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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Flamin' Oh's - s/t (green album)

Name: Flamin' Oh's
Album: s/t (green album)
Year: 1980
Style: New Wave/Pub Rock
Similar Bands: New Pornographers, Dramarama, The A's, John Mellencamp, Daddy Licks, J Geiles Band
"One-Word" Review: New Waves of Americana Grain
Based Out Of: Minneapolis, MN
Label: Fat City
 Flamin' Oh's - Cover & Record
 Flamin' Oh's - Cover & Record
Flamin' Oh's [green album] (1980)
  1. I Remember Romance 3:33
  2. Smart Girl 2:38
  3. Everyday 3:15
  4. Talk Like That 4:00
  5. We Do What We Like 3:08
  6. I'm A Medical Mess (With Only 6wks Left) 1:20/
  7. That's Just Fine With Me 3:35
  8. So Cruel 3:52
  9. Standing In The Light 2:08
  10. Paradise Ave 5:03
  11. I'm The Gun3:58

Album Rating (1-10): 9.0

Members & Other Bands:
John Pete - Producer
Robert Wilkinson - Guitar, Vox (Suicide Commandos, Wunderband)
Bob Meide - Percussion (Mighty Jitters)
Jody Ray - Bass
Joseph H. Behrend - Piano, Organ, Vox
Dougie Ackerman - Project Directer
Peter Luxem - Executive Director
David Rickin - Engineer (Lipps Inc, The Jets)
Mike Severson - Technician
Bernie Baudry - Technician
Geoff Lenox - Technician
Jack Daly - Technician
Chris Bellman - Mastering
Jim Fredericks - Art Director
Lisa Brooks - Cover Photo & Concept
Channel Z Graphics - Layout & Production
Paul Sittard - Road Manager
John Shanderuk - Crew
Brian Carlson - Crew
Jim Fenn - Crew
Crybaby Management -  Direction

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of the band, but I liked the simple pink on green layout of the cover. Very minimal, and it is either a very amateur or a well-designed cover. Looking at the band image on the back, I like the odds of this being a fun Pub/New Wave rock album. The record label is a little silly, so that leads me back to the amateur side. But over all, this is an interesting record, I’m excited to hear.

Album Review: So this is a new-wavey/Pub Rock band out of Minneapolis that had to change their name due to legal reasons (the 50’s band by the same name) The Flamingos. This translated to the split words, and the self-titled first LP, following an EP that was released under the “illegal” name.

“I Remember Romance” starts off with an organ-y keyboard, and follows with some background guitars and a nice bass hook. They all come together and for a general new wave atmosphere. Partially smooth, partially pub rock. The bridge is Middle America, but it all leads up to the glorious chorus that sounds exactly like the New Pornographers, including Neko Case-like vocals backing up the lead. Apparently this was a sizable hit on the MTV when it first came around. The song ends with a repetition of the chorus, which is its big selling point, so why not?
“Smart Girl” has a quick, driving bass line that leads right into a nervous, jittery vocal verse. This too, is a solid new wave song, and has a great energy not captured since this age of music. It transitions from the building up instrumental to the verse with wonderfully dramatic delivery.  It plays itself out on the piano, looping over and following the guitar/bass line.
“Everyday” has a slow and sure, but driving rock intro. The song is slower, and it has one foot in the John Mellencamp Americana music and with the synth keyboard in the background, still maintains a new wave base. The power pop guitar also brings the Cars to mind.
“Talk Like That” has a chugging lightly strummed electric guitar to start, and brings that New Pornographers keyboard back to the fray. His vocals, slow and methodical, yet with whining emotion remind me of John Easdale of Dramarama. The song builds into a fast fury like a gunshot: it’s not a slow build. Then it seems like the band is in an all-out race to see who can get done their part first, including speedy sung vocals. The instruments battle playing the same basic melody over driving drums that ultimately win, carrying the song to the end, with a J Geils Band finishing breakdown.
“We Do What We Like” is a power pop pub rock song through and through with bold chord changes and power note holds. If the song was produced in the light of Bowie, this could be a strong Glam hit. Also, to further emphasize that he does what he likes, he adds “I don’t give a fuck about you”
“I'm A Medical Mess (With Only 6wks Left)” follows the comic themes of Weird Al’s original songs, listing aliments that affect the singer. It is sung in the style of a 4 chord Buzzcocks song.

“That's Just Fine With Me” is all bass in the beginning. Then power guitars are added, and the song is then new-waved with the keyboard. It is a well-structured song, and on a lesser album, it would stand out more. It seems like it would have a good live energy, featuring guitar solos, breakdowns and good energy shifts.
“So Cruel” starts with a Ted Leo type guitar intro, then drives forward with a bouncy piano and power pop electric guitar chords. The song presents a nice jittery energy that makes so many 80’s rock songs fun and interesting. Although it is apparent in nearly every song, the Dramarama comparison is pretty strong with this one. The pace and drive is good, but it never really speeds up, which in this case, is a good thing. The chorus repeats to the end, with an increased energy, like a slow build, and the song crashes down and finishes smoothly.
“Standing In the Light” is a fast paced song, that reminds me of The Fabulous Fondas, or other small club 80’s bands. Simple short fast sections are bound together with drums and bas. Each features a different hook or melody. The song ends at a point where it could just as easily take off again, so it is abrupt, but serves the song well.
“Paradise Ave” is their slow dance ballad (or bathroom break). This is the song when the lights go down, except a hazy spot light on the singer, leaning on his microphone stand, and remembering more than singing about love and loss. The song slowly waltzes along with a bluesy, passionate vocal performance, piano, and an up and down bass line. This reminds me of the A’s slower songs. Oh, and Easdale again. Toward the end, the piano becomes bold and the enter focus of the song, and sounds like a TV show theme I cannot place right now.
“I'm The Gun” brings the album to a close, and back to the feverish pace it has set before the ballad. This would be the encore to remember the band by after the emotional come down. It is rushed, and could come off as sloppy, but that would add to the charm. The bass line is like a super-fast rollercoaster, all over the place but still fluid. Just when you think you have the song figured out, and how it will proceed, the band  tacks a different section to the end, a repetitive uttering of the song title. It still drives, just in a different way, and the song concludes in typical bombastic fashion with some piano glissandos (sliding fingers up or down the piano keys- I just learned this) and crashing drums to release & completion.

Stand Out Track: I Remember Romance

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