Otherwise Unavailable

The best songs you'll never see anywhere else. ALL MP3S ARE NOW UP PERMANENTLY!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Last post ever

This is the end of this blog. I have nothing else to offer after today.
It's been a blast.
I'm pretty proud of this thing, so check out all of the old posts, you'll probably find at least one new thing you love, and there aren't that many to go through.
in case you're wondering,
I make music too.
Here's one unreleased song from most of the bands I've been in. Each sounds completely different than the last, so if you don't like one, keep trying. I bet you'll find something you like:
The Best Thing Ever - Stop Waiting for Death (You're Not Dead Yet) - Cool never got off the ground, but the plan was to play exclusively at lounges, and berate the audience the whole time. This is the only thing we finished writing before the band imploded last year. Jen Page on cello, Alex Billig on electric guitar, me on vocals. Then we reunited for The Best Thing Ever's Bathroom Tour
Trillion Dollar Trio - Sandbox. This is a Hubcap City song, Bill Taft (from Hubcap City) on guitar and vocals, and me and Sam Whigham on electric guitars (though I can't hear Sam's playing at all on this one). Recorded in Bill Taft's basement sometime around 2002. This is now released on Hubcap Pretty's CD.
iTunes - I Am Glad You're Here (live at Norcross Tavern, Norcross, GA, 12/2004)
That's me on drums and vocals, and Reid Hitt (of Suckling Pigs and Neon Vomit) on Casio keyboard. We changed our name from The Internet Service to iTunes right after this show. I wrote the lyrics while we were waiting for the open mic to start, and we made up the music on the spot. I'd played drums exactly once before, never live. During our next song, the M.C. took the batteries out of my tape recorder because I made a joke about the radio station sponsoring the open mic. We've never released anything.
Girls 6 and Under - The Legend of Timmy O'Toole
Here is a nu-metal band I sang in in high school (although nu-metal wasn't a term at the time). This is the only song we ever recorded, in a really nice studio. I won't claim it's great, but it's interesting in the context of the rest of these. Parker Gispert (drums, currently of The Whigs) and Luke Sebel (bass) wrote the song. Hamilton Jordan, Jr. (currently of Genghis Tron) played guitar.

Thanks for reading.
Check out My Label if you want more music. Bye.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

I can't believe I'm the only one who recorded this

I was going to post my bootleg of Mount Eerie from 5-27-03, in Cambridge, MA, but then I find out that the one guy I sent a copy to has done the good deed of spreading it around already. Instead, here's Phil's performance with his wife (Genevieve aka WOELV) and Jason Wall, at What-the-Heck Fest 2004. The rhythm instruments you hear are basketballs that Phil passed to the crowd before the performance. Those of us who didn't get a basketball clapped on the opposite beat. I cut out all of the talking in between songs. In between "Surrender" and "Voice in Headphones" I had to turn the tape over. And, the recording starts late because I was busy making out with a girl outside. Here's the whole thing in one big zip file

1. Fuck the World
2. The End of the World?
3. With My Hands Out
4. Who?
5. There's No Shadow
6. Surrender
7. Voice in Headphones
8. Do Not Be Afraid

Fans, I need help with the set order! Comment if you know anything. Also I'm not sure about the title of track 2.
Once again, this will soon be available on is hosted by The Mount Eerie Preservation Society

P.W. Elverum and Sun

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Stab Harder

Formed by four college students who bonded over their mutual loves of metal, hardcore, and punk, Talk Hard (named for the catchphrase from Pump Up The Volume) formed in 2003. Since then, they've played around 20 shows. They were all drunk for almost all of them. One of the things that set them apart was their bassist never actually playing his bass (sometimes it wasn't turned on, sometimes it wasn't plugged in, sometimes it was on a volume of 2). But that couldn't be all. Talk Hard also recorded some of the angriest, fastest music ever made by four (three, really) guys playing live instruments.
As you might guess, this meant that the sound quality at their shows ranged from bad to atrocious. So, here is a really, really, otherwise unavailable song. This is from their forthcoming LP, White Flag:
Intelligent Design
After I first heard this, I listened to it about 15 times in a row.

Check out their other 7"s:
Their official page
Don Giovanni Records

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Finally, someone you've heard of

On May 25, 2003, Mount Eerie played in Providence, RI, with Karl Blau, D+, and at least one other band who I can't remember. Phil played most of the set by himself, but Karl backed him up for a few songs. It was phenomenally beautiful. Here is the entire show (minus some talking, and when we sang Phil happy birthday), recorded on my handheld tape recorder:

1. A Show of Hands
2. Woolly Mammoth's Mighty Absence
3. As Good As it Got
4. The Boom
5. I Have Been Told That My Skin is Exceptionally Smooth
6. Mt Eerie (vocals by Phil and Karl)
7. Moon Sequel
8. Moon, I Already Know
9. I Whale
10. Say "Goodbye" and "No"
11. I Felt Your Shape
12. Karl Blau song (vocals by Karl)
13. When Am I Going to Make a Living (Sade cover, vocals by Phil and Karl)
14. Voice in Headphones
15. Two Blonde Braids
16. Thanksgiving
17. I Say "No"

I have given permission to Archive.org to host this show now. So, if you see it there, don't worry, they got it from me. More Mt Eerie bootlegs coming later this week.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Can I be your bride?

Grace Braun has been making music around Atlanta under the name D.Q.E. (short for Dairy Queen Empire) for something like 20 years. Though DQE has gone through several lineups, Grace's husband, Dugan Trodglen, shows up in most of them.
As for the music, think of a perpetually middle-aged southern woman, yelling like a cheerleader as she plays either acoustic punk or quiet ballads on her guitar. Sometimes she drums on the stove with pencils. Other times she has a full band. And, in this case, Dugan plays washboard. Here is yet another track from Radio Oddyssey 2: The Georgia Music Show, live performances on WRAS 88.5 FM, which also gave us "Hamlet" by Smoke, and "Black Ice" by Rock*A*Teens.

Mermaid and the Sailor

There is an inferior recording of this song on Braun's first solo album, It Won't Hurt, available here. More on DQE at Dark Beloved Cloud.

Friday, March 17, 2006

JODY GRIND (Kick Me, actually) REUNION!

Those of you into The Jody Grind might be interested in these tracks. Last Thanksgiving, in Atlanta, at a tribute to Deacon Lunchbox, Bill Taft and Kelly Hogan played a short set together, for the first time in 11 years (when Kick Me broke up.) Will Fratesi of Hubcap City backed them up on drums, replacing the late Allen Page, and a few people showed up to help out occasionally. Though they didn't play any Jody Grind material (it's mostly Kelly's solo songs and covers, with a NEW song they wrote together), it was still great to see them play together again. Bill had to end all of his songs with feedback, which didn't make any sense in the context of The Jody Grind, but he has a thing for it, and Kelly decided to imitate Bill's cornet playing with her hand and mouth (as well as doing his infamous high kicks during segues). Here is their entire set:

Speedfreak Lullaby (Greasetrap cover)
Sugar Bowl
Blue Magic (Jack Pendarvis cover)
Steeplejack (NEW SONG)
Drunkard's Blues

thanks to Kelly Hogan for additional info

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Don't you mean John Lennon?

"In the Spring of 1997, The Umpteens, a little known rock group from Boston, broke up during a performance at a local university."
That quote is from Donlennon.com. That is all of the information you can find on The Umpteens, except that they went to Boston University, none of their records are available anymore, and that their frontman went on to perform solo under the name Don Lennon.
There's a really detailed article on Don Lennon here
It says that the music's not as good as The Umpteens, but neglects to mention that Don Lennon is still fantastic. He was still finding his voice on his first couple records, but his new one, Routine, is one of the best records of last year.
Here's the first and last songs of a entire bootleg I recorded last year at The Milky Way in Boston:
1. Really Dave Matthews
2. Gay Fun
3. Trust Fund
4. My Debut Album
5. Last Comic Standing
6.My Favorite Rock Group
7.Party All The Time
8. Lenny Kravitz
9. Dance Music

Don Lennon's official site

Many of these sound completely different on the albums, because Don's voice changed drastically between his early albums and the show. I like the live versions better. Anyway, go buy Routine

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I don't actually know what this CD is called

Sometime in 2004, I was looking through a Boston radio station's "please take this crap" bin and found a CD that appeared to be released under the name The Uptown Club. I say "appeared" because the cover looks like this:

Is the name of this band The Uptown Club, as is written on the side of the package? Or is it Matt Bryan, who, according to the insert, wrote most and performed all of the songs? And, if it is by Matt Bryan, is the name of the album The Uptown Club or Admission?
I still have no clue as to the answers to these questions.
On top of that, I have no idea who this guy is, other than that the mailing address for this CD is in New York City, and that it was released on Tanager Records.
That said, the music is some of the weirdest pop I have ever heard.
The first thing you think of upon hearing this CD's synth-based pop is Stephin Merritt. And I mean that as a huge compliment, in fact, the only one this CD is getting. Because then the vocals come in.
Matt Bryan's voice is just totally unappealing. Homeless drunk unappealing. And it sings some truly atrocious lyrics on this record, things like "looking forward to getting behind, in P.S. 69." But the worst part of that is that it comes during what seems to be an attempt at an aggressive rock song. Sadly for Matt Bryan, this attempt works even less well than Journey's.
The reason I keep coming back to this CD, though (and the reason you're reading about it now), is that it has some near-hits mixed in with its complete misses.

The Light of the Moon
The Witness
are the best examples of this. You want to love them, but you can't, then you want to hate them, but you can't quite do that either. I have probably never been this on-the-fence about a record.

On the other hand, there is no doubt in my mind that
Gun Moll
Fire the Queen of England!
are laughably horrendous.

If, for some weird reason, you want more of this stuff, I have no clue what to tell you, except to email tanagerstuff@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Not the "Woo Hoo," band, a different one

Some time after The Opal Foxx Quartet broke up, their young guitarist Chris Lopez formed his own band, The Rock*A*Teens. That site pretty much sums them up, so I'll keep this short.
Musically, they are actually a rock band (I know, I never post rock bands, mostly because I hate them), but there's something special about The Rock*A*Teens, and it's not just that The Jody Grind's Kelly Hogan used to play guitar and do backing vocals for them. It's probably their combination of absurdly catchy garage riffs, straightforward, pounding drums, and Lopez's cracked yell, that, more often than not, come together to make some of the best never-were hits this side of White Light/White Heat.

Today, you get one song, from the same out of print radio station CD that gave you Smoke's "Hamlet" a few weeks ago:
Black Ice (live on WRAS)

On new year's eve, 2003(?), The Rock*A*Teens played their last show. Chris Lopez has a new record out under the name Tenement Halls, and has put together a band to support him, whenever he decides to tour next.
Between them, Amazon and Merge still sell all of The Rock*A*Teens' CDs.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Last year, I was at a Boston thrift store and noticed a pile of tapes. I can't remember what I was looking for, but I didn't end up finding it. Instead, I came home with

The left side is labeled "Giorgi - A Survivor's Tape"
and the back says it came out on Guardian Angel Records.
"A Survivor's Tape" is typed out on the label stuck to the storebought Scotch tape this was released on.
Besides a track listing, that's all the information given.
The first thing you hear, after the tape starts, is a ringing phone, followed by Giorgi leaving a message for her guardian angel. Then the organ and vocals hymn "Guardian Angel" starts. The closest comparisons to Giorgi's voice are Jean Smith (from Mecca Normal), Patti Smith, and the Atlanta songwriter Tracy Snow (AKA Cake AKA Tracy Terrell). If you don't like any of them, you're not going to like this, either. Actually, I probably don't even need to mention that, because, odds are, you're not going to like this no matter what.

Phone Message Intro
1. Guardian Angel
2. Trouble
3. Whohundalayla
4. The Poor Little Girl (Why)
5. Feel so Alive
6. Oooooah Walla Hey Harday
7. Now in Your Life
8. So in Sane
Hidden Track/Happy Trails

Notice the incredibly creepy shift on the hidden track from "Giorgi"'s speaking voice to her reverb-y singing!

The reverb-drenched vocals, combined with the plethora of slowly played new agey instruments (acoustic guitar, synth, electronic drums, electric guitar used only for solos, and various unidentifiable hippie sounds), makes me think this was released in the late 80's. The title, song topics, and "Help others find a safe space by supporting this project. Please do not duplicate" message printed on the back make me think this was probably made by some kind of women's shelter organization that has long forgotten this tape's existence. If you know any more about this, please tell me. Otherwise, this is getting duplicated.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Just a few years later they would have been huge

In the early 90's, Atlantans Bill Taft (guitar; see previous entries for more info on him), Kelly Hogan (vocals), and Walter Brewer (drums) formed The Jody Grind. Instead of following the popular styles of the day (or moving forwards), they decided to go backwards and follow the popular styles of 50 years earlier. Their first record, One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure, includes versions of Burt Bacharach's "Wishin and Hopin," Henry Mancini's "Peter Gunn," Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo," The Gershwins' "It Ain't Necessarily So," and Frank Sinatra's "I'm a Fool To Want You." There are a ton of albums like that out there, though, right?
Because The Jody Grind actually pull it off. Kelly's amazing voice is definitely the center of The Jody Grind. I would rate it right up there with Billie Holiday or Nina Simone. The band, though incredibly talented, pretty much just follow her, occasionally making something beautiful like Taft's restrained guitar work on "Blue and Far."
Not long after their next record, Lefty's Deceiver, came out, new drummer Robert Clayton and bassist Robert Hayes died in the same car accident that killed Deacon Lunchbox (who is sampled on One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure)
Hogan and Taft went on to form Kick Me before Hogan left to go solo and Taft started playing full-time in Smoke.
Here are some original tracks from their long out of print first CD:
Eight Ball
Blue and Far

And most importantly, some previously unreleased live tracks:
Don Gato (children's song
Lola Marie (Sung by Bill Taft)

I'm tired so this will be short

Dame Dulce (don't worry, their songs are all in English) are on KNW-YR-OWN records. They are technically a husband/wife duo, but at What-The-Heck Fest (see earlier posts for more info on that) 2003, they performed with four others backing them up. They were supporting their first album, The Sun Comes Into the Kitchen (which is fantastic), but this song was not on it and probably has never appeared anywhere but my computer.
Oh and as far as what they sound like, Andrew's off-key, cracking vocals are either a love or hate thing, while their guitar-driven sound has some minor similarity to pre-2004 Modest Mouse.

Dame Dulce - Cold Canadian Air (live)

EDIT: Thanks to Alex for commenting! Apparently this song has been re-recorded, though this version is still Otherwise Unavailable (tm). Check Dame Dulce's Myspace

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I'm a bad boy

Jet J should be a Boston legend. I first found him in late 2001 at Club Passim, in Harvard Square, playing at an open mic. Actually, that's the only place I ever found him. Looking somewhere around 50 and clearly not rich, he explained that he was from Bermuda, but lived around Boston now. Then he played "The Way it Go," a Bermuda-influenced song so good it HAD to be a cover. I think I asked him afterwards if it was a Sugarhill Gang song and he corrected me, "no no that's an original."
I was shocked that he wasn't famous yet.
The only way to describe his guitar-playing is that it flows. Like a great soul guitarist, with some 60's pop thrown in, he creates a reggae-like groove with two chords and some syncopated riffs over them, that just captivates the audience. But his guitar is only half of it. His vocal call-and-response can only be compared to the old school hip-hop of the Sugarhill Gang, but the two are still completely different.
Can you tell that I don't know how to describe his music? That's because it's totally original. Maybe the best description came from the emcee of the open mic one night, "Every time Jet J plays, I feel like I need a colorful drink with an umbrella in it."
Once again, that sounds terrible out of context. I'm not so good at this describing stuff, so I'll cut it short.
Sadly, I didn't record "The Way it Go" at that first performance, but, the next time I went, I brought my tape recorder and recorded him performing the almost-as-good, "Bad Boy."
Then I did some exhaustive research and found a webcast of a radio show he played live on. I am totally unable to find that show now, so it's probably safe to post all three songs he played on it. The female DJ decided to do backing vocals on "Who Are They?" but even she can't ruin that great song.

The Way it Go (definitely download this one first)
Who Are They
One Fine Day

And, from my live bootleg,

Bad Boy

It looks like Jet J has either moved or quit playing music. Or died. Who knows, but the last thing I can find about him online is from 2003. Also, I'm not entirely sure if his name is spelled J or Jay, but the few websites there are refer to him as Jet J, so I'll go with that. If you have any information on Jet J, please comment.

Where I dreamed my dreams

You all know Jonathan Richman, no history necessary.
Here's a beautiful live recording I made of his show at The Earl, in Atlanta, last year. This was the last song he played, and it was a request from some woman in the audience. Sort of weird, considering that The Fenway is in my other home, Boston.

The Fenway

Sunday, March 05, 2006

"This song is by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN!"

Paul Baribeau is one of the best songwriters (famous or otherwise) of our generation. His lone record, on Plan-It-X, is filled with incredibly catchy, sad, passionate songs performed using just his shouty voice and fast acoustic guitar.
This winter, he's been on a national tour with Ginger (from fellow Plan-It-X band One Reason), where they just perform Bruce Springsteen covers with voices and acoustics. Neither of them plays any original material.
The tour is called the Darkness on the Edge of Town tour, and they made a CD-R of Springsteen covers to sell during it.
This bootleg is from their Boston show, about two weeks ago, which took place in a kitchen filled with drunk college students. Most of the songs they played aren't on the CD-R, and the CD-R is only available on the tour, anyway.

Bobby Jean
Atlantic City
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
Born in the U.S.A.
I'm on Fire
The River
Hungry Heart
Pink Cadillac
State Trooper
The Ties that Bind
Thunder Road

I didn't include the several minutes of Paul changing his broken guitar string before "Dancing in the Dark." Otherwise this is their full set, complete with obnoxious commentary from the audience.

Paul's Myspace
Tour's Myspace
One Reason's Myspace

Oh and it turns out the tour just ended yesterday!
Paul will be on tour again in a few months.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The strangest CD I have ever heard.

A few years ago I was looking through the free bin at In Your Ear Records in Boston. I found a CD in a white cardboard sleeve with the word WAAH! written in marker on it. In the very center was a photocopied newspaper article titled "Youngstown Stations To Follow Same Plan" that explained how all entertainment was cancelled so that radio and TV stations could cover the JFK funeral. In the lower right corner was written, in marker, "397/1000." The actual CD looks like this:

That is literally of the information I have on this CD. There was no tracklist, or any other information on the sleeve.
Intrigued, I took it home. This is what I found (All songs in English unless otherwise specified):

Track 1 - 14 minutes of saxophone-heavy free jazz.
Track 2 - a bad quality recording of what sounds like a cover of Tiny Tim's "Down Virginia Way," performed on electric guitar and drum, with Al Jolson-style vocals probably done through a distant megaphone. EDIT: This is the band Milk, recorded live. Thanks for the info, Denny.
Track 3 - A lo-fi recording of a 60's style experimental/pop song in some language that I am not familiar with. The chorus involves chanting the word alcohol a lot.
Track 4 - Straightforward live recording of the Henry Glover and Morris Levy song, "California Sun," made popular by The Ramones.
Track 5 - A slinky guitar riff, with a lot of whammy bar on it, with arhythmic male vocals in Japanese, and some catchy drumming.
Track 6 - Lo-fi recording of "Jaguar Ride" by the Electric Eels. Singer has some kind of unidentifiable accent.
Track 7 - Great, catchy, 60's influenced garage song, about how "it's too late to make the golden gate"
Track 8 - Live cover of Alice Cooper's "Flush the Fashion", with organs and lots of electric guitar
Track 9 - Live recording that starts with a harmonica riff, then leaves the harmonica completely behind, following it with some arhythmic, Raincoats style drumming, singing in another Eastern language I am unfamiliar with, poorly timed rhythm guitar, and some very complex lead guitar, all punctuated every couple seconds with what sounds like a bike horn.
Track 10 - Better quality (still lo-fi) recording of a Jonathan Richman-ish singer, doing a 6 minute rock song that could almost be The Misfits if they were half as fast.
Track 11 - 11 minute lo-fi "Sister Ray" type song, with Mark E. Smith-influenced vocals, again in a language I can't identify.
Track 12 - Lo-fi recording of the excellent Denny Carleton (of The Lost Souls, The Choir, Moses, Milk, The Pagans, and the Fa band) pop song, "Alice," performed by a 60's garage band.
Track 13 - Live recording of 6 minutes of monotonous midtempo rock, with a sizable amount of yelling in another language.
Track 14 - Radio ad for The Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat, describing "The Gift," including a portion of the actual vocals.

If anyone knows what the hell this album is, please comment. My guess is it's a Japanese comp., recorded sometime in the late 70's, that someone reissued on CD.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

"Dedicated to Bob Dylan, Our Biggest Fan"

In Atlanta during the 1980's, Bill Taft (later of Hubcap City and Smoke) sang and played guitar for The Chowder Shouters with John Thomas and Eric Kaiser. They released one 6 song EP on vinyl. Then John Thomas moved to Chicago, and Bill joined the Opal Foxx Quartet.
Very clearly the precursor to the noisy celebration of Hubcap City, The Chowder Shouters banged on what could be a drum, suitcase, or the floor, while Bill played some blues-influenced guitar riffs and yelled about whatever odd topics he could. And they recorded the most raucous version of "Amazing Grace" I've ever heard.

This recording was taken from a CD that was probably made directly from the original vinyl. I am not sure if the original recording distorted like this one does, but it's the best I've got. I received no tracklist, so I'm guessing at the song titles here ("Little Wing" is NOT the Hendrix song).

1. Weather Report
2. Little Wing
3. Amazing Grace
4. Tax Fraud
5. The Arkansas Side
6. The Old Tar River

For more on Bill Taft, read my first and second posts.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

No, not the Drowningman album

How They Light Cigarettes in Prison is one guy. He goes by the name Nick Cigs. He is probably the second a cappella hardcore band. One important difference between him and Jud Jud, though, is that Nick just does the vocals for his original hardcore songs, with no "doo doo dat doo doo dat" in between. Another important difference is that Nick's songs are serious, floorpunching singalongs that will get you uncontrollably singing along. Although not technically retired, he has not played a show in two years, as he's been focusing on his "real" band, The Taste of Silver. But, when he actually played, usually at hardcore shows in basements or clubs, Nick would scream himself raw, holding either an unplugged or imaginary microphone, while most onlookers either fell in love or were completely confused.
How They Light Cigarettes in Prison released exactly one demo, which was once available for about $1 from Teenage Disco Bloodbath Records, who have, apparently, since disowned the tape.
Luckily for you, this bootleg is better than that tape. Recorded 11/23/03, in the stairwell going down to Kenmore subway station, in Boston, MA, Nick was opening for The Best Thing Ever. After a long speech, he sang these songs, with a little help from the audience:

Where Things Begin to Count
The Oxidation of Joan of Arc
Safety in Numbers
Untitled XLV

The Taste of Silver (Nick just plays guitar and doesn't sing)

"There's drug-sniffing dogs at Dollywood, my vacation plans are ruined!"

From the mid 80's until he was killed by a drunk driver in 1992, Deacon Lunchbox was Atlanta's only redneck hippy poet, punctuating each line of his poems by banging on an old torpedo casing with a hammer. Although technically a poet, if his shouting voice weren't so completely nonmusical, he surely would have fronted a band. Sometimes, he collaborated with Slim Chance and the Convicts or the Opal Foxx Quartet, but he usually did his performances alone, either at a music club or a bookstore. His surprisingly literary poetry often talked about drugs, sex, and life in the south, usually all in the same poem. Lyrically, I'd say his closest comparisons are The Silver Jews's David Berman and Charles Bukowski, but his style really is too unique for that sort of thing. I don't recommend listening to this as background noise; in fact, that's probably impossible. These are recordings you have to pay close attention to, and they're definitely best in small doses, but I dare you to get "Omni Beer" out of your head.

My Vacations Plans are Ruined
Omni Beer
Nadine and Tony
Death of an Amway Salesman

All of these are from Deacon's limited out of print CD, Rantin and Railin.
The Omni was the name of Atlanta's sports arena while Deacon was alive.

Site with some audio and lyrics
Slim Chance's memories of Deacon

Sunday, February 26, 2006

More like Suckswolf

Yeah. You know Will Oldham. If you don't, you're out of luck, because I'm not going to explain him here. Last year, his new band, Superwolf, played at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. I hate Superwolf, but I love Will Oldham. So I went. The show was terrible, even during non-Superwolf songs, because of the Superwolf-style arrangements, except for about 3 magical minutes that made the whole thing completely worthwhile:

Happy in the Prison

Turns out it's a Carter Family cover. I'm not going to post the original on here. You can find that elsewhere.
My tape recorder was slightly low on batteries at this point, so the speed is a little uncertain for a few seconds here and there. This is a bad replacement for actually being at the show, I know, but it's the best you'll ever find.

Official site

Friday, February 24, 2006

Pounding Serfs-related, courtesy of Phil Elverum

At the second annual What-the-Heck Fest, in 2003, my dad and I were curious about an unknown group listed in the brochure. They called themselves Buckets of Blood.
"A name like that is pretty out of place at this hippie festival," I said.
Even more confusing was when we saw Phil Elverum lugging an amp to the park, right before Buckets of Blood's set was scheduled to start.
"Looks like Phil's a roadie now, too," my dad joked.
We were pleasantly shocked when Phil walked up to the mic and plugged his electric into the amp, as Karl Blau sat down behind the drum kit, and Dave Matthies and some other guy joined them onstage. Not that it was actually a stage, more the area in front of the gazebo in the park.
They immediately tore into the song they stole their name from, a true grunge song with enough of the Pounding Serfs in it to make it stand out from that Candlebox (or even Mudhoney) shit you remember. Afterwards, Phil said, "That song was by Gravel. This next song is by Gravel." They played a total of four Gravel songs, with Phil saying almost exactly the same thing in between each, then left the park. I am pretty sure that was their only performance. Here is their entire set:

Bucket of Blood
Long Ride
Stone Yard
Sand in My Eye

Who is Gravel, you ask?
Gravel were one of Phil's favorite bands while growing up. Formed in 1990 in Anacortes, WA by Bryan Elliott and Dale Robinson (of Pounding Serfs), and Bobby Vaux and Rich Papritz, they released two full length records, some 7" singles, and one E.P. before breaking up. Their full-lengths are both out of print, though you can find them on Ebay or Amazon's stores section. Bryan and Bobby are now in BURL, who've just released a record (with drumming by Phil Elvrum's dad, Flip) on KNW-YR-OWN. I have no idea what happened to Dale or Rich.

Buy a Gravel single here
Buy BURL's album

I'd like to thank Said the Gramophone for mentioning this blog on their site, http://www.saidthegramophone.com
The best writing about music that I've ever seen, with some really great songs by bands I've never heard of.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

We're Slightly Salted, but we don't care!

There is almost no information anywhere on the Pounding Serfs. I'll tell you literally everything I know. In 1989, K Records put out its fourth release, the self-titled album by Pounding Serfs, produced by Calvin Johnson. Pounding Serfs were formed in the beautiful ocean town of Anacortes, WA, by Jonn Lunsford, Bryan Elliott, Dale Robinson, and Frank Barcott. Jonn Lunsford is the brother of Bret Lunsford, guitarist for Beat Happening and D+. You can definitely hear the kinship between the two's guitar style, very simple, catchy, and with no ear-bleeding guitar solos. At some point, the Pounding Serfs broke up, with members going on to form Gravel, The Crabs, and several other bands that I have never heard of.
Around 1990, a very young Phil Elverum (of The Microphones, Mount Eerie, and D+), saw the Pounding Serfs play in his backyard and fell in love. For years, he had planned to rerelease their out of print lone album on his own label. It looks like he has completely given up on that dream.
In July 2002, Pounding Serfs played a reunion show, at the first annual What-the-Heck-Fest, in Anacortes, WA. I think they also played one of the members' weddings since then. That's it.
As for the music, it's what happens when you grow up in one of the most beautiful places in the world, surrounded by the happiest people in the world, but during the heyday of punk and hardcore. No, it's neither of those things, rather, the Pounding Serfs have the pep of punk, but with the anger replaced by the childlike love of life that you find on Beat Happening or John Denver records. It took me years after seeing them that one time to track down a copy of their record. So here are 3 tracks is the whole album, because I love you so much:

Calling Colleen
Let Go
Slightly Salted
All Day Long
Spend Some Time
No Big Story
She Drove By
Big Foot
Gravel Road Girl
To Go Nowhere

Frowny Face Empire is better than you

Between 2002 and 2003, three Westchester, NY high school students, Kate Ferencz (vocals and guitar), Alana Fitzgerald (vocals and bass), and Greg (drum loops and other synthesized beats) performed and recorded one demo as Frowny Face Empire. They grew up on The Cure and other brit-pop, which meant that they learned to sing by singing along to records of bands with British accents. This rubbed off on them so much that Kate and Alana ended up only knowing how to sing like their heroes... with British accents. They claim to have been trying to sound like The Cure but they ended up sounding like a younger, much less serious Le Tigre. Here is the demo, their complete recorded discography, in its entirety. It has never been released except at their shows. Try not to dance while listening to this; I dare you.

Kill Smarterchild
Axemen (Heavens to Betsy cover)

Smarterchild is an AIM-bot, that answers questions automatically.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Now for my OTHER favorite band

So you listened to Hubcap City (from Belgium) yesterday and are wondering "Where can I get more of Bill Taft's amazing music?"
As long as you don't mind getting a completely different side of him, you're in luck.
My all-time favorite band, Smoke, came from the ashes (get it?) of the local Atlanta band, the Opal Foxx Quartet.
Originally consisting of Benjamin on vocals, Brian Halloran on cello, and Todd Butler on guitar, Smoke almost immediately grew to include Bill Taft on cornet and banjo, and Tim Campion on drums. Coleman Lewis soon replaced Todd Butler on guitar, and this lineup recorded the two greatest full-length records of all time.
"But what do they sound like?"
To quote CMJ, "That Smoke's most obvious reference point is Tom Waits is both complimentary and misleading."
Yes, Benjamin sings "with a throat smooth as a lamb, yet dry as a branch not snapping" (Patti Smith, "Death Singing"), but, unlike Tom, it's not an act. After years of smoking (cigarettes and pot), Benjamin couldn't sing a polished note if his life depended on it, while Tom Waits' voice alternates between a forced growl and a clean, if slightly tired, croon. More important than his voice's overall roughness, Benjamin's inflection combines the perfect amounts of drama queen and genuine exhaustion. This is definitely music to sit to.
But, although Benjamin's voice is their best attribute, every other element of the band nearly equals its beauty. Bill's restraint with the cornet matches the best jazz musicians', who know that sitting out for two minutes at a time only makes it all the more powerful when you finally come in and blow everything away, and Bill blows literally everyone away, every time.
Brian's gorgeous cello, in the place where most rock bands would insert a bass, sucks all of the stress right out of your shoulders, leaving you keeled over, not like you just got punched in the stomach, but like you finally learned to stop fighting against gravity and be content with your place on this planet.
And Coleman, who could clearly outsolo Stevie Ray or any of those other assholes, holds back so much that one barely notices the electric guitar, even as he plays his spiderlike combination of rhythm and lead.
Then there's Tim's drumming, that Benjamin initially thought would ruin everything, coming in at all the right times to make you really feel the helplessness of Benjamin's characters.
And those lyrics! Benjamin's style is probably completely unique in the history of music. Combining the wordplay of Stephin Merritt (no this isn't pop) with the internal rhyme and flow of Snoop Dogg (this definitely isn't hip hop) and the tales of pain of Nina Simone (probably Smoke's closest comparison, but, still, on the surface, Smoke sounds nothing like her), these are lyrics you can either mindlessly sing along to, or pay attention to and be occasionally moved to tears.
Today, you get their first release, 1992's "Dog," featuring the lineup of Benjamin, Bill, Todd, and Brian, and their last, 1997's "Hamlet," featuring the full band, before Tim Campion quit to be replaced by Will Fratesi. These were both only released on local Atlanta compilations that are long out of print. Also, just because, I've added "Old Joe Clark" from another out of print compilation.

Old Joe Clark

"Haven't I heard this band somewhere?"
Maybe you saw the 2000 Jem Cohen and Pete Sillen film Benjamin Smoke. Though focused on Benjamin, it includes plenty of footage of the band playing, and is a must-see for anyone who likes these songs.
Unfortunately, we can only talk about Smoke in the past tense, as Benjamin's AIDS finally took him in 1999. So, Bill and Will went on to Hubcap City, Brian and Tim moved away, and Coleman toured with Cat Power two years ago, with Will backing them up. Todd, long after leaving the group, died last year of a genetic disorder.
More information on him can be found here

Smoke's full-length CDs available here
The Opal Foxx Quartet's CD available here

It's my first post! I have to talk about my current favorite band!

Hubcap City (from Belgium) used to be just Hubcap City. Formed in 1999 from the ashes of my other favorite band, Smoke (you'll hear from them later), Hubcap City were "the band" for me. You know what I mean. In high school, they were the band I saw more than any other, the band who converted me from a fanboy going to huge arenas to a fanboy going to tiny clubs (and, sometimes, under bridges). They were the band I first idolized, then got to know, soon realizing that, not only were they mere humans, but that that was their most godlike quality.
Back then it was just Bill Taft on guitar and vocals and Will Fratesi on random percussion. About two years ago, Bill let Matthew Proctor join on all sorts of noisemakers, changed the name to Hubcap City (from Belgium) (they're actually from Atlanta), and started letting almost anybody play with them. Sometimes this works out beautifully. Other times it just ends up being about pissing people off as much as possible.
This is from their acoustic show at A Cappella Books in Atlanta, two months ago. In addition to the three core members, they had Kat on violin, and Terry on musical saw. The bookstore had no microphones, so this is just pure, beautiful music. If Hubcap City (from Belgium) were capable of fitting such a clich├ęd description, I'd call it backporch folk music, but this is different, better. Think of an absurdist Charles Bukowski, 50 years younger, with a perfect intuitive grasp of what notes to play at each specific moment, leading a group of people who believe nothing is sacred but quality. Then listen and realize that HC(FB)'s music is just impossible to describe.

Mad House
Unexpected Guest

The Official Hubcap City webpage