Tag Archive for '1987'

“And He Descended into Hell” by Microdisney

crooked.jpgA strange, downtempo, twangy number from Microdisney, which feaures Sean O’Hagan of The High Llamas and Turn On (and, frequently, of Stereolab).

This album will feel familiar to any High Llamas fans, as it includes many lush arrangements of strangely-worded pop songs. Plenty of banjo as well. What’s a little strange about it is that the songs sound almost like they’re trying to be conventional… something I think O’Hagan is incapable of. I wonder if that’s the major label influence.

The first time I came across this album was in the mid 90s at School Kids Records in Carrboro, NC. There was a title card for them in the CD stacks, but no discs. I later found this LP at a store in Cleveland, and noticed Sean O’Hagain was involved. Needless to say, I think $1.99 was a deal.

Microdisney, “And He Descended Into Hell” from the Crooked Mile LP on Virgin Records (1987)

Phantom Tollbooth two-fer

tollbooth.jpgA few days ago, I went on a long walk on Brooklyn in search of some clementines. I ended up getting some at a produce stand in Cobble Hill, which is separated from my neighborhood by the Gowanus Canal, a filthy, opaque body of water that fills with poop when it rains. Jonathan Lethem called it the only body of water in the world that’s 90% guns in Motherless Brooklyn.

Anyway, when I was walking across it, I was reminded by Phantom Tollbooth‘s song “Down by the Gowanus,” and here it is, a fittingly fractured, sludgey ode to the canal. It’s short, so I’ve also included the brief instro freakout “Circle of Wolves.”

I’m sure someone could prove me wrong on this, but I think that Homestead Records pretty much ruled the late 80s– I’m only appreciating how much this is true in hindsight. Most everything they but out but the Dinosaur Jr/Sebadoh/Big Black stuff bored me to tears back then. Maybe this is grown up rock.

Phantom Tollbooth, “Down By The Gowanus” from the Power Toy LP on Homestead Records (1987)

Phantom Tollbooth, “Circle of Wolves” from the Power Toy LP on Homestead Records (1987)

“Rail/Collapso” by Bosho

bosho.jpgNice noisy two-fer to keep y’all busy until we get back from our trip to the frozen tundra of Buffalo, which is actually only a bit colder than NYC this week. In between servings of wings and beef on weck, I’m hoping to get back into a couple of the record stores out there if they haven’t all dried up… any ideas or faves?

Back to the sounds at hand…  NYT has a story on Bosho from 1988 if you’re interested, written about a year after this disc was released:

Bosho sets in motion Western and Eastern, new-fangled and down-home sounds, layering them into crafty, off-center funk.

Reading it, I want to hear their “broadened” post-Chop Socky sound. I think this album has an amazing cover. Open the kitchen cabinets and play along!
Bosho, “Rail/Collapso” from the Chop Socky LP on Dossier Records (1987)

Athens, GA-related megapost!

I’m in Charlotte, North Carolina for the next few days, running my first marathon dsc_0005.jpg(wish me luck!), so I won’t be posting frequently again until the end of next week. So, please enjoy this hastily assembled, under contextualized early-80s Athens, Georgia megapost… more to come next week when I’m back in NYC.

Two tracks from the all-hits Squares Blot Out The Sun compilation of odds and ends on DB records, the label that really drove the Athens scene.

Pylon, “Party Zone (live in 1983)” from the Squares Blot Out The Sun LP on DB Records (released 1989)

Jack Heard, “Burnin’ Love (1982)” from the Squares Blot Out The Sun LP on DB Records (released 1989)

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I played this Side Effects track out at a bar in Brooklyn in 2001, and someone came up to me afterwards dying to chat. We spoke for a while about the band and the great music that came from that scene, which he’d come up in. When he was heading out of the bar much later, he stopped by again, introduced his wife, shook my hand. It felt a little strange, and when I looked down at my hand as he turned away, I realized he’d pushed into my palm the damp remains of the joint he and his wife has covertly smoked in the bar. Gross! That was the day I started lobbying for an enclosed DJ booth.

Once again, I realized the Side Effects are also on Myspace, after years of radio silence. Grab versions of their tracks (which sound a little better than this file there).

The Side Effects, “Pyramids” from the Side Effects EP on DB Records (1981)
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Love Tractor was one of the most prolific bands from this scene, with lots of great mostly instrumental songs. This cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up,” makes the case that they could have easily had way more great vocal tracks. It comes from a Bigtime records compilation, but also appeared as the bside to one of their later singles. More on Myspace, of course (including a great loungey cover of “See Emily Play”). Pat Irwin, of the Raybeats, produced this track.

Love Tractor, “Got To Give It Up” from the Bigtime Syndrome compilation LP on Bigtime Records (1987)

method.jpgThe Method Actors made a lot of noise for just two guys. Like Pylon, they bring a bit of the UK sound you hear in the dancey songs of Gang of Four, the Pop Group, and the Au Pairs.

This album is particularly mind blowing because of the tiny little details and dynamic shifts that show up in many of the songs. Plus, I love the vocals and the near-droney reverb.

The Method Actors, “Bleeding” from the Little Figures LP on Press Records (1981)

shake.jpgAny B52′s fan should track down the Fred Schneider & the Shake Society album from 1984. Apart from a few uncomfortable guitar solos, it is pure party music. Fred is in the foreground all the time, and busts out some amazing lines. Those of you who know me will understand why I had to post this particular track. “Cut the Concrete” was what I was planning to post, but when I listened to “Boonga!” again, I knew what I had to do.  Maybe I’ll post the other one in the comments next week. Bernie Worrell produced this with Fred! Don’t skip the intro on his site either.

Fred Schneider & the Shake Society,”Boonga! (the New Jersey Caveman)” from the self-titled LP on Warner Bros. (1984).

Fred Schneider & the Shake Society,”Cut the Concrete” from the self-titled LP on Warner Bros. (1984). 

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Though Mitch Easter lived and recorded in North Carolina, there were few more influential folks as far as this music is concerned. He played in the Sneakers with fellow North Carolinian future dBs member Chris Stamey, recorded R.E.M.’s “Radio Free Europe,” and put out a bunch of albums in Let’s Active.

Mitch Easter, “Law of Averages,” from the Shake to Date compilation LP on Shake Records (1979)

Chris Stamey,”Get a Job” from the It’s A Wonderful Life LP on DB Records (1982)

While this isn’t Athens Music per se, the aesthetics of the music and the relationships involved have me placing them in this post. Most importantly, you will probably have the chance to see one or both of these guys perform live. The dBs are playing in NYC this weekend!

Things to buy: DFA’s re-release of Pylon’s Gyrate, B52s new album out on Astralwerks soon!, Let’s Active’s Cypress/Afoot double CD, dBs Stands for Decibles/Repercussions CD Mitch Easter’s newest album.