "Going to Bolivia" -- and the outstanding "Tahitian Ambrosia Maker," which is something of a mix between Gilligan's Island and Heart of Darkness (beginning, "We were real hungry, half dead, when you broke out a half a loaf of sourdough bread, and in the tropical air the scent rose like a spirit"), make Sweden among the best of the early releases from the Mountain Goats. Zopilote Machine is maybe more consistent, but 1995's Sweden sets a high-water mark not surpassed until The Coroner's Gambit in 2000.
-Jason Nickey, All Music
An unusual and striking document of the FSA live experience, In Search of Spaces consists of instrumental snippets from a series of shows in the early '90s with a rotating lineup, including Matt Elliott of Third Eye Foundation. The number of shows FSA has ever done is nearly nil to begin with, and no live line-up was ever quite the same. Corpus Hermeticum/A Handful of Dust mainman Bruce Russell then edited and wove everything together, creating a single-track CD that runs for 50 minutes. In Search of Spaces definitely rewards the patient as a result, but those willing to take the plunge will be well-rewarded. Given the general FSA recording approach of home-taping and anti-gloss, the crumbling and murky results aren't too far off from the band's studio releases (indeed, the liner notes claim the recordings come from audience tapes rather than soundboard streams). If there's little or none of the sudden crispness that makes songs like "In the Light of Time" so striking, the moody, post-psychedelic reach of the performances more than makes up for it. As there's no way to tell when or how anything was done, making judgments on the basis of improved abilities over the time or the like is impossible -- In Search of Spaces needs to be taken at face value. Elliott's contributions likely result in the occasional drums, but Pearce's unearthly guitar howls and shattering, abrasive yet lovely feedback arcs take understandable pride of place. Singling out particular moments to concentrate on can take some patience, but there's a lengthy jam starting around ten minutes in with a low, rumbling rhythm providing the background for some wonderful guitar craziness from Pearce and others.
-Ned Raggett, All Music
For many punk rock enthusiasts, Boston isn't the first city that comes to mind when thinking of American cities that boasted a strong punk scene in the late '70s and early '80s. While Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco were famous for their punk scenes, Boston's punk scene didn't enjoy nearly as much publicity. But make no mistake: Boston was a punk hotbed back then, and Modern Method Records tried to spread the word with this obscure but excellent compilation. Released in 1982, This Is Boston, Not L.A. spotlights seven Boston punk bands of the late '70s and early '80s: Jerry's Kids, Gang Green, the F.U.'s, the Freeze, the Proletariat, Decadence, and the Groinoids. While the Proletariat -- a very political band with Marxist/socialist leanings -- is heavily influenced by British punk, most of the other bands have more in common with L.A. residents like Black Flag and the Circle Jerks. But whoever their influences are, all of these bands have very substantial, hard-hitting lyrics -- the subject matter ranges from alcoholism on the Freeze's "It's Only Alcohol" and war on Gang Green's "Kill a Commie" to the excesses of slam dancing on Decadence's "Slam." This Is Boston, Not L.A. isn't the last word on Boston's late '70s/early '80s punk scene, but it paints an impressive picture of the Beantown punks who were active during that era.
After nearly 5 years (2 w/ Kiwi Tapes + 3 with this blog) I think I have reached the point where I can say that the "full album" download blog concept has run it's course and it's time for something new. My goal has always been to provide rabid music fans with an outlet to find interesting music that may have otherwise gone unheard or unappreciated. Looking back I think it would be fair to criticize me for often doing things that were not in the best interest of the artist and moving forward I would like to operate with the creators in mind first and foremost. Without the artists we do not have any of this great music to enjoy and as a music fans we need to keep our sense of entitlement when it comes to freebies in check.
Details on the new blog will be coming soon. Regular posting will continue on this blog up until the end date.
A soundtrack released in 1996 by Palace Soundtracks (aka Will Oldham, Palace Music, Palace Brothers, etc.) for the 1998 film The Broken Giant directed by Estep Nagy. The release features the highly under rated Palace tunes "Black/Rich Tune" and "The Risen Lord".
Hard Black Thing was a Columbus, Ohio, quartet featuring Sam Esh (former Woodruff Ave. block captain, now mayor of a small unnamed hamlet near Savannah, Georgia), Mike Rep (Quotas, True Believers, etc.) Stu Sinn & Roger Time (both from the Harry Patt Band). Soundwise, HBTs side is a stumbling, white-knuckled barrel ride through myriad soundscapes as diverse as Amon Dl, Kalacakra, Portsmouth Sinfonia, Steve Marcus & Door & The Window, sometimes all at once! Side 2 begins w/ excerpts from the unreleased Sam Esh comedy LP. The sound is not unlike one might expect if one expects to find the likes of Tubby Boots channeling Jack Mudurian at a volunteer fire department turkey raffle. The laughs are on you, friend! Then its a down n dirty steel string strum & coarse vocal hum that is capable of reducing even the most erudite Alan Lomax sycophant to nothing more than a human tear box lost in Porch Swing, USA. Label art by Graham Lambkin. An LP that definitely needs to heard to be conquered.
A collection of lo-fi demo recordings made for Bonnie "Prince" Billy's spectacular The Letting Go album. A must have for fans of the album and anyone looking for newer Oldham recordings that capture the level of intimacy that the earlier Palace recordings do.
I had the Regent Theatre tape which fills one side of this and I really thought it was good enough on it's own, if a little short. So the aim was to fill the other side and get it out. Alastair had recorded Timebomb in 1986 and had it turned down by Flying Nun, but no solo stuff had been released. As Plagal Grind was pretty slow to get off the ground, this tape seemed like a good stop-gap. The early first edition included the B-Side of Timebomb, which was pretty irrelevant once released on vinyl, plus a couple of walkman recordings that weren't up to AG's standards, so the second edition replaced most of them with early Plagal Grind 4-track stuff and solo 4-track recordings by AG. It was a clear improvement, but for me the live side remained the gem of this tape.
No other group within the so-called "New Weird America" scene has covered so much stylistic ground as Tower Recordings. Much like the Holy Modal Rounders did 30 years before them, Tower has attempted to re-image and rework traditional folk ballads, seeing old standards through a modern, psychedelic lens. They have also tried, to varying degrees of success, a kind of chugging psych-stomp, free noise freak-outs, and almost straightforward indie rock, to name just a few of their other directions. This range, or lack of focus, depending on how you look at it, is both their strength and their weakness. It is no doubt a product of being a loose collective rather than a proper band, with members coming and going and participating in an endless web of other musical projects. With Folk Scene, Tower Recordings released a milestone album, and although it took a few years to be recognized as such, it came to define a genre. But it's almost more of a compilation than an album, rounding up many loose directions and ideas. And with an average song length of around two minutes, it lacks a certain depth. It is ambitious but distracted, wondering from one style to the next in a fit of giddy creative ecstasy. With The Galaxies' Incredibly Sensual Transmission Field of the Tower Recordings, the group rectify their lack of focus somewhat. The tracks are longer, and the overall album length is much shorter: six songs in a little over 30 minutes. By virtue of that alone, the album feels like the work of a unified band, and it stands as their most concise and cohesive work to date. Even so, Galaxies' is still a pretty diverse affair. "Harvester" sounds like Sonic Youth and Pink Floyd in a dream jam session: a saucer-full of chiming guitars and tribal drumming, with a swirling broth of feedback holding it together. De facto leader Matt Valentine reinterprets "Going up the Country" as a bluesy raga tinged with bells and handclaps on "Empress of I-91." Elsewhere, such as on "Giggy Garbage Gods" and "Forum" a light, hazy psychedelic vibe prevails, and the closer, "Other Kinds Run," sounds like a lost Spaceman 3 gem. The music here was recorded around the same time as the material used for Folk Scene, and in the intervening years the group obviously developed a clearer sense of itself. When they decided to go back to the tapes for these sessions and assemble this album, they had a better idea of who they were and what they wanted to sound like. So, although Folk Scene was an impressive clarion call that announced them as a major force in the American psychedelic scene, Galaxies' is perhaps a better place to start exploring the music of Tower Recordings. Their wandering spirit can be both intriguing and frustrating, but Galaxies' offers compact and concise primer.
-Jason Nickey, All Music
For his third album, Nighthawks at the Diner, Tom Waits set up a nightclub in the studio, invited an audience, and cut a 70-minute, two-LP set of new songs. It's an appropriate format for compositions that deal even more graphically and, for the first time, humorously with Waits' late-night world of bars and diners. The love lyrics of his debut album had long since given way to a comic lonely-guy stance glimpsed in "Emotional Weather Report" and "Better Off Without a Wife." But what really matters is the elaborate scene-setting of songs like the six-and-a-half-minute "Spare Parts," the seven-and-a-half-minute "Putnam County," and especially the 11-and-a-half-minute "Nighthawk Postcards" that are essentially poetry recitations with jazz backing. Waits is a colorful tour guide of midnight L.A., raving over a swinging rhythm section of Jim Hughart (bass) and Bill Goodwin (drums), with Pete Christlieb wailing away on tenor sax between paragraphs and Mike Melvoin trading off with Waits on piano runs. You could call it overdone, but then, this kind of material made its impact through an accumulation of miscellaneous detail, and who's to say how much is too much?
"The single must be a distillation of one's powers, the most exciting slice of noise a person can cram between the lip of the disc and the edge of the label," writes Superchunk frontman Mac McGaughan in the sleeve notes to Tossing Seeds; the 13 7" sides which make up this collection deliver everything McGaughan promises and much more, capturing the essence of American indie rock in the pre-Nirvana era with an energy and eloquence matched by few other records of the period. As a note-perfect snapshot of minimum-wage angst and attitude, "Slack Motherfucker" justly remains the band's most celebrated moment, but perhaps their most quintessential record is instead "My Noise," a glorious celebration of indie ethos and music's liberating power; add underground classics like "The Breadman" and "Seed Toss" to the mix, and you've got a definitive portrait of arguably the best singles band of the early '90s.
Helium's first full-length album expands on Timony's feminist lyrical bent and adds more colors to the band's musical palette. Full of what Timony calls "cartoon and monster movie music," The Dirt of Luck is a tight, focused album that is also diverse. The sludgy "Pat's Trick" mingles with the sweet-sounding and sweetly named "Honeycomb," which shares space with the nasty-sultry sounds of "Medusa" and the shimmery drone pop of "Baby's Going Underground." It's tied together by the album's spacious sound and Timony's singing, which is fuller and richer than on the group's debut.
The second of GBV's aborted releases from 1992, The Corpse Like Sleep of Stupidity represents sort of a weird middle ground between Back to Saturn X and the album that would eventually be released from this era, 1992's Propeller. Where Propeller had a rather deliberate sequencing of big studio rock songs that gradually shifted over to lo-fi 4-track numbers as the album progressed, this album tends to jump back and forth which lends itself to a very scattered listening experience. Despite this the album somehow still manages to maintain a sense of continuity, which is not surprising knowing Bob's knack for sequencing albums. Many songs on this release have not been released officially, and many versions of songs are different than their later released counter parts.
The history of rock music is filled with one-hit wonders and debut albums left without a follow-up. Most of those just had the fate they deserved, some were the results of early disbanding or mismanagement. Linda Perhacs' Parallelograms belongs to none of those categories. The singer/songwriter spent all her inspiration on this gem, simple as that. It sits there on the shelf, a life's compendium, stunning in its beauty and the fact that no later albums can frame it in a historical context, or diminish its impact. Softer, less declamatory than Joan Baez, more daring than Joni Mitchell, Perhacs' songs are psychedelic on a daily, domestic basis. Originally released in 1970, the album had been lifted from the LP and reissued on CD by The Wild Places in 1996. Informed by the female singer/songwriters of the late '60s, and the sonic experiments of the West Coast psychedelic scene (just listen to the title track, its abstract lyrics and beautiful, intertwined atonal melodies), Perhacs has created 40 minutes of music out of time.
Ashytray Navigations - Use Copenhagen 69 Guitars & Park Drive Circular Effects Pedals Exclusively (1997)
The lone vinyl-only Siltbreeze release from the ultra prolific Phil Todd otherwise known to you as Ashtray Navigations. Between the band name and the album title, you should pretty much know what you are getting yourself into with this one. These lengthy guitar drones are extremely impressive in their texture and density, especially on the opening number "Dead X-Mas On Earth". The Wire's David Keenan has very accurately described Phil Todd's works as "a trashcan antidote to LaMonte Young."
The GBV aborted albums posts will resume later this week. I have found upgrades for some of my sources so it's going to take a little extra time to compile.
The second aborted album in GBV's time line, Back to Saturn X was one of two albums that were slated to be released in 1992 but were shitcanned at the last minute. The album prior Same Place The Fly Got Smashed saw GBV to begin to go further down the road of home recording and begin to explore darker themes centered heavily around drinking (who would've thought?). Many have argued (myself included) that Same Place was the first proper album in what has become known as the "classic" era of GBV where the albums started to resemble a patchwork of musical ideas rather than just a collection of songs. Back to Saturn X took the home recording approach to an even greater extreme. On many of the tracks it sounds like the band was recorded two rooms away into a single microphone while the vocals are recorded clear and direct. It makes for an interesting sound, one that is clearly influenced by early 60's production which carries over prominently to tracks like "Crutch Came Slinking" and "Chicken Blows" which both feature poppy vocal harmonies. The heavy punk influence on Same Place has carried over to this album too, with tracks like "Squirmish Frontal Room" and "Mallard Smoke" benefiting heavily from the muddy production. Another song of note is the original version of "Tractor Rape Chain", which musically bears no resemblance to the Bee Thousand version but does contain the famous chorus lyrics near the end. Back to Saturn X is an essential missing piece to the GBV puzzle and clearly bridges the gap between the two distinct phases of early GBV.
Note: All album covers in this series are not the actual covers. They have never been made available, so I am designing the covers myself from old band photos and collages from around the same periods as the albums.
The following is the first in a series of aborted GBV albums posts that I will be making in the coming weeks.
Anyone who has even the slightest familiarity with Guided By Voices knows that Bob Pollard is an ultra prolific song writer. Bob himself has admitted on many occasions over the years that part of this is due to his own impatience. He doesn't like to dwell on single song for very long because he is anxious to move on and a by product of this is that he is constantly second guessing his approach to album sequencing during the song writing process. There isn't a single GBV album that didn't exist at some point as some other sequence, many times with completely different songs. Bee Thousand famously went through 6 different album sequences and at one point even existed as a double album. The Bee Thousand that eventually went to the pressing plant has almost nothing in common with the original Bee Thousand sequence (for more info on that, check out this page)
During a few points in GBV's history, Bob became so dissatisfied with a finished product that he ended up scrapping an entire album and starting over again. The first example of this was what would've been 1988's "Learning to Hunt" sandwiched between GBV's second album Sandbox and their third album Self Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia. While it is true that Learning To Hunt's sequence did have a few songs in common with their third album, I think that most would agree that they are very different albums with Learning to Hunt definitely being the weirder of the two. Bob has stated in interviews that in hindsight he wishes he would have released LtH instead but to date the album has not been officially released in this sequence. The songs have however been released slowly over the years spread across many GBV rarities compilations and we are now able to piece together the album ourselves. Because the songs have trickled out slowly, they have unfortunately been subjected to slightly different mastering and one track "Soul Flyers" seems to have come from a second generation source rather than a proper master tape. Until Bob decides on an official release, this is the best we have for now, but it is still a very interesting look at a lost piece of GBV history. Check the comments page for a full track listing and source info.
Coming up next: 1992's Back To Saturn X
Sic Alps make music with their eyes on the past but their feet firmly in the present. Bits of psychedelia, folk, garage, punk and other fuh fairly well flow from their fingers, seamlessly worked together to render easy categorizations pointless. Over the course of numerous singles and albums on such fine labels as Siltbreeze, Mt St Mtn and Woodsist, Sic Alps' Mike Donovan and Matt Hartman have carved themselves a snug niche filled with fuzz, crackle, vibes and most of all cracking tunes. Now they're joined by kindred spirit Ty Segall, and the dynamic duo has become a true power trio. Their first release as a three-piece is L. Mansion, a swinging little folk/beat tune that is totally timeless/out of time in the way of Sic Alps' best songs. As straightforwardly "pop" as anything they've done, and a totally effective summertime single. On the flip we get a banging cover of Donovan's ode to puff -- "Superlungs." Wild and thumping, Matt and Mike have definitely taken the Sunshine Superman on a little side trip to Detroit rock city. Two great sides of Sic Alps then, and another genre-busting addition to their excellent discography.
Suck on the Pastels compiles a number of singles released by the band from 1983-1985, as well as a three-song BBC session from 1984. In the liner notes, Stephan Pastel alludes to the general apathy of the band throughout this period, also explaining the general poor recording conditions in which most of these songs were birthed. The band's laconic tendencies were matched by their arrogant tendencies ("We thought we were God," notes Pastel in the liners), so there's definite attitude and substance, albeit in patchy doses. The results are rather uneven, but there are some moments of undeniable greatness. The seven-minute drone pop of "Baby Honey" remains one of Creation's earliest gems, mixing the Byrds, the Velvet Underground, detached vocals, and a lazy near-funk rhythm in the best possible way. "Couldn't Care Less" and "I'm Alright With You" also rate with the Pastels' finest. The rhythm box and childish lyrics to "I Wonder Why" provide the perfect backdrop to a rumpus room filled with joyous toddlers. The BBC session is scattered throughout the disc, showing what the band is capable of in proper working conditions. Suck On isn't the first place to go for the Pastels, but it's a decent snapshot of their youthful beginnings.
A five-song EP bristling with energy and pummeling guitars, Metal Circus is the first indication of Hüsker Dü's greatness. With these five songs, the band shows more invention, skill, and melody than it did over the course of a full album with Everything Falls Apart, and both Bob Mould and Grant Hart emerge as significant songwriters. While they both stay within hardcore conventions on Metal Circus, their songs illustrate that they would break free of its constrictions on their subsequent, masterful double album, Zen Arcade.