Monday, July 28, 2008

This Moment in Slack History: Morsels from the Last Great Era of the 7 Inch Record

"This Moment in Slack History" collects songs from 90s indie 7 inches. For further explanation, please see my original post here.

Odes "Honey Gets Hard"

In between playing bass for NYC uber-hipster outfit Love Child and founding, Rebecca Odes had herself a little solo project which released this single and an 8-song mini-LP, both on Merge, in the mid-90s. The A-side of this 7 inch, "Meltaway" is a nice little slice of dream pop but the B-side is the real winner. It's pretty sexy and suggestive for a song about frigidity. And take a look at that back cover.

Hubba hubba.

I don't know know what Odes is up to musically nowdays but it seems as though since leaving, she's gotten married, started a family and written a few books. If you want to remember how she was back then, this 7 inch is still available from Merge for three and a half bucks.

Play or Download Odes "Honey Gets Hard"

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Best headline of the week

Courtesy of MTV's Splash Page:

Tell that to anyone who's seen Sweet November.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Unblinking Ear Podcast: Back With a Bang!

The Unblinking Ear Podcast is back! After a few weeks of computer difficulties (and totally unrelated but nonetheless bothersome checking account difficulties) I an once again able to assemble a podcast. Please note: the above image should not be taken as an endorsement of white power. It should, however, be noted that Skrewdriver's pre-racist malarkey records are pretty outstanding. However, none are included in this podcast (though may be in the future).

Play or Download The Unblinking Ear Podcast

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Paleontology for Dullards: A Consumer's Guide

"Paleontology for Dullards" rates records I've found in used LP bins by assigning them a cash value. For further explanation, please see my original post here.

Secret Affair Glory Boys
You know what's funny about the mod revival of the late 70s? (Besides the clothes and haircuts, I mean.) Aside from the Jam, who actually predated and catalyzed the movement, I can't think of worthy band the genre produced. Weller and co. may have infused punk recklessness with 60s pop hooks but I'm hard pressed to think of another band that did the same as well, if at all. Case in point: Secret Affair. Probably the movement's second biggest act, SA exhibit none of The Jam's songwriting or playing chops and certainly have nothing on the Who, Small Faces, or Creation. Much of Glory Boys sounds like the most overblown moments of Quadrophenia married to awkward interpretations of 60's soul but without much, you know, soul. Their cover of the Miracles' "Going to a Go Go" might be the whitest thing I've ever heard. Some tunes like "Time for Action" and "Don't Look Down" display a certain bubblegum catchiness but the arrangements, particularly the flatulent horns and ubiquitous bombastic drum sound, undercut any chance of rock n roll fun. And since the disc was produced by the band themselves it's hard to assign blame elsewhere. Misguided and flaccid, Glory Boys is about as explosive as wet match. May have anticipated Dexy's Midnight Runners but that's no huge compliment.
Price paid: $5 Rating: 10%

David Bowie Low
Sometimes life is good. The other day I was looking through my David Bowie LPs, satisfied that I had nearly all of the man's essential work, i.e. pretty much everything from The Man Who Sold the World through Scary Monsters. One record I was missing though was Low. I stumbled across it in used LP bins a few times before but balked at the price, usually in the $15-$20 range. This same day I decided to head over the Staten Island's favorite cult-run cafe/second hand shop, mainly because my home computer was kaput and I could check my e-mail on their computer for the price of a dollar every ten minutes. I decided to take a look through their used LP bin which tends to contain Lionel Richie and Barbara Streisand records. They also price their records using the Goldmine price guide so on the rare occasion that they do have anything worth buying it's usually overpriced. Anyway, yes, they had a copy of Low in their "To be priced" bin. The cute hippie girl behind the counter let me have for three bucks. I didn't get her number or anything but I figured that was enough good luck for one day.

And how is the album anyway? Well, it's quite good. I don't know if it's the best record of the 1970s (actually that's not true, I'm sure it isn't) but if you told me it was Bowie's best album after Hunky Dory, I probably wouldn't debate you.

I also found a copy of Mick Farren's book The Feelies for $3 at the thrift store the same day. I haven't read it yet but if it's half as good as "Let's Loot the Supermarket Again Like We Did Last Summer" it will be well worth the price.
Price paid: $3 Rating: 100%

Pearls Before Swine One Nation Underground
Psych-folk from the legendary ESP-Disk label and apparently their biggest seller. Pearls Before Swine were not as provocative as their labelmates the Fugs or the Godz but where still legitimately an underground outfit. There's no mistaking them for hippie exploitation pop ala Strawberry Alarm Clock. To my ears, they most recall Moby Grape or Hackmore Brick, offering many druggy-sounding, acoustic-based songs but also rocking out on occasion. The quieter tunes are just a bit prosaic for my tastes though are objectively quite lovely. Things do get nicely weird on their rock songs though which sound at times like they're channeling the Thirteenth Floor Elevators. They even offer up Silver Apples-esque skewed keyboards on a few cuts. One Nation Underground is a neat little artyfact from the psychedelic sixties. Lyrics like "Did you follow the Crystal Swan?/Did you see yourself/Deep inside the Velvet Pond?" may be vapid flower-power nonsense but, believe me, I've heard worse.
Price paid: $5 Rating: 80%

Classic Ruins Lassie Eats Chickens
A bar band in the best sense of the word, I first heard the Classic Ruins via the Boston scene volume of Rhino's DIY series (a seminal influence on my taste in music during my teen years.) Their song on that comp "1+1<2" was taken from a 1980 single on the Ace of Hearts label and has long been a favorite in this household. For whatever reason, the Classic Ruins didn't get around to recording their debut album until 6 years later, this time for Chuck Warner's Throbbing Lobster label. Nothing here matches the brilliance of that early single but Lassie Eats Chickens is a lot of fun regardless. Classic Ruins recall other Boston fixtures like the Lyres (who covered the Ruins' "Geraldine, I Need Money"), the Real Kids (whose Billy Borgioli guests of 5 of the 9 songs here) or even the Cars, albeit with a raunchier, rawer version of their sound. Or perhaps they sound like what the E Street Band would sound like if they had a sense of humor instead of bombast. I can't imagine the Boss singing a song with a title like "I Can't Spell Romance." Or if he were to write a song about an alcoholic Canadian mountie like the Ruins did in "Labatt's," it would probably be a portrait of working class struggles and wouldn't contain lines like "He changes his shirt about once a year to take the empties into town." Unpretentious rock n roll played with a knowing smirk, Lassie Eats Chickens will get more than a few spins on my turntable. And I think Chuck might still have a few copies left if you want to pick up one for yourself.
Price paid: $5 Rating: 100%

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Ghost in the Machine: The Unblinking Ear on Temporary Hiatus

About one week ago my home computer went kaput. Further examination yielded the knowledge that my motherboard was "fried." Thus, until I get myself a new machine (hopefully, sometime next week) the only place I have computer access is from my workplace. Since they generally don't take too kindly to me posting nonsense on my blog when I should be working, you probably won't see any updates from me for a little while.

To temporarily satiate your desire for new bloggin's from yours truly, here's my personal take on something that's been making the rounds of late:
List your favorite record from every year you’ve been alive.

This was a bit harder than I thought it would be.

Some years had several strong candidates. (Slates, Fire of Love, A Minute to Pray a Second to Die all in the same year?!?!)

Others had precious few. (1994 had Bee Thousand, Bakesale and at least two of three other contenders. 95? Not so much.)

Some had records I listened to constantly at the time but have rarely dropped the needle on since. (Sugar's Copper Blue, anyone?)

And, of course, there were a few years there were my personal qualification as a living human was shaky at best.

Anyway, here's the list. Feel free to call into question my taste or sincerity on any of the below selections:

1977 Wire Pink Flag
78 The Saints Eternally Yours
79 The Clash London Calling
80 The Feelies Crazy Rhythms
81 The Fall Slates
82 Angry Samoans Back From Samoa
83 The Embarrassment Death Travels West
84 The Minutemen Double Nickels on the Dime
85 Hüsker Dü New Day Rising
86 Tommy Keene Songs From the Film
87 The Clean Compilation (sort of cheating, but as their first US release I feel it qualifies)
88 Sonic Youth Daydream Nation
89 Barbara Manning Lately I Keep Scissors
90 Yo La Tengo Fakebook
91 Nirvana Nevermind
92 Sebadoh Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock
93 Prisonshake The Roaring Third
94 Guided By Voices Bee Thousand
95 Railroad Jerk One Track Mind
96 Silkworm Firewater
97 Yo La Tengo I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One
98 Cat Power Moon Pix
99 Sleater-Kinney The Hot Rock
2000 The White Stripes De Stijl
01 The Dirtbombs Ultraglide in Black
02 Reigning Sound Time Bomb High School
03 Sally Crewe and the Sudden Moves Drive It Like You Stole It
04 The Futureheads s/t
05 Ponys Celebration Castle
06 Jay Reatard Blood Visions
07 Tyvek Fast Metabolism
08 Thomas Function Celebration