Monday, April 6, 2009

Various Artists - Red Hot + Bothered: the indie rock guide to dating

The track list speaks for itself.  These were mostly (entirely?) unreleased or alternate versions of songs by eighteen of 1994's hottest indie rock superstars.  It hearkens back to the day when lo-fi was often a fiscal necessity as much as it was a stylistic choice.  

Obviously, this was an early release in the now long-running series of Red Hot releases benefitting AIDS education, treatment and research.  As far as I can tell, this comp has been out of print for many years.  So, you should not feel guilty about downloading it today.  You are not taking Atripla out of anyone's mouth.  Nevertheless, if you are so inclined, please stop over to the Red Hot web site.  Poke around, learn some, maybe make a donation.

"Sensational Gravity Boy" performed by Freedom Cruise
"Still Flat" performed by Built to Spill + Caustic Resin
"The Mirror Is Gone" performed by Lisa Germano
"Mouthwash" performed by Noise Addict
"Indierockinstrumental" performed by Folk Implosion
"Some Fantasy" performed by The Verlaines
"Little League" performed by Liquorice
"Hazmats *" performed by Babe The Blue Ox
"Mainland China *" performed by Juicy
"The Fontana *" performed by The Sea and Cake
"Sotto Voce" performed by Cradle Robbers
"Rex’s Blues" performed by Jay Farrar + Kelly Willis
"Empty Yard" performed by Grifters
"Miracleland" performed by East River Pipe
"Snail Trail *" performed by Heavenly
"Hopeless *" performed by Future Bible Heroes
"Servicing Man *" performed by Flying Nuns
"Quietly Approaching *" performed by Gastr Del Sol

Coral - Altamont in Dub

By popular demand - i.e. one person requested it - here is Coral's second and final LP.  All the remarks I made in my previous post about their first LP basically apply here, too.  The title is more than just a clever turn of phrase, though.  There are reggae-affected bass lines throughout.  You won't confuse this record with The Upsetters, let alone Fugazi, but the intent seems obvious to my ears.
Ever since I posted Pillow Talk, I've been listening to these two Coral LPs more in the last few weeks than I have in the last ten years.   As the saying goes, these records have aged very well.  Very well.  With all the chamber pop that passes for "indie rock" these days, it's refreshing to hear some authentically atonal vocals backed by a real Power Trio and put to tape (tape!) with bare boned clarity.

My old friend Doug, currently writing for Dusted and otherwise living the dream in NYC, probably said it best in a Halloween-themed column: 

Schick’s later outing in Coral marks its territory as the most depressive, backbiting, hopeless rock music ever committed to tape, with drops of your own blood. Altamont in Dub was the last release for the stalled Fistpuppet imprint; its title alone should clue you in to what’s in store: a dark, disturbing, intensive reinterpretation of a tragedy. Musically, Altamont is top notch, determinedly metallic, mostly uptempo, and pregnant with deep rhythms, but this is a cursed album that feeds into your insecurities and misgivings, fueling their cold fire but inevitably leaving you assed out once it’s all over. Do you dare find out for yourself?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tanner - (Germo) Phobic

Lots of good stuff was coming out of San Diego in the early 90s.  Rocket From the Crypt (RIP) got lots of the attention, and deservedly so - you would be hard pressed to find a band more dedicated than RFTC to the absolute entertainment and enjoyment of every fan at their shows.  Of course, one of frontman John Reis' other bands was arguably far more influential.   Indeed, Drive Like Jehu is one of my all time favorites, and undoubtedly inspired a few others.  

One of Jehu's later tour partners were fellow San Diegoans Tanner.  One time ubiquitous indie behemoth Caroline even released their first LP, Ill Gotten Gains.   And if you search the interwebs for a minute or two you should be able to find a copy for yourself.  (If not, let me know.  I'll be happy to upload upon request).  

The follow-up LP (Germo) Phobic was far more difficult to find.  Not just in today's blog- and P2P-driven communities.  I mean that when the CD was hot off the presses you could not find the fucker anywhere.  The label never even serviced my old college station, WRCT - and in those days, EVERYONE serviced WRCT.  I never saw a copy at my local record store, either, and it was not for a lack of looking. The scarcity continues today.  Google doesn't seem to know about any other blog uploads, so I'm just trying to do my part.

Enough with the preamble.  If you like Jehu and similar-minded tight, tense, and intense guitar-driven rock, get to clickin'.

Spoon - Live at Emo's [December 4, 2004]

If you are wondering why I'm making such a flurry of posts lately after several months of near extinction, here's the deal.  My company is doing so well in this slow economy that they decided to give me and everyone else in the organization one week off - unpaid.  This is my week.  Legally... technically... I am not supposed to do any work for my employer this week.  Fair enough.  

You must know Spoon by now.  They definitely got more popular after being dropped by a major, and IMHO got better, too.  This is a bootleg from a hometown show at the venerable Austin, TX rock club, Emo's.  This happened just a few months before Gimme Fiction was released.  That's the one post-major Spoon album I don't really like.  No biggie though; the setlist draws liberally from the entire Spoon catalog up to that point.  

It sounds awesome, too.  Kudos to the entrepreneurial fan and/or sound man who made this pristine recording.

French Kicks - One Time Bells

In my mind this is an obvious follow up to my previous Natural History post.  More early-oughts NYC indie pop, with their own unique twists.  French kicks were more apt to put some abrasion in their guitar tones.  At the same time, their vocal harmonies could be sweeter and smoother than their gotham contemporaries.  

The reviewer who caught this album at pitchfork invoked Hall & Oates as a referential put-down.  In my book, that's a compliment.  Blue eyed soul never got any smoother or sweeter than that Philly duo's peak run a couple decades ago.  For what it's worth, I think there's a touch of Prince in some of the vocals and songwriting, too.