Monday, May 30, 2011

Franco Battiato - Clic LP [UK VERSION] (1974)

A big name in synth and avant-garde, Franco Battiato is a veteran in numerous forms of expression. He is perhaps best known for his first LP, Fetus, a cornerstone release for prog and synth-based music. Tonight, I share with you his fourth album, Clic, a mostly instrumental album touching on a variety of textures, sounds, themes, moods and interestingly an about face in songwriting. Franco's early work is often aligned with progressive-related genres, however this album branches out noticeably. Perhaps taking cues from Brian Eno (for what it's worth, Here Come the Warm Jets was released the same year) and other ambient artists active at the time, Franco uses a plethora of synths and drones to create tranquil atmospheres reminiscent of, well, 70s synth in general. He is not without his psych influence either, touching on psych-out themes throughout the only predominately vocalized track "No U Turn," which among its peculiar bursts of oddity features various operatic voices including his own crooning throughout the track. Apart from that, the album is overtly ambient in theme. Fans of current synth artists are sure to notice similarities here.

It should be duly noted that this is ripped from the UK version, that is the 1974 Island Records pressing. The original, Italian pressing it a great deal different from this one.

Franco Battiato - Clic LP MediaFire

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Venus Cures All - LBS 2x7" (1995?)

Every town, big or small, has pockets of creativity congregating together. Sometimes those pockets bloom and their talent halfway immortalizes them. Other times, they're mostly overlooked or short-lived (bet you're tired of hearing me say those words, huh) and leave only vague traces of their existence. Here tonight is such case, specifically one from Toronto that I was lucky to find even one webpage on. Granted, it was their label Wavelength's website, but sometimes not even that pops up... Venus Cures All formed after the break-up of another Toronto band called Chicken Milk. The bio I found made references to Drive Like Jehu as far as similar sound goes, and actually that's pretty dead on. It's funny, I got this home, started playing it at 45 rather than 33, and instantly heard unabashed late 90s emo vibes flowing through the room. "Wow," I thought, "quick, melodic bursts, super catchy, this is great." Then the chipmunk vocals came in and I was admittedly disappointed, turned down the speed. But not to worry, the record was made in such a way that it's worthwhile at both speeds. Definite Jehu, alt. rock and emo vibes all strewn together beautifully. I'll break it down how I see it: Jehu in instrumentation, alt in vocals, emo in... phew, all that melancholy attitude. At least that's how it is on the first 7". Once you get to the second, it's a little more complicated. On the first side, the songwriting becomes a lot more elongated with lengthy verses and an emphasis on a heavy tone, but the second second side first has a dissonant, Unwound or EVOL-era Sonic Youth feel with a pop leaning, and then a return to the themes found on the first record. Yeah... all over the place, just like my perspective.

Man, I should also say that this record is really falling apart. The sleeve is beautiful - fancy parchment with brilliant golden silk screening, or maybe something even fancier - but it's threadbare as they come. The sleeve just barely hanging on to each side by the corner... In any case, I saw it and thought "looks pretty emo."

Like I said, information was scarce. This band seemed to be deeply involved in the Toronto punk scene during the late 90's, and they apparently broke up around 1997. They have this double 7", a CD and possibly a compilation track to show for themselves. The band covers Mission of Burma's "That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate" if you're into that. This was a split release between Wavelength and Aural Borealis. After a little more digging around, I saw that they opened for Seam once; all the more reason to enjoy them if you ask me. In the liner notes, the band politely suggests that you crank the treble to 10 prior to putting this on... It's out of my hands.

On a surprisingly vital side note, the title of this release proved difficult to pin down. One spyware-ridden page claimed "Paradise by the Highway," but another said "L.B.S.," which makes more sense considering that's on the back sleeve. After an eeny, meeny, miny, moe session with myself, I chose the latter. Incidentally, check out this radio station's playlist for June of '95 in which this record was featured. Just about encapsulates this sound and era, I'd say.

P.S.: Shortly after finishing this entry, I went to slip the record back into its plastic sleeve only to have that last corner piece I mentioned earlier rip... Rest in two pieces.

Venus Cures All - S/T 2x7" MediaFire

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fearless Iranians From Hell - Die For Allah (1987)

In light of recent events (yeah... why not), here tonight is a largely overlooked Texas band, led by an Iranian immigrant, from Berkeley's Boner Records label. About two years ago, I lucked out and picked up this Fearless Iranians From Hell LP, as well their second LP Holy War (which people seem to like more than this one), from a hole in the wall shop after a couple months of seeing it and several price markdowns. At one point, both were being sold for an upwards of $75 respectively. Ridiculous, actually. Even more ridiculous is, again, how utterly overlooked this band is, given their sound being similar to other satirical, more popular crossover thrash of the 80s and beyond, although I think they lean toward hardcore more than anything. It is perhaps for that reason that I favor this band over most other crossover bands, never mind the pop leanings present in their songwriting as well. If you haven't already figured it out, these are Americans pointing out the flawed relationship between U.S. and Iran through blatantly satirical songwriting (see OPEC.) A small step above songs about pizza and weed, wouldn't you say? Just kidding. The band no doubt sought to spark reaction and thought through their music, and what reactions they did accrue:
We were attacked by police, protesters, skinheads, right-wing radio hosts, left-wing college boy bands who were too caught up in their seriousness to get what we were doing, gangs, religious organizations, promoters...hell, Fearless Iranians From Hell album covers were even featured in PTA slide-shows portraying the evils of rock 'n' roll. Mission accomplished. (source)
Sorry about the hiccups, I tried.

Fearless Iranians From Hell - Die For Allah MediaFire

Saturday, May 21, 2011

New Sweet Breath - Go Away 7" (1996)

A quick single from this very overlooked lo-fi indie band out of Seattle. New Sweet Breath were one of many nobody bands that migrated to Seattle in the 90s to play music. And like so many of those bands, they went virtually unnoticed despite several singles, EPs and three full-length albums (incidentally, the second of which I recently picked up, still sealed.) Already beautiful praised in the blogosphere, here tonight is their second single, which is over before you hit the play button again. No kidding, "Go Away" is a zippy expressway to yr skull... well, what I mean is, it's catchy and melodic like any good single is, although rife with distortion and fuzzy goodness. The flip side is a little heavier and maintains the band's noisy, melodic charm throughout its two minutes. The aforementioned blog noted a similarity to Husker Du, a comparison some may not take lightly but one that I can agree with. Really, though, if you're any sort of fan of any 90s indie, like along the lines of early Superchunk or Built to Spill even, you're bound to enjoy this band as well. I have nearly all of this band's singles, but if you're eager, head over to Willfully Obscure and snatch them up.

New Sweet Breath - Go Away 7" MediaFire

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Milkways - Milkways LP (1978)

Tonight, here is a real treat and one of my favorites: the sole LP of French space disco band Milkways. Disregarding tenets of corniness and evidently shirts as well, this mysterious trio, whose members go unnamed, composed these eight smooth and dreamy synth-based jams and drifted into the void. This is ripped from an original copy of the record, which was later repressed as "Galactic Reaction" in the early 80's. "Dance in the Milkway" and "Astroport" are definite standouts, but the album as a whole is a certified gem of the genre, which was as short-lived and niche-y as other obvious European subgenres. All in all, though, if you're a fan of synthesizer music. this is potentially a new favorite for you; regrettably, the specific instruments used on the record aren't listed anywhere. I am aware this has been blogged before, but I am hoping to expose this to an otherwise unsuspecting audience. Really, if you're reading this and don't already know what it is, I encourage you to give it at least one listen.

I should also note that while the last two tracks are tracks in and of themselves, it was difficult to discern when the tracks split. As such, I combined the two; you likely will be unable to tell the difference. Admittedly, though, this is just laziness: the length of both tracks are plastered all over the record.

Milkways - Milkways LP MediaFire

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Answer Lies/Tulsa Split 7" (2007)

The writing on the price sticker more or less sums this split up: "Bay Area Hickey Worship vs. Desert Fastcore." A bargain at any price under two dollars, this split features a bipolar mix: The Answer Lies busts out four aggressive DIY hardcore on their side, while Tulsa slow down the tempo and the mood with three punk-leaning, heart-bleeding "folk punk" tunes. The cover features an overgrown tostada laying waste, which was drawn by Mitch Clem (oooooh, fancy.) Great stuff all around! Might be out of print, but I know my copy is from the second pressing. Don't know why there is a hiccup near the end of the Answer Lies side. Looks like you can still get copies from Interpunk... so... there's that...

The Answer Lies/Tulsa Split 7" MediaFire

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Neo Cons - S/T 7" (2011)

After a long, coffee- and frustration-fueled excursion into the world of hardware drivers and support forums, I managed to trick my computer into doing what I wanted it to do. In other words, I am able to rip records again! On a side note, I managed to rack up more followers just letting this blog fester than I ever did updating frequently - 'sup with that, eh?

Here is a long overdue treat for the sound-starved. I was unaware of this record's release prior to seeing it pop up in a Katorga Works distro update a couple months ago, a fact which I am ashamed to admit given Neo Cons have been opening up punk shows in the Bay Area since... well, near the beginning of last year, I think. I neglected to pick up their demo in hopes that it would eventually be sold in distros as well, but it was my own fault for not throwing the band a few bucks directly.

I did have the pleasure of seeing Neo Cons recently on School Jerks' stop in the Bay Area in February of this year. Mind blowing performance: an energetic vocalist with a snarkiness to boot, groovy bass lines, simple riffs with inherent melodics, loud loud loud - everything no one would expect out of an opener and more.

This record complements those sentiments: six crunchy hardcore jams that keep it simple, but certainly not primitive. I don't know if this is still available (edit: it is), but below is a link to the band's blog if you want to get in touch.

It's May and there's ice coming out of the sky in California.

Neo Cons - S/T 7" Mediafire
Neo Cons - Blogspot
Neo Cons - Buy It