Thursday, December 31, 2009

I'm a Cult Hero

Cult Hero 45
"I'm a Cult Hero" b/w "I Dig You"
FICS 006
UK 1979

The West Sussex godfathers of dark wave goth rock, The Cure has been my favorite band since I was a young kid. Over the years I formed this rule with collecting their vinyl that basically forces me to find vinyl releases related to The Cure without the use of the internet (auctions, buying in general, etc). So as a testament to the actual obscurity of this record, I recently found and bought the first copy of I'm a Cult Hero I have seen in real life in over twenty years of noticing The Cure and The Cure-related releases.

The record consists of musicians Robert Smith (leads), Michael Dempsey (guitar), and Lawrence "Lol" Tolhurst (percussion).- three of the founding members of the proto-Cure project known as "the Obelisk" and later "(The) Easy Cure". Interestingly enough, Robert's sisters Margaret and Janet are also featured on the recording. Simon Gallup (future Cure bassist who would go on to be the most long-standing member of The Cure besides Smith) was playing in a band called Lockjaw at the time. He was asked to contribute bass to this record and the rest is history...

Besides the record being amazingly phenomenal and avant garde (in both composition and production), it has an entertaining piece of history behind it as well. The guys in The Cure had noticed that local Surrey postman Frank Bell constantly wore a shirt that read: "I'm a Cult Hero". The boys conjured up a plan and asked Frank to contribute vocals. What they ended up with was a very highly sought after piece of wax.

Record Mirror, October 27th 1979:
"Better than being an upstart, I suppose. The vivacious free form bass line is reminiscent of one of the other of Fiction's three signings, The Cure, and surprise surprise they provide Cult's backing. Apart from the somewhat repetitive title, this is one very engaging slice of vinyl.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

We Weren't There

I recently caught a good portion of You Weren't There, a new documentary touching on the Chicago punk scene of the late seventies to the early eighties. Although I spent most of the time shouting out opinions and phrases like "I have that record" during the viewing of the film, the guys in the room showing me the video happened to be my good friends - friends who have come to terms with my ADD outbursts.

The movie talked about a ton of really great energetic punk acts who played at a club known as "Oz". The punk scene was very tight and mostly positive [with the occasional (and sometimes historic) band member vs. band member dispute]. Each band's influence spawned a new group and ideas just exploded exponentially. That is, until Oz started catching heat for serving alcohol to underage kids.

This is a picture of the Busted A Oz Lp that was recorded March 9th, 10th, and 11th of 1981. This was as quickly as everyone could get together to document the chaotic Chicago scene once everyone was aware of its imminent doom. It came out on Autumn records in 1981 and includes live cuts from Naked Raygun, Strike Under, Subverts, Effigies, Da, and Silver Abuse. Cat # is A0-2.

A few beliefs I previously had were completely reinforced by this film. Most notably:

- Subverts shred
- Effigies are amazing
- Everything Jeff Pezzati has been a part of and is a part of is absolutely incredible
- Da is definitely a band that tuned into their own station at the time but ruled hard
- Steve Albini is a total trash-talking jerk but still a hero of mine
- Chicago breeds some spectacular musicians
- no matter how old punk rockers get, punk rock in itself is eternally youthful

When the doors finally closed, graffiti appeared on the outside of the building that read: "OZ LIVES AND RULES".

Monday, December 28, 2009

This is the Way - Stone Pony 12.26.09

Now here's a show that came out of left field for me. I got invited last minute, and I am sure glad I was. Detournement opened the show with a bang, and played even better than their amazing recorded sound suggested they might. See my review for them HERE

Blacklisted played next and although I hadn't heard much about them before the show, the band tore it up as well. Once they were off the stage, I started to notice the faces of three people I've only seen in pictures. Brian, Rob, and Ernie - all of Black Train Jack.

I was a young kid in the early/mid nineties when my cousin showed me a local skate video that included Black Train Jack's "Leapfrog". We followed them closely even though we weren't old enough to make it out to their shows. They sang about good times, being straightedge, girls...basically all the things we were into at the time. They were also a bit more listenable to us as 14 year old kids than a lot of the NY and NJ hardcore that was going on during that time (bands that we would end up getting hooked on only about a year later). Black Train Jack's manic rhythms and ingenious melodies were a breath of fresh air to me, and I never thought I'd have the chance to see them live.

The 20 Anniversary - "Bouncing Souls Home For The Holidays" event made this possible, and I must say that I was thrilled. Again, I was completely blown away by all the bands that played, and the BTJ reunion was a really positive experience that fit the bill perfectly. The show was packed tight, with wall-to-wall positive and friendly vibes. Congrats to the Souls for keeping it real for so long (and what an amazing idea to have a fan-picked set list!), and thanks to Chunksaah and all the fans who made this show happen. It was really something

"Put your hands up... this is a Bouncing Souls show, there's no tough guys here" - Rob, BTJ.

Black Train Jack "Leap Frog" and "No Reward" - Stone Pony 12.26.09

Black Train Jack "Handouts" from You're Not Alone 1994 Roadrunner Records

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Little Wonder, Big Noise

I was out doing some Xmas shopping this afternoon, and of course I found something (small) for myself. Jazz Baby on Little Wonder - a five and a half inch, one-sided shellac phonograph record with an orange and black label depicting a child conducting an orchestra.

The record was only a few bucks, and between the really attractive center label and the patent info on the back dating back to as early as 1901, I had to take her home.

I did a little research and found out a few really interesting things about this record. First and foremost, this record in particular is from 1921. It's one of the more rare releases on LW, but even the rarest of these small records don't fetch much of a return. There are two main reasons for this. 1) The grooves are crowded on the small record and therefore the sound quality and actual song length is compromised, and 2) Many of the artists featured on LW were also available on RCA or Columbia, or Edison - the main players in the record game at the time.

The story goes that Henry Waterson (then co-president of a larger music publishing company) had a pretty ingenious idea. At the time, many people were interested in owning tangible recorded music, but the prices were off the wall. A regular full length record was about a buck back then (which would be a price that hovered around twenty US dollars today). So Waterson decided he was going to offer a smaller version of what was on the market for prices horrendously cheaper than his competition. The results were epic - with sales counts in the millions. He decided to hit up all the local five and dime type shops such as S.H. Kress, S.S. Kresge, F.W. Woolworth and J.G. McCrory. He also made them available through larger sales catalogs such as Sears, Roebuck and CO. etc. Sears especially loved Waterson's idea because their whole marketing strategy was the same - to undercut the competition.

This was the first time that a record company stepped up to bat and offered something substantially cheaper. Victor had been doing compatibility battle with Columbia and Edison by making it difficult to play opposing company's media on each others' respective consoles (from patenting spindle hole sizes to producing stylus-specific phonographs), but no one had done an undercut of this proportion. It would change the way the the industry operated from there on out.

No. 1142 Jazz Baby Fox-Trot Dance Music Orchestra
Little Wonder Record Company Woolworth Building New York, N.Y.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


My long time friend Matt and I are happy to announce that the website for our record label PSYCHIC VOLT has opened today. Our plans are to continue working with friends and bands (both local and distant) whose music says something to us.

The grand opening of the Psychic Volt website features a limited green vinyl pressing of Sticks and Stones' debut 7", World To Be Saved, Song To Be Sung. First come first serve on this one time offer.


Side One:
1. Saved
2. Less Than Free [MP3]

Side Two:
3. Contempt
4. Reason To Care

Here's to good times, now and forever...

Soulful Sleptember

Thanks Luke/John

Sleptember Vol#1


Sleptemeber Vol#2


Monday, December 14, 2009

Human Switchboard Operator

This is a very exciting record with a really interesting story. I dug this hand-xeroxed cover and record out of a heap of vinyl in a dingy central New Jersey basement, and was surprised to see that somehow it had survived almost thirty years against the elements.

This is a live recording of the band [1981, limited to 1,000 copies] that sounds good enough as a live recording to pass off as a studio release of moderate to good sound quality. Imagine garage rock with keys and vocal attitude reminiscent of Johnny Thunders or Richard Hell. It's really catchy and fun, and almost shocking that the band never caught on the way that other early eighties groups attempting the same vibe did... that is, until you read about the controversial and ironic story behind the band's front man, singer and guitarist Bob Pfeifer.

Find out more HERE and be sure to read the comments below the article.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Jawbox "Savory" - Live on Jimmy Fallon [12.08.09]

Jawbox reunited last night on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to play one song, "savory" off of their 3rd release from 1994, For Your Own Special Sweetheart. The band has been defunct since '97 and this performance is said to be the only reunion show of the sort - singer J. Robbins has reported that there will be no tours, no shows, no nothing.

I was lucky enough to have a friend snag me a ticket to this one. A handful of my friends and I headed onto the set to witness the action first-hand. The live sound was ok - vocals were a little lost in the mix but the levels on both guitars were perfect. the bass was thundering, and the drums were blasting. There is even rehearsal footage available ( of "68" and ff-66" from earlier that day.

Jawbox was incredibly energetic and tight live. As a fan of many of the members' previous projects such as Rollkicker Laydown, Government Issue, Burning Airlines - to name a few, and as a fan of the vast and impressive list of albums that singer J. Robbins has produced, I took the opportunity to see him again and am glad I did.

Robbins shirt read: "FIGHT SMA Spinal Muscular Atrophy." Robbin's son Callum was diagnosed with the rare degenerative disorder, and some consider this appearance one of the shows in a string of benefits for Callum. Find out more about SMA HERE

Grab a copy of For Your Own Special Sweetheart, now on bassit Kim Coletta's own label, Desoto. It's back in their hands after a decade-long battle over rights and royalties with monster label Atlantic.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Screaming Response

Screaming Response 7" EP
2009 Chunksaah Records/Pirates Press Records

"Detournement" is a French term describing the action of an artist borrowing techniques and ideas from other artists and the popular culture and media, and creating a new and sometimes modernized version from the borrowed elements. Screaming Response clearly has its roots, but the work is fresh, and the composition complex.

The first track sounds like some of the better hardcore I remember going out to see in the mid-late nineties. Into the next track I start hearing all kinds of favorable influences in the band's sound. From melodic vocals reminiscent of a really good singing day for Duane Peters of U.S.Bombs, to early DC hardcore roots (Minor Threat, Void, Dag Nasty, etc), each song brought a new, positive memory out from my mind and re-presented it to me in a modern day fashion.

The list of influential greatness heard in every instrument on this record ranged from No Control era Bad Religion to the sounds of late 70's - early 80's British Reggae. This all sounds like a lot to fit onto eight tracks (which all hang around two minutes in length), but again, Detournement serve it up strong. A really original approach and presentation, and strong words about the state of the world and all those affected. The production and recording of this record is very good and perfectly fitting for their style and the feel.

Another interesting note is that the layout is nothing short of solid in design. From the simplicity and bold effectiveness of the intelligently presented liner notes to the textured and colored sandpaper covers, the record looks great inside and out. The sandpaper cover idea reminds me of a story relating to the album Return of Durutti Column by Factory records legends The Durutti Column [FACT 14]. The story with this sandpaper covered LP was that Tony Wilson at Factory Records tried to recruit as many hands to help glue sandpaper covers to the album. The guys in Joy Division needed some cash, so they took the job. Ian Curtis apparently needed the money the most (for cigarettes) and ended up gluing most of the covers while the rest of the band watched a porn and got wasted. Not sure what the idea or the story of the production behind or the origin of the Detournement 7" cover was, but it was a radical move nonetheless.

In short, it's a badass thrashy melodic hardcore punk record that you probably need.

Featuring members of Worthless United, Lifetime, Bigwig, Ensign, and Plan A Project.

Download Album HERE
Listen to their songs HERE

Up All Night

Six Cents and Natalie 7"
when punk fell to earth
1995 Rubber Goldfish Records

When I first picked this record up I figured it had to be a late 90's emo or post hardcore record. Something about the cover screamed Mineral's February 7" or any other record cover with similar features from that time period for that matter. What I read when I flipped the cover over is what made me commit to a purchase.

"Recorded entirely in my bedroom on my 1987 JVC cassette deck. All songs by Six Cents except: "living on video" by Trans X. Guitar by Gary. Special thanks to Stanley"

I also noted the label's location, (Lawernceville, NJ), and the band's Seattle address. Seattle has a great history of low-fi early indie so could put my trust in that as well.

The record is fantastic. It includes five tracks which all seem to have been done on a Casio SK1 or very similar 80's synth. The songs are really catchy and listenable and the singer, Sean Tollefson (later of Tullycraft) has a similar voice to that of Joe Jack Talcum of The Dead Milkmen - maybe if Joe Jack was doing slower, more serious tunes, alone... with a keyboard.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Polskie Nagrania

Found this one by Polish prog/rock/glam group "General". They were apparently a big deal.

"In the summer of 1972, for the very first time before television cameras in Budapest, appeared 3 girls and 5 boys; ever since they have remained the focus of attention within the spell-bound studios of the world".

"W Lecie 1972 roku przed kamerami telewizyjnymi w Budapeszcie stanely po raz pierwszy trzy dziewczeta i pieciu chlopcow i na dobra sprawe do dzisiejszego dnia nie wyszli z zaczaro wanego swiate stuidiow."

The record is pretty average. Sounds like a Zeppelin attempt with some Rush progression bites and and anything else they could lift from budget 1970's rock that your nerdy older brother probably liked.