Wednesday, September 15, 2010

DJ Lance Lockarm - Wouldn't It Be Ecstasy

(no label, 2005)

A bit of a mysterious one. In early 2005, the waning days of the mash-up fad, a handful of these white-label 45s became available for mailorder through Rough Trade. Laying the Beach Boys’ vocals for “Wouldn’t it Be Nice” (taken from the Pet Sounds Sessions box) over Spacemen 3’s “Ecstasy Symphony” drone, it doesn’t offer any particularly revelatory/amusing new angles on either song, as the best mash-ups did, but it’s still a creepily hypnotic luv-thingy that works more than well enough. And sure, there’s a little cheating afoot as the song’s creator employs some necessary pitch-shifting here and there on the Spacemen component, but who among us hasn’t sneakily pitch-shifted from time to time?

Don’t answer that.

On to the aforementioned mystery: There’s a stamp on the label that identifies the disc as “I Will Always Love You Forever” by Sonic Art Crew, but the now-dead website of DJ Lance Lockarm, where the song was called “Wouldn’t it Be Ecstasy,” always appeared to me to be the original source of the track. No idea whether Sonic Art Crew lifted it and then released this bootleg, or if the thing’s just mislabeled. Anyway, I’m officially giving Lance Lockarm the credit until I hear otherwise. Know the deal, you?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

LMNOP - Forever Through The Sun

(LMNOP, 1985)

I’ve been reading the infamous “Babysue” for many years – their “Legalize Crime” cartoon resides on my fridge – and it’s always a little surprising to jump from the deliberately offensive, world-hating comics and essays of that magazine/site to LMNOP, its creator’s pleasant if off-kilter musical alter-ego. This debut single is a sincere, driving power-pop-athon (faint whiffs of “Dream Police” at times) filled with big guitars, LOUD drums, and some nice vocal harmonies… a seriously good song. These guys must’ve been really young at the time, given the vocals and the fresh-faced band photos on the back of the ’86 Elemen Opee Elpee, but “Forever Through the Sun” is a full-on winner that many a veteran group of la-la’ers would KILL to record. Impressive biz! So even if I’m far less fond of the more dated B, “Three Colon Oh Oh,” I can safely recommend this disc as both a getter and a keeper – Numero has apparently included the A-side on one of their comps, but the original is the way to go, as it comes packaged in a 12-page zine signed by the band. Bang for your buck!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lilys - A Nanny In Manhattan

(Che, 1998)

After the pants people got “A Nanny in Manhattan” on the tube, Che decided it oughta get on the stick and put some product in the stores, hence this remixed single, complete with snazzy new sleeve and “as featured in Levi’s TV ad” sticker. Aside from a sonically-richer version of the accompanying LP re-released at the same time, the popularity of “Nanny” also gave the universe an insane Lilys lip-synch performance on UK television that should be watched again and again and again. Oh, and there are also a few B-sides in the same vein as Better spread across the formats (here it’s the excellent “The First Half Second”), all of which are on the American Services (For the Soon to Be Departed) EP.

I know I’ve been using the useless catch-all word “pop” to describe these last few Lilys singles, but I should make clear that this stuff is more gloriously weird than that term might imply: Wrapped up in the catchy melodies and concise track-lengths are unusual and unpredictable song structures, consistently surprising sounds, and oft-impenetrable lyrics. That the band managed to sneak out two albums on major-label subsidiaries (follow-up The 3 Way was on Sire) is a nifty feat, and theirs is a discography worth gathering.

Lilys - A Nanny In Manhattan

(Che, 1996)

Another hooky slice of slightly-skewed moddery from Lilys, and it deservedly ended up a British hit a few years down the road after Levi’s stuck it in an ad. I wouldn’t say that it’s significantly better than the rest of what the band was recording at the time, but it’s pretty obvious why this one, with its clanking, clattering kickiness, would have wide appeal when given the proper exposure. On the B side, the psychedelic, Eastern drone of “More Than That is Deserved” is an unfinished-sounding drag (rather like one of the lesser songs on Their Satanic Majesties Request) whose addition to the end of the reworked Better Can’t Make Your Life Better as album-closer was a mistake.

By the way, I must note that I have a mouse hiding out – or HOLING UP, if you will, HO HO HO – somewhere in my apartment. Not the worst development in the world, as I’m generally sympathetic to my fellow mammals, feeling a certain kinship with them, but I’m very annoyed by this dink’s habit of leaving feces all over my kitchen floor at night. Unless the mouse happens to read this and change his ways immediately, the penalty is gonna be death by neckbreaking. I’m harsh but fair.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Lilys - Which Studies The Past?

(Sub Pop, 1996)

The first Lilys 7” I ever plunked down for, and still top o’ the heap after all these years. Criminal that these two songs, released as a one-off for Sub Pop, aren’t available elsewhere, as they’re easily as good as, heck, not only anything on the stylistically-similar Better Can’t Make Your Life Better, but ANYTHING ELSE Lilys ever put out. The smashingly-titled “Welfare Murder Plot” covers a lotta ground in little time, lurching back and forth from slithery croon to chunky garage-pop before ending with a smooth-rockin’ coda. Nothing finer than the ultra-catchy B, though, a tight Nuggets-y head-shaker called “Baby’s a Dealer” that might be – yup! – the apex of this phase of the band’s existence. So why in tarnation is it buried on the flip of an obscure 7”?? Mysteries abound in this life of ours!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Lilys - Returns Every Morning

(Che, 1996)

Yeepers, where’d THIS come from?! Lilys ’96 abruptly says goodbye to gauze-pop and hello to mod-pop, stripping away the layers of dreamy guitars and sighing vocals and going for a sharper, more concise, pill-gulpin’ (yet still semi-psych) sound – the sound of FUN! “Returns Every Morning,” taken from the happy-go-peppy Better Can’t Make Your Life Better album, is a fine representation of the chiming, hazy-summer stomp-pop that Heasley would focus on for the second half of the ’90s, a carefree, kickass – if well-trod – regresso-path that has been shared but never bested by sonic cousins like the Asteroid Number Four, Minders, and, at times, Saturday Looks Good to Me. Zanier still is the Apples in Stereo cover “Touch the Water” – Heasley and Robert Schneider crossed musical piss-streams a few times mid-decade – which turns the Apples’ comparatively flat lo-fi rocker into a full-on bubblegum-garage basher. “Touch the Water” was left off of the initial version of the Better… LP but later included on the 1998 UK re-release, which was remixed and generally re-jiggered after the success of “A Nanny in Manhattan.