Musicophilia Daily

[Audio] – Camberwell Now – “Working Nights” (1986)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on September 24, 2009

Camberwell Now – “Working Nights” (1986)

This Heat casts a long shadow, and rightfully so–their blend of the edge and energy of punk with longer-brewing strains of art-rock tradition created one of the most lasting archetypes of post-punk. But an unfortunate side effect is that their brief years of existence can obscure the fact that drummer and mastermind Charles Hayward has continued to make riveting, artful, and often beautiful work for nearly thirty years since This Heat disbanded. His compositions have tended to stretch out a bit from the punch of This Heat circa ‘Deceit,’ favoring the atmosphere of the bands earlier work and the rhythms of something like “Health & Efficiency,” but virtually none of the judiciousness and visceral impact was lost regardless of minor production shifts over the years. “Working Nights” represents one of the (numerous) high-water marks in Hayward’s oeuvre, This Heat included, reaching musical and emotional crescendos rarely matched in rock music. It’s a political work, I think, about the worker and industry; but it also explores more mysterious ground, the emotional level of someone who feels trapped in a machine that has no regard for its components, and the clattering, ghostly world in which the night-shift worker can live.  The track also happens to presage, perhaps moreso than any of This Heat’s work, the cyclical, instruments-as-loops groove of the best of 1990s “post-rock” like Disco Inferno, Stereolab, Tortoise, or the various Thrill Jockey proponents–all from the unfashionable year of 1986.  [Charles Hawyard and This Heat are featured in numerous mixes at Musicophilia that seek to expand upon their unique sounds.]

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[Audio] – Family Fodder – “Philosophy” (1980)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on September 7, 2009

Family Fodder – “Philosophy” (1980)

Family Fodder are the lens through which I view post-punk, my personal central nexus for the whole movement and creators of some of my very favorite albums and EPs of the era.  For me, they’re the un-U2, the un-Joy Division, the antidote to the absurdly huge shadow cast by the Big Few Names that color the genre as a dead-end of gloom ‘n politics.  Family Fodder instead pick up, run with and expand all of the best attributes of the Canterbury Scene (Caravan, Soft Machine, Wyatt, Ayers), the Texas Weirdos (Red Krayolas, 13th Floor Elevators), the Ohio Freaks (Pere Ubu, Devo, David Thomas) and even the Rough Trade/RIO Artsters (Henry Cow, Raincoats, This Heat), stir in a little French chanson and Jamaican dub magic, and infuse it all with their unmatched playfulness.

For a band whose modus operandi is fun first, a philosophical manifesto might seem counter-productive.  But “Philosophy” is a manifesto-of-fun, cleverly communicating an intellectual commitment to remembering not to get too damned grown up about it all.  That’s not to say they’re joking–the song expresses a sincere and pithy philosophy to live by while delivering a pointed critique of a zero-sum, lock-step, religious-minded “adulthood”.  They don’t get self-serious about it either, setting it all to clomping drunk-tap-dancer drums, warbling organ, and snake-charmer reeds.  They ultimately appeal to music geeks like us who see the beauty of humanity in music, and sum it all up: “when you make music, you play“.  Which is to say, you live.

[Family Fodder are featured on ‘1981‘ mixes here and here, as part of the ‘Young Lady’s Post-Punk Handbook,’ and on a volume of post-punk ‘Miniatures‘ at Musicophilia.  And coming at the end of this week, they’ll be featured in a guest-post by me (with a mini-essay) at the indispensable Post-Punk Tumblr blog as part of the “Top 35 Or So Songs of the 80s” project.]

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[Audio] – Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – “Affection” (1979)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 21, 2009

Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – “Affection” (1979)

In honor of Fathers’ Day, today I’m sharing one of my Dad’s favorite songs (at least of those I’ve shared with him over the years).  It’s one my faves, too.  I’ve known Dad to play this song several times in a row–and it deserves it.  Jonathan Richman is one of the few people I’ve ever seen who seems genuinely imbued with real, unadulterated kindness and an openness to the goodness of the people around him; and in that way he’s a lot like my Dad, one of the world’s true idealists, who makes it his business create the good he knows we’re all capable of achieving.  “Affection” is sweet, silly, and as a bonus it has that musical spookiness and energy we all love from the early Modern Lovers.  Happy Fathers’ Day, Dad!

[Audio] – Eurythmics – “Take Me To Your Heart” (1981)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 18, 2009

Eurythmics – “Take Me To Your Heart” (1981)

A few heroes of art rock/proto-punk were welcomed with open arms by their post-punk progeny, and had a distinct and direct effect on, even participation in, their music despite the reputation for death-to-the-past futurism: Eno, This Heat’s Charles Hayward, Brian Ferry, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lennon and Reed comrade Klaus Voorman, even hippies like Mayo Thompson and unrepentant longhair Robert Wyatt.  No less important or participatory were Can’s Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit and their producer Conny Plank.  Here they assist Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart on the very first Eurythmics album–what fledgling group could have hoped for a more auspicious start?    [For more late-Can and post-Can music like this, be sure to check out two Can-centric mixes at Musicophilia.  The Eurythmics are also featured in the ‘1981’ Box Set and the Young Lady’s Post-Punk Handbook]

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[Audio] – Michael Karoli & Polly Eltes – “Home Truths” (1984)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 17, 2009

Michael Karoli & Polly Eltes – “Home Truths” (1984)

Michael Karoli is sometimes easy to miss (for me) in his contributions to Can–dominated by Jaki Liebezeit’s incredibly inventive beats and Holger Czukay’s sonic textures–and I’ll confess, his soloing is occasionally the thing that detracts from the focus and force of later Can.  But he seemingly followed some of the same obsessions of his bandmates, post-Can–especially reggae/dub and a penchance for a blissed-out quality of songwriting.  His lone post-Can LP, with Polly Eltes (on whom I can find little information, but who apparently sang on Eno’s ‘Taking Tiger Mountain,’) will be a major find for fans of the Raincoats ‘Odyshape’ and after albums, the Slits’ “Earthbeat” phase, and the Rough Trade/west London sound in general: it’s playful, percussive, warm, sophisticated but unaffected.  This is one of few post-Can projects that seems readily in-print and available (along with Liebezeit’s Phantom Band’s third LP, ‘Nowhere’) and is expanded with three fantastic tracks not on the original 1984 issue, so be sure to pick it up if you enjoy this track.  [For more Can and post-Can music like this, be sure to check out two recent Can-centric mixes at Musicophilia.]

[Audio] – Phantom Band – “You Inspired Me” (1980)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 17, 2009

Phantom Band (Jaki Liebezeit with Rosko Gee) – “You Inspired Me” (1980)

Phantom Band, Jaki Liebezeit’s post-Can band and the most sustained project of any Can member, morphed considerably over four years and three albums (see this post for a track from their next album) but maintained a very high quality throughout.  The second and third LPs have a distinct arty post-punk feel to them.  But their self-titled LP from 1980 picks up largely where Can’s ‘Saw Delight’ and ‘Out of Reach’ left off, bringing in strong elements of African pop music and polyrhythmic percussion (as well as the underrated Can vocalist Rosko Gee).  But in my opinion, it improves on these albums with greater focus and musical clarity, stripping things down a bit, and bathing everything in a gentle warmth combined with a feeling of mystery that reminds me of the best of Hamilton Bohannon‘s late 70s work (the echoed guitar at 3:20 is a virtual homage) and a touch of fusion-era Miles Davis.  “You Inspired Me” is especially Bonannon-esque, combining major-chord joy (matched by Gee’s lyrics) and minor-chord ambiguity (in the instrumental sections) deftly. [For more Can and post-Can music like this, be sure to check out two recent Can-centric mixes at Musicophilia.]

[Audio] – Irmin Schmidt – “Endstation Freiheit (Title Theme)” (1981)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 16, 2009

Irmin Schmidt with Jaki Liebezeit, Michael Karoli & Rosko Gee – “Endstation Freiheit (Title Theme)” (1981)

The “breakup” of Can was apparently not an acrimonious one, if judged by the frequency with which its members collaborated on one another’s projects and with one another on production work–it seemingly matched pace with Can’s album output.  It also often matched the quality of Can’s work, as with this piece, involving three core members plus late-era vocalist and bassist Rosko Gee. [Be sure to check out two recent Can-centric mixes at Musicophilia for an in-depth exploration of late- and post-Can music.]

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[Audio] – The Suburbs – “Ghoul of Goodwill” (1981)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 9, 2009

The Suburbs – “Ghoul of Goodwill” (1981)

Minneapolis’ The Suburbs are a unique hybrid of American, even Mid-Western, qualities and European sensibilities that leaves them sounding like little other “post-punk” music, fitting neither nascent “indie rock” qualities nor glitzy “New Romantic”.  They’re not at all slavishly tied to Euro heroes like Roxy Music or contemporaries like Visage or The Only Ones, but they possess a similar elegance.  They combine this elegance, most singularly expressed through their unique use of piano (not synth) as a principle instrument, with muscular rhythm and wit.  Their 1981 album ‘Credit In Heaven’ is one of my favorite of that year. [The Suburbs are featured on several mixes, including two ‘1981’ discs, at Musicophilia.]

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[Audio] – China Shop – “Kowtow” (1983)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 8, 2009

China Shop – “Kowtow” (1983)

Another great track originally unearthed by Hyped2Death, China Shop’s “Kowtow” is what psychedelic could’ve meant in the 80s, instead of a (usually) twee indie imitation of the late 60s.  It ebbs and flows in a woozy way, but it’s not a purple haze–it has a New York post-punk edge and New Pop catchiness to its tripiness that places it pretty much out of time.  China Shop’s nearly-complete work–a seemingly uneven but always interesting and often surprising oeuvre–is available at the nifty digital reissue label, Anthology Recordings.

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[Audio] – ‘No Heroes’ Bonus Tracks, Part 3 (Gary Numan, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Television Personalities)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 4, 2009

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Various – ‘No Heroes’ Bonus Tracks, Part 3

Adding to the  ‘No Heroes’ compilation at Musicophilia, here’s part 3 in a series of “bonus tracks” revealing the hidden nostalgic side of the post-punk ethos. This set features Gary Numan making “On Broadway” his inimitable own; Siouxsie & The Banshees with a post-Manson Beatles cover; and Television Personalities with a slightly twee revival of their bow-wielding godfathers The Creation.  Be sure to hear the originals at the links below.

Gary Numan [Leiber, Mann, Weil, Stoller] – “On Broadway” (1979)

The original, as performed by The Drifters

Siouxsie & The Banshees [The Beatles] – “Helter Skelter” (1978)

The admittedly pretty fucking heavy original

Television Personalities [The Creation] – “Painter Man” (1982)

The original performed by The Creation

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[Audio] – Crash Course In Science – “Flying Turns” (1981)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 4, 2009

Crash Course In Science – “Flying Turns” (1981)

Crash Course In Science made homemade music from a basement in the distant future, in 1981.  And it still sounds like the future in 2009.  The ingredients are not dissimilar from much that we recognise as DNW, but what often feels amateurish and even cute from Germany is, perhaps counter-intuitively, more menacing, hard-edged, and cool-as-hell from a boy-girl-vocals group from Philadelphia.  I can’t think of a single post-punk act more desperately in need of a full-on reissue treatment (outside of the full works as originally created of Family Fodder).

[Audio] – Mr. Partridge – “The Day They Pulled The North Pole Down” (1980)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 4, 2009

Mr. Partridge – “The Day They Pulled The North Pole Down” (1980)

“Mr. Partridge” is Andy Partridge of XTC, but this solo-ish work isn’t the singer-songwriter-perfect-pop you might expect from later years.  This track comes from one of the attempts Partridge made at dub/remix work in the early, more post-punk phase of the band’s career, sampling elements songs from the first three albums.  The results are unique in the band’s oeuvre, and are underrated and wonderfully weird.  [My other favorite track from early solo Partridge, though not a sample-based piece, can be heard as part of this beat/dance-oriented set at Musicophilia.]

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[Audio] – ‘No Heroes’ Bonus Tracks, Part 2 (Doctor Mix & The Remix, Lounge Lizards, Neonbabies)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 3, 2009

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Various – ‘No Heroes’ Bonus Tracks, Part 2

Companion to the recent ‘No Heroes’ compilation at Musicophilia, here’s part 2 in a series of “bonus tracks” dispelling the myth that all post-punk musicians were perfect Modernist cultists, eschewing all ties to the past.  Here’s Doctor Mix & The Remix providing a coldwave take on king of cover tunes “Hey Joe;” The Lounge Lizards adding a little no wave skronk to Thelonious Monk; and Neonbabies giving a DNW edge to a classic show tune.  Don’t forget to check the links to videos of the originals!

Doctor Mix & The Remix [Billy Roberts] – “Hey Joe”

The original, as performed by The Leaves

The Lounge Lizards [Thelonious Monk] – “Well You Needn’t”

A more orthodox interpretation, as a piano duet

Neonbabies [Cy Coleman] – “Big Spender”

The original performed by Peggy Lee

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[Audio] – Death Comet Crew – “Exterior Street” (1984)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 3, 2009

Death Comet Crew – “Exterior Street” (1984)

Rammellzee posesses a rhythmic fluidity and a full-force speed that made his MCing pretty damned advanced for the early days of hip-hop.  And it fits the post-punk-ish artiness and darkness of this Electro/hip-hop track.  The combination adds up to a manic, tense, sharp, and fiery concoction.  Certainly it doesn’t feel like party music, unless it were a celebration of an apocolypse.

[Audio] – ‘No Heroes’ Bonus Tracks, Part 1 (Agent Orange, The Cramps, Cristina)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 2, 2009

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Various – ‘No Heroes’ Bonus Tracks, Part 1

Post-punkers were ardent futurists, concerned only with moving forward, striving for ex-nihilo expression, right?  Well, maybe rhetorically; but like everyone, they made art partly because they loved art they’d experienced.

Following the recent ‘No Heroes’ compilation at Musicophilia (with links to YouTube videos for the originals), here are some “bonus tracks” of more post-punk covers of classic rock/pop/r&b/jazz tunes.  In this set, we’ve got Agent Orange and The Cramps taking on surf rave ups, and Cristina adding a touch of classy schmaltz to The Beatles.

Agent Orange [Dick Dale] – “Miserlou”

The original by Dick Dale

The Cramps [The Trashmen] – “Surfin’ Bird”

The original by The Trashmen (covering/altering the Rivingtons)

Cristina [The Beatles] – “Drive My Car”

The original by The Beatles (in animated form)

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[Audio] – Gang of Four – “I Love A Man In Uniform” (1982)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 2, 2009

Gang of Four – “I Love A Man In Uniform” (1982)

Gang of Four’s transition into slinky-sexy New Pop is certainly not as deftly graceful as that of, say, Scritti Politti.  And they’re not quite reaching Fela-like sublimity in their “move their asses and sneak in a message” approach–they wield their politics as forcefully as ever to really give your ass equal consideration.  But I suspect there’s a reasonable sense of humor at work here not so evident in earlier work; the music is servicable, and the satire of Thatcherite machismo and gun-as-“self-respect”-as-sex-organ psychology is pretty fun.  I mean, “the girls, they love to see you shoot,” “I need an order,” and “to have ambition was my ambition” are pretty succinct and biting.  The vocal crooning style du jour–well, again, not graceful, but enjoyable in its campy employment.

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[Audio] – 1981 ‘Briefcase’ Tracks, Part 10 (Decayes, Deep Freeze Mice, Department S, Deutsche Wertarbeit, Din A Testbild)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on May 31, 2009

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Various – Tracks from the ‘1981’ Briefcase Disc, Part 10

This is the tenth batch of tracks from the ‘1981 Briefcase,’ the catch-all mp3-CD found in the ‘1981‘ box set (the nine main mixes of which are now available in full for download at Musicophilia). Moving forward with the “D’s,” we’ve got five who certainly didn’t make it to the top of the pops, but were busy carving out their own little burrows at the edges of the post-punk ant farm.  Decayes present punchy kookiness that lives next door to the mass-media-pastiche madness of Negativland.  Deep Freeze Mice create low-fi power-pop that fits somewhere between Television Personalities and Monitor.  Department S offer shiny, bouncy New Pop that will appeal to fans of Duran Duran.  Finaly, we have two DNW-ish synth-based acts who present very different visions: Deutsche Wertarbeit live in a Kraftwerkian Utopia, soaring majestically on an autobahn to heaven; whereas Din A Testbild paint a nearly schizophrenic world of the mind, full of hazy chaos.

Decayes – “Dance Hall”

Deep Freeze Mice – “Dr. Z”

Department S – “Age Concern”

Deutsche Wertarbeit – “Deutscher Wald”

Din A Testbild – “Logischer Gerfriepunkt”

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[Audio] – This Heat – “Repeat” (1979)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on May 22, 2009

This Heat – “Repeat” (1979)

Few one-off experiments are more exciting than This Heat’s “24-Track Loop”.  This Heat were an expansive band, but at some level were generally identifiable as a “post-punk” or “rock” act; “24-Track Loop” defied genre at its time, sounding little like any established repetition-based dance or electronic music of the time, though drawing from dub and musique concrete methodology.  “Repeat” is an extended mix of the seminal track, allowing each phrase to burrow into the listener’s consciousness before new qualities are slowly introduced; it’s no less stunning than its briefer counterpart.

[Audio] – The Cure – “Grinding Halt” (1979)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on May 19, 2009

The Cure – “Grinding Halt” (1979)

I love the foggy ghost-world of ‘Faith’ or even the teenage widescreen-emotions of ‘Disintegration;’ and generally The Cure strike me as being one of the true keepers of the post-punk faith through the 80s, along with Sonic Youth.  But I wouldn’t have minded if they’d developed the brittle, furtive, twitchy sound they had on their first LP a little further.  The manic tracks of later Cure hint at it, but there’s a tininess and tinniness here that’s appealing in a different way.  Never has a post-apocalyptic vision sounded more uptempo (or had a catchier bass hook), but the edgy paranoia comes through surprisingly effectively on the small black-and-white t.v. screen The Cure are filling here.  [The Cure are featured on several mixes at Musicophilia.]

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[Audio] – 1981 ‘Briefcase’ Tracks, Part 9 (Lol Coxhill, Crispy Ambulance, Dalek I Love You, Danse Society, Dark Day)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on May 17, 2009

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Various – Tracks from the ‘1981’ Briefcase Disc, Part 9

Here is the ninth installment from the ‘1981 Briefcase,’ the catch-all mp3-CD found in the ‘1981‘ box set (the nine main mixes of which are now available in full for download at Musicophilia).  Finishing the “C’s” and moving into the “D’s,” these five tracks comprise a nice little slice of the abstract/experimental and “dark-wave” sides of post-punk.  First up is Lol Coxhill, who is a stretch as a post-punker being generally associated with the Canerbury scene (and Kevin Ayer’s finest work especially); but by 1981 he had become associated with Cherry Red and its arty post-punk experimentalists, and here gives us a lovely little mournful sax-based instrumental.  Next is Crispy Ambulance, with an extended workout in the Factory Records house sound of the day, somewhere between Joy Division and A Certain Ratio (more remarkable for the proto-late-90s graphic design of the 12″s cover, IMO).  Dalek I Love You present a squelchy, odd little bit of avant-New Pop, while Danse Society morph Vangelis-like soundscapes into a gothic pop tune.  Dark Day bring it all back to the instrumental abstract side with an echoing cavern of backwards instrumentation.

Lol Coxhill – “The Calm”

Crispy Ambulance – “The Presence”

Dalek I Love You – “Heartbeat”

Danse Society – “Continent”

Dark Day – “The Exterminations, Part 6”

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[Audio] – Only Ones – “Lovers Of Today” (1979)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on May 12, 2009

Only Ones – “Lovers Of Today” (1979)

I don’t know if you call it post-punk or power-pop, but this is rock the way I like it.  Smart minds through dumb drums, muscular guitar lines that are surprisingly svelte, working-class punk snarl and swagger that’s read a book or two, all rough-and-tumble (“we ain’t got feelings, we got no love, we ain’t got nothing to say”) that’s raw and emotionally affecting.  There’s a little Television in there, if you want your art-rock roots.

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[Audio] – The Del-Byzanteens – “Girl’s Imagination” (1981)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on May 11, 2009

The Del-Byzanteens – “Girl’s Imagination” (1981)

From the final ‘1981’ mix up today over at Musicophilia, “Girl’s Imagination” is further proof of just how cool New York was in the world of ‘Downtown ’81,’ or at least in the minds of its art-participants.  (One participant here of note is director Jim Jarmusch, on vocals and keyboards.)  The EP earns its hieroglyphic cover with a beguiling, snake-charmer sound and a fascinating storyteller approach.  The sound of the coolest mental breakdown ever, a nightmare you want to hang out in for a while.

[Audio] – Phantom Band – “Experiments” (1981)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on May 6, 2009

Phantom Band – “Experiments” (1981)

Carrying on with the accidental theme of side projects/lesser-known work, Phantom Band has a central sonic element you’ll probably recognise: it’s that drum sound, so metronomically perfect yet humane, courtesy of Can’s Jaki Liebezeit (the guitar line sounds not unlike late-era Karoli, the keys have some Schmidt to them, and the bouncing bass wouldn’t have shamed Holger Czukay, for that matter).  A dubbed-out minimal funk with fabulously altered vocals and squelching bits of electronic noise, this stuff deserves to be much better known.  Call it post-punk, call it proto-punk funk, call it no-disco, it’s good stuff.

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[Audio] – The Embarrassment – “After the Disco” (Original) (1979)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on May 4, 2009

The Embarrassment – “After the Disco” (Original) (1979)

This is one of those long-lost, unreleased-for-years gems that really makes you scratch your head and wonder, “who shelved this and what were they thinking?”  It’s got all the manic frenzy and nerdy humor of Kansas’ best band The Embarrassment‘s early singles (and comes from the same sessions).  It’s wonderfully wrong and catchy, the rhythms of the instruments and the vocals never seeming quite aligned but made all the more compelling for it.  This is the sort of joy that post-punk is all about.  The ‘Heyday‘ compendium seems to go in and out of print, but if you find it, buy it quickly.  [The Embarrassment are featured on the ‘Amplifier‘ mix from the ‘1981‘ box set at Musicophilia.]

[Audio] – 1981 ‘Briefcase’ Tracks, Part 8 (Club Tango, Colours Out of Time, Commercials, Concrete, The Conservatives)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on May 3, 2009

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Various – Tracks from the ‘1981’ Briefcase Disc, Part 8

Today we’re making up for lost time, with two installments from the ‘1981 Briefcase,’ the catch-all mp3-CD found in the ‘1981‘ box set (from which eight of the nine main mixes are now available for download at Musicophilia). This is the 8th set of tracks.  Keep track of new sets with this tag; and don’t miss Part 7, posted earlier today.

In this set are five almost-unknowns.  Perhaps best are Club Tango, with a nice bit of bouncy, wry dance-punk.  There’s also the Colours Out of Time, who one might broadly lump with Echo & The Bunnymen or their American counterparts the Urban Verbs.  Rounding out the set is Scotland’s Commercials with a bit of that proto-indie Postcard feel; similarly lo-fi but considerably darker Concrete with some handmade nuclearphobia; and The Conservatives with a taste of things to come (at least in Southern California) with some 1981-style hardcore punk that will appeal to fans of bitchin’ Camaros.

Club Tango – “Performance”

Colours Out of Time – “The Waiting” (BBC)

Commercials – “Simon”

Concrete – “Uranium Plant”

The Conservatives – “Suburban Bitch”

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[Audio] – 1981 ‘Briefcase’ Tracks, Part 7 (Chameleons, The Chefs, Chemicals Made From Dirt, Christian Death, The Clash)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on May 3, 2009

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Various – Tracks from the ‘1981’ Briefcase Disc, Part 7

As it was missed last weekend, today there will be two further installments from the ‘1981 Briefcase,’ the catch-all mp3-CD found in the ‘1981‘ box set (from which eight of the nine main mixes are now available for download at Musicophilia).  This is the 7th set of tracks.  You can see previous installments and keep track of new ones with this tag; and be sure to check out Part 8, also posted today.

Both of today’s sets continue in the C’s.  Of course you know The Clash, but perhaps not quite like this: a dubby disco remix of “The Magnificent Seven,” which, along with “This Is Radio Clash” comprises the works of The Clash for people who don’t like The Clash.  Then there’s The Chameleons, better known for their post post-punk, New Pop albums, here with an early Peel session; Chemicals Made From Dirt, championed by Hyped2Death; Christian Death with a little SoCal Gothicism; and The Chefs, with a silly little ditty about hanging-on, gossip, and the soul-crush of scenesterism.

1000ohmChameleons – “Here Today” (BBC)

The Chefs – “Someone I Know”

Chemicals Made From Dirt – “Ike”

Christian Death – “Dogs”

The Clash – “The Magnificent Dance”

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[Audio] – Debile Menthol – “Go-Jaunit” (1981)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on April 21, 2009

Debile Menthol – “Go-Jaunit” (1981)

This Swiss group walks the fine, sometimes precarious line between RIO-style prog and post-punk with great success.  While generally more Henry Cow or ‘Red’-era King Crimson than This Heat, they avoid most of the noodly show-off pitfalls of ur-prog, and instead give it a little muscular restraint and humor as they speed along.  This album, which I heard thanks to Mutant Sounds, reminds me most of Bill Laswell’s Material or the Belgians in the Honeymoon Killers/Aqsak Maboul, bouncing saxophones and vamping keyboards with odd percussion and kinetic, almost entirely rhythm-oriented guitar and bass.  I imagine if there really were Seychellian Circuscore Post-Punk, I imagine it might sound rather like Debile Menthol.  [Check out the whole record at Mutant Sounds.]

[Audio] – 1981 ‘Briefcase’ Tracks, Part 6 (Buzz, Cancer, Cardboards, CCCP-TV, Ceramic Hello)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on April 12, 2009

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Various – Tracks from the ‘1981’ Briefcase Disc, Part 6

Here is the 6th bunch of tracks from the ‘1981’ box set’s ‘Briefcase’ disc, from amongst 250 further bands and tracks not found in the nine themed mixes in the set. You can see previous installments and keep track of new ones with this tag.

Moving on into the Cs, all credit is due Hyped2Death, where I heard most of these tracks, so go over there and buy a few things (I recommend the Zoomers).  This batch would largely fit right in on the ‘Cassette‘ mix from the set–in fact, a couple of these tracks were on the early versions of that mix.  The jubilantly named Buzz brings us an arpeggiated, galloping little rumination on the absurdity of life and death; whereas the morosely named Cancer bring a silly slice of nonsense-vocals about. . . who knows what, but it doesn’t sound that horrible.   The Cardboards shuffle along odd keyboard work.  CCCP-TV bring you something that sounds like an American single on Postcard Records about sex, and accompanying terrors and secretions.  Finally, Ceramic Hello create Ballard-informed darkwave electropop that can’t help sounding lovable and homemade, despite lyrics like “I lie in bed, laugh. . . and DIE”.  Fun stuff, really.

Buzz – “Life Ends”

Cancer – “000010”

Cardboards – “On the R to TZ”

adam-and-the-antsCCCP-TV – “Fear That Mindless”

Ceramic Hello – “Gestures”

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[Audio] – The Beat – “Mirror In the Bathroom” (1980)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on April 6, 2009

The Beat – “Mirror In the Bathroom” (1980)

This is UK Ska Revival at its best, in my opinion–borrowing heavily from 60s ska but not slavishly imitating it, pushing the artform (without breaking from it, as with Specials AKA or Fun Boy Three).  There’s an itchy urgency to this track, with its perfect beat and double-time rhythm guitar, with that booming echo-drenched guitar line doubling up the careening bassline.  It all adds up to the coolest take on paranoid (drug-fueled?) narcissism/obsession I can imagine.  Catchy doesn’t do it justice–this is infectious. [The Beat are featured in a ‘1981’ mix and a ‘Post-Punk Miniatures‘ mix at Musicophilia.]

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[Audio] – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – “Electricity” (1979)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on April 3, 2009

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – “Electricity” (1979)

OMD would soon achieve a much more sleek and sophisticated sound, creating some of my favorite music in 1981.  But the plucky amateurism and youthful energy (cover art notwithstanding) of their first single is undeniably infectious.  Helicopter synth-rhythm, jumpy bass, grandmother’s organ, and a xylophone hook acquit the DIY spirit of ’79 nicely, from a time when “post-punk” didn’t yet stand in the serious, monolithic sound that their Factory labelmate would lature embody against which New Pop/New Wave would react.

[Audio] – Zoomers – “From the Planet Moon” (1981)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on April 2, 2009

Zoomers – “From the Planet Moon” (1981)

Baton-Rouge Louisiana’s Zoomers are from the grand tradition of weirdos making incredibly cool music far outside of anyplace where cool is usually produced, with the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Red Krayola, MX-80 Sound, The Residents, and later on the Flaming Lips or Neutral Milk Hotel.  Something about being trapped in a cultural backwater, way too smart and way too bored and way to drug-fucked for your own good. . . is really good for music geeks.  Zoomers are tangentally post-punk, but their sound is clearly from another time (though it wouldn’t have been mainstream in any era,) combining a stripped-down, bouncy psychedelia with excitedly-detached vocals that fit the contradictory phrase “cool as hell”.  Besides the Homosexuals reissues, the Zoomers ‘Exist‘ is definitely my favorite release from Hyped 2 Death, and very well worth your $9[Zoomers are featured on a ‘1981’ mix at Musicophilia]

[Audio] – Hajime Tachibana – “Rock” (1984)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on April 1, 2009

Hajime Tachibana – “Rock” (1984)

I dig “Japan’s Devo” The Plastics, but guitarist/vocalist Hajime Tachibana’s post-Plastics solo work is generally more interesting and certainly more diverse.  This track is among the more Plastics-like of his solo work, a quirky vocal pop with some of that B-52s 60s-spy-movie feeling but a little heavier and leaner.  Other work (which I’ll feature later on down the road) is less like one would expect from the Plastics sound–often consisting of carefully arranged reed instruments, percussion and electronics, with wide-ranging melodic sensibilities that remind me a little of work by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Magazine’s Mick Karn, Penguin Cafe Orchestra or Terry Riley.  This album and other early records can be found on spendy import reissue, but you can try these beautiful records out from the fantastic Mutant Sounds first.

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[Audio] – 1981 ‘Briefcase’ Tracks, Part 4 (Blah Blah Blah, Blancmange, Blondie, Blue Angel, B-Movie)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 28, 2009

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Various – Tracks from the ‘1981’ Briefcase Disc, Part 4

Five more tracks constitute the 4th installment from the ‘1981’ box set’s ‘Briefcase’ disc, which housed over 250 further bands and tracks not found in the nine themed mixes in the set. You can see previous installments and keep track of new ones with this tag.

Still in the “B”s, again we have a playful grab-bag including the familiar, the not-yet-famous, and the more or less forgotten.  Blah Blah Blah and Blancmange are here from the ‘Some Bizzare Album‘ compilation, the former with an oddly entertaining spoken-word ghost story, the latter with a diminutive little organ-beat-and-guitar doodle in the instrumental Young Marble Giants/Essendon Airport mode.  Then there’s one that needs little introduction from Blondie (though the “rap” part probably needs an apology, even from the days of fairly stilted flow).  You might think the Buddy Holly-inflected music of Blue Angel sounds familiar–and you’re probably right, if you were alive in 1983-1988 or so: it’s Cyndi Lauper’s band, and it’s pretty catchy and cute.  Finally there’s B-Movie, with a track that’s for some unknown reason stuck with me more than it probably warrants; but it has an infectiously urgent feeling and a nice full-stop-restart chorus, keyboard hook, and piano accompaniment that makes it remind me a little of the Suburbs, who’re featured a couple times on the main mixes.

1000ohmBlah Blah Blah – “Central Park”

abc__tears_are_not_enoughBlancmange – “Sad Day” (Edit)

absolute-body-controlBlondie – “Rapture” (Edit)

adam-and-the-antsBlue Angel – “Can’t Blame Me”

flock-of-seagullsB-Movie – “Remembrance Day”

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[Audio] – Big Black – “Steelworker” (1982)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 24, 2009

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Big Black – “Steelworker” (1982)

Albini was already doing his dark weirdo shit in ’82, and while you’d say it’s post-punk in the big umbrella, he’s doing something that sounds pretty unique–rooted perhaps in Suicide’s bare-minimal synthetic beats, but with unabashed single-note distorted guitar (if not to say “soloing”) over it, and lyrics that are more brutal and less comic-book violence.  Not everyday listening, but compelling if you can get in touch with a little anger.

[Audio] – A Certain Ratio – “Do the Du” (1980)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 23, 2009

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A Certain Ratio – “Do the Du” (1980)

The “other” early Factory band to most people, and generally teased and mocked as the lightweights compared to Joy Division.  But I’ll take A Certain Ratio’s herky-jerky British attempts at funk (and later tropicalia) over the glum seriousness of Division any day; and it rarely got better than this little slice, with it’s perfect beat, scratch guitar, and judiciously applied reverb.

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[Audio] – 1981 ‘Briefcase’ Tracks, Part 3 (Babylon Dance Band, The Bangs, Beranek, Dara Bimbaum, Black Sheep)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 21, 2009

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Various – Tracks from the ‘1981’ Briefcase Disc, Part 3

Here’s the third installment of tracks from the ‘1981’ box set’s catch-all ‘Briefcase’ disc, which featured over 250 further bands and tracks beyond the nine themed mixes in the set.  You can see previous installments and keep track of new ones with this tag.

Moving on alphabetically to the “B”s today, we’ve got a grab bag of playful tracks, including some from the zany end of the post-punk spectrum, along with a spot-on representative from the tiny but soon to be significant proto-C86/Paisley Underground 60s pop-rock revivalist school.  Babylon Dance Band (from Louisville, who would become Yo La Tango comrades Antietam) bring a little Midwestern lo-fi dance party not far in sound from the Bloomington, Indiana sound of the era.  The Bangs–who would quickly be much better known as The Bangles–are here with a little slice of 1967 pop with roots in the even earlier Girl Group sound.  Beranek were a Norwegian group working very much in the DNW idiom, albiet its sunnier side here.  Dara Birnbaum present a tiny bit of fast-paced collage from the ‘Just Another Asshole’ LP, a collection of minute-long tracks from arty New Yorkers.  Finally, Black Sheep of the RIO/ReR coterie convey a British take on a Devo/Midwestern-US post-punk “quirk rock” feel.

1000ohmBabylon Dance Band – “When I’m Home”

abc__tears_are_not_enoughThe Bangs – “Getting Out of Hand”

absolute-body-controlBeranek – “Crystal Dream”

adam-and-the-antsDara Birnbaum – “Kojak Wang”

flock-of-seagullsBlack Sheep – “Non Stop Fun Pop”

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[Audio+Link] – Tuxedomoon – “Litebulb Overkill” (1978) + Interview

Posted in Audio, Link by Soundslike on March 20, 2009

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Tuxedomoon – “Litebulb Overkill” (1978)

In honor of the interview linked below, here is an early track from San Francisco’s Tuxedomoon (who incongruously appear in the wonderful NYC film/document ‘Downtown ’81’).  It’s not necessarily representative of their work, which tends more toward a Eurocentric, American take on a Deutsche Neue Welle-esque noir-synth-pop.  But it is a lovely little piece, somehow blending a violin melody that reminds me a little of Laurie Anderson with the little “starburst noise” one often hears in electro-disco.  [Tuxedomoon are featured on the ‘Computer‘ mix from the ‘1981’ box set at Musicophilia.]

Interview with Steven Brown (Tuxedomoon) by Simon Reynolds

Another interview from Simon Reynolds‘ research for his post-punk tome ‘Rip It Up,’ a “runner up” excised from the recently issued (and thoroughly enjoyable–perhaps a review coming soon) collection of interviews and short-form articles ‘Totally Wired: Post-Punk Interviews & Overviews‘ (UK only for now, but quite affordable and worthwhile as an import).  This one delves into the enviably fecund art-music-theatre-noir fusion that was San Francisco in the punk/post-punk years.

Read it Here.

[Audio] – 1981 ‘Briefcase’ Tracks, Part 2 (Alternative TV, Angelic Upstarts, APB, Aquila, Avocados)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 14, 2009

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Various – Tracks from the ‘1981’ Briefcase Disc, Part 2

Here’s the 2nd installment of further music from 1981, drawing from the ‘Briefcase’ mp3 disc of the ‘1981‘ Box Set from 2004-2005.  Every weekend for the next year or so, I’ll be posting several more tracks.  For a brief introduction to the series, read here; to download the main themed mixes from the 1981 set (which tend to feature somewhat better-known artists), head over to Musicophilia.  You can keep tabs on future updates with this tag.

Continuing on with alphabetical confidence, this week brings us tunes from the simpler, rock-ier DIY territory of post-punk.  Alternative TV and APB bring us ruminations on the awkwardness of young love(making).  Angelic Upstarts come with Ruts-style political rasta-punk, and Aquila give us a ruminating mini-epic.  The star of this bunch for me is the Avocados, who appear to be part of the fantastically fun 49 Americans clan with a perfect little indie-pop-ditty.

alterative-tvAlternative TV – “My Hand Is Still Wet”

angelic-upstartsAngelic Upstarts – “I Understand”

apbAPB – “I Understand”

aquilaAquila – “Without A Care”

avocados-i-never-knewAvocados – “I Never Knew”

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[Audio] – Friction – “Cycle Dance” (1980)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 10, 2009

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Friction – “Cycle Dance” (1980)

Friction almost literally imported No Wave and the late 70s New York post-punk vibe to Japan, with two members having played with James Chance in the Contortions.  Still, they’re no carbon copy, bringing a more rythmic emphasis than Mars or DNA, especially on this track, with its rolling double-tom drumming and chanted vocals.  I don’t imagine this band’s records were absent from the Boredom’s record collections.  This album is currently available as a fairly costly “LP sleeve” Japanese CD import, but for fans of the New York discord, it’s worth it.

[Audio] – Wire – “Our Swimmer” (1981)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 9, 2009

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Wire – “Our Swimmer” (1981)

Wire’s “final” single (until the late-80s reformation) carries on Colin Newman’s catchy qualities (think “Outdoor Miner”) but, if I’m not mistaken, taking on a little Factory/99 Records dance/funk influence.  It grooves along with a one-note bassline, one chord (with that inimitable Wire guitar sound), double-tracked vocals, punchy drums, and bits of warm synth wash, slowly becoming more and more mutant-disco.  There’s a weirdly zen-like quality to the whole thing, surprisingly.  It would’ve been a proud way to move on, if they’d stuck with the break-up. [Wire is featured here in a mix of post-punk miniatures at Musicophilia]

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[Audio] – 1981 ‘Briefcase’ Tracks, Part 1 (1000 Ohm, ABC, Absolute Body Control, Adam & The Ants, A Flock of Seagulls)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 7, 2009

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Various – Tracks from the ‘1981’ Briefcase Disc, Part 1

For the next, oh, fifty weekends or so, it’s my intention to post several tracks from the ‘Briefcase‘ disc of the ‘1981’ box set.  To recap briefly: ‘1981’ was a 10-disc set; nine were themed mixes (and can be found at Musicophilia); and the 10th was an alphabetically-arranged mp3-disc catch-all, including over 250 tracks by an additional 230+ bands not heard on the main mixes.  The crazy thing about 1981 (representative of post-punk in general) is that there almost isn’t a bottom of the barrel–certainly the tracks on the ‘Briefcase’ disc don’t scrape it, in my opinion.  So if you like what you’ve heard on the mixes proper, you’ll probably want to keep tabs here at Musicophilia Daily–all future installments can be found at this tag.

So this weekend, we start at the beginning.  1000 Ohm and Absolute Body Control present catchy darkwave/DNW/synth-pop.  ABC are here with their first single, with a rawer, funkier sound (that I find, somehow, reminiscent of later Au Pairs).  And Adam & The Ants exploit the pirate-prince-Native-Burundi thing with a big wink and a little self-depricating/self-glorifying pomp.  A Flock of Seagulls might have already had the haircuts in ’81, I’m not sure; but their sound is almost Devo-esque (till the chorus floodgates open) and less slick than you might remember.

1000ohm1000 Ohm – “A.G.N.E.S.”

abc__tears_are_not_enoughABC – “Tears Are Not Enough”

absolute-body-controlAbsolute Body Control – “Is there An Exit?”

adam-and-the-antsAdam & The Ants – “Prince Charming”

flock-of-seagullsA Flock of Seagulls – “Telecommunication”

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[Audio] – Ut – “Safe Burning” (1989)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 5, 2009

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Ut – “Safe Burning” (1989)

Despite getting started in New York in 1978, most of Ut’s recordings come from England and the mid- to late-1980s.  That’s ok–the No Wave spirit stayed strong with Ut, so this recording from 1989 is still prime post-punk, for fans of Sonic Youth, Au Pairs, Glenn Branca, Y Pants, and the more ambitious sides of Riot Grrrl and revivalists like Erase Errata.  Their last two albums, ‘In Gut’s House’ and ‘Griller’ (from which this track is taken) were reissued last year, and both are great.  [Ut will be featured on an upcoming series of further ‘Post Post-Punk‘ mixes at Musicophilia.]

[Link] – Interview – Charles Hayward by Simon Reynolds

Posted in Link by Soundslike on March 3, 2009

Charles Hayward interviewed by Simon Reynolds

An outtake from Reynolds’ new book of post-punk interviews, ‘Totally Wired’ (UK/import only for now), this interview provides a nice overview of This Heat’s trajectory and Hayward’s pre-post-punk perspective on the late 70’s and early 80’s.  [Charles Hayward is featured here and here in mixes at Musicophilia.]

“And it’s important to me that music which goes ‘outside’ still has some sort of semi-folk basis in society. It belongs to a place and comes from a place. Which is something I always hear in Sun Ra. They were part of a community in Philadelphia and Washington, even though their music doesn’t overtly describe the situation they lived in. Everyone nowadays is basing their morality and ethics on gadgets, as if a sense of place doesn’t exist anymore. People feel dislocated when they haven’t got that.”

Read it at The Quietus

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[Video] – Dif Juz – “No Motion” (1987)

Posted in Video by Soundslike on March 3, 2009

Dif Juz – “No Motion” (1987)

Their early-80’s work is even more to my tastes (find early EPs on the readily-available ‘Soundpool’ compilation), but this is still heady stuff, out of time for the late 80’s and undeniably calling ahead to Disco Inferno and their heirs.  [Dif Juz are featured here and here in mixes at Musicophilia.]

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