We previously announced that Chapel Hill’s Happy Abandon is among the first acts on the recently-established Schoolkids Records label – formerly Second Motion; home to Tommy Keene, The Veldt, and Bettie Serveert; and sister business to both BLURT and the three Schoolkids Records record stores – and will have their new full-length Facepaint in stores on Aug. 25 on vinyl, CD, and digital. (That’s the cover art, above.) The gentlemen just wrapped up a European tour that by all accounts went swimmingly well, and they’ll jump right back into the pool starting next week in NC and GA, followed by a trek out West in the fall – tour dates can be viewed HERE.
If you caught their single “If I Stare” last year, you already have a sense of the group’s ornate, cinematic pop mastery – listen to it HERE at their Soundcloud page – so now it’s time for a taste of the new record. Below, check out “Severed Seams” and prepare to be stunned. For updates and more info, visit ‘em at their Facebook page.
Long-overdue second full-length out now revived Twin/Tone label, which is “forced back into existence.” Boy howdy!
By Fred “Blurt Archival Geek” Mills
Once upon a time there was a ground zero punk combo called the Suicide Commandos: Straight outta Minneapolis, the trio foreshadowed that ‘burg’s subsequent explosion as one of the key Amerindie scenes—think Husker Du, Soul Asylum, Replacements, et al. They only notched a pair of 45s and a full-length, 1978’s Make A Record (issued on Pere Ubu’s Mercury-distributed Blank Records label), earning critical kudos across the globe and going on to become a key artifact of punk, but, as with many similar indie avatars of the era, ultimately bit the dust.
Yours truly was honored to have had the proverbial critical front row seat at the time, though, as the punk fanzine I contributed to (and eventually published), Biohazard Informae, covered the band during its initial run. Wait… did I just write “initial run”?!?
Indeed. The news recently arrived that, against all odds, the Suicide Commandos were on the verge of gearing back up. The members, of course, went on to other pursuits—fans with long memories will fondly recall bassist Steve Almaas and his post-SC proto-Americana combo Beat Rodeo—and it’s been aeons since the name “Suicide Commandos” was uttered aside from discussions about the early Twin Cities scene and the stray one-off reunion gig. But here’s the musical proof: Time Bomb is issued by the equally legendary Twin/Tone Records label—yeah, that label, the one that gave the world the Replacements—also returned from the grave to do the deed. It’s the first record since the Suburbs’ 1994 album Viva! Suburbs! Welcome back.
The record has been pressed up as a limited-edition (1000 copies, each numbered) LP, and you can also get it in digital form or as an on-demand burned CDR. Check out the first single from the new album, “Boogie’s Coldest Acre” below, and meanwhile, you can view the album booklet itself HERE.
From the label: “[The Suicide Commandos are] readying their first new studio album since the 1978 Blank/Mercury debut, Make A Record. Time Bomb has many of the hallmarks of the band’s original oeuvre, their fast, punky, brainy, fun and often funny rock n’ roll sound – The Ramones meet Eddie Cochran meets ZZ Top – but adds a catchy, pop-ish slant and a modern production flare that brings a freshness to the entire proceedings. The first vinyl pressing will be a limited, numbered edition of 1,000 copies. (It will also be issued digitally.)
“Time Bomb was produced by the Commandos, primarily recorded in their hometown at Master Mix Studios by Kevin Bowe (Jonny Lang, Paul Westerberg, Dan Wilson) and mixed by Mitch Easter (R.E.M., Let’s Active, The dBs) at Fidelitorium Recordings in North Carolina. Though there had been reunion shows over the years, the band hadn’t felt compelled to record again. Why Now? you may ask.
“Guitarist Chris Osgood tells us, ‘After Tommy Erdelyi died, Steve pointed out that The Ramones were all gone and we were all still here, and that we should make a record.’ The group’s New York City-based bass player, Steve Almaas, adds ‘The time was right. I had a couple of songs I thought would sound good with Chris and Dave. Once they started coming up with material, it inspired me to write a few more. Also, in this modern age, it’s much easier to work long distance. That really helped make this possible.’
Each Stax Classics entry features a dozen tracks by a legend—among them, William Bell, Johnny Taylor, Staple Singers, Otis Redding, and Carla Thomas.
By Bill Kopp
The venerable and legendary Stax Records was started 60 years ago in Memphis, Tennessee. Originally doing business as Satellite Records, the label founded by Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton (and later helmed by Al Bell) would go on to release a catalog of staggering quality before falling victim to a host of problems that would end its existence in the mid-1970s. (Stax would eventually continue as a reissue label.) Those interested in learning more about Stax are enthusiastically directed to Rob Bowman’s excellent and richly detailed Soulsville, U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records, published in 1997. [It is indeed a reference Bible around the BLURT kiosk. -Soul/funk Ed.]
Today Concord Music owns the rights to administer the Stax Catalog, and has done a good job of reintroducing long-deleted titles to release. To celebrate the 60th anniversary of Stax, Concord has compiled best-of from several of the label’s artists. I have four of those titles – all released May 19 – on my desk: all are called Stax Classics, and there’s one each from William Bell, the Dramatics, the Staple Singers and Johnnie Taylor. Each Stax Classics entry features a dozen tracks by the highlighted artist, plus a short yet informative liner note essay and a reasonable amount of discographical information. These aren’t really designed for the serious enthusiast; instead each serves as a tidy sampler/introduction to the Stax-era work of the artist.
William Bell’s Stax Classics volume features his best-loved tracks, including “Private Number,” his romantic duet with Judy Clay. The other 11 tunes are pretty great, too. The Dramatics are represented best by “In the Rain” and “Whatcha See is Whatcha Get” (both on Stax Classics), but other lesser-known cuts like “Get Up and Get Down” and “The Devil is Dope” are breathtaking in their arrangement and execution.
The riches found in the versatile Staple Singers’ wonderful catalog likely made paring Stax Classics down to a dozen tracks a difficult task. The song’s you’d expect to find are indeed here: “Respect yourself,” “I’ll Take You There,” and so on. An excellent and little-heard later-period cut, “City in the Sky” is included as well. Johnnie Taylor’s entry in the series includes his unbelievably funky (if naughty) “Who’s Making Love” as well as the incendiary “Somebody’s Sleeping in My Bed”: and ten others. All four are excellent, but on sheer chutzpah I’d give a minuscule edge to the Johnnie Taylor set.
Other entries in the Stax 60 series include titles by Booker T & the MGs, Isaac Hayes, Albert King, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, and Carla Thomas.
Triple album – you read that right – en route for the early summer.
By Fred Mills
It’s not a particularly close-kept secret that a number of folks here at the BLURT brain trust are staunch fans of North Carolina’s Michael Rank; just put his name into the search box on our home page and you’ll no doubt get more than a few hits, including a review of his most recent album, 2016’s Red Hand. The erstwhile Snatches of Pink frontman is, not to put to fine a point on the matter, prolific.
If he’s not worried, we’re not worried, so let’s dive right in with the first single off the new album, “Be Alright.”
It’s a classic/classy slice of blue-eyed soul, a bit of a departure from Rank’s frequent forays into twangy Americana. The video also features Brian Dennis (who produced the album with Rank) and Bobby Patterson, both formally of NC Triangle heroes DAG. As Rank explains, “The album plays like my ’70s love letter to Sly Stone, D’Angelo, Curtis Mayfield, Shuggie Otis and Prince.”
No argument there, brutha. We knew you had the ivories skills, but that’s one sweet falsetto, too. Everyone else – enjoy.
Don’t forget that Lovely Creatures box set, either…
By Blurt Staff
With Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds fans in full salivation mode over the Lovely Creatures box set finally arriving on May 5 after a 2 1/2 year delay — full title: Lovely Creatures: The Best of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds 1984-2014; it comes in multiple iterations, from a 2CD version to a super deluxe edition including DVD and 250-page hardback book, not to mention a 3LP vinyl edition (below) — it seems like now’s a perfectly appropriate time to unleash more Cave-related collectibles and maximize the, er, commercial potential.
To wit: As pictured at the top of the page, a gorgeous, multi-color vinyl limited edition 1996 classic Murder Ballads, which contains some of the Bad Seeds’ most popular songs (“Stagger Lee” in particular) and also featured guests PJ Harvey and Kylie Minogue appearing on it. It’s shipping this weekend via Newbury Comics (which specializes in these limited edition reissues), so you can look for it at your favorite independent record retailer or order it direct.
Raise your hand if you are hoping for the Cud revival to kick in as a result of the release. Meanwhile, listen to the lead track by the eternally brilliant Pooh Sticks, below.
By Uncle Blurt
While veterans of the indie indie wars are likely to tout with pride their owning an original copy of the legendary c86 cassette that the New Musical Express gave away to its readership in, you guessed it, 1986 — yes, I still have mine, safely tucked away in the vault, a guard standing outside 24/7 — a lot of punters don’t think 1988 was so bad, either. Among them, the archivally-minded Cherry Red label is putting its muscle where its mouth is with c88. Instead of a 90 minute cassette, however, it’s a three-CD box set boasting a whopping 72 songs, due in stores June 30.
Artists on c88 include the Stone Roses (but of course!), Pooh Sticks (whose timeless track “On Tape,” above, kicks off the collection), Sea Urchins, Kitchens of Distinction, Darling Buds, Pale Saints, and, er, Cud, among others. The full tracklisting is below, and luckily the twee-to-psych factor is relatively low. Worth noting: this is the followup to the label’s c87 box from last year, which of course was a sequel to Cherry Red’s expanded take on c86. Here’s hoping that by the time they get to the early ’90s the series will taper off before we get to Britpop, as that’s when all things British began to jump the shark.
The Cherry Red product description reads thusly:
C88 is another celebration of the Eighties Indie scene, documenting a golden era when tuneful guitar-based bands made records on shoestring budgets, often issued on small labels with hand-made artwork, with little hope of mainstream exposure. This 3-CD box set follows previous best-selling collections C86 (2014) and C87 (2016). C86 expanded the NME’s genre-defining compilation (initially a cassette, later a vinyl LP on Rough Trade) with 50 extra tracks from the period. C87 was an imaginary sequel, picking up the story a year later. Disc 1 is devoted to artists who haven’t previously graced this series, who – for the most part – first made an impact in 1988. The Stone Roses, Carter USM, Pale Saints and The Mock Turtles would all enjoy mainstream success. Others like The Pooh Sticks, The Man From Delmonte, Bridewell Taxis were cult indie favourites. Sarah Records – which came to epitomise a certain type of Indie Pop – are represented by The Orchids, Another Sunny Day, The Sea Urchins and The Poppyheads (whose ‘Cremation Town’ debuts on CD here). Other key indie labels also figure, such as Creation (Apple Boutique, Pacific, The House Of Love, Emily), 53rd & 3rd (The Groovy Little Numbers, The Vaselines) and The Subway Organization (The Clouds, Rodney Allen, The Flatmates, Bubblegum Splash, etc. ). Disc 2 revisits many of the bands who appeared on C87 with later singles or B-sides, such as the likes of Bob, Cud, The Darling Buds, Kitchens Of Distinction, The Shamen, The Heart Throbs, The Bachelor Pad and other staples of the late 80s Indie scene. New names to the series who appear on C88 include Choo Choo Train, Moss Poles, The Snapdragons, The Wilderness Children, Fat Tulips, Annie & The Aeroplanes, Thrilled Skinny, Murrumbidgee Whalers and many others. Numerous tracks have never been on CD before. The deluxe clamshell package includes a weighty booklet full of illustrations, with an 9,000-word sleeve-note and band-by-band biographies by C86 co-compiler Neil Taylor.
1. On Tape – the Pooh Sticks
2. Elephant Stone (7″ Version) – the Stone Roses
3. Where Do You Go (Flexi Version) – the Popguns
4. (Will Nobody Save) Louise – the Man from Delmonte
5. Are You Happy Now? (Molesworth Version) – the Charlottes
6. The Things You Want – the Snapdragons
7. A Sheltered Life – Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine
8. One Summer – Moss Poles
9. Lies – Bridewell Taxis
10. Defy the Law – the Orchids
11. Happy Like Yesterday
12. The Groovy Little Numbers
13. Julie Christie – the Driscolls
14. High – Choo Choo Train
15. Cremation Town – the Poppyheads
16. Tattered, Tangled and Torn -Bradford
17. So Happy to Be Alive-Thrilled Skinny
18. Sister Goodbye – the Prayers
19. Anorak City – Another Sunny Day
20. She’s Gone – the Train Set
21. Barnoon Hill – Pacific
22. Forever Holiday (Ediesta Version) – Blow-Up
23. Mary’s Garden – the Mock Turtles
24. The Pennine Spitter – King of the Slums
25. Colours and Shapes (Demo) -Pale Saints
26. The Ballad of Jet Harris -Apple Boutique
1. The Hill – the House of Love
2. Dying for It – the Vaselines
3. Kirsty – Bob
4. Slack Time – Cud
5. Please Rain Fall – the Sea Urchins
6. Shame on You – the Darling Buds
7. Prize – Kitchens of Distinction
8. Too Many Shadows – the Heart Throbs
9. Do It for Fun – the Bachelor Pad
10. They Fell for Words Like Love – Hangman’s Beautiful Daughters
11. Giving Way to Trains – Murrumbidgee Whalers
12. What’s Going Down – the Shamen
13. Heaven Knows – the Flatmates
14. Spell It Out – the Waltones
15. Mrs Susan Spence – the Wilderness Children
16. Yesterday – the Nivens
17. Real World – Baby Lemonade
18. Village Green – the Clouds
19. Fire Escape – Rote Kapelle
20. Mad Dogs – Emily
21. The 18:10 to Yeovil Junction – Bubblegum Splash
22. Michael Furey – Metro Trinity
23. Theme from Cow – Inspiral Carpets
1. Sun, Sea, Sand – the Revolving Paint Dream
2. Surfaround – the Fizzbombs
3. Plaster Saint – the Church Grims
4. Crush the Flowers (Demo) -The Wake
5. Sunshine Thuggery – the Siddeleys
6. Clear – Whirl
7. A Million Zillion Miles -Annie & the Aeroplanes
8. You Opened Up My Eyes – Fat Tulips
9. Cincinnati – Holidaymakers
10. The Camera Loves Me-Would-Be-Goods
11. Anywhere But Home – the Caretaker Race
12. Who Works the Weather
13. The Great Leap Forward
14. Cubans in the Bluefields-East Village
15. Bythesea Road – the Haywains
16. The Old Road Out of Town (12″ Mix) – the Wishing Stones
400 copies only, 2LP set, 180-gram wax – make your plans accordingly. Below, listen to a key track from the album.
By Blurt Staff
In 2004, singer Michael Cerveris, former frontman of British band Retriever as well as American outfit Lame, released his solo debut dog eared. It went on to become a cult favorite, notching critical kudos everywhere, such as at Magnet magazine, which lauded the “Anglophile balladry and fuzzbox raunch recalling Big Star and Guided By Voices in equal measure…call it sloppy art for sloppy hearts, it’s damned swell.”
As produced and mixed by veteran studio whiz Adam Lasus, the album featured the performing talents of Corin Tucker, Janet Weiss, Ken Stringfellow, Steve Shelley, Norman Blake (one of the album’s best tracks was Teenage Fanclub’s “Can’t Feel My Soul”), Laura Cantrell, Anders Parker and others, so it was also a bit of an indie rock super session. Cerveris certainly has amassed a following on both sides of the Atlantic over the years, for in addition to the aforementioned bands he was touring guitarist/vocalist for Bob Mould on the 1998 Dog and Pony Show tour, starred in Sweeney Todd on Broadway as well as the title role in Tommy during the late ‘90s, and starred in Hedwig and the Angry Inch on London’s West End, in New York Off Broadway, and in Los Angeles. He also won a Tony Award in 2016 for Fun Home and in 2004 for Assassins on Broadway at Studio 54.
Still, in certain quarters it’s that 2004 album that continues to quicken heart rates—you can check it out at Spotify and find out exactly why. It is truly a lost gem that has lost none of its pop lustre in the decade-plus since it was originally released.
Long out of print physically, it’s now being resurrected for the first time as a limited edition, 2 LP set, pressed on 180-gram vinyl. Just 400 copies have been pressed up by the Azucar label, a boutique, vinyl-only label dedicated to releasing limited edition pressings of classic albums from the past 30 years. dog eared was remastered for vinyl and comes in gatefold packaging with printed inner sleeves and a poster containing lyrics and unseen photos from the recording sessions. You may recall Azucar’s vinyl handiwork last year on Ken Stringfellow’s 2001 album Touched, an impressive title on all counts. Expect no less with the Cerveris project.
UK legends also have U.S. tour dates for July and August.
By Uncle Blurt
Not long ago it was announced that the label Run Out Groove was soliciting input from fans on whether or not to release a live Echo & the Bunnymen album. Looks like the fans voted in the affirmative, and It’s All Live Now will drop June 6 from ROG.
The label specializes in this type of “crowd sourcing” input to decide on titles to release; previously they released an MC5 live album, which sold out, and they currently are polling fans on whether to release the great Dream Syndicate Live at Raj’s show, Golden Smog’s Down by the Old Mainstream, and Howard Tate’s Howard Tate. (Before you ask, yes, your ol’ Uncle voted immediately for the Dream Syndicate record, although all three would be awesome to own on vinyl. Note that the DS version they are pondering is a 2LP set and not the “edited” version that came out on vinyl in Europe in ’89; it will also be on colored vinyl. Both the Smog and Tate records have seen previous vinyl appearances in the States.)
Pressed on 180-gram vinyl (just black, unfortunately) in a numbered limited edition (tip-on sleeve with cardboard stock insert; liner notes by Will Sergeant) of 2,987 copies, it comprises tracks from the April 25, 1985 show in Sweden recorded live for Swedish National Radio—material that has previously seen release on the Crystal Days 1979-1999 CD box set as well as covers of “Paint It, Black,” “Run, Run, Run” and “Friction,” B-sides on the “Bedbugs and Ballyhoo” 12” EP. In addition to those eight tracks, there’s also “Heroin” and “Do It Clean” from the well-known July ’83 Royal Albert Hall concert. Several of the included tracks were also released in 1988 in Japan as the 7-song New Live and Rare CD EP. All in all, we’re talking two Bunnymen classics plus gems by the Modern Lovers, Bob Dylan, the Doors, the Liter, the Stones, Velvet Underground, and Television.
Rare 1970’s folk/rock/psyche jams from Australia curated by Mikey Young of Total Control and Keith Abrahamsson of label Mexican Summer. Below, check out video from Megan Sue Hicks.
By Blurt Staff
Follow The Sun compiles twenty cuts dug from dusty bins by Mikey Young (Total Control, Eddy Current Suppression Ring) and Keith Abrahamsson (Founder / Head of A&R at Anthology Recordings and Mexican Summer) surveying the sought after sound of Australia’s lesser — and greater — known moments of ‘70s rock, folk, and their in-between offspring. Follow The Sun filters the sublime and sometimes subversive psychedelic airwaves transmitted around the world from America’s terrestrial platforms during the golden age of gentle, exploratory FM through a distinctly Australian lens. The double LP set drops May 5 via Anthology Recordings, and you can preview some of the material HERE. Below is one of the featured artists, Megan Sue Hicks.
Independent labels and recording studios proliferated across Australia during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, while major labels simultaneously scoured the furthest reaching corners of the continent to foster new approaches in making music. With both indies and majors ultimately compelled to uncover the almighty single, the fringe was frequently explored for “crossover” sounds. This engendered a creative freedom amongst artists that mirrored the open-ended mood of the times. Anything was possible.
Follow The Sun does not represent those Australian acts who produced a number one single leading to international fame and fortune. Some of the artists on the compilation never even made the local hit parade. But the fact that many of these artists didn’t enjoy chart success is secondary; these artists represent the consciousness of their time. As radio perpetrated pop fodder trodding the middle ground to ensure maximum advertising, the artists on this album chronicled the times in their own unique ways.
Follow the Sun – Dave Douglas
Riverboat – Andy Armstrong
Easy – Mata Hari
First Boy I Loved – Marian Henderson
Spirit Move Within Me – Flock
Hey, Can You Come out and Play – Megan Sue Hicks
Kill My World – Autumn
Knowing That You’re There – Australia
Am I Really Here – Moonlight
Witnessing – Gary Shearston
Wild Horse Plains – Tidewater
Whispering Pines – Shepherd
The Orange Tree – Cathie O’Sullivan
Cement River – Steve Warner
Good Morning – Paul Adolphus
Something Strange – Doug Ashdown
Country Corn – Trevor McNamara
This Must Be The End – Billy Green
Today’s The First Day Of Your Life – Catmando
Goodbye – Simon Jones (LP ONLY)
Track culled from new album, out later this month.
By Michael Toland
Though it has connections to infamous French shoegaze/black metal act Alcest, Les Discrets is its own entity. Composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist Fursy Teyssier and singer Audrey Hadorn paint beautiful landscapes out of shimmering guitars, warm synths, languid beats and creamy harmonies, as found on its upcoming LP Prédateurs, due on April 21 via Prophecy Productions. It’s a cliché to play mix ‘n’ match with influences, but consider a blend of Pink Floyd and Massive Attack and you’re swimming in the right part of the ocean. Hear for yourself on the track “Rue Octavio Mey,” which we’re excited to premiere here at BLURT:
Teyssier had this to say about the track: “A song can hardly be as personal and intimate as this one. Translated as “Octavio Mey Street”, the title refers to the street we lived in with Audrey for 8 years in Lyon. A lot happened in our life and this song – which is very romantic – is a declaration of love to the Vieux-Lyon (old town) and to my wife. It is certainly the song on the album that connects the most to the previous works of the band as it has a very naive feeling with a strong melancholic atmosphere. We introduced synths layers which give a very outdated mood from the ’80s and the acoustic drums have been sampled to recreate a drum machine feel with the vibe of an real playing. This song is a good bridge between the old Les Discrets and the new one as even the influences that led to that song (Dominique A, Depeche Mode, Slowdive, etc) are the same ones as I had a few years back.”
Les Discrets is playing the main stage at Roadburn this year. More tour dates tba. Also, Teyssier will be featured with an exclusive art exhibition, showing his drawings and art! More here. And check out Prédateurs on April 21 – the preorder info is here.
Photo Credit: Andy Julia
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