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Friday, June 16, 2017

Gleaming Spires - Welcoming a New Ice Age

Name: Gleaming Spires
Album: Welcoming a New Ice Age
Year: 1985
Style: New Wave
Similar Bands: Devo, Squeeze, Violent Femmes, Sparks, Talking Heads, INXS, A's, Alarm, Big Country.
One Word Review: Eccentric Sound-Scapes
Based Out Of: LA, CA
Label: Tabb Records
 Welcoming a New Ice Age: Cover, Liner Notes, Record
 Welcoming a New Ice Age: Cover, Liner Notes, Record

Welcoming a New Ice Age: Credits Close-up
Welcoming a New Ice Age (1985)

  1. Bigger than Life 3:10
  2. The Things I Have Done to Out Love 3:58
  3. Blowing Up My Life 3:46
  4. What's Coming Next 3:15
  5. Unprotected 3:12
  6. Harm 5:38/
  7. Mercy 3:51
  8. Welcoming A New Ice Age 4:24
  9. Tearaway 4:39
  10. No One Coming Over 2:33
  11. Your Secret Room 3:45

Album Rating (1-10): 8.0

Members & Other Bands:
Les Bohem - Vox, Bass, Guitar, Synth (Bates Motel, Sparks, Steve Gillette)
David Kendrick - Drums, Percussion (Bates Motel, Sparks, Devo, Visiting Kids)
Bob Haag - Guitars, Backing Vox (Bates Motel, Sparks)
Jimbo Goodwin - Keys (Sparks, The Call, Tommy Mandell, Sam Phillips, Mark Heard)
Greg Penny - Synth, Guitars, Backing Vox, Production (4-3-1, KD Lang, Martini Ranch, Poperetta, Lisa Nemzo, Eddi Reader)
Bobby Moore (Horns of Desire) - Sax (& The Rhythm Aces, Detroit Spinners, Stylistics, Count Basie & His Orchestra)
Donna Wylie (Horns of Desire) - Trumpets
Katia Empkowicz Penny (Passionettes) - Backing Vox
Patty Foley (Passionettes) - Backing Vox
Beau Wesley (Passionettes) - Backing Vox
The Happy Boy (Passionettes) - Backing Vox
The Party God (Passionettes) - Backing Vox
Fanny Penny (Passionettes) - Backing Vox
Jonathan Gold - Cello (Human Hands, Savage Republic Johanna Went)
Campbell Naismith - Bagpipes
Coolwhip - Mixing
Rick Butz - Recording
John Golden - Mastering
Bill Allen - Photography
Endre Bohem - Photo Bar Patron
Peter Turner - Photo Bar Patron
Karen Smythe - Photo Bar Patron
Mr Penguin - Photo Bar Patron
Frank the Bartender - Photo Bar Patron

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band. But i like the name...sounds like it may be an interesting, edgy new wave band. Coupled with the new wave fashions in the cover art, and the map-like drawling & descriptions on the sleeve, there is a lot of focus on a band personality that seems exciting and timely. Hoping for some energetic fun new wave music here.

Album Review: The Gleaming Spires, or the heart of the band, at the very least, were the backing band for Sparks in the early 80’s. They have songs in films like The last American Virgin and Revenge of the Nerds, and David Kendrick went on to be in Devo.

“Bigger than Life” is light, starting off feeling like an INXS song. It features horns in the background of the chorus, creating an in-your-face pop sound, further emphasizing the INXS comparison, and a little Joe Jackson. It has a little blue-collar A’s feel, too. The end is a good-feeling, happy fade out, with all the instruments coming together bombastically.
“The Things I Have Done to Out Love” is a little more cold and barren as the song starts, reminding me of the Alarm. The build to the chorus gains a little pop, side-to-side swagger. The drums really stand out as the main driving force, produced with a slight echo.
“Blowing Up My Life” takes it down to a keyboard synth slow dance. It is sentimental, and feels like middle school. It is kind of a sleepy song, stripped down of dense production, sounding a little unfinished and reflective. Toward the end, backing vocals join to repeat the title in chorus.
“What's Coming Next” fades in with an anxious new wave bouncy rhythm, reminding me a little of Devo…it is a little sinister in tone, with quick angular Buzzcocks-style chord changes paired with the catchy hook. The instrumental section is peppered with horns, giving it a vibrant urgent importance. The song is a continuous, never-let-down controlled sprint.
“Unprotected” starts with theatrical vocals only, reminding me of Sparks. A pulsing keyboard is added, and the song fully enters into theatrical-musical realm, as a minimal accompanied vocal display, again, much like Sparks. The chorus is an emotional uttering of the song title, rising up in disappearing hope and the feeling of forlorn.
“Harm” gets more funky with buzzy synth and a deep tribal bellowing and bass. Oingo Boingo + Devo + Residents -like in song style and vocal style. The notes are not always on key, creating an itchy feeling, like something is out of sorts, just needing to be set right- which musically is a great way to push a song along. To add to the uncomfortableness of the song, they add a neurotically played violin. The vocal chorus adds in with a clear, catchy melody. The song grows, combined elements, venturing into late-XTC epic song-scaping territory, with elements of both the Talking Heads and Violent Femmes.

“Mercy” starts side two with a much more straight forward new wave song. Power chords and short building vocals segments fit together to create a perfect pop template. It feels a little Big Country-ish with the style of synth employed.
“Welcoming A New Ice Age” continues the windswept, tundra-esq songscape, with crystalline, echoing xylophone backing effects and soaring guitars. As this was a big style of the 80’s it never had quite a perfect fit as with the title and theme of this song. The drum beat keeps the whole song upbeat, and peppy.
“Tearaway” is a sedated synth track that feels like it could be from twin peaks at the first measure. The backing flute synth breaks out of the Badalamenti style, and takes us to another thematic Sparks-like slow song. There is a backing vocal that is robotic and synth-pitch processed, buried behind the lead vocals, that sings the title over and over on cue.
“No One Coming Over” starts as straight forward jangle pop, with some odd synth elements. Including more layered robotic vocals when the title is sung. The song is slightly devious, and lends itself to the Sparks Catalogue pretty easily, if only separated by the spot light on the overly jangly guitar. The bass line reminds me of an Oingo Boingo song, “Pictures of You” but all the sinister tone is sapped out by the rest of the song.
“Your Secret Room” is a very different style from the rest of the songs on the album…there is a county /acoustic sound to the track. From the first line, it sounds like the Violent Femmes, with near-exact tonal inflection of Gordon Gano’s style. Female harmonizing backing vocals are very apparent here, which enhances the country appeal, and they use bagpipes to end the song, which also end the album in solo form. 

Stand Out Track: What's Coming Next

Links:
Wiki
Discogs
Allmusic
Dangerous Minds
IMDB
Trouser Press
Futureismo

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Human Sexual Response = Fig. 14

Name: Human Sexual Response
Album Fig. 14
Year: 1980
Style: New Wave, Jangle Pop
Similar Bands: Devo, Blotto, Television, Tom Verlaine, Squeeze
One Word Review: Urgent, Menacing Jangles
Based Out Of: Boston 
Label: Passport Records, EAT Records, Jem Records
 Fig. 14 - Cover, Liner Notes, Record
 Fig. 14 - Back, Liner Notes, Record
Fig 14. Credits Close-up
Fig. 14 (1980)
  1. Guardian Angel 3:48
  2. Dick & Jane 4:13
  3. Jackie Onassis 3:48
  4. Cool Jerk 2:35
  5. Dolls 4:57/
  6. What Does Sex Mean to Me? 4:47
  7. Marone Moan 3:42
  8. Unba Unba 2:53
  9. Anne Frank Story 6:24
Album Rating (1-10): 7.5

Members & Other Bands:
Larry Bangor - Vox (The Zulus, Wild Kingdom, Screaming Mimis, Gospel Birds, Sugar, Kazoondheit, Honey Bea & the Mellow Muffins)
Casey Cameron - Vox (Kazoondheit, Honey Bea & the Mellow Muffins) 
Windle Davis - Vox (Kazoondheit, Honey Bea & the Mellow Muffins)
Dini Lamon - Vox, Tambourine (Kazoondheit, Honey Bea & the Mellow Muffins, Musty Chiffon)
Rich Gilbert - Guitars (The Zulus, Wild Kingdom, Screaming Mimis, Gospel Birds, Concussion Ensemble, Tanya Donelly, Frank Black, Uncle Tupelo, Steve Wynn. Throwing Muses, Lemonheads, Steve Westfield, The Family Cat, Crown Electric Company, Condo Pygmies, Country Bumpkins, CLOWN, The United States, The Coronet Premiers, Blackstone Valley Sinners, Eileen Rose & The Holy Wreck, Thad Cockerell)
Chris Maclachlan - Bass (The Zulus, Wild Kingdom, Screaming Mimis, Gospel Birds)
Malcolm Travis - Drums (The Zulus, Wild Kingdom, Screaming Mimis, Gospel Birds, Sugar, Concussion Ensemble)
John Doelp - Producer
Don Roze - Executive Producer
Eddie Ciletti - Recording
J.D. - Recording
Ben Wisch - Mixing Engineer
Hipgnosis - Cover
Paul Maxon - Cover
Richard Manning - Photo Coloring
Colin Chambers - Line Drawing
BC Kagan - Back Cover Photo

Unknown-ness: I had never heard of this band…looks like it may be calculated, yet fun. Retro, random artwork of children juxtaposed against the band name and album title, seems to illustrate a contradictory, yet clever, say hipsterry theme. I imagine new wave since it is from 1980, but to what degree, and how much nervousness, is yet to be found.

Album Review: So the guitarist, Rich Gilbert, has gone on to play with some of the most popular and big artists from the Boston area, namely Tanya Donelly and Frank Black. He has also worked on many a Bob Mould-Sugar album. They are still playing one-off reunion shows, even up to this year, 2017. But they never received much nationwide success, despite being played on KROQ in LA.
 “Guardian Angel” kicks in with a drum beat, and enters jangley pop territory. The vocals are jittery, and nervous, much like Tom Verlaine, with backing harmonized vocals for key phrases in the verse. There is some good energy to the song, but it is pretty non-threatening, and like a sloppier early-mid era Talking Heads
“Dick & Jane” is a little darker, with a fuzzy feedback guitar punctuating the verse, which is delivered in a cold and broken in structure. Verse two takes the guitar up a couple of octaves, but still is screeching with feedback. The chorus is just a chant of the chorus. The song is a little tedious, as it does not expand over the segmented and stumbling tempo, perhaps chanting a little like Devo.
“Jackie Onassis” was their “big hit.” It starts off with a cymbal, and sleepily and jangley begins, as if part of a dream. It charges ahead with a confident stomp with some prog-guitar flourishes, mixing in dreamy oh-yeahs in time. The song ends with call and response oh yeahs between the singer and backing chorus.
“Cool Jerk” begins with a bouncy and Squeeze-like bass line…the song jitters along anxiously, and would be a fun song to dance to during a live set. It is repetitive, but in a fun, catchy and building way. There are breaks in the song, that still pound forward with a pulsing drum beat. The song is just a Isley Brother’s “Shout” or Checker’s “Twist,” requesting to do the popular dance along with the band as a soundtrack.
“Dolls” also feels like an early Chris Difford/Squeeze song, with some wonky sound effects, and methodical, Devo-ish singing. The song refers to dolls coming to life. It builds and grows, but stays along a very narrow path of musical diversity. The song feels like it wears out its welcome, looping alarm-like vocals that build in intensity, but doesn’t really evolve or capitalize.

“What Does Sex Mean to Me?” starts with a basic rhythm setting the tempo…this is filled with some classic lines like “Virgins Die Horny” and “I put my fingers to my tongue / I taste vagina” Really the song juxtaposes how other societies view sex versus how we/the singer view sex, with some quite political/moral topics amongst the reactionary lyrics. The song, with its anxious, jittery vocals, and repetitive chorus fits cleanly on the album, but it feels like, aside from the instrumental, complex music is traded in for a clear, intelligible platform.
“Marone Moan” starts out quietly, with a less neurotic vocal. It feels a little renaissance like, lofty world and roots music at first. Then it gets a little progressive as the vocals harmonize into a wind-swept cadence. The urgency grows with the pulsing guitar and ethereal “AAhhhhhh” and then it just…ends.
“Unba Unba” begins with a dark guitar line, and a steady drum beat, which creates a bit of a menacing back ally atmosphere. Unba is the stuttering start in the chorus for the work unbelievable. Before the final urgent verse, the vocals swirl into a whirlpool of syllables and notes. And the song, also repeating like an alarm, winds itself up to a sudden stop.
“Anne Frank Story” is their sad, slow ballad. It too, has a bit of a mysterious menacing tone, but the sullen mood is felt as the calm vocals sadly croon and shutter about the Anne Frank Museum. The drums are bombastic and striking. After 2 minutes, the song changes direction a bit, picking up a driving progressive pace to reset the scene, back to the sad reflective verse. It has a bit of a similar feel to the Hooter’s “All You Zombies” which came out 5 years later. The lyric that is repeated the most is perhaps “Time Warp At The Anne Frank Museum.” And the song seems to build and exit just as quietly as it began.

Stand Out Track: Cool Jerk

Links:
Discogs
Allmusic
Wiki
Rate Your Music
Down Underground
Clash City
Static & Distance

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

CAB 20 - Dirty Smiles

Artist: Cab 20
Album: Dirty Smiles
Year: 2010
Style: Bluesy Rock, Garage, Classic Rock
Similar Bands: Queens of the Stone Age, Black Keys, Soul Asylum, MC5, Black Crows, Lenny Kravitz
One Word Review: Sweaty-Shouty-Guitar Jams.
Based Out Of: El Segundo, CA
Label: Slaughtered Lamb
Dirty Smiles Cover & Record
Dirty Smiles - Back, Record
Dirty Smiles (2010)
  1. Don't Leave Your Love 2:17
  2. Infection 2:56
  3. Stones & Bones  4:47
  4. Aquavit 3:19
  5. Oh Darling 4:00
  6. Slow Song 3:07 /
  7. Keep on Talking 3:50
  8. Substance Abuse 4:20
  9. Living Things 3:46
  10. Gravedigger 3:59
  11. Boots 3:28
  12. Blood on my Hands 2:37
Album Rating (1-10): 7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Eric Conteras - Drums
Bert Hoover - Guitar, Vox, Album Artwork
Chris Khalife - Bass, Keys Vox
Ivan Konstantinovic - Additional Vox
Gil Serrano - Banjo, Additional Vox
Jonny Lai - Electric Guitar, Additional Vox
Noah Yoseloff - Additional Vocals
Robert Hoover - Co-Produced, Engineered, Mastering
Joo-Joo Ashworth - Photography

Unknown-ness: Never heard of this band. But from the color scheme from the grey and brown trains, it feels like it will be a slice of Americana rock. I imagine meandering, and tedious at times, perhaps some grungy guitar solos. 

Album Review:
So this is the very first band to ever appear on Shark Tanl (2012) in order to gain investor backing as a band. They didn't agree to a deal, and were not funded. Popularity from the show neve helped them out, as they are not really together making new music today.

“Don't Leave Your Love” starts with a drum beat, and an urgent, rattling guitar playing MC5 style garage rock. The vocals are also urgent, and emotional, verging on shouting. Very fast, and classic rock in style.
“Infection” has a bit more country twang in the guitar, but it is still rushed and anxiously played…the bouncing keys buried in the background also emphasize the pace. The appeal for alcohol fueled, bluesy guitar solos is apparent for the song is jumpstarted by the guitar.
“Stones & Bones” has a slower jazzy drum beat to begin. It is well accompanied by a funky bass line, and thick steamrolling guitars. The passionate vocals sound as if they are standing far away from the mic, in order to capture the natural vocals which don’t care how naturally loud they are. The song slows down in the minimal instrumental section, only to pick up for one last emotional verse.
“Aquavit” combined punk chords and the bluesy, slightly free-form shouty vocals well. The chord progression sounds very familiar. There are a couple distinct driving sections, which give a platform for the shouting vocals.
“Oh Darling” Starts with some space-guitar twittlings, and then proceeds as a minimal open room drum and bass section. The vocals are growly-shouting against a juxtaposing backdrop of slower music. The guitars kick in and with some feed back and other classic rock elements, push the song along faster. The song slows down to a crawling tambourine rest, then quietly surges with chugging guitars back to the full volume and driving force of the initial verse.
“Slow Song” is true to its name, and an acoustic guitar plays a balladeering bar stool jam. It is a little stumbly, but kicks in with a drum beat only to make the slow jam louder. The volume and intensity rises and falls, but it keeps a moderate tempo the whole time.

“Keep on Talking” begins with a small bass hook and cowbell. Then Cake-like guitar is added, and the song gets going with a sweaty guitar atmosphere. There are group shouting vocals over key lyrical phrases, but the funky bass line keeps the song in order. The song builds and gets a little progressive, with looping guitar licks, which cycle back to the initial set up.
“Substance Abuse” chugs along with grimey, sludgy guitar, and a spattering of drums below. The guitar leads the kick in, and shouting vocals pull the singer away from the mic to not overpower or distort things more than desired. The instrumental takes a while to grow back into the musical verse for one last run through before the song ends.
“Living Things” Starts with Pounding guitar and cowbell, with a flat sounding drum. The vocals are a little more controlled and coherent at first. It’s like a faster Kick Out the Jams. The song takes a bit of a break to focus on the vocals and simple rhythm chords. But it does manage to kick back in, and oscillate between sections balancing the slow & quiet with the fast paced urgency
“Gravedigger” is a swampy stomp jam with catchy group choruses and shouty sections mixed with stoner classic rock lines.
“Boots” is a bit slinkier, but is at heart a pub rocking band full of feedback and swagger. It plays out like a Lenny Kravitz instrumental jam
“Blood on My Hands” is a swampy porch, banjo picking, jug band southern sing along. The whole band sings in echoing natural harmony for the chorus. It feels more of a demo. At 1:50, the tambourine kicks the song into a quickened pace for a short bit before the song winds down, runs out of alcohol. 

Stand Out Track: Don't Leave Your Love

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cherry People - s/t

Artist: Cherry People
Album: s/t
Year: 1968
Style: Psychedelic Pop
Similar Bands: Byrds, Hullaballoo, Turtles, Archies, Association, Cowsills, Bee Gees, Monkees
One Word Review: Harmonized Style Array
Based Out Of: Washington, DC
Labels: MCA, Heritage
 
 Cherry People - Cover & Back, Record
 Cherry People - Center Fold-out, Record
Cherry People - Info
Cherry People (1968)
  1. And Suddenly 2:06
  2. Girl on the Subway 2:52
  3. On To Something New 2:22
  4. Imagination 1:54
  5. My Hyde 2:39 /
  6. Do Something to Me 2:13
  7. Ask the Children 2:08
  8. I'm the one Who Loves You 2:06
  9. Don't Hang Me Up Girl 2:53
  10. Light of Love 2:40
Album Rating (1-10): 7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Punky Meadows - Guitar (Bux, Angel, The English Settlers)
Chris Grimes - Guitars Vox (The English Settlers, Jimi Hendrix)
Rocky Isaac - Drums (Fallen Angels, Bux, Jimi Hendrix)
Dougy Grimes - Vox (The English Settlers)
Jan Zukowski - Bass (Nobody's Children, Nighthawks, Fabulous Hubcaps)
Ron Haffkine - Producer
Barry Oslander - Producer
Jerry Ross Productions
Jimmy Wisner - Arrangement
Joe Renzetti - Arrangement
Val Valentin - Director of Engineering
Neil Ceppos - Engineer
Bob Golden - Cover Photo
Liner and Inside Photo - Stephan Paley
Dick Smith - Art Direction

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band, but I like the weight, coloring, and psychedelic look of this boy band. Short songs, most likely bouncy, upbeat and catchy seem to be what they're going for, I'm guessing. No year on it, but I assume it is somewhere in the late 60's. Excited to see what this sounds like.

Album Review: The biggest thing that any of Cherry People did was be part of the backing band with Jimi Hendrix when he recorded five songs. This was the result of trying to get a meeting with Jerry Ross to be released from their contract in NYC after a west coast tour, and ending up blowing off steam at an open mic/jam night where Hendrix also showed up.

“And Suddenly” was their one and only hit single, which reached #44. It begins with a little Bee Gee’s sense, and perhaps a little R&B. Then after the family harmonies, it finds its groove with a light sing-song, cheerful melody. It feels a little Monkee’s-ish, too.
“Girl on the Subway” is instantly psychedelic pop. It is very thematic, with a complicated barrage of harmonized parts and layers. It is happy and polite and very non-threatening. The trumpet takes center stage when the song reaches the instrumental break.As the song winds down, the trumpet takes over, and steals all the attention, in a somewhat jarring way.
“On To Something New” was the b-side to “Light of Love.” It harkens back to a male vocal group of the 50’s or early 60’s, with swirling harps and strings and a lofty soaring harmony. This song was made to appeal to the parents of the teens they were trying to sell the record to.
“Imagination” was the B-Side to “And Suddenly.” It too is a quiet, delicate vocal band throwback to a style that was nearly extinct. It is still theatric with flutes and sound stage flourishes and swirls.
“Mr. Hyde” was the b-side to a single. It is a more updated sound for the era, a slightly psych harmony, with a very Cowsills collaboration as the chorus kicks in. It has a bit of a marching pace, spurred on by the drumbeat.

“Do Something to Me” starts off side two with an upbeat, dancey song. It has a little bluesy vocal style, with a simple clap-along-tempo. It feels a little like a Belle & Sebastian song, with a different vocal style. There is an urgency and hunger to the vocals that feels like real emotion. This is the real star on this album, and sounds like a completely different singer/band.
“Ask the Children” is a bouncy, fun child’s-dream-like song. Lots of bubble gum pop harmonies, and it builds well into the chorus, which is just a psychedelic-vocal breakdown, not really delivering on the build.
“I'm the one Who Loves You” was a single. It has a smooth sexy glide, a little bond-theme-like. The backing vocals actually sound a little disco, well before disco was a thing.
“Don't Hang Me Up Girl” starts out seeming like a light, older style, but the pace picks up a snappy little groove, and hangs on some call and response harmonies. The song has its feet planted in the two different styles, and does a pretty good job of making it work.
“Light of Love” was a single, tapping into organ psychedelica of the time. The song is a pretty basic example of pop at the time that Herman’s Hermits or ? and the Mysterians (and the like) were making.

"Stand-Out" Track: Do Something To Me

Links:
Wiki
Discogs
Guardian- strange albums on spotify
FB
Allmusic
Rateyour music
badcat records

Monday, April 10, 2017

(the) Continentals - Fizz! Pop!

Artist: The Continentals
Album: Fizz! Pop!
Year: 1979
Style: Garage, New Wave, Power Pop
Similar Bands: Cars, A's Tommy Tutone, Raspberries, Knack, Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, 
One Word Review: Nasally Anxious Pop
Based Out Of: London, UK
Label: CBS, Epic, Nu Disk
 Fizz! Pop! - Cover & Record
Fizz! Pop! - Back, Record

Fizz! Pop! (1979)
  1. Fizz Pop (Modern Rock) 3:05
  2. Walking Tall 2:45 /
  3. Housewives Delight 4:05
  4. Two Lips from Amsterdam 3:24

Album Rating (1-10): 8.5

Members & Other Bands:
Tommy "Ramone" Erdelyi - Producer (Ramones)
Thomas Doherty (Whirlwind)
William John Holliday (Whirlwind)
Allan Harris
Doug Smith - Manager (Motorhead)
Paula Scher - Design

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band, but from the energy, picture, and names on the EP cover, I had to get it, even if it was a little more than what I typically try to pay for TSM records. Looks like it will be fun, neurotic/urgent/jittery new wave/pop. And the year fits, too.

Album Review:             There is really not too much out there about these three guys from the US…living in the UK, I believe, if the sources I’ve seen are accurate. Aside from being one of the few bands that were given the push on the short lived Nu Disk 10” records, their biggest claim to fame is two of the three went on to write for the British rockabilly band Whirlwind.


“Fizz Pop (Modern Rock)” pops right off with a fun, jittery power pop hook. The vocals are nasally as expected, and recall an anxious Elvis Costello. The recipe is a simple oldies-rock verse chorus template, but sped up and electrified. The variations of the chorus keep it interesting, and last for a good portion of the second half of the song, proving they are a more dynamic band than just straightforward, easy power pop.
“Walking Tall” also has a sense of driving urgency, and the nasally vocals recall Costello again, with a little darker tone with the bass line. The exaggerated, sharp syllables define the popular neurotic nature of the music/sound at that time.

“Housewives Delight” charges right at the get go, but then lightens up with a little Americana mixed in with power pop new wave, with a hint of darkness. The chorus is a little light, as the title is sung. The tone of the song is anti-radio, as a spoken section toward the middle of the song explains. The song is a little long for its own good. It tries to push some variants of their chorus, but it is not a very strong hook to try and repeat as they do here.
“Two Lips from Amsterdam” feels a little like a song from Grease or American Graffiti at the beginning, with a high school girl & guy romance seeming to be at the center. The vocals still offer their nasally, updated delivery, but the song structure is a definite call back to songs like “Under the Boardwalk,” but sounding like Richard Bush and the A's.

Stand Out Track: Fizz Pop (Modern Rock)

Links:
Discogs
Allmusic
Wilfully Obscure
My Life's A Jigsaw
Last FM

Friday, February 3, 2017

Sniff 'n' the Tears - Fickle Heart~, The Game's Up*

Name: Sniff 'n' the Tears
Album(s): Fickle Heart~ The Game's Up*
Year(s): 1979~, 1980*
Style: Rock, Soft Rock, 70's AOR
Similar Bands: Dire Straits, Motors, 10cc, Dave Edmunds, Steve Forbert, Foreigner, Chicago, Ace, Al Stewart
One Word Review: Back Alley Folky Tonk Jams
Based Out Of: London England
Label: Atlantic, Chiswick
 Fickle Heart: Cover, Liner, Record
 Fickle Heart: Back, Liner, Record
The Game's Up - Cover, Liner, Record
The Game's Up - Back, Liner, Record
Fickle Heart (1979)
  1. Driver's Seat 4:00
  2. New Lines On Love 3:40
  3. Carve your Name on My Door 2:33
  4. This Side of The Blue Horizon 4:40
  5. Sing 2:23
  6. Rock N' Roll Music 2:35 /
  7. Fight For Love 3:45
  8. The Thrill of it All 3:37
  9. Slide Away 3:45
  10. Last Dance 1:50
  11. Looking For You 4:20
The Game's Up (1980)
  1. The Game's Up 3:52
  2. Moment of Weakness 3:13
  3. What Can Daddy Do? 3:15
  4. Night Life 3:57
  5. If I Knew Then 4:57 /
  6. One Love 3:20
  7. Five & Zero 4:38
  8. Poison Pen Mail 4:41
  9. Rodeo Drive 6:22
Album Rating (1-10):~5.5
*5.0

Members & Other Bands:
Jim Nellis - Backing Vox~
Noel McCalla - Backing Vox~* (Moon, Blade & Masquenada Family, Partners in Crime, Paul Carrack, Mike Rutherford, Mezzoforte, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Arthur Louis )
Chris Birkin - Bass~
Andrew Young - Design~
Luigi Salvoni - Drums, Percussion, Producer~ (Moon, Loz Netto's Bzar, McCalla, Snivelling Shits)
Loz Netto - Guitar~ *Backing Vox* (Brian Copsey & The Commotions, Eye Talk)
Mick Dyche - Guitar~* Backing Vox* ( Wild Turkey, McCalla, Maddy Prior Band, Snips)
Alan Feldman - Keys~ (Jasper, Trifle, FBI, Mome Yamaguchi, McCalla)
Stephen Lipson - Mixing~ Producer, Engineer*
Keith Miller - Synth, String Machine~  (Culture Club, Nick Garvey, Copycats)
Paul Roberts - Vox, Guitar,~* Cover Painting~
Paul Robinson - Drums* (K2, Turning Point, Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion, Intercontinental Express, Turning Point, Art of Noise, Invisible Men, Proclaimers, Van Morrison, Rod Stewart, Pet Shop Boys)
Richard Bailey - Drums* (Ananda, Batti Mamzelle, Dave Defries Quarter, Gonzalez, Hope Collective, Incognito, The Breakfast Band, Dysfunkshun, Johnny Nash, Jeff Beck)
Richard Marcangelo - Drums* (Cinerama, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, The Drivers, Vibraphonic, Ostara, Rumer)
Nick South - Bass* (Time UK, Second Hand, Ellis, Claire Hamill, Blue Goose, Cafe Society, Donovan, Murray Head, Zoot Money, Red, Chimera)
Phil Smee - Design*
Julien 'Jools' Cooper - Engineer Asst*
Nick Tomory - Engineer Asst*
Mike Taylor - Keys* (Renaissance)
Karen Knorr - Photography*
Dominique Durand - Tech Tape Op*
Bud Prager - Management*
Miffy Smith - Moog~

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band. From the looks of the band pictures and album artwork, looks like it will be glammy power pop. To me, the name feels a little embarrassing, but I want to see if the artwork's mood is an interpretation of the music, or if it is just a stylized theme.

Album Review(s): Sniff ‘n’ the Tears was started at drummer Luigi’s request, asking Paul Roberts to join him after hearing promise in some demos they recorded together. Their first track on the first album was a huge success in the US and less so in the UK due to a production error. But Driver Seat kept Roberts in the spot light time, and time again, as it was used in a 1991 Dutch auto commercial, and in 1997’s Boogie Nights. Roberts was the only continuous member throughout the history, even painting the majority of the artwork himself. Although they never found the same success as the first album, Roberts still uses the moniker along with his own solo material to this day.

~“Driver's Seat” was a huge single, reaching #15 in the US. The keyboard and harmonized chorus feel like disco, while the electric guitar is buzzy in the background. The lead vocals are nasally, but in an abrasive way, that feels like they’re sung through a sneer. The song has a disco shuffle tempo, too
“New Lines On Love” has story telling vocals of a typical singer/songwriter, like a more melodic Bob Dylan. The music is dark, shuffling back alley music, and a little jangly. It has the harmonized backing vocals that echo the lead in the chorus.
“Carve Your Name on My Door” begins with the title sang/spoke instrument-free. The song has a southern rock / country sense; honky-tonk rock, perhaps. The vocals sound light and airy, with the same sneer, reminding me of Dave Edmunds and Steve Forbert.
“This Side of the Blue Horizon” is slower, and with the piano in the beginning, is basically a piano ballad with some twang. It is pretty slow and tedious, and the only energetic moments are countrified.
“Sing” is another slinky, back alley bluesy pub song with a shuffle strut.
“Rock N' Roll Music” is decidedly more oldies-style rock and roll. The vocals echo more, as if they are being sung at an indoor pool, and feel like a quiet afterthought. The production falls flat on an otherwise energetic song.

“Fight For Love” begins with an acoustic guitar, and continues down a light groove, reminding me of the little I know of the Grateful Dead. The harmonized chorus punctuate the lyrics in the chorus with the song title.
“The Thrill of it All” takes a jazzy, bluesy tone. It is general 70’s AOR, or dad rock.
“Slide Away” has a bit more electronic, prog rock feel. It is more mystical and spacey. Some of the instrumentation reminds me of Ween hippy jams.
“Last Dance” is a slow folk song, reminding me of Rod McKuen, and a little Dylan with the vocal style. There is only an acoustic guitar for support.
“Looking For You” begins after a cymbal hit, and a slow, methodical jam begins. It gently glides along in a wafty drug dream state.

*“The Game's Up” picks right up where the previous album left off with the specific kind of light 70’s rock. It must be the right mindset to mellow out and listen to this while stoned. It has an organ and other jazzy elements. But the chorus is standard catchy pop.
“Moment of Weakness” is a bit bouncier, and upbeat. And it has minimal, jazzy instrumentation. The verses are sung a bit faster than usual. The song sounds like an 80’s sitcom theme song (Full House).
“What Can Daddy Do?” has a tinge of reggae vibe. It sounds like a cheesy Caribbean all-inclusive resort’s house band.
“Night Life” is a beatnik poem set to incidental sound effects, like a single person performance art monologue. The music kicks in to be a dark, back alley style song for the chorus, but returns to the monologue again for the verse.  The instrumental section is a whining guitar, played upscale to a final scream at the end.
“If I Knew Then” starts with jangly guitar, and sitcom horns, as if from MASH. The bass line is jazzy, but the song is casual and light. There are synth effects used in the song, but they come off like a starter kit, like the synth box was just opened, and the couple of effects used were from the first trial setting. Also, everyone else is using a synth on their hit records, so they wanted to too. It reminded me of the segment music from the science spoof show “Look Around You.”

“One Love” borrows some synth elements, but is mostly a stripped down bluesy lite rock song. In the instrumental section, the electric guitar answers the synth hook in conversation, and they go back and forth. The song ends with a skittering drum and rhythm guitar combo, and fades out.
“Five & Zero” continues with the light, sparse songs, with a reflective tone. There is not much energy to the music; it is basically non-threatening, relaxation rock, almost like a demo of what could be a power pop song.
“Poison Pen Mail” takes another minimal music, folksy spoken lyric route. The organ is the only music in support for a while, but is then added to with a guitar that uses a couple notes as lyrics to the song. This too feels like a fragment, or an unfinished song. More elements are added as the song progresses, and it fills out some, but it feels like a cheap, radio friendly, dumbed down cover of a Tom Waits song.
“Rodeo Drive” starts with a variety of jazzy synth effects, not really finding a melody or cohesion until the swirling and fading synth notes are held, forming melodies and guitars pick up some of the weight. The song is an odd composition, throwing a lot of elements at the walls to see if anything sticks. Not everything works, and it definitely does not all fit together, but for a creative album ending track, it offers inspiration for things that may be investigated on the next album. At its heart, is a jazzy, free-form composition, tidied together by a general vocal melody. The end of the track draws back, and gives the theatrical situation of the listener changing channels while in their car. 

Stand Out Track(s):~ Driver's Seat

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

(the) Tourists - Reality Effect

Name: The Tourists
Album: Reality Effect
Year: 1979
Style: New Wave
Similar Bands: Eurythmics, Roxy Music, Holly & The Italians, Pretenders, Transvision Vamp
One Word Review: Jangly Building Updated Oldies 
Based Out Of: London, UK
Label: Logo
 Reality Effect - Cover & Record
Reality Effect - Back & Record
Reality Effect (1979)
  1. It Doesn't Have to be this Way 3:45
  2. I Only Want to Be With You 2:24
  3. In The Morning (When the Madness Has Faded) 4:09
  4. All Life's Tragedies 3:48
  5. Everywhere You Look 3:18
  6. So Good to be Back Home Again 2:39 /
  7. Nothing To Do 3:27
  8. Circular Fever 3:06
  9. In My Mind (There's Sorrow) 4:44
  10. Something In The Air Tonight 3:42
  11. Summer's Night 3:17
Album Rating (1-10): 7.5

Members & Other Bands:
Ann (Annie) Lennox - Vox, Organ, Piano, Synth (The Catch, Eurythmics, Robert Gorl, Maddy Prior, Band Aid)
Peet Coombes - Vox, Guitars (The Catch, Acid Drops, Barracudas, The Wildhearts)
Dave Stewart - Guitars, Vox (The Catch, Eurythmics, Long Dancer, Da Universal Playaz, Spiritual Cowboys, Platinum Weird, Superheavy, Brothers of Doom, Vegas)
Eddie Chin - Bass (Acid Drops)
Jim "Do It" Toomey - Drums, Percussion, Bolero Dancing, Wet Fish (Dragonfly, Jon, Titus Groan, Colin Blunstone, Paul Brett, Bettina Jonic, John T Fisher, Harvey Andrews, Sadista Sisters, Chris Rohmann, Ziggy Byfield & the Blackheart Band, Jet, Ken Hensley, Satisfaction, Little Ginny)
Tom Allow - Producer
Andy Lunn - Engineer
Bill Gill - Engineer
Dick Plant - Engineer
Barry Kidd - Engineer
Graham Preskett - Trumpet & String Arrangement
Gered Mankoqitz - Photograpy
Acrobat - Artwork
Lloyd Beiny - Direction
Tom Allom - Producer

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of the Tourists (although, I probably should have). Looks like intelligent concept new wave music from the abstract splatter-art display on their surroundings as compared to the "before" picture on the back. The paint seems to create a fun, energetic idea fromt he depths of banal monotony. Shows promise for an album from 1979.

Album Review: The Tourists were the band that immediately pre-dated the Eurythmics, with both Annie Lennox & Dave Stewart as dating members. Although the band was not their showcase, it produced some big singles. From the ashes of the band and their intimate relationship came the Eurythmics. The Tourists only really lasted for 3 years, and produced 3 albums to their name.

“It Doesn't Have to Be This Way” begins with a synth back drop, and driving, energetic guitar & bouncy bass. The song falls into a jangle-pop category, and it builds well. The catchy guitar hooks remind me of the pretenders (even if their debut was a year later). The song mixes a nice balance of rock with digital sterility.
“I Only Want to Be With You” is a Dusty Springfield cover, and was a #4 UK, #8 Aus, #83 US single. It continues with the chugging guitar and bass tempo. Annie’s vocals are bold and strong, with their familiar lush, deep key. The song is familiar, and just pushes the classic oldie structure up to a modern time, kind of like The Ramones. The guitar rings out in the chorus, creating a confident setting.
“In The Morning (When the Madness Has Faded)” starts with a neurotic organ, and psych, echoing vocals. It straddles the line between tedious jangle bands and 60’s psych garage bands. It is just an upbeat and hopeful pop song, with multiple sections that speed up and slow down, including a swirling, middle eastern breakdown in the end.
“All Life's Tragedies” begins with the same structure, chugging instruments, with a steady driving tempo. The vocals flow over the shifting notes. The chorus is slowed down, and melancholy, before being lifted back up again with the guitar. But overall there is sadness in the song, based on the inflection of the vocals.
“Everywhere You Look” has a Siouxsie Sioux gothic tone to the beginning, and key shrieking guitar instrumental hook. The rest of the song is a pleasant building new wave track, reminding me of Nick Lowe or Graham Parker with melody and composition.
“So Good to be Back Home Again” was a #8 UK single. It kicks in with a drum beat, and the music is fuzzy punk underneath harmonized, pop vocals. The organ returns for verse accents. This is a nice blend of punk electric guitars paralleling and taking turns with the new wave organ melody. The chorus is complemented with an “Ooo-Ooo-Ooo” vocal in support.

“Nothing To Do” kicks in with a simple jangly guitar hook. The vocals remind me of Marshall Crenshaw. The chorus is the song title sung in response/echo to each other, with a final, combined effort.
“Circular Fever” starts with a three chord chunky guitar hook, and is supported by a bass line that reminds me of the building verse of Born to be Wild. The vocals are combined together, in a shrill, warbly harmony of sorts. It follows the title, where the sections feature little circular hooks that play over and over again, slowly building, but constantly driving.
“In My Mind (There's Sorrow)” has a sort of anthemic, jangly arena rock guitar aesthetic at the beginning. The organ anxiously pulses beneath the steady tempo. The bridge breaks the momentum and slows things down, before it starts up again. The song features a short renaissance section toward the end that is unusual for the song’s style, but somehow fits in naturally. The song does drag out a little too long.
“Something In The Air Tonight” is a slow tempo’ed jangly song. It acts like a ballad or a slow dance with some bold, precise guitar chords. The song churns and like a whirlwind at the end, rocks out before it fades away.
“Summer's Night” starts with Mexican horns and vocals, but becomes a rollicking folksy sing-along. It returns to the section as an interlude between verses. The verses actually remind me of New Pornographers, with the way they are blended together. 

Stand Out Track: I Only Want to Be With You

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