Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lilys - Tone Bender

(Summershine, 1993)

“Tone Bender” gets pulled from In the Presence of Nothing, a song that again offers up the massive, woozy Valentines churn of “February Fourteenth,” this time with a lead guitar that sounds a bit like a much-slowed “Only Shallow.” Another terrific, well-polished A-side. The rarity here is “Eskimo,” and while its relative sunniness is a slight tweak on the gauzy shoegaze formula, the track’s ponderous length eventually makes for a tiresome, impact-free slog. Zzzz.

By the way: The CD version of “Tone Bender,” which adds the two tracks from the debut 7”, holds the piss-me-off honor of being THE record that has most successfully eluded me through the years. In over a decade of searching I’ve never actually seen it in person, and the one time I did buy an affordable copy on eBay, the USPS managed to lose the package. When I finally do obtain it, I’m gonna staple the fuckin thing to my chest.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lilys - February Fourteenth

(Slumberland, 1991)

Back in VHS days, fun-guy buddyboys Slumberland used to release insanely limited versions of their records in special handmade sleeves. Not sure how many of these they actually did, but I have 7”s of this sort by Lilys, Swirlies, and Black Tambourine (the “What Kind of Heaven Do You Want” EP was hand-colored as well, but I think that’s true of the entire run). This Lilys 45, of which 43 – !! – were made, comes in a white sleeve that has a photo pasted to its front and minimal info (band name, track titles, label address) written in purple marker on the back. The vinyl is identical to the standard “February Fourteenth” black-wax single, making the thing strictly collector-dink bait, but I maintain that the unique-artwork idea was – and is! – a fun one that I wouldn’t mind seeing present-day labels revisit. Why not?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lilys - February Fourteenth

(Slumberland, 1991)

The first Lilys single is about as close an approximation of the uptempo bits on the Isn’t Anything-era MBV EPs as a guy’s gonna find, and in a still-growing sea of limp Shieldsian imitators, quality stuff like this is not to be sneered at. “February Fourteenth” in particular is heavier than the by-then chart-baiting Telescopes, crisper than the early BJM stabs at crudegaze, and more invested in maintaining a Rock undercurrent (see: drums) than even the contemporaneous My Bloody Valentine itself. Best American shoegaze record I’ve ever heard? Yup. Oddly enough, “Threw a Day,” which is absolutely the lesser of these two songs, is available on In the Presence of Nothing (as an unlisted track), while the pummeling A-side appears only here and as a bonus on the impossible-to-find Australian “Tone Bender” CDEP. If Kurt Heasley and/or Slumberland ever feels like fixing that situation, your iPod or Discman or whatever will be much the better for it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lil Bunnies - Lil Bunnies

(Moo-La-La, 1995)

bunny-suited assholes from Sacramento who vomit forth rabbit-themed scumpunk disasters that include GG Allin-inspired originals (“Hop, Fight, & Fuck”) and Electric Eels covers (“Bunnies”). Yes, it all sounds like total ghetto-blast shit. And yes, the humor/annoyance factor is boosted by the cheesy air organ that gets pounded sub-Kingsmen style throughout the entire record. But for sheer fuck-you purity-of-concept it’s tough to beat these guys… please check out their lone LP (released in Italy?!) in order to experience the group’s ultimate expression of contempt/laziness/jokiness at an excruciatingly-long 33rpm. Perversely, it’s a must. GET.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lightning Bolt - Conan

(Load, 2000)

Remember the Harvard Square Other Music? Good enough store, but it was a pretty crazy proposition from the get-go, what with Twisted Village, Newbury Comics, In Your Ear, CD Spins, HMV, Tower, and the post-Kenmore Planet Records all situated within several blocks of the place. Predictably short-lived, I think it’s now a restaurant hilariously named “OM,” and I heard that the dude who masterminded the whole folly lost his job over it. Anyway, I bought this Lightning Bolt tour single there back in the glory days of 2001 (for $2.99!), and I’ve always held it in rather low regard. I’m of the commonly-held opinion that there’s never been a Lightning Bolt record that comes anywhere close to the greatness of the band’s nutso concerts, and would heartily recommend their Power of Salad live DVD over any of the LPs, since it at least gives you the visual component. But this 7”? Thanks to length restrictions, it doesn’t have even the sustained, tightly-wound semi-insanity of the full-lengths, which is a problem when the sound is much like a sloppier, more manic version of some of the heavier Japanese groove-psych groups – Les Rallizes Denudes or Mainliner, say. “Conan” does generate a fair amount of excitement once it explodes into its motorcycle-guitar second half, but that certainly doesn’t justify the huge cash-wheelbarrows you’ll need to dump in order to pick up this rare’un. Unless you’re dumping that cash at MY feet, of course.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lenola - Colonial 509

(Tappersize, 1994)

Aw heck. This isn’t my finest night. Because of a mishap involving an unstopped sink and my beloved Mach 3, I had to shave using a horrible plastic razor that I bought a few years ago on vacation as part of a $1.69 twelve-pack from a San Francisco bodega. Making matters worse, said beard-scrape was done in the dark after my bathroom light burnt out and I realized I didn’t have any replacement bulbs (the penlight I held in my left hand was quite a help, though). Now finished, the 99-cent “Men’s Choice” aftershave has hardly soothed my angered skin, and I sit here with a scowl gracing my burning skull.

All of that makes my vivid memories of transporting this very single across the country – broke – on a sweltering Greyhound bus (San Diego to Worcester!) rankle considerably less, even while its stomach-churn guitars make me wish I was safely in bed with the booze-bottle closed. Decent work here, though, Lenola guys. This debut release is bendy-note nausea-gaze pedal-box weirdness that stakes out what I suppose is a rough middle ground between Pavement and the Swirlies, particularly on the A, with B-side “Greedo” tending towards the latter in its extended instrumental sections. Fairly gifted with melody, better stuff was to come once the band tightened up, “got normal,” and veered into Rev/Hopewell/Home country around the turn of the century (The Electric Tickle, etc.), but this one is certainly worth sniffing out on the cheap. An underrated group.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

John Lennon - Jealous Guy

(Capitol, 1988)

The Imagine film was one of the earliest image-control projects from the Lennon Estate, and Yoko and co. cannily (but boringly) go the double A-side route with the release of an American “Jealous Guy” single lifted from the soundtrack. Whereas the Europeans had stuck the semi-headscratcher “Going Down on Love” on the B back in the early ’80s, the US gets the far more famous “Give Peace a Chance” for a full-on warm ’n’ fuzzy mini hits package. Hooray and all that, but there could hardly be a less interesting record twenty-plus years after the fact. Any person dumb enough to seek the thing out owns both songs many times over, and there isn’t anything in the artwork or packaging to make it desirable from even a collector-dummy perspective. Owning this does not reflect well on me.