1981 NYC minimal synth pop
Bob & Gene
It's Not What You Know (It's Who You Know)
Ever-Soul ES-104/Daptone Dap-1057
A recently unearthed treasure from Buffalo, NY circa late 1960's / early 1970's. Bob and Gene were young, broke, and full of soul…and all during a time of great financial and racial turmoil. It's Not What You Know…contains two solid three minute plus tracks of pure heartfelt melody.
Acrylic on watercolor paper with watercolor and pen. I purchased this from the Jonathan Levine gallery in 2006 and it's time to let it have a new home. Gibby is not only known for being the eclectic and energetic front man of Texas psychedelic noise punk group, Butthole Surfers, but he is also an artist and current resident of Brooklyn, NY. The work is in four squares, each measuring approximately 11"x 11". I'm currently accepting fair offers for this piece.
To The Top
Leisure Records 
This record sounds pretty close to how it looks. It's a super obscure independently released LP from a group of Long Islanders who were very aware of the sound of popular rock in the early to mid eighties. Some songs sound like a slowed down Benjamin Orr Cars track while others rock like a one hit wonder that you just somehow missed out on. It's the soundtrack to that date to the roller rink…after-hours Camaro makeout session included.
Listen to It Ain't Worth (All The Pain)
I'm a sucker for nostalgia yet currently somewhat self-aware of my issues with it, however, I've accepted nostalgia as a yearning for the true pure love I've felt in the past and not a cheap exaggerated source of emotionally-driven memories. With that said, I can tell you that Sermons tap into a part of my brain that flashes me to a time in the 90's where San Deigo screamo was one of the most important things to me. Although influences for this style were also scattered across the states at that time, something evil and real was coming out of Southern California that no one else could touch. Well, maybe until now.
Bands like Swing Kids, Mohinder, and later The Locust and Camera Obscura (no not the Scottish indie-pop late bloomers) set a tone that awoke a monster in the decade to follow. A horrible onslaught of make up wearing tightpantsers stole the formula, ruined the formula (isn't this how it always goes), and made me and many others not look back. Now that the public has mostly been made aware of the sold out sounds of the 00's and its lip ring rockers, recovery and revitalization can finally commence.
Sermons not only touch on that memorable sound of the abrasive 90's, but they add a new relevant flavor using desirable elements both past and present. They commendably pass right over the past fifteen years and land in present time with something we all hoped we 'd someday hear. Imagine a frantic Jeffrey Lee Pierce on vocals with a supporting group who sound influenced by early Ink and Dagger and even more recently influenced by the works by Nick Cave and Grinderman. The record is hardcore, but it's not necessarily a hardcore record. It's oddly melodic, but maybe that's just the hellishly eerie keys or the Peter Hook influenced bass playing. Regardless, these Jersey/Philly men are truly onto something.
Listen to POSEIDEON'S TEARS by Sermons
In the early years of the Athens, Georgia art/dace/proto-indie/"we invented college rock" weirdness scene, then emerged what we now know as household music natives such as the obvious top two: R.E.M. and the B-52's. What people often forget or never had the chance to learn or experience was the fast moving third place local act who called themselves "Pylon".
Pylon were the states' answer to the turn of the eighties dance punk / new wave sounds of the U.K. à la groups such as Gang of Four or Au Pairs. Flash forward thirty years to the indie underground in America, introduce a cover by Atlanta's Deerhunter and another track by NYC music critic Sash Frere-Jones a.k.a "Calvinist", and you have the ingredients to a really hip discussion on relevant and skillful alternative rock. Both tracks are satisfactory in production and sonically pleasing in execution.
Deerhunter's Bradford Cox may have only been a twinkle in his mother's eye when Pylon released their debut single "Cool" almost exactly two years before his birth, but Cox's influence is evident in his music, which, most likely is a result of growing up in the very town that spawned Pylon. His take on "Cool" isn't too far off from the original, or at least his comfort and ease in relaying the impression that the song had on him isn't too far off.
"Calvinist", with the help of Sleigh Bell's Alexis Krauss, chose the track "Yo-Yo" which appeared over three years later than "Cool" on Pylon's 1983 LP Chomp More. Pylon was picking up speed at this point (but unfortunately heading towards a lack-luster career outro. The Calvinist version has a more modern minimalist indie dance feel to it. The vocals, like the vocals on the original track stand out as very strong and listenable.
My only complaints about this release are as follows: 1) I wish this was available as a 12" (and I'm sure I'm speaking on part of many people with that), and 2) I wish this single was more affordable (but the green-eyed industry is clearly to blame for that one, not the groups).
Wallace Laboratories of Cranbury, New Jersey brought us this 1964 oddity. This one sided 12" Lp features a "Luncheon Address at a symposium on Anxiety and a Decade of Tranquilizer Therapy" that was hosted at a New York Hilton Hotel on April 1st, 1964. A board of medical doctors can be heard discussing discoveries, hypothesis, and thoughts on the future of treating anxiety and depression by way of said tranquilizers.
"…a fleece-like fog of anxiety has enveloped a large segment of our population. To meet this condition, the last decade has witnessed a pharmacologic resolution. There has been a frontal attack on mental illness with a group of compounds of diverse chemical structure." - John C. Krantz Jr., Ph.D.
The discoveries seem to touch on minor tranquilizers of the time, such as Librium and Valium. These chemicals seemed to allow for ambulatory treatment, which meant patients could live his or her life normally while attacking mental illness. Although much of the research and findings of that time are now viewed as rudimentary and even archaic, it still beats a lobotomy.
Adventures in Negro History
 Pepsi-Cola Records HRP-101
Although the secondary market suggests very little interest exists for this particular record, I am completely intrigued by it. I found this at a local thrift shop in Fort Greene, Brooklyn for a buck and couldn't pass it up. If not for the nostalgic value of the spoken word content, or the Kathe Kollwitz style charcoal cover art, the plan and simple fact that the center label is a vintage Pepsi logo made my one dollar gamble a surefire bet.
I don't know much about what was going on in Belgium at the close of 1976, but I do know that an extremely unique sounding progressive psychedelic group who went by the name "Dragon" was finishing up their first self-titled album.
The seventies was a fantastic decade for prog rock, the early seventies being a notable time for some epic experimentation and creativity. Enough time had passed for groups to naturally follow the musicians of the U.K.'s lead and continuously top one another with each release. Whether Dragon's first LP is a contender in said race is debatable especially since they lean on the more psychedelic/fantasy side of the genre. Not to mention, King Crimson, Yes, and Soft Machine (to name a few) had already spent up to a decade perfecting their obsessive renditions of skillful progressive rock and by 1976 most prog around the world was already falling into the doomed clutches of the sappy sounds that the next (eighties) decade would bring. Even closer to home, Irish Coffee had a memorable progressive record in Belgium five years earlier than Dragon, in 1971 with Same. With that said, Dragon had some time to be heavily influenced. Regardless of what slot in time Dragon fit into, they did something interesting that seems to have held up since.
The album contains all the ingredients for an epic prog record: guitar, bass, drums, Hammond organ, Mellotron, and some vocals that seem a little too fitting.
The record was originally released on Acorn Records [1500 copies] and was reissued on Golden Pavilion Records [500 copies] last year but has since sold out.
Here's the opening track "Introduction (Insects)".
The phrase "snake oil" has come up a few times in conversation at the record shop lately. The term itself has quite a history, most notably by skeptics responding to the dubious claims of actual snake oil that was bottled generations ago in China to treat joint pain. At the shop, the context of the term has related to the audiophile world's vast array of high end stereo accessory upgrades including but not limited to: Interconnect cables, turntable styli, and hardware. Stumbling upon a record with the only printed text on it reading "Snake Oil", intrigued me enough to find out if the group had a legitimate thing going for it.
The Snake Oil layout is minimal and quite satisfying for some reason. A simple five-color rendition of a setting sun on a desert background can be found on the front cover, and a negative (featuring a white moon in place of the sun) can be found on the back. Inside,the black vinyl's center labels feature simply a blank yellow circle or blank white circle - the colors both corresponding to the front/back or side 1/side 2 respectively.
I decided to try this record out on my newly configured stereo set up (which I hesitate to describe in an effort to avoid a lengthy tangent) and I was pretty pleased with what I heard. Snake Oil continued their minimalist efforts by quickly revealing themselves to me as a psychedelic instrumental group. Although some of the tracks seem to become a bit meandering at times, the songs collectively entertained me and kept my attention for the entire album. The group has a new (and sometimes surfy) psychedelic feel, like Tristeza's A Colores, but a classically influenced Krautrock energy a la Xhol Caravan or Amon Düül. I'd recommend Snake Oil to any willing psychedelic music listener, but I can't guarantee it'll work for you.
Buy it HERE
R. Stevie Moore 2011 World Tour Dates
6.13.11 Providence, Soft Approach
6.14.11 Boston, Church
6.15.11 Philly, Johnny Brenda's
6.16.11 Baltimore, TBA
6.18.11 Pittsburgh , Modern Formations Gallery
6.19.11 Detroit ,The Magic Stick
6.20.11 Bloomington , The Bishop
6.22.11 Chicago , The Empty Bottle
6.23.11 Milwaukee , The Cactus Club
6.25.11 Minneapolis , 400 Bar
6.26.11 Blue Moose Taphouse
6.27.11 Kansas City , The Riot Room
6.30.11 Denton , Hailey's
7.1.11 Austin , Emo's Outside
7.2.11 Little Rock, AR - White Water Tavern
7.3.11 Memphis , Hi-Tone
7.5.11 Nashville , Exit/In
7.6.11 Athens , Farm225
7.7.11 Asheville , The Grey Eagle
7.8.11 Raleigh , King's Barcade
7.9.11 Greensboro, NC - The Blind Tiger
7.22.11 MIDI Festival, HyŽres, France
7.29.11 Creepy Teepee Festival, Prague
The Old Guard BBC Tapes 1983-1986
Alti Philosophi - Deutchland
Numbered 52 out of 500.
One of the more exciting unofficial Smiths releases. The sound quality is great, the track versions are interesting, and the layout is pretty neat (two color hand screen on gloss white 12" outer). The songs span the first three albums.
Where can I even start with this one? Paul Winter takes new age music to all new heights (or depths!) with his "musical sea journey" titled Callings. Paul rocks a Kenny G -style straight soprano saxophone (as pictured in wonderful airbrush on the album's cover). The Living Music website describes the record as follows: "A result of three years of research and expeditions by Paul Winter to observe, listen to, and occasionally play his saxophone with sea mammals, CALLINGS was inspired by the imaginary journey of a mythic sea lion pup. This is your friend's father's 1980's new age release that the family doesn't talk about.
When I hear the term "power pop", I generally think of the late seventies/early eighties version of what is retroactively called such. Although the style draws from 60's garage and popular rock, the actual definitive genre, to me, took place in the late seventies and into the eighties. Rock groups from this period can be obsessively categorized into a number of sub-genres, but again "power pop" to me, is a very specific sound.
Power pop has a new wave feel a lot of the time. You have groups like The Knack, The Romantics, and even The Jam, who took a garagey sixties sound, threw on some skinny ties, and whipped their drummers to perfection. The "pop" in "power pop" is what makes the genre so interesting. Many of the power pop groups of the early to mid eighties received little recognition despite their somewhat ironic failed efforts to become popularly known.
A couple years back, my friend and I bought out an entire basement of 45s from a then defunct record shop. We sifted through the central Jersey collection and found some real pieces of history. In this heap of some - several thousand records - we found a 45 by a group called "Gett Sett". The record was on a label called ULTRA RECORDS out of Edison, NJ. There are two tracks: A) "Without Care" and B) "Between Us". The songs remind me of a more square group of guys in their mid to late twenties, wearing sunglasses, and laughing about a business deal gone way too well over pricey cocktails. Regardless of who these guys were, or how much coke was involved, their licks are pretty impressive. This is 1985.
I'm pretty sure it was the summer of 1998 when I found myself in a situation where I was promoting a show for the Philadelphia one man sensation, Atom and His Package. A kid I went to high school with had recently made contact with me and asked if I was interested in helping with the show. I was an A&HP fan and I figured it would be a fun way to get involved, so I agreed to help. We rented out South Amboy NJ's then Club Bene, now Club Chrome. The place was enormous and the price was within reason for the capacity and sound capabilities of the venue so we went for it. We asked our friends in The Postage Era (a group I would join the following summer) to open the show, and we were contacted by a band called The Juliana Theory about their potential interest on the bill.
I was never a big Juliana Theory fan and leaned more in the direction of releases on the Tooth and Nail label such as Roadside Monument and other non-traditional releases that the Christian indie label offered at that time. Around this same time, I randomly received the JT cd from Tooth and Nail as a press list member for a small publication a few friends and I were working on. I thought the album was ok, maybe even a bit of a diet Get Up Kids attempt during a time when anything that remotely vibed on a Weezer feel was all the rage. We went ahead and booked the show, made a ton of flyers and the day of the show kids lined up and the turnout was a success.
The Postage Era sounded great, but I remember there being a mixed response from the audience (probably because it was a bit of a younger crowd chasing that more popular sound that the headlining acts would provide them with). Atom and His Package was entertaining and in very high spirits. Then there was the Juliana Theory.
I won't even go into the details of their cock-rocked performance, but rather leave you to imagine the show for yourself based on the guarantee list we received from their manager prior to the event. Keep in mind that no one knew these guys yet. This was pure rock stardom right out of the gate.
- $500 Cash
- A well-lit, lockable dressing room
- eight (8) gallons of room temperature (NOT chilled - important!) spring water
- eight (8) meals or $25 buyout per member
- A one hour sound check one hour before doors.