Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Elliott - Fan and the Bellows (The Chameleons Cover)

I mentioned this cover when I posted Fan and the Bellows by The Chameleons a while back. I finally got the chance to rip and share here. Though it remains pretty true to the original, it is still a great cover by a great band.

Elliott - Fan and the Bellows

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sunday's Best - Sons of the Second String 7"

For Christmas my family bought me a nice, new direct drive record player complete with USB capability. In the 12 years since I received my first record player for my 15th birthday, I've never had a truly nice one so needless to say, I am pretty psyched. With that comes the ability to rip old records for this blog which is something I've wanted to do for a while.

My first attempt at vinyl conversion is the debut 7" from California's Sunday's Best. I posted their EP Where You Are Now about a year ago and have wanted to post this ever since. "Sons of the Second String" is one of my favorite Sunday's Best songs and I think this 7" as a whole is a great indicator of what was to come for this incredibly underrated band. If you are familiar with the EP, this 7" offers more of the same great Midwest inspired emotional indie rock (think Caufield Records). Unlike Where You Are Now the three songs here shy away from the slower, darker end of the spectrum and keep things upbeat. If this sounds like your sort of thing, it probably is.

Sorry for the stolen eBay pic, but I don't have a scanner and this was the best thing I could find.

Sunday's Best - Sons of the Second String

Monday, December 29, 2008

Memorial Day - Demo

Memorial Day was a very short lived band, most notably featuring Skip from Turning Point on vocals and some of the dudes from No Escape, I Hate You, and others. They were blip on the radar and to be honest, I don't know a lot about them other than what is listed on their myspace page. I presume someone from the band created it to make some of the songs available to people. There are 5 tracks total here. Most are fairly comparable to what a lot of Revelation bands were doing in the 90's - the whole quiet/loud post-hardcore thing that teetered on alt-rock. Moments in some of these songs often remind me of Seaweed and Quicksand so those are fair jumping off points. When I downloaded this from a torrent a while back it had no song titles and I'm still missing one. If you know what it is, please get in touch. If you're into Turning Point, this is worth checking out.

Memorial Day - Demo

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Lows - Live on WERS

Though I have a decent idea what is going on in hardcore right now, only a few bands seem to stick out to me. I never wanted to be that guy, but I think it happens to everyone after a certain time of being beaten over the head with the same types of riffs for years and years. However, New Lows from Boston write the type of riffs I love being beaten over the head with because they are so incredibly heavy and pissed, it makes me feel like a teenager just getting into hardcore. Another thing that drew me to New Lows initially is that their demo sounds like absolute garbage. In this day and age of pro-tools and sound replacing it was refreshing to hear a heavy hardcore band that sounded raw and primal which coincidentally made them sound even heavier.

This is a live set they did they did on an excellent program called "Radiobeat" (I don't think it's on the air anymore) on WERS in Boston. All of these songs are on their demo and the 7" they released on Lockin' Out, but they are good versions and worth a listen.

New Lows - Live on WERS

Track Listing

01. Hatchethead
02. Lowest Depths
03. Hung Up on the Crossroads
04. Loathe
05. Lucifer Crucified
06. Compulsive Repulsion (It Never Ends)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Liz Phair - Exile in Guyville

Two records were integral in my middle school Indie Rock development - Pavement's Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville. Liz Phair, like Pavement and countless other bands of my formative years were introduced to me during late nights watching programs like 120 minutes and Alternative Nation on MTV. The song "Supernova" off her second record Whipsmart was a moderate hit which led me to buying both that record and Exile in Guyville. This was right around the time the ball on obsessive music consumption really got rolling for me.

Liz Phair has a number of things going for her - she is gorgeous, she is from Chicago and she is able to write incredibly candid, frank songs about sex, men and life, without adhering to completely conventional song structures. Allegedly, her 18 song debut is a song for song response to The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street, but don't hear it so much as I hear her saying "Fuck You" to every dude that's ever wronged her. With that comes her response of vindictive behavior, revenge, and fear. At 12, I didn't really get the complexity of the subject matter, I was just into the songs and the low budget production. Most of all though, I was interested in this new facet of music I was discovering.

Ten years after the release of Exile in Guyville Phair made her most extreme leap into mainstream success with the song "Why Can't I" from her self-titled record. It was a record full of bubblegum pop songs more suitable for a flash in the pan teen star than a woman in her 30's. Although, that song was pretty catchy and everyone has to pay their bills, this record is definitely the better bet when it comes to Phair's career.

Liz Phair - Exile in Guyville

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

(Smog) - Red Apple Falls

I had no intention of posting this record until I stepped outside this morning into a cold, snowy street to take the train to work and put it on. It seemed very appropriate as the wet, dreary winter days we've been experiencing here in Chicago are the perfect backdrop to records like (Smog)'s Red Apple Falls. On his sixth album under the (Smog) moniker, Bill Callahan expands slightly on his interesting lo-fi, acoustic recordings by bringing producer Jim O'Rourke into the fold. Though O'Rourke engineered previous efforts, his airy flourishes often fill out otherwise sparse, dark tracks. This comes through even more on the few up tempo songs like "I Was a Stranger," "Ex-Con" and "Inspiration." That isn't to say those songs are even terribly upbeat though with lyrics like "Alone in my room I feel such a warmth for the community, but out on the streets I feel like a robot by the river looking for a drink" all sung in Callahan's trademark deep, relatively monotone voice. Red Apple Falls is a great album full of some real bum out tracks, perfect to listen to on headphones indoors when the weather gets too unbearable.

(Smog) - Red Apple Falls

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Broadways - Broken Star

For a band that couldn't have been around for more than 2 years, I saw The Broadways a lot. As such, they were a very pivotal band in my punk rock listening career. I'd heard of Jawbreaker and Crimpshrine, but it wasn't until every zine that ever reviewed The Broadways compared them to those bands (and Fifteen) that I gave either a real listen. Out of all the times I saw them, two shows stick out specifically to me.

1) A matinee show at The Fireside Bowl with The Broadways, Luke Skawalker and Showoff. Luke Skawalker throws beer all over everyone in the front and Pete, the singer says, "haha now you have to go home and explain to your parents why you smell like beer in the middle of the afternoon." During the Showoff set two girls (one in a camo shirt) says something to Chris Envy, the singer of Showoff and he starts making numerous comments about her being "a dyke" and a bitch and whatever else. This sends everyone into an uproar and the girls start threatening him and calling him a sexist. Some of their friends take them outside and they leave the show. Someone shuts the PA off on them much to the anger of the sound guy and their set ends. This seemed to be the end of anyone in the punk scene wanting to be involved with Showoff and they were signed by Maverick not too long after this. Brendan Kelley, singer of The Broadways decried Chris Envy's comments and everyone got really psyched and applauded. Then they killed it.

2) The first Arlington Heights Knights of Columbus show. It was in the fall or winter and it was dark really early. The KoC is in a neighborhood and it's pretty dark so we started going door to door asking people where we could find the show. Someone finally pointed us in the right direction and we walked into a very crowded room full of young kids in really terrible baggy pants and big shirts (I was one of them). This was also the first time I witnessed a wall of death. Great show.

Overall, I have to say The Broadways remain my second favorite band of the Slapstick family tree (behind Alkaline Trio of course). Memories aside, they simply play great, catchy punk rock in the Chicago tradition.

The Broadways - Broken Star

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Beautiful Skin - Revolve

Beautiful Skin were a very overlooked, but excellent post-punk/electro band from New York City made up of keyboardist Ross Totino and former Rorschach guitarist Nick Forte. Admittedly, Forte's background in hardcore was an initial selling point of this band for me, but having listened to this record many times over the past few years, I think I enjoy this more than his work with Rorschach.

Although Beautiful Skin's brand of dark, hypnotic synth-pop isn't nearly as groundbreaking as what Rorschach did with hardcore, they were definitely on the forefront of the post-punk resurgence that occurred in the early to mid 2000's. However, unlike the upbeat post-punk that became incredibly popular after their break up, the band had more in common with the deadpan vocal delivery of Peter Murphy and the cold, ethereal synth of early OMD and German Krautrock bands like Neu! Periodically, they veer from the course of darkwave into more experimental and abrasive territory, but they mostly stick to that formula and pull it off quite well. Unfortunately this was their only proper LP, but they did release a few EP's and a collection of material entitled Everything, All This and More posthumously that are worth looking into. With that said, the name of this blog is taken from a song on this record called "Harsh Distractions." So, I feel like if you've ever read this blog, you should probably check this record out.

Beautiful Skin - Revolve

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Various Artists - A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector

Today Dave and I were discussing how, despite the brutally cold weather and snow, it really doesn't feel like Christmas in Chicago. Personally, this is my favorite time of year and though Christmas music can be incredibly lame and ridiculous, there are some holiday songs/records people simply shouldn't live without. For instance, the Mariah Carey song "All I Want for Christmas is You," the Low Christmas album and my favorite, A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector.

For A Christmas Gift, production wizard, music legend and general maniac, Phil Spector assembled his usual "who's who" of girl groups to put their take on 12 classic holiday songs. The Ronettes, The Crystals and Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans all do incredible versions of standards like "Frosty the Snowman," "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," "White Christmas," "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and others, all rounded out by Spector's trademark wall of sound. While the entire record is great and reminds me of childhood Christmas', the standout for me is the lone original, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" by Darlene Love. In my opinion, it is one of the greatest holiday songs ever written and worth the download of this record alone. Check it out and pretend it actually feels like Christmas time.

Various Artists - A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector