Sunday, February 17, 2013

Ditch Croaker "Chimpfactor" cd (Fine Corinthian/1995)

If there is one word that I feel probably describes Hoboken, NJ's Ditch Croaker, the word without a doubt would be under appreciated. As far as 90's indie rock goes, for all the great things that era spawned I do have to say that it championed mediocrity more so than craftsmanship. And while Ditch Croaker certainly bared sonic resemblance to bands such Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh and Buffalo Tom, their songs were certainly more refined. I even detect a hint of Creedence Clearwater Revival in their sound which is awesome, but back then as far as I can tell your parents' record collection wasn't as cool as it is today. Ditch Croaker's tunes were catchy but had that melodic dissonant thing that bands like the aforementioned Dinosaur Jr and Sebadoh had going for itself.  I would probably lean the sound a bit closer to the Sebadoh tip as Ditch Croaker's songs certainly had a darker edge to them at times and the lyrics have always reminded me of the stuff Lou Barlow and Jason Lowenstein would write.

Truthfully, this isn't my favorite Ditch Croaker release which would be 1996's Secrets of the Mule which in my opinion is a bonafide unheralded classic album of the 90s, but with all of that said Chimpfactor is a solid album. If I had one beef with it, I feel it isn't very front loaded as the best songs are on the second half of the album. Perhaps my main reason for sharing Chimpfactor over Secrets of the Mule is that in the few places in blog land that I have seen write ups or uploads from Ditch Croaker it is always about Secrets of the Mule. However, at some point I will upload Secrets of the Mule as well the other release I own by Ditch Croaker, 1999's Tranquil Waters. I got to see Ditch Croaker once in 1997 as the first band on a bill at the Knitting Factory with Nada Surf, The Wrens and The Candy Butchers, and they were absolutely fantastic live. It is a shame that I only saw them that one time. Anyhow, enough of my yourself a favor download Chimpfactor and if you can't wait for my eventual upload of Secrets of the Mule, I implore you to not just seek out on a blog but pick up the cd which always shows up dirt cheap on sites like Ebay, Amazon, etc. There is a vinyl version but I haven't seen that turn up as much.

Ditch Croaker Chimpfactor track listing:

1. Mr Bluefish
2. Madman at the Opera
3. Monkey Wild
4. Fallen Behind
5. Pleasant Trip
6. Sweet Lucy
7. Videohead
8. Ticker Type

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Heartworms/California Stadium "split" 7 inch (Ace Fu Records/1998)

Here is a nice little split 7 inch that came out towards the end of the 90s that I mainly picked up because of The Heartworms, but I would end up enjoying the  California Stadium side much more. The Heartworms was the band that Archie Moore started with girlfriend Trisha Roy after Velocity Girl disbanded. They released a couple of albums, singles and comp tracks all of which is awesome, straightforward but catchy indie pop with male/female vocals but I have to say their track for this split 7 inch is rather underwhelming.  It is a keyboard driven piece of instrumental synth pop.

On the flip side California Stadium is the one man project of Andrew Basile and though I have read in various places that California Stadium turned into a full band I have never seen or heard of any other releases so this maybe it. And what California Stadium provides here are three short lo fi acoustic numbers that remind me a lot of a cross between early Beck, Smog and Tugboat 3001 ad. I think my favorite of the three tracks offered here is the wobbly joke song, "Ain't Fit For Shit".

Since I feel that The Heartworms track on this split, "Parsimony",  is rather a poor representation of the band  so as a bonus I am including their awesome pop song "No Way, No Way" from the Pop American Style compilation. This tune will definitely appeal to fans of Velocity Girl.

The Heartworms/California Stadium "split" tracklisting

1. The Heartworms "Parsimony"
2. California Stadium "My Heart"
3. California Stadium "Ain't Fit For Shit"
4. California Stadium "Crawlspace"

bonus: The Heartworms "No Way, No Way"

Download Here

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Harmony Rockets "Paralyzed Mind of the Archangel Void" CD (Excelsior Records & Big Cat Records/1995)

If you subscribe to my Facebook newsfeed then you have no doubt seen my recent lamenting over post See You On the Other Side Mercury Rev. In the mid 90's in my mind there was no other band that came close to conjuring up the unique sounds that the upstate New York based psychedelic/orchestral/indie/art rock band Mercury Rev. With their first two albums Yerself is Steam and Boces respectively they sounded like if the Butthole Surfers and Sonic Youth crossed with Sun Ra were writing a score for Disney's Fantasia. It was fantastic drug induced brilliance with hypnotic swirls of guitar noise and horns and the juxaposition of melancholy vocals from guitarist/vocalist Jonathan Donahue and the manic, stream of consciousness freak outs of then vocalist David Baker. The popular belief of older Mercury Rev fans is that they lost a large spark of creativity when Baker left the band but I maintain that their first foray without him, See You On the Other Side, is actually a wonderful album offers a balance between the chaos of prior albums with a more pop and orchestral element which at times is more trippy and surreal. However, by the time 1998's Deserter's Songs touched down any edge Mercury Rev had completely vanished as their music (and to this day) has become predictable and for a lack of better words safe. What does any of this have to do with Harmony Rockets? Well because Harmony Rockets was an experimental side project of Mercury Rev.

Paralyzed Mind of the Archangel Void is a single track clocking at 41.40 and it features droning guitars with interweaving horn melodies, squeaks and squalls with occasional percussion, vocals, wavering sounds and chimes to provide a generally stoned out psychedelic trip. Harmony Rockets consists of the two mainstays of Mercury Rev, Jonathan Donahue and Grasshopper and the project occurred around the time of See You On the Other Side but it certainly has some of the "out there" quality of Boces. According to the liner notes: "Paralyzed Mind of the Archangel Void" was performed live at the Rhinecliff Hotel by the group Harmony Rockets. It was recorded on a hand-held Arrivox-Tandberg 183 analog cassette recorder."

In addition to Paralyzed Mind of the Archangel Void the group released the Golden Ticket EP, of which there are two versions of in 1997. If anyone out there has a rip of that they would like to share I would certainly welcome that. And as a side note for people interested in David Baker's contributions to Merucry Rev I highly recommend you seek out the sole solo album he did under the name Shady. It is an absolute brilliant mindfuck and it features guest appearances from Merucry Rev members as well as Jimi Shields of Rollerskate Skinny.

Download Here

Monday, January 28, 2013

Small "Cakes" cd (Rockville/1993)

Seeing that my old band Dude Japan just did a reunion show this past Saturday in support of our posthumous release "Will You Meet Me There" on Rok Lok Records and that on the cd their is a cover the band Small's "Vega and Boston", I saw it only fitting to share some music by Small, or as they are sometimes referred to as Small 23 as per a feud with another band named Small, in this space. And while Small was never really a "big time" indie rock band like some of there contemporaries of the day from Chapel Hill, NC like Superchunk, Archers of Loaf and Polvo, they did have a following of sorts but I would wager to say that this early ep release is a bit more obscure as far as their discography is concerned. If you never heard Small before I highly recommend that you seek out their three full lengths on Alias Records, specifically their swan song, Silver Gleaming Death Machine, which in my opinion is them at their absolute best and catchiest. To give a context of what they sound like, Small (or Small 23) were cut from the same cloth as bands like Superchunk and Archers of Loaf, in that they played super hook filled, melodic indie rock. And probably not a coincidence both Chuck Garrison, original drummer for Superchunk and Erich Bachmann, who went on to front Archers of Loaf and Crooked Fingers, were both involved in Small. And on this six song EP the lineup featured includes Garrison (drums) and Bachmann (guitar and vocals) as well as Mike Kenlan on guitars and vocals and Matt Walter on bass. Shortly after the release of Cakes, Bachmann left Small to concentrate on Archers of Loaf full time and was replaced by Dave Hollinghurst. While I am partial to Small's last to full length efforts, Chin Music and the aforementioned Silver Gleaming Death Machine, I can't deny how damn awesome Cakes is, a short powerful punch of perfect buzzing guitar indie rock with punctuated backing vocals that sum up what I love about music from that region in the 90s. The tracks that Bachmann offer lead vocals on, "Cakes" and the Dinosaur Jr sounding "Chuck's Buzz" are the highlights for me though the Kenlan lead track "Empty Room" isn't too far behind with its wonky guitar lines in front and Bachmann's energetic backing vocal in the chorus. Well enough of me yapping...if you like Superchunk and Archers of Loaf there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't like Small.

Small Cakes tracklisting

1. Empty Room
2. Cakes
3. Chuck's Buzz
4. The Big U Without Me
5. He Who Cannot Be Bathed
6. Every

Download Here

And if you are interested in checking out Dude Japan and our cover of Small's "Vega and Boston". Check us out on Bandcamp.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

DiskothiQ "Rob" 7 inch (Wabana/1997)

DiskothiQ is certainly no stranger to this blog as I have already shared a few of their releases so why not share another? This trio led by Peter Hughes released a bunch of cassettes, singles and comp appearances throughout the 90s including two wonderful full lengths, 1995's The Wandering Jew and 1997's Waterworld (the band's finest work in my opinon), both on Shrimper. Perhaps, people are know Hughes for his work with the Mountain Goats, which is certainly not a shame because of the fantastic output he has been apart with The Mountain Goats, however it is a shame that DiskothiQ are band that seldom gets the fair share of respect in regards to discussion about the 90s indie rock movement. They were quite prolific and their album Waterworld is an unheralded classic so it is a shame that their work has largely been ignored. And this 7 inch no different, left in $1 bins but don't let the price tag fool you-this is "grade A indie rock".

You can download some of DiskothiQ's music for direct from their Bandcamp page, including their unreleased/unfinished last album. Go get it here.

Download "Rob" 7 inch

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hovercraft "Zero Zero Zero One" 7 inch (Repellent/1995)

It has been quite awhile since I posted something in this space and quite honestly seeing what is happening in blog land as far as the war, if you will, on file sharing sites is making me want to get back up speed with sharing some of the music in my collection before this type of sharing becomes impossible. Even though I have been following independent music since the early 90s when I was a teenager truth be told I have found out about even more music than I could have ever imagined through the means of blog sharing. Whether it was a newer artist, an artist that I missed out on and didn't know about or in some cases flat out ignored as a result of youthful ignorance. Bottom line blog culture has introduced me to a lot of great music. And I don't only appreciate the free music, I appreciate the blogger's insight and personal relationship with the music he or she is sharing as well as biographical and historical context. So with that being said I feel like there is a lot of music in my collection that I would like to share because I haven't seen them elsewhere in blogland so before these file sharing sites go the way of the Dodo  here goes nothing...

The release I am sharing today is a 7 inch from the instrumental and experimental noise rock band Hovercraft. Zero Zero Zero One features two songs of dark, dirges of noise anchored by pulsating bass and drums which move along the wall of sound emitted from the guitars. And that is more or less the sonic theme that is present through the Hovercraft's sound. The guitars seldom resemble anything resembling standard guitar sounds or even structure, as they are merely shards of jagged sound, wavering static and noise. In lieu of melody in the classical sense Hovercraft's songs are more ominous in nature. Hovercraft initially gained notoriety as it became known that Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam was playing drums for the band, which he did for a short period. However, the band sans Vedder went on to make two albums that garnered critical acclaim for their own merit, most notably 1998's Experiment Below on Blast First/Mute.

As far as this single is concerned which includes a wonderful fold out poster, I shall post the rather informative write up about Zero Zero Zero One from Wikipedia:

"On January 8, 1995, recordings by Hovercraft and Magnog were played back to back on Pearl Jam's Self-Pollution satellite radio broadcast, a four-and-a-half-hour-long pirate broadcast out ofSeattleWashington which was available to any radio stations that wanted to carry it.[4] The tracks which followed immediately after Pearl Jam's final set are described by Eddie Vedder as a "cleansing of the palette."[5] The recording would appear on Hovercraft's first release, a seven-inch single on the band's own Repellent Records. Recorded in August 1994, "Zero Zero Zero One" featured Bobby Tamkin aka "Paul 4" on drums and on "box of nails." No track titles were given, but "0001-A" and "0001-B" are etched into either band of the vinyl sides. It was also released as a VHS tape "video single" in a simple black slipcase.
The single was initially handed out at gigs; stickers affixed to the plastic slip of ones sold in stores boasted, "Featuring Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam." However, the single featured Bobby Tamkin on drums, not Vedder as rumored. "Paul 4" is the pseudonym of early member Bobby Tamkin, currently with his own band, Xu Xu Fang, and former drummer of The Warlocks. In 1995, Hovercraft accepted a slot opening for Mike Watt on his U.S. tour.[3] Hovercraft, and Dave Grohl's new band Foo Fighters, played short sets before both Grohl and Vedder would join headliner Watt as members of his band. This was Hovercraft's first tour, as well as the first major tour for Grohl since the suicide of Kurt Cobain. Hovercraft toured later that year with Sky Cries Mary."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dump "Women in Rock" CD (Shrimper/1999)

Wow it has been so long since I made a post which means that I went more than half a year without a computer. Kind of crazy but good I suppose. I have a new lap top and that means I will back at with more postings here This is My Life and You Can Have It, sharing my record collection with all that care to listen. Years later and this music still means so much to me. In fact possibly even more so than ever.

The music of James McNew's bedroom project Dump has been very important to me on so many levels for so many years. While his work with Yo La Tengo has been something I have enjoyed a great deal I would say his forays into home recorded bedroom pop have been far more influential to me on a personal level. For years Dump has been releasing albums, cassettes and singles the capture McNew unearthing such personal and catchy bedroom pop that at times tinkers with more dronier and ambient elements. Women in Rock is a 5 song cdep that was released on the legendary Shrimper and was the follow up release to Dump's wonderful album, A Plea For Tenderness. McNew's ability to start off an album with a super droney tune that sounds like an airplane engine like  "Horrible"and then blast into a gentle pop number like "The Words Get Stuck in My Throat" is something that I admire a great deal. I wish more artists would take such chances. I feel extremely fortunate that twice in the span of six months this year I got see Dump live and I hope I get the opportunity to do so again.

Dump Women in Rock track listing
1. Horrible
2. The Words Get Stuck in My Throat
3. Lucy Grealy
4. Loved
5 A Plea For Dump

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